Friday, November 25, 2016

The Los Angeles Rams Weekly

Inglewood Turkey Distribution with Snoop Dogg
Inglewood Turkey Distribution with Snoop Dogg
The Los Angeles Rams and Snoop Dogg teamed up with Mayor Butts Monday to give free turkeys to the city of Inglewood. Click to watch.

Los Angeles Rams stadium breaks ground. The new $2.66 billion HKS-designed football stadium for the Los Angeles Rams broke ground in Inglewood, California late last week, bringing the newly-relocated National Football League (NFL) team one step closer toward completing the team’s transition from Saint Louis to Los Angeles.
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The stadium, designed by New York–based HKS, features a giant triangular roof supported by thick columns and made of ETFE. This super-roof also spans across an adjacent outdoor lobby called “champions plaza” to be used as a communal gathering spot for game day spectators. Los Angeles–based Mia Lehrer + Associates is acting as landscape architect for the project. The stadium has been designed to accommodate two professional teams and to seat 80,000 spectators for these types of sporting events, with the San Diego Chargers potentially lining up to use the stadium as their new home. The recent election dashed that team’s bid to fund a new stadium in San Diego proper, opening up the potential for the Inglewood stadium to host that team as well as the Rams. HKS has designed to the multi-use stadium to accommodate up to 100,000 spectators for concerts that utilize the playing field for floor seating and the stadium is also being considered as part of the city’s 2024 Olympic bid.
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The stadium will be located at the heart of the new City of Champions district, a purpose-built mixed-use, entertainment, and leisure neighborhood being constructed on the site of the recently-demolished Hollywood Park fairgrounds. The City of Champions development has been under construction for several months and with construction of the stadium component of the development (a late-in-the-game addition to the neighborhood) now underway, plans are quickly coalescing around making the new neighborhood a focal point for the region. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has publicly endorsed the idea of extending existing light rail system to the stadium and plans are currently being developed to provide such access.
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The stadium is due to be completed in time for the 2019-2020 NFL season.
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Jared Goff's dream debut turns into nightmare Rams loss. She was leaning over a railing atop the wide, well-worn tunnel leading from the L.A. Coliseum's locker rooms to the corner of the west end zone, waiting for the chance to make a visual connection with her son before he took the field to thunderous applause, when Nancy Goff's eyes got unmistakably moist.

Alas, she wasn't tearing up: The moment Nancy's son, Jared, had been dreaming about for most of his 22 years was about to arrive, but instead of being awash in sentiment and emotion, she was wiping away raindrops from her seemingly ageless face. It was an act Nancy -- whose game-day attire included stylish aviator shades, a long, thin, white sweater and white sandals -- would perform over and over throughout a soggy Sunday afternoon in Southern California. Wash, rinse, repeat.

"It's just so un-friggin-believable that it's raining here, today, of all days," Nancy said as she waited for Jared to appear a few minutes before kickoff, while standing a few yards from her and her family's seats near the bottom of Section 10. "I mean, how is this happening? I just never thought that when this day came, it would be like this."

It was Mother Nature 1, Mother Goff 0 -- and by nightfall, she was on the wrong side of a more significant score. After utterly dominating the Miami Dolphins for 53 minutes, the Rams dropped a 14-10 decision in front of 83,483 fans, spoiling the promising but ultimately unfulfilling debut of the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

While Goff's future may be bright, the Rams' newly installed quarterback of the present had a mood to match the dreary weather as he stood alone at his locker following Sunday's stunning defeat.

"That was just brutal," Goff told me, slapping his right hand against his knee for emphasis. "We had it. We let it slip away. And the worst part is, we did it to ourselves."

He wasn't lying: With the Rams (4-6) holding a 10-0 lead midway through the fourth quarter and Goff guiding them toward what looked like a potential game-clinching score, it appeared as though this was a heartwarming, made-for-television Tinseltown tale approaching its inevitably cheery ending. Instead, for Goff and the home team, a horror flick ensued.

Call it Nightmare At Exposition Park.

"Jared was everything we needed," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said as he stood in the hallway leading to the coaches' locker room, a few minutes after completing his press conference. "His presence was great. His communication was great. He made reads and checks and got us in the right protections and had command of the run game. He slid in the pocket and he made throws. He was in control, and he knew it -- it was no different than the way I was feeling.

"He didn't lose it. Had the defense made a stop, we'd be in here smiling, and the story would have been, 'Jared won the game for us.' And up until the end, he thought he was gonna win this game, and so did I."

