2016 Season Preview: St Louis Rams

2016 Season Previews

stl-rams-helmetSt Louis Rams

I’m not sure what to make of the Rams QB situation, but then again-

Good Gawd! That music!
WEINKEMANIA IS RUNNIN WILD!
Nick FolesYup, Chris Weinke is the QB coach. Not that it means a lot, but I loves me some Weinkemania.
I’m not sure how good Foles is, but he’s on the last year of his contract, and Austin Davis got a lot of playing time last year, but again, the Rams traded for Case Keenum and took a QB in the third round. So not even the Rams know what they have here. I don’t get drafting Sean Mannion. If they are wrong about Foles, then they have a rookie QB for the next regime, I can’t see Fisher getting year 5 with a near 500 record again, especially if the Rams are in LA.

Todd Gurley walks in the starter, and if his ACL works, he’ll make or break quite a few fantasy squads. I’m trying to remember the last RB to come into the NFL off an ACL injury and bust out a dominant season. Behind him is Tre Mason, not exactly a dominant force, and Zac Stacy is gone after doing nothing but killing teams on yahoo. I personally look for that pattern to continue.

Tavon AustinLike Arizona, the receiving core is the best weapon here, with a whole lotta talent but not the production to match. On paper, Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt and Brian Quick are as good as anyone, then adding in Chris Givens and his speed and there shouldn’t be problems here. Then you see that 3 TDs lead this team last year, and then you know why there are so many QBs on the roster. Jared Cook has great skills and size, but again, inconsistent. You have to think if Foles or one of the others can harness the power of WEINKEMANIA, they can do great work here.

Up in the trenches, we got more problems, Jake Long and his ACL is gone, as is the starting center and right guard, now RT Joe Barksdale is now a Charger. Anyone left? Oh yeah, Greg Robinson at LT, after starting at guard amid bringing memories of Robert Gallery. He did play better as the year moved along. Rodger Staffold and Barrett Jones should get 2 of the spots and the Rams have two rookies taken in the second and third rounds who can play either guard or tackle. Good luck to them, since everyone is getting thrown into this fire with a bunch of free agents.

Defense

Chris LongThe Rams play a 4-3, and the fun starts here, with #1 pick Chris Long and #1 pick Robert Quinn doing some solid work, and st times can be a really solid pass rush. Long was hurt last year, and never really came all the way back, I still wonder why he wasn’t shut down. Quinn dropped from 19 to 10.5 sacks, I’m not too worried about another dropoff, if Long is back to form. You can’t cheat a RB on both sides.

Onto the next level, Inside is #1 pick Michael Brockers who is consistent, and #1 pick Aaron Donald is the more spectacular. Together you would think this tandem would be around forever, but holy snipe- Nick Fairley just came aboard! I don’t know if you can play a 5-2 as your base defense, but the Rams should try – if nothing else on short distances. I know I’d try it out a few times.  The rotation should be fun though, to keep everyone fresh. This is one scary forursome with 5 early first round picks.

James LaurinaitisThe next line has Akeem Ayers comes over from the Pats, and lord knows Ex-Patriots are known being rock stars on the other teams. Next to him is James Laurinaitis who has been a stud the past 7 years, and shows no sign of letting up anytime soon. Alec Ogletree completes the group, and is one of the few outside linebackers to have more tackles than the middle linebacker. Fun thing about this group? 2 more second round picks and a first rounder. This front seven has been 5 firsts and  2 seconds- not all by the Rams, but here is the vast majority of the Fisher first day selections.

The secondary is the issue in the defense, but they have something the other two groups don’t have. Third round picks, plus a guy that went undrafted but outworks almost everyone else on the team. Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are looking to get paid after this year, and both have ability but flaws, Jenkins can get caught by good QBs way out of position, and Johnson was hurt and didn’t play as well when he came back. The Rams have some depth here with EJ Gains doing well as an injury replacement, and Marcus Robinson being a FIND out of the undrafted pile.  The Safety section is a solid duo with TJ McDonald and Rodney McLeod, with Mark Barron as the rotation- and should be abettter after a full year in the system. This group works hard, but the talent isn’t there. I’m sure Fisher will take hard work over talent anyday, however.

Special teams are a decent unit with Johnny Hekker being a great punter, and Kicker Greg Zuerlein being a inconsistent. The return game is shoddy, but the coverage units are not bad.

Final

Jeff FisherComes down to  that QB and that offensive line, the defense is solid enough to play with anyone, especially with Greg Williams as the coach. I think they are going to be a MUCH harder team to beat at the end of the year than at the beginning, the question is how deep a hole do they dig themselves finding a QB and 5 guys that can give him 4 seconds to find that talented group on the outside?

September is a 1-2 month at best, with Seattle, Wash and Pitt. Then same with October, with a Bye, GB, Arizona, and Cleveland. November should begin the turnaround with a 2-4 record. SF/Min/Chi/Balt/Cin – and if the Rams can come out of that with a 3-2 or better result, then so much the better. The closing kick- at 5-6 or better, could mean the staffs job with Zona/Det/TB all at home, then Seattle and San Fran on the road. 4-1 could mean sneaking into the playoffs, picking up an extra win or two and playoffs should be easy. I can go 9-7 here, simply because I have more faith in the QB situation than I do the offensive line.

 

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