Friday, May 20, 2016

The Los Angeles Rams Weekly Update!

Watch Los Angeles Rams Hard Knocks trailer. Watch the trailer for the upcoming season of HBO’s Hard Knocks featuring the Los Angeles Rams.
The upcoming season of Hard Knocks will be like nothing we’ve seen before during the long and successful run of the HBO production. The five hour-long episodes take us inside training camp in the NFL and behind closed doors to see players being released and inside the trainers room where players get the awful news that their season is over before it even started.

With the Los Angeles Rams the focus of the Hard Knocks season that begins on August 9, we’ll see the inner-workings of a franchise that moved from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

Plus, we’ll also see the team that had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft with California quarterback Jared Goff one of the main attractions of this season.

Now, the trailer for the Rams season of Hard Knocks is available.

.@HBO's #HardKnocks: Training Camp with the @RamsNFL.

The 69-second trailer doesn’t show a lot, but it offers a taste of what we’re going to see in the five, hour-long episodes that begin on August 9. This is one of my favorite things HBO does, besides great stuff like Game of Thrones, Veep and Silicon Valley, so I can’t wait for this.

It’ll be cool to see the local boy Goff indoctrinate himself to his new teammates and see if he’ll be able to pick up the offense quickly or if he’ll struggle to transition from the college game.

I also can’t wait to see who becomes a star during the process and lets their sense of humor shine during the series. I wish Chris Long was still on the team because he’d be a fan favorite, but with guys like Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley around there is still plenty of star power.

Jeff Fisher Says He’s Excited To Be On Hard Knocks. The Los Angeles Rams will be featured on this season of HBO’s Hard Knocks and while the show hasn’t even started yet, Jeff Fisher and his team are excited. Fisher said in a press conference to promote the series,

“We want this to be the best show to date. We want to pave the way for the member clubs to line up for the opportunity to do this …The players are familiar, they understand what’s ahead, we’ve talked to the coaches and they’re excited.”

It will not only be exciting for the players as they will be featured on television, but it will also be exciting for the fans, especially the one’s in Los Angeles. Fans will get to see the behind the scenes footage of training camp that is usually hidden for the public such as practices, meetings, and player cuts.

The series, produced by NFL Films, already has had crews gather footage on the club’s move from St. Louis. While that aspect won’t be easy for the fans of St. Louis to see, it will be cool to see the process and what the move was like.

Given all the Rams’ young talent and the fact that they just drafted their new franchise quarterback, this could make for an exciting season of Hard Knocks. With characters such as Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald, and Johnny Hekker, it could be an entertaining season.

The show kicks off its five-episode season on August ninth, airing every Tuesday night after than and then ending with the finale on September sixth.

Rams sign Dominique Easley to one-year contract. Former New England Patriots first-round draft pick Dominique Easley has found a new NFL home.

The Los Angeles Rams have signed the third-year defensive tackle to a one-year contract, NFL Media's Rand Getlin reported, via a source familiar with the deal.

Easley was released by the Patriots last month in a move that stunned many league observers. NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reports, the Patriots still owe Easley more than a million in guaranteed money this year.

Although Easley ended each of his first two NFL seasons on injured reserve after tearing both ACLs in college, he was New England's most disruptive pass rusher when healthy. Prior to last season, coach Bill Belichick lauded Easley an "explosive player that is very disruptive."

Pro Football Focus credited Easley with one quarterback pressure for every six pass-rushing attempts in 2015, a better rate than All Pros Aaron Donald and Geno Atkins.

The Patriots opted to cut their losses due to Easley's philosophical differences with the organization's injury program, CSN New England's Tom Curran reported at the time.

The Rams are getting an effective first-round talent with major durability and attitude concerns. The question is whether he will ready to open the season after tearing his quadriceps in December.

Dominique Easley signs with Los Angeles Rams. The Los Angeles Rams take a shot on the upside of former first-round defensive tackle Dominique Easley.

After getting released by the New England Patriots earlier this offseason, the Los Angeles Rams have signed 24-year-old defensive tackle Dominique Easley. The one-year-deal was first reported by ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter.

Easley was a first-round selection by the Patriots (29th overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft. Easley entered the NFL with a ton of upside as an interior pass rusher. However, torn ACL injuries on both knees in college caused Easley to come in with massive injury concerns.

While he has shown some flashes over the past couple of seasons, Easley finished both 2014 and 2015 on injured reserve. He finished his Patriots’ career with 25 tackles, three sacks, and an interception while mostly playing in obvious passing situations.

Easley was expected to be the Patriots’ primary pass rusher on the interior in 2016, but they obviously felt they were better off going in another direction.

While this is mostly just a shot in the dark, Easley did still show some nice ability last season. Before all of the injuries took over his career, Easley was an elite-level interior pass rusher in college. It may be unlikely that he ever gets back on that level, but Easley is at least capable of creating pressure in short doses.

Signing Easley gives the Rams five former first-round selections on their defensive line joining Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers and the also recently signed Quinton Coples. Easley will help the Rams replace the production left by Nick Fairley, another first-round defensive lineman who joined the New Orleans Saints via free agency this off season.

What Dominique Easley Offers to the Rams. On Tuesday, it was announced that former New England Patriots defensive tackle Dominique Easley had signed a one-year deal with the Rams, providing Los Angeles with their fifth former first round defensive lineman.

Easley is an eccentric oddity, a character that has been cast as a me-first individual since his days as a Florida Gator. As a