Seven months after the Rams selected the former Cal star with the top pick, and five days after Fisher announced that Goff had supplanted placeholder Case Keenum as the starter, there was a palpable sense of excitement in the misty air as fans flocked to this aged stadium steeped in so much history. And nowhere was the anticipation greater than in Parking Lot 1, where a couple dozen of Goff's family members (including father Jerry and big sister Lauren) and friends tailgated outside an RV, with pulled pork and California microbrews enhancing the festivities.

"I'm nervous, but I'm also very, very excited," Nancy said. "The first few weeks, they were doing well, and I think Jared was fine sitting and watching. But the last few weeks, he's been like, 'I can't wait' -- and now, the wait is finally over."

Why now? Well, glad you asked. Four games into the season, the Rams -- on the strength of a surprising, 17-13 road victory over the Arizona Cardinals -- were 3-1, and Fisher felt no compulsion to rush his rookie into action. They then proceeded to lose their next four, with Keenum becoming increasingly unproductive.

Last Sunday, L.A. slogged out a 9-6 road victory over the New York Jets, marking the second time this season the Rams had managed to win a game without scoring a touchdown. By that point, Fisher was already convinced that the time had come to go with Goff, whose promise had compelled the franchise to swing a blockbuster deal with the Tennessee Titans allowing them to move up 14 spots in the draft.

"Look, he's the future of the franchise, and we went up and drafted the kid for a reason," one Rams source familiar with Fisher's mindset said before Sunday's game. "The offense needed a spark, and we're not totally out of [playoff contention], so we might as well see what he's got.

"There'll probably be some moments where he makes throws that make you go, 'Wow -- I see why he's the No. 1 pick.' And there'll be others where he looks like a rookie making his first start. But the bottom line is, what's the worst thing that's gonna happen? We don't score a touchdown?"

After the game, during which Goff put up relatively pedestrian numbers (17 of 31, 134 yards, no touchdowns, no interceptions) but was hardly overwhelmed by the moment, Fisher told me, "It was a progression. All the way through [the season], he grew. We saw it every week. And finally, we'd seen enough where I knew it was time."

On Tuesday morning, Goff and Keenum were alone in a room watching game film at the team's temporary training facility in Thousand Oaks, California, when Fisher walked in and abruptly informed them, "I'm going to go with Jared this week," explaining his reasoning over the next few minutes before departing. The situation could have been abundantly awkward, "but it really wasn't," Goff recalled, "because Case has been such a pro about this, and we've really been supportive of each other the whole time."

Goff spent the next several days grinding as though it were finals week at Cal. "I called him Thursday night to check in," Goff's cousin, Kevin Mirchandani, said at the pregame tailgate. "I said, 'What are you doing?' He said, 'I'm alone at the facility, just watching film.' And that's pretty much how it was all week. I'm anxious, but I've been watching him play since Pop Warner, and I've never seen a game be too big for him."

Seconds later, as if scripted by a Hollywood screenwriter, it began to rain -- and it was impossible not to think back to Goff's freshman year at Cal, when he had such a miserable outing in a rain-drenched game at Oregon that he was pulled in the first quarter. In the months leading up to the draft, he addressed his can't throw a wet ball stigma by shining in a private workout for the Rams in a Berkeley downpour and, at the end of his Pro Day throwing session, uncorking a football subjected to some squirts from a Gatorade bottle by Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton.

"This isn't even really rain," Jerry Goff said hopefully as he stood in his seat in Section 10, near the southwest corner of the stadium, a few minutes before Sunday's kickoff. "It shouldn't make much of a difference to him. When I watched him spin it in pregame warmups, it really calmed me down."

As the rainfall steadily increased, however, it became clear that both offenses were affected by the elements. In fairness to Goff, he seemed to handle the wet conditions at least as well as veteran Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill, whose first 11 drives of the game ended with 10 punts and a third-quarter interception (one play after Miami had recovered a fumble by Rams tight end Lance Kendricks, who'd just caught a nice throw over the middle by Goff but subsequently lost his grip).

The Rams, meanwhile, punctuated their second drive with a 24-yard touchdown run by halfback Todd Gurley, one play after Goff's crisp slant to receiver Kenny Britt that resulted in a 19-yard gain. Moments like that warmed a mother's heart -- even as Nancy Goff's sandal-clad feet were subjected to an unanticipated stream of chilliness.

"We obviously didn't see the rain coming," Nancy said during a third-quarter TV timeout. Turning to her daughter, a UCLA graduate student who also spent her undergraduate years at the Westwood campus, she asked, "Lauren -- during all the years you've lived here, how many days have been like this, where it just rains steadily?"

"Like today?" Lauren asked, laughing. "Maybe two. I mean, growing up in Northern California, we got days like this all the time, and sometimes I kind of miss them. But it would be great if I could just be curled up on my couch."

