NFL players will have the chance to share the causes that are important to them during all Week 13 games, as part of the NFL’s My Cause, My Cleats campaign. The initiative is a culmination of 18 months of collaborative work between the NFL and players across the league.
More than 500 players are planning to showcase their causes on-field during games, and many have worked directly with Nike, Under Armour and Adidas to design their cleats, which will arrive in locker rooms this week, and will be worn on-field for all Week 13 games.
Every cleat tells a story. Punter Johnny Hekker’s cleats will wear cleats (see photo above) that tell the stories of communities in East Africa that receive desperately-needed clean water through the Waterboys initiative, spearheaded by New England Patriots defensive end Chris Long. Defensive end William Hayes will wear green and purple cleats (see photo below) that tell the story of autism awareness through Holly Robinson Peete’s HollyRod Foundation. These are just a few examples of the causes important to players and the ways they’ll express their commitment. Beginning this week, players will start sharing images of their cleats and the stories behind them on social media, using the hashtag #MyCauseMyCleats
To learn more about the My Cause, My Cleats campaign, visit www.nfl.com/mycausemycleats and http://causeandeffect.playerstribune.com/
Rams' offense has started well, but fizzled quickly. Perhaps the Los Angeles Rams should simply treat every offensive possession as if it were their first.
They've been very good at putting up points to start games, but very bad thereafter. It's been the case pretty much all season. The Rams have scored on their first offensive drive in seven of their 11 games, with four of those scores -- including the one on Sunday, a 49-21 loss to the New Orleans Saints -- being touchdowns.
They're averaging 3.36 points per game on their opening offensive drive, sixth-highest in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. After that, though, the Rams are averaging 11.45 points -- dead last, by a wide margin.
Translation: They're good at scripting plays, but not necessarily good at adjusting to how a game evolves.
"We spend a lot of time trying to figure out what our openers are going to be and have had success, whether it’s been the first series or the second series in a number of games," said Rob Boras, in his first full season as the Rams' offensive coordinator.
"We've just got to continue that in the second half. Trying to script the openers, give the guys the plays that they know that we’re thinking about coming in the second half, to give them some comfort. We know how fast those halftimes go, but we've just got to find a way to do better. It’s the focus, and getting back to what we’re doing, and guys just playing one play at a time."
Jared Goff seeks first win while Tom Brady seeks record 201st. The first one was wet, the second one was loud and the third one will be cold.
Temperatures in Foxborough, Massachusetts, for Sunday -- site of the Los Angeles Rams' Week 13 matchup against the world-beating New England Patriots -- were expected to be as high as 41 degrees and as low as 21 degrees as of Thursday afternoon. That may not sound too harsh, but it is for someone like Jared Goff, born and raised in sunny California. The Rams' rookie quarterback faced rain in his debut at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, then dealt with deafening noise at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, and now he'll bundle up for Gillette Stadium.
"I've played in a bunch of cold weather," Goff said, referencing collegiate games in Washington, Oregon and Utah, as well as a finale at Cal with game-time temperatures around 35 degrees.
This will be different. This will be against a 9-2 Patriots team that has won an astounding 83 percent of its regular-season home games since 2001. This will be against Bill Belichick, a game-planning mastermind determined to make life uncomfortable for Goff in his third NFL start. This will be against Tom Brady, arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history.
"I’ve been a big fan of his growing up," Goff said. "Obviously, he’s one of the greats -- if not the greatest."
Brady and Goff both grew up in northern California. Brady is from San Mateo County, roughly 45 miles from Goff's hometown of Marin County. When Brady won his first Super Bowl, in 2001, Goff was 6 years old. When Brady won his second and third, from 2003 to 2004, Goff was still in elementary school. And when Brady won his fourth, in 2014, Goff was a sophomore at Cal.
Brady represents the second in a foursome of great quarterbacks whom Goff is going up against, after Drew Brees and before Matt Ryan and Russell Wilson. The Patriots quarterback will be seeking his 201st career win -- counting the postseason -- which would move him past Peyton Manning for the NFL record.
Goff, 22, will be seeking his first.
“He’s really good at everything, has been for a long time," Goff said of Brady. "Of course, there are little things that I’ll watch in him, Drew, Peyton and a bunch of guys across the league, that I’ll take from and have in the past, as well."
Goff operated under a very conservative passing attack in his debut against the Miami Dolphins at home, going 17-of-31 for 134 yards and attempting only five passes beyond 10 yards. He then threw three first-half touchdown passes against the New Orleans Saints, finishing 20-of-32 for 214 yards. But he also threw an interception and lost a fumble. And while Brees and the Saints lit it up in the second half, Goff was held to 3.9 yards per attempt.
Belichick called Goff "a very, very talented player with a great arm and the ability to make a lot of throws."
