Friday, November 18, 2016

Los Angeles Rams Weekly

Aside from the first games every year, I have never been more psyched for a game in decades, let alone one that is in the middle of a year. 

And, to be this psyched and filled with anticipation with a 4-5 record? 

In my eyes however, the season started this week.

The Los Angeles Rams are finally ready to see if No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff can turn their offense around.
NFL Network's Michael Silver confirmed with Goff that the Rams plan to start the rookie Sunday against the Dolphins in Los Angeles. ESPN first reported the news. Case Keenum, who started nine games this season, will hit the bench after failing to lead the Rams to a touchdown in New Jersey on Sunday in a 9-6 win over the Jets.

Coach Jeff Fisher certainly didn't make the decision based on the desires of his fan base, but this should mollify the 80,000-plus folks in the L.A. Coliseum who were chanting Goff's name during the Rams' Week 9 home loss to Carolina.

This decision was overdue. NFL Network's Steve Wyche previously reported that Goff has made significant progress in practice during the regular season, and Keenum was not showing the same improvement. Since the first promising drive of the Rams' game in London, Keenum piloted the Rams for 34 drives. On those drives, Keenum threw five interceptions and the team scored one offensive touchdown, which came in garbage time.

Goff struggled badly in the preseason, failing to beat out Sean Mannion for the team's backup job coming out of training camp. Goff was quickly elevated to the No. 2 job, but he bided his time on the bench while other rookies like Dak PrescottCarson Wentz and Cody Kessler gained valuable experience.

There is always the risk that Goff isn't "ready" but the Rams should be looking beyond just the 2016 season. They are 4-5 on the year and in the NFC playoff race, but Goff's development is more important than any playoff race with no hope for a title. Eli Manning has often talked about the experience of struggling when he played late in his rookie season as invaluable.

There's also a strong argument that the Rams' offense literally can't get any worse. They are dead last in points scored and now it's up to Goff to try to breathe life into a group that includes a revived Kenny BrittTavon Austin and franchise running back Todd Gurley.

Goff will get his first start against a strong defensive line against Miami, but the schedule is mostly favorable after that. He'll face lower tier defenses like New Orleans, Atlanta and San Francisco, although a road trip to Seattle in Week 15 will be a steep test.

The Rams can only hope that will be the first for Goff in a decade's worth of trips on the road in the NFC West.

It will be the first game action this season for Goff, who has been the No. 2 quarterback behind Case Keenum for eight of the Rams’ nine games.
On Monday, Fisher said of Goff: “He’s No. 2 and he’s a play away from playing. He’s ready. He’s preparing.”
The Rams ended a four-game losing streak by defeating the New York Jets on Sunday, improving their record to 4-5.
But the Rams have scored only two touchdowns in their last three games.
As he did after losses against the New York Giants and Carolina Panthers, Fisher adamantly maintained that Keenum was not the problem for an offense that ranks last in the NFL in scoring.
Keenum has passed for nine touchdowns, with 11 interceptions. His 76.7 passer rating ranks 30th in the NFL among 34 qualifying players.
The Rams traded with the Tennessee Titans for the top pick in the draft, giving up six picks to move up 14 spots.
They chose Goff, who starred at California, over North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, who has started all season for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Sunday’s game will be the first time Goff will play since the Rams’ final exhibition game against the Minnesota Vikings.
In four exhibitions, Goff completed 22 of 49 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions and three fumbles.
Goff took first-team snaps during one bye week practice but has otherwise been limited to second-team reps.
Here’s what Fish and Boras had to say as the Rams get ready for Week 11 vs. the Miami Dolphins.

Los Angeles Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher

(Opening remarks)
“All fired up, had a good practice. Really playing an outstanding opponent – the last four weeks they’ve done an outstanding job turning things around. (Dolphins QB) Ryan (Tannehill) is playing really well – they’re playing good defense – but Ryan in particular is playing well because of what (Dolphins RB) Jay (Ajayi) has done in the run game for them. Switching gears, that’s what we need to be successful this week is to have a run game so (QB) Jared (Goff) can be successful. I thought Jared had a good day today – he’s into it. As (Offensive Coordinator) Rob (Boras) probably told you, we have not scaled anything down, we’re moving forward, we’re opening the offense up. It was a good day at practice.”