Said Nancy: "You know what this is? It's 'The Goff Luck.' "

The Goff Luck?

"Obviously, we've been very lucky in life, so it's not literal," Nancy said. "But sometimes odd things happen, where we go, 'Is this really happening to us right now?' and this goes waaay back on Jerry's side of the family, so it's something we've always kind of laughed about. The rain today is classic Goff Luck."

There was some Goff skill on display, too. He showed the propensity for smart, quick decision-making and trademark rapid release that made him such an enticing prospect. He picked up blitzes, uncorked some of the throws (like deep outs) that Keenum had trouble completing and made relatively few mistakes. Goff also slid in the pocket to extend throws and surprisingly did some damage with his feet, rushing four times for 11 yards. In the fourth quarter, he had a crowd-pleasing, 11-yard scamper (on third-and-10) that was called back because of an illegal block by left tackle Greg Robinson.

After one run, Goff told me later, referee Gene Steratore came up to him and joked, "You keep running around like that, and I'm gonna have to make you quit."

Conversely, Goff at times looked like a player making his first career start, sailing some passes and largely failing to stretch the field in the manner his coaches had hoped. He took only one sack, but it was a doozy: On a third-and-4 play in the second quarter, Goff spun in the pocket, seemed to lose his spatial awareness and drifted right into the path of Dolphins defensive end Cameron Wake, who put a hit on the quarterback that loosely translated to, Stay Woke.

"That was pretty much my 'Welcome to the NFL moment,' " Goff said afterward as he left the stadium, walking about three feet behind the smiling Wake. "I made a bad decision, and he made me pay for it. He crushed me."

In the end, however, Goff was still standing -- and at least one renowned quarterback guru was impressed.

"We pressured the s--- out of him, and he didn't look bothered at all," Dolphins coach Adam Gase told me after exiting his postgame press conference. "I mean, believe me, I had my own problems -- but from what I could tell, he handled the moment and executed the plan. It's a good sign for them."

All signs pointed to a Rams victory after they got the ball back at midfield with 11:07 remaining and a 10-0 lead. Goff confidently drove the Rams to the Miami 30, with Britt catching a 6-yard pass on fourth-and-7. Fisher considered going for it but instead sent kicker Greg Zuerlein onto the field, only to watch his 48-yard field-goal attempt hit the left upright.

Then, suddenly, the rain abated -- and Tannehill and the Dolphins awoke, sandwiching a pair of rapid-fire touchdown drives around a three-and-out on which Goff threw underneath to Brian Quick for a six-yard gain on third-and-10. A pair of untimely personal fouls on Rams defenders (linebacker Alec Ogletree and defensive tackle Aaron Donald) didn't help the home team's cause, either.

"I almost wish it had kept raining the whole game," Goff said. "When it was raining, we didn't want to put it in the air and take too many chances, and they were kind of approaching it the same way. Then the rain let up and it was like they said, 'Whoa, maybe we can throw it.' "

Tannehill's 9-yard touchdown pass to DeVante Parker put Miami ahead by four with 36 seconds remaining, but the Dolphins' fifth consecutive victory would not be secured until the final play. Benny Cunningham returned the ensuing kickoff to the Rams' 41, and a pair of Goff completions moved the ball to the Dolphins' 48 with five seconds to go.

The young quarterback dropped back one last time, deftly swept to his left to avoid pressure and uncorked a high pass that drifted toward the middle of the end zone.

"The main thing was, I didn't want to get sacked," Goff said. "And when I let it go, I really felt we were gonna get lucky on the Hail Mary."

Instead, the Rams got The Goff Luck: The ball sailed toward the waiting hands of Parker -- moonlighting as a defensive back in the prevent defense -- who deflected it out of the end zone.

The Rams trudged into the locker room a grumpy bunch, but harboring hope that their young franchise quarterback will build upon an unsatisfying debut and provide some punch to an underwhelming attack.

"The kid has some s--- to him," one Rams assistant said afterward. "It sucks to lose, but you never really know how it's gonna go until you throw him in there, and it went well. He definitely has the poise you want in a quarterback."

For what it's worth, one quarterback who knows a bit about the subject -- a certain first-ballot Hall of Famer -- said he liked what he saw of Goff.

"Yeah, absolutely," said Dolphins special advisor to the president/CEO Dan Marino. "He did good."

Well, for the most part, he did. Goff's biggest failure on Sunday, it turns out, may have been his ill-advised wardrobe choices (hey, it runs in the family). The NorCal native walked out of the Coliseum and into the rainy SoCal night wearing jeans and a button-up dress shirt and was summarily soaked by the time he reached the parking lot, where scores of Rams family members were huddled under a white tent.