The Patriots won't have their super-human tight end, Rob Gronkowski, who is now slated for back surgery. And Brady himself is a bit hobbled with a troublesome knee. But the Patriots are still a major scoring threat, and Goff will have to make a lot of throws against an advanced scheme.
"I think it’s just the variety that they have," Goff said of the challenges Belichick's defense poses. "They change stuff pretty consistently and do what they do really well for a long time. It’s proven results. You don’t really know what to expect going in. You have an idea on film, but you know they’re going to bring something new every week. You have to be ready to adjust.”
Benefiting from Break, Robinson Expected Back at LT. Last Sunday's game against New Orleans was different for Greg Robinson.
Earlier in the week, Rams head coach Jeff Fisher made the decision to temporarily replace the left tackle in the lineup with Rodger Saffold. As Fisher termed it, Robinson just needed the time off. While the young lineman clearly has ability, the mental mistakes and costly penalties had just piled up.
“Guys, sometimes in their career, need a break,” Fisher said Monday. “I know he refocused, he recharged, he rebooted and he’s ready to go.”
And so the 24-year-old Robinson, who had started 35 consecutive games for the Rams at left tackle, watched Los Angeles’ offense take on New Orleans from the sideline as one of the club’s seven inactive players. It was tough — especially considering Robinson is a Louisiana native and had numerous family members in attendance at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome — but the left tackle said he tried to make the most of the experience.
“It was the decision they made, and all I can do is just accept it. And it wasn’t like I could tell them, ‘No, I’m not sitting down,’” Robinson said after Wednesday’s practice. “So, if it was smart for him to allow me to take a break, I feel like I used it to the best of my ability, and just accepted what was at task, and just tried to move on.”
What made the experience a bit more challenging for Robinson was seeing Saffold leave the game with a hand injury in the second quarter.
“Yeah, on the sidelines it kind of got me down. But, like I said, there was nothing I could do about that,” Robinson said.
Offensive coordinator Rob Boras noted Robinson handled the situation well both leading up to and on Sunday.
“Anytime that you feel threatened, and you get something taken away, I think it refocuses your energy and channels your focus,” Boras said. “I think in communication with Greg, and just the guys that were on the sideline just talking about Greg’s energy, and what he was on the sideline, and how he handled the situation, I think spoke volumes. He didn’t pout, he handled it, he was communicating, making calls.”
As the Rams get set to take on the Patriots this Sunday, Fisher has said he expects Robinson to be back in his starting role at left tackle.
“I’m doing fine. Like I said from the beginning — all I can do is get better. It’s coaches’ decisions, and it’s a business at the end of the day,” Robinson said. “So take it how it comes, and just continue trying my best to get better each day.”
The head coach has noticed some encouraging signs from Robinson in terms of preparation this week.
“He’s been great. He understands,” Fisher said Wednesday. “Every once in a while, when you take a step back and watch what’s going on and see things through a different window — it’s life-changing.
“He is really excited right now. He’s been in here early, he’s staying late, he’s focused,” Fisher continued. “We’ve got some stuff behind him and he’s excited about playing.”
In his third season, Robinson said he feels like he’s progressed throughout the year — acknowledging that it may not seem that way to many. And now that he’s expected to line up at his regular spot once again, Robinson said he’s focusing on making sure he knows exactly what to do on each play.
“Honestly, I’m playing full speed, I feel. But there’s sometimes I’m just moving a little slower in getting to my spots. But that’s just something that I need to spend a little extra time studying and making sure I can get to those spots a little faster,” Robinson said.
“He’s embracing it right now,” Fisher said. “It’s a combination of technique, it’s a combination of some outside distractions and some misunderstandings – maybe a little lack of preparation. By all accounts right now, he’s ready to go play, so I’m proud of him.”
And that won’t be the easiest of tasks against a formidable opponent like the Patriots. New England head coach Bill Belichick and his staff are known for their ability to craft team-specific gameplans. Robinson said offensive line coach Paul Boudreau has been stressing that fact in the classroom.
“I was speaking with coach ‘Bou’ and he’s said in meetings that Belichick just shows different things that we probably won’t see, and it varies with different teams,” Robinson said. “So I feel like all we can do is put our heads down and grind and just keep chipping on it. And hopefully we come through with the ‘W,’ because we really need it.”
The Rams listed five players on their injury report, none of whom participated in Wednesday’s session.
Wide receiver Tavon Austin (chest), center Tim Barnes (foot), offensive lineman Andrew Donnal (hip), defensive end Robert Quinn (concussion), and offensive lineman Rodger Saffold (hand) did not practice.
Though he left the matchup with New Orleans in the second quarter and did not return, Fisher said Saffold has not been ruled out for Sunday’s game in New England.
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 History, World History, an American Football team, and Political Science.