(On whether there is more pressure on receivers to win their one-on-one match-ups with Goff at quarterback and with RB Todd Gurley being the focus of most defenses)
“We have to win outside, there’s no doubt and they’re going to challenge us outside, but we have to win. They have an outstanding secondary, their safeties run-support well and corners are going to challenge you. If their focus goes to (RB) Todd (Gurley), then yes, we have to make the plays down the field.”

(On if he sees a change in Goff’s body language since he’s become the starter)
“He’s just excited; he’s excited, as he should be. It’s a challenge. This game is not going to define his career. It’s a good defense, but he’s excited about the opportunity. He’s working hard, and he’s great in the huddle. The offensive group just moved on. We just moved on, and they’re excited about it. It’s not going to be easy. There’s going to be some negative plays that always happen in games, but he’ll overcome them. We have to put him in position to make some quick decisions, get rid of the football, and make some plays.”

(On Goff lining up against DT Ndamukong Suh)
“Suh is a really good player, but he’s not the only really good player they have on their defense. You start talking about their rushers and the depth that they have, and their middle linebacker, and everybody. What Jared is going to see is, he’s going to see 11 guys. He’s going to line up and see 11, and not necessarily be concerned where anybody is up front, other than trust his teammates to give him some time. I said yesterday, I have all of the respect in the world for (Chargers QB) Philip Rivers. He had very little time to throw the football. So, we have to do a better job up front.”

(On what most interests him about Goff going into Sunday)
“It’s how we finish up the week. Good day today; we’ll look at the tape. He’s going to take extra time tomorrow in their day off, and then we’ll have good Friday, and then the walk-thru Saturday, and then he’ll be prepared. We typically quiz the offensive players, and defensive players for that matter, with respect to the game plan Saturday night. I’m sure he’ll do well. He’ll be prepared, and it’s just relax and go play. I’m hoping that the game slows down for him, and I think it well. But again, there’s going to be tough times in this game because this is a good defense.”

(On the chemistry between Goff and WR Kenny Britt and TE Lance Kendricks, and if Goff will be more comfortable with other receivers and try to get them involved more)
“Other than Lance and Kenny, no, they’re a part of our offense. Jared’s progression – his reads take him to where he’s supposed to throw the football. But, he’s got a good feel for everybody. We just have to do a better job of getting people open. We have to do a better job out of the backfield and a better job on third down. But, that’s part of our offensive system and the game plan. Their defense is top-5 or top-3 on third down right now, and they can pressure you. It’s tough sledding for a quarterback, but we feel like we have a good plan in, and we’ll hang in there.”

(On the status of DE Rob Quinn)
“Rob was much better, yeah. He did a bunch of stuff inside. We didn’t clear him to practice, but tomorrow he’ll move around outside on the field.”

Offensive Coordinator Rob Boras

(On what Jared Goff being the new starting quarterback means for the offense)
“I think, offensively, obviously we need to rally around Jared, which I know that they will – we’re excited about it. He’s been preparing as if he’s been the starter for the first nine games. Again, we all recognize it’s different than actually playing. The volume of the plays, it’s the same amount of plays, the same package, we trust with where he is mentally – that’s what we’ve kept commenting on, how well he’s handling everything. I thought it was a really strong day today, obviously we’re really excited about this next chapter of the season and seeing Jared’s career take off.”

(On if he has much conversation with Goff leading up to the game regarding which plays he feels comfortable with)
“Without a doubt, and that’s part of it. In the past, I would sit down with (QB) Case (Keenum), as well as with Jared and I would get their favorites in each category. So I would have a call sheet with my rankings that Case had given me as well if Jared had gone in, so no different there except I’ll have a couple call sheets marked up for Jared and one marked up for Case. Same sort of conversations.”

(On if Goff gives the offense a different element)
“We’re going to find out. He’s tall – again, it’s a big man’s game at a lot of positions – he’s tall, he can see, everything we talked about – his delivery, how quick he is, he’s decisive. We saw how tough he was at Cal, we hope he doesn’t have to be that tough and take hits, but we saw his toughness. His ability to escape and extend plays, his intelligence. We’re excited about seeing it take off on Sunday.”