"I hate going in there," Goff said of the family area. Instead, he stood out in the rain until his family members spotted him. When Nancy reached her son, she wrapped him in a robust hug and said, "Jared, you did great. I'm so proud of you."

"Thanks, mom," he said softly.

This time, her eyes were filled with more than raindrops.

Practice Report : Goff 'Lights Out' in Wednesday Session

Practice how you play.

It’s an old cliché that gets thrown around frequently — perhaps as a motivation tactic, perhaps as an admonition. But if the saying turns out to be true this week for quarterback Jared Goff, then the Rams should be in good shape on Sunday.

“Jared was lights out today, which is good to see,” Rams head coach Fisher said.

“Today, he was cutting it loose,” Fisher later added. “He’s got a really good feel for it. Last week was his first week as our starter and against that good defense. But, man, this week, so far after two days of practice, he’s putting it down the field and doing some good things. He’s in complete control of what we’re doing, so it’s good to see. It’s very encouraging.”

It’s high praise from the head coach, who watched the No. 1 overall pick complete 17 of his 31 passes for 134 yards in his debut.

“Just letting it fly a little bit — throwing the ball around. It felt good,” Goff said of Wednesday’s session. “I thought everyone did a good job today. I thought we were really crisp. One of the sharpest practices I think we’ve had in a long time and it felt good.”

It’s an encouraging sign during a week where Goff would certainly like to take a step forward. He effectively described his performance against the Dolphins as middling.

“I thought it was OK,” Goff said. “There is obviously stuff I want back, stuff you would like to do better, and then there’s stuff you that you notice on film that you did pretty good — there’s a little bit both ways. But it was OK.”

One of the storylines on Goff to come out of his game against Miami was the lack of downfield attempts. Fisher has said that in retrospect, it might have been something the Rams should have done more. But as Goff explained, there were circumstances that helped dictate the playcalling.

“It was raining early and we didn’t want to throw it deep, because it was raining,” Goff said. “We took the lead, it stopped raining. We’re winning, we’re running the ball well, and our defense is playing great — we’re going to run the ball. That’s kind of how it went.”

Nevertheless, offensive coordinator Rob Boras said the Rams are confident that when the situations calls for it, Goff will be able to throw down the field well.

“We know what his arm talent is, and we understand that we have to be able to push the ball down the field to make some plays,” Boras said. “He’s going to manage games for us, because that’s what quarterbacks have to do, regardless of their talent level. But, then he’s going to be able to make some plays down the field, and we’re very confident in this ability to do that, as well as our receivers and tight ends to make plays down the field, as well.”

As Boras explained, one of the ways Goff will benefit from last Sunday is the many in-game situations that he had to go through.

“Quite a few situations that came up in that game that don’t happen very often — the weather, he was backed up on our own one-yard line, a two-minute drive finishing with a Hail Mary, a four-minute drive,” Boras said. “So, about every situation that’s going to come up over the course of a season, happened to come up in one game for him. I thought his demeanor, and the way he handled everything mentally was fantastic.”

“Definitely a lot of stuff in — with the weather as well as the defense they were running,” Goff said. “It was good to see a lot of different stuff. They’re a tough defense. It was good to get some good stuff out of that.”

This week will be another challenge against a New Orleans defense that has improved considerably. Led by defensive coordinator Dennis Allen — who worked under Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams in New Orleans in 2009 and 2010 — Boras said there are elements of the Saints’ defense that are quite similar to Los Angeles.

“They’re a very talented defense,” Boras said. “Their defensive coordinator Dennis Allen is a Gregg Williams disciples, so there’s a lot of similarities there. We know they’re aggressive.”

“They’re good. They mix it up,” Goff said. “They run a lot of similar stuff to what our defense runs I think. There’s a lot of carryover — we’ve seen a lot of it, as well as they’ve seen a lot of our stuff through going against themselves. But it’s been good. They’re athletic, they’re long and they’re good at all three levels. It’s going to be a good challenge.”

One where, if circumstances allow, Goff may have more opportunities to take downfield shots.

“I sure hope so,” Goff said. “We’ve got some good stuff in this week, got some really good playing going. Guys look really good, look fast. I think we have got a good chance to push the ball a little bit.”

Rams hint at more deep throws for Goff vs. Saints

Jared Goff hardly turned heads in his NFL debut, but the Rams are hinting at turning him loose this Sunday against the Saints.

"I sure hope so," Goff said after Wednesday's practice, per Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times. "We've got some good stuff in this week, got a really good plan going."