(On if the practices during the bye week where Goff got reps with the first team offense was a turning point)
“I think it was one of the turning points. Obviously any time that you get extended reps, you have a better time to evaluate. We kept talking about the classroom, classroom, classroom, but now you got more reps against the first team defense. So it definitely helped us see where he was and helped part of the evaluation process.”

(On how many plays they will script on Sunday)
“We script 16 in the openers.”

(On if 16 plays is the same amount regardless of who is at quarterback)

(On if it puts more pressure on the receivers when defenses are focusing more on RB Todd Gurley)
“It can. Obviously anytime that they’re stacking the box and we’re getting man coverage, those guys have to get open. If they’re playing a lot of guys to stop the run, the receivers like Kenny (Britt) are taking advantage of it and making plays. It kind of works hand-in-hand. Hopefully they can’t defend both and the receivers like to see when they’re playing post-safety man and getting up there because they have the ability to win the one-on-one compared to the running backs want to see when they’re back there in cover-two and it’s a seven-man box. Those guys can argue in the locker room with what they get.”

(On how he can call plays to make sure the offensive line protects Goff to keep his nerves under control)
“I think whether it’s Jared at quarterback, Case at quarterback, whoever your quarterback is – that’s what you want to do. No quarterback likes having guys around their feet or in them. We try to do that all the time. Again, with this game coming up, it being his first regular season game, we’re going to take a look at all the different things that we think we can do protection-wise for him and put him in the best position. But that’s the same sort of the things we were doing with Case as our starter as well.”

(On the dynamic in the quarterback room)
“First of all, and I believe Coach (Fisher) has probably talked about it, Case Keenum is – and I’ve said it before, my heart goes out to Case. Case is a man. Case is a teammate and a great leader and he’s going to be great in that room. That’s a compliment to him and his family with the type of person and character that he is. There is nothing odd in that classroom. He’s going to handle it great. He will help Jared every way that he can, because that’s who he is. I can’t say enough good things about Case and the person he is. If he gets called on again, he will be ready because that’s who he is. I love him dearly, thank him for everything and he’s going to make this team better because of who he is as a leader still.”

(On if they had been straight-forward with Keenum regarding what they were doing with Goff)
“Yeah, when we drafted Jared where we did, everybody knew what was going to happen, it was just a question of when. We’re all competitors and Case is a competitive person. He’s not excited about this, but he also understands the situation and he’s going to make the most of it. There’s been communication along the way, it still doesn’t make it any easier for him when he ultimately finds out, but he’s handled it well and he’ll continue to handle it well. Shoot, he had a good practice today against our scout team, it really helped our defense today. It was good, that’s the type of guy that he is.”

(On if it was good to get things going with Gurley in the second half of last week’s game against the Jets)
“Yeah, we were able to get him, I believe he had 21 carries and the first half wasn’t pretty. I don’t know what his yards per carry was in the first half, but our defense again is playing lights out and it allowed us to hand the ball off in the second half. His yards per carry went up, we saw some 8, 9, 10, 12-yard gains there and that’s what we expect in the run game. It took us a half to get there, we’re hoping to build off that momentum and carry it over to the first half this week against a really good defense with Miami.”

(On if the offensive line graded out better this week)
“I thought they played really well in the second half. There were some really good examples in the run game with our double teams and our fits and getting to the second level, it was really well done. It was well-blocked and Todd and (RB) Benny (Cunningham) took advantage of it.”

The Rams’ sure-footed, Pro Bowl punter has earned just the Rams’ second weekly player award of 2016.

Los Angeles Rams P Johnny Hekker was named the 2016 Week 10 NFC Special Teams Player of the Week:
NFC Special Teams Player of the Week: @JHekker

First punter since 1984 (Luke Prestridge) to record a 75+ yard punt in back-to-back games
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 16, 2016

Hekker had a crucial punt in the Rams’ Week 10 9-6 road win over the New York Jets. From a 4th & 1 inside the Rams’ 20-yard line in the 4th quarter with the game tied, Hekker absolutely destroyed a ball traveling 78 yards IN THE AIR forcing Jets punt returner Jalin Marshall to field the ball inside his own 10-yard line and scamper out to the 15. 