After lobbing just five passes over 10 yards through the air in Week 11 -- and completing none of them -- the No. 1 pick in the draft told reporters: "I think we've got a good chance to push the ball a little bit."

In theory, the rookie's arm strength is the difference between Goff and benched starter Case Keenum. We didn't see that against the Dolphins, though, as the No. 1 overall pick hit 17 of 31 passes for just 134 yards in a rainy 14-10 loss to Miami -- the team's second-lowest output through the air all season.

To his credit, Goff didn't turn the ball over, something Keenum did eight times over his previous five starts. Still, the rookie failed to flip the switch for a bland offense ranked last in points per game.

For what it's worth, coach Jeff Fisher also praised Goff for "cutting it loose" during Wednesday's session. After what we've seen from the Rams, though, it's all pretty words until it happens on Sunday.

Tuesday’s moves left L.A. with 52 players on the 53-man roster, and the club filled the final spot on Wednesday by re-signing cornerback Steve Williams. The Rams initially picked up the USC product back in early September, but waived him on Sept. 23. Williams has since had his second stint with the Chargers, who released him on Nov. 8.

Waived on Tuesday, cornerback Troy Hill will remain with the Rams on the practice squad. Hill said he was thankful the coaches have allowed him another chance with the team.

“I let them down and they gave me this second opportunity,” Hill said. “So it’s a humbling experience and I just want to do everything I can to show them that I can be trusted and work my way back.”

Fisher has said that Hill was honest with him when discussing the off-the-field incident, which is one of the factors for why the cornerback has remained with the organization — albeit in a significantly different role.

“I just want to show this team and everybody in the organization that they can trust me,” Hill said. “I’m just going to keep working my way back up until I prove myself again.”

The Los Angeles Rams have promoted CB Michael Jordan and LB Nicholas Grigsby to the active roster and signed LB Randell Johnson to the practice squad, the team announced today.

Additionally, the Rams have placed LB Josh Forrest on the Reserve/Injured list and waived CB Dwayne Gratz and CB Troy Hill.


The Rams are quite healthy for a team in Week 12 of the season, as only two players missed practice with injuries.

Center Tim Barnes (foot) and defensive end Ethan Westbrooks (thigh) did not participate in Wednesday’s session.

Defensive end William Hayes was excused from Wednesday’s practice to tend to a personal matter, according to Fisher.

“It’s a family illness that he was excused for. He’s fine,” Fisher said. “That’s more important than what we’re doing.”

In each of their last four games, the Rams have scored only 10 points or fewer. They’ve won one of those gams — last week’s 9-6 victory over the Jets — but the lack of scoring has driven their season points per game average down to just 14.9.

While Jared Goff's future may be bright, the Rams' newly installed quarterback of the present had a mood to match the dreary weather as he stood alone at his locker following Sunday's stunning defeat.

For the Los Angeles Rams, Sunday’s 14-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins was historic in two ways.

While it wasn't what Rams fans would have liked, with Los Angeles losing a 10-point lead in the final five minutes and falling 14-10 to Miami, coach Jeff Fisher said the rookie ably handled the mechanics of the game.

Grading Goff’s First NFL Start | Pro Football Focus
How did top overall pick Jared Goff fare in his regular-season debut? Senior Analyst Sam Monson breaks down the performance.

The Goff era finally started in Los Angeles, and the result wasn’t what the Rams had in mind.

Jared Goff would be able to throw deep more often, the Rams declared last week, and running back Todd Gurley would be an even greater showcase option behind the rookie quarterback.

When Miami took over at its 23 with 6 minutes 40 seconds to play, the Dolphins trailed 10-0. But given the struggles its offense was having against the Los Angeles Rams’ defense, it might as well have been 30-0.

It’s a dangerous formula for winning, and Sunday afternoon it blew up in their faces. The Los Angeles Rams rely heavily on their defense to win, a method made necessary by having one of the NFL’s worst offenses.

Jared Goff is ready for the next step. In his first regular-season game, Goff was not asked to do much.

Given everything Jeff Fisher could have said about Jared Goff’s first career NFL start Sunday, what Fisher chose to say said everything you need to know about the Rams’ coach.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher is closing in on a dubious NFL record: Most games lost ever by a head coach.

No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff finally made his first start at quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams yesterday, and he looked a lot like the player we saw in the preseason, which is to say he was kind of butt.

Succumbing to pressure and temptation after waiting 10 weeks, Los Angeles Rams Coach Jeff Fisher announced this week the Rams would start first overall draft pick Jared Goff at quarterback.

Here are a few things you might have missed during the Rams’ 14-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday at the Coliseum.

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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.