That punt set up a three-and-out for the Jets whose own punt, from Lachlan Edwards, traveled just 35 yards. The Rams would plod their way inside the red zone for the go-ahead field goal on that possession.

2017 NFL Hall Of Fame Semifinalists Announced; Three Rams Included.

The list of potential HOFers has been narrowed from 94 to 26, and three Rams are in the mix.

Back in September, we passed on the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame Class nominee list of 94 former NFL greats from the player and coaching ranks. That nominee list included four former Los Angeles or St. Louis Rams: WR Isaac Bruce, WR Henry Ellard, WR Torry Holt and QB Kurt Warner.

Today, we have the list of the 26 semifinalists including three of those former Rams; only Ellard didn’t make the semifinalist cut.

The Greatest Show on Turf lives:

Here's the 26 semifinalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2017! #PFHOF17

— Pro Football HOF (@ProFootballHOF) November 17, 2016 

Your three semi-finalist former Rams:
Isaac Bruce, WR – 1994-2007 Los Angeles/St. Louis Rams, 2008-09 San Francisco 49ers | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17) 

Torry Holt, WR – 1999-2008 St. Louis Rams, 2009 Jacksonville Jaguars | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17) 

Kurt Warner, QB – 1998-2003 St. Louis Rams, 2004 New York Giants, 2005-09 Arizona Cardinals | (Times as a Semifinalist: 3 – 2015-17) 

In January, the 48-member Pro Football Hall of Fame Selection Committee will trim this list of 26 semi-finalists to 15 finalists in January. Those 15, along with Senior Finalist, former Seattle Seahawks S Kenny Easley, and the 2017 Contributor Finalists, Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones and former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, will be presented to the committee to decide the 2017 NFL Hall of Fame Class on February 4, 2017, the eve of Super Bowl LI. 

The class will be presented during the NFL Honors broadcast that evening.

Week 10: Los Angeles Rams Rookie Report

It’s the Jared Goff Show now.
The Los Angeles Rams snapped a four game skid with its Week 10 victory on the road against the New York Jets.
The main news early this week, however, is headlined by the debut of the No. 1 overall selection in the 2016 Draft Jared Goff against the Miami Dolphins in Week 11.
So, without further ado, lets get into the weekly rookie reports.

QB Jared Goff

Week 10’s game against the New York Jets marked the ninth game rookie quarterback and No. 1 overall 2016 NFL Draft pick Jared Goff has sat on the pine pony. That streak will remain at nine games.
Oh... it’s gonna be lit y’all.

WR Pharoh Cooper

Rookie receiver Pharoh Cooper added on his second catch of the season against the Panthers. His reception went for six yards, giving Pharoh a season stat line of two catches for a total of nine yards.
Cooper’s playing time might expand, however. With Goff’s insertion into the starting lineup, many of the team’s “weapons“ can see an increased role.

TE Tyler Higbee

Higbee is entrenched in the Rams offense. He, however, has been used as a blocker on a much more consistent basis than as a pass catcher.
This does not mesh well with Higbee’s skill set.

TE Temarrick Hemingway

Special teams playa, playa.

LB Josh Forrest

Josh, the Rams sixth round selection this year and de facto third linebacker (when necessary), had two tackles against the Panthers.
Forrest is also a strong presence on special teams, along with his part time defensive.

WR Mike Thomas

Thomas might be the only receiver on the Rams squad that will not see a boost in playing time now with Goff under center.
Mike does see the field on offense but he is rarely targeted. Mainly, Thomas pays his dues on special teams

LB Cory Littleton

The 2016 undrafted rookie linebacker out of the University of Washington continues to be a special teams stalwart and has seen small spot appearances on defense.

Littleton added on one tackle in Sunday’s contest against Carolina.

Los Angeles Rams Vs. Miami Dolphins: Five Dolphins To Watch

Eddie’s five enemies to keep on eye on this Sunday.
The Los Angeles Rams head back home to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in Week 11 action against the Miami Dolphins.

First and foremost, the Rams will be starting 2016 NFL Draft #1 overall pick quarterback Jared Goff.

This – coming after ten weeks of miserable quarterback play – gives the rookie a friendly home field advantage. The only remaining question is if Jared is indeed armed with sufficient knowledge (we know he has ability) to meet or actually elevate the offense’s play.

Lets get back to our scheduled programming. Here are your five Miami Dolphins players to watch:

RB Jay Ajayi

Ajayi exploded onto the radar Week 6 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, gaining 204 yards on 25 carries (an 8.2 average) and two touchdowns. He followed up that exceptional “debut“ with another 200-yard game against the Buffalo Bills (28 carries, 214 yards, 7.6 ypc, one TD). Ajayi’s consecutive 200-yard game streak was snapped against the New York Jets; Jay was only able to accrue 111 yards on 24 carries and one score.

Ajayi is running hard for the Dolphins at this moment. He is fire red hot.

L.A. ranks in at ten in yards per carry at an average of 3.9 yards allowed. The team allows the 17th most rushing yards per game (103.1 ypg), however.

WR Jarvis Landry

Landry leads Miami in receptions and receiving yards with 55 catches for 658 yards.

Those numbers are eerily similar to Rams’ Kenny Britt’s stat-line (44 catches, 693 yards). Jarvis is the Dolphin’s go-to receiver. Taking him out of the game will force the Dolphin’s to solely rely on the running game.

Fellow receivers Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker are other options to keep an eye on. Stills leads the Dolphins with four receiving TDs while Parker is second in terms of receiving yards behind Landry with 406 yards.

DT Ndamukong Suh

Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh is to Miami what Aaron Donald is to the Rams: a disruptive force up front defensively. Suh has five sacks from his DT position on the inside of the defensive front. No easy feat.

It will be a long day for the Rams’ offensive line. Center Tim Barnes is not strong enough nor physical enough to hold off Suh. Hell, right guard Cody Wichmann will not help much either. LG Rodger Saffold is not up to par (he has regressed this season) against Suh either.

LG Laremy Tunsil

Rams main core on defense is the defensive line. Defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers are the most vital clogs.

Thus, it must be up to the Dolphins interior offensive line to hold up against the Rams’ hogs up front.

Tunsil at left guard and center Mike Pouncey make a formidable duo inside for Miami.

DE Cameron Wake

Outside linebacker Cam Wake is Miami’s premier pass rusher. The eighth-year veteran and former CFL standout has accumulated seven sacks this season.

Wake must be licking his chops looking at the Rams offensive line.

Wake lines up at left DE for the Dolphin’s 4-3 look meaning he will spend his Sunday lining up against right tackle Rob Havenstein. Big Rob has not performed up to par with his rookie campaign. In fact, he’s look like he’s regressed some (in fairness, the entire line seems to be inferior).

Here’s your initial injury concerns to keep in mind as we gear up for Week 11.

Los Angeles Rams

Name POS Injury Wed. Status
Tim Barnes C Foot DNP
Lamarcus Joyner CB Ankle DNP
Robert Quinn DE Illness DNP
Eugene Sims DE Concussion DNP
Nelson Spruce WR Calf DNP
Here’s the Miami Dolphins’ side of the report:

Miami Dolphins

Name POS Injury Wed. Status
Mike Hull LB Knee Full
Anthony Steen C/G Neck Full
Jermon Bushrod G/T Shoulder Limited
Jarvis Landry WR Shoulder Limited
Mike Pouncey C Hip Limited
Kenny Stills WR Calf Limited
Isa Abdul-Quddus S Ankle Limited
Branden Albert T Wrist DNP
Xavien Howard CB Knee DNP
Jelani Jenkins LB Knee/Hand DNP
Jason Jones DE Knee DNP
Mario Williams DE Ankle DNP
A satirical look at more than 75 years of Football's Rams history, combined with discussions of American Exceptionalism and almost 50 years of personal experience in the life of a Rams Fan. The history parallels and intertwines life to form a humorous, yet serious look at American HistoryWorld History, an American Football team, and Political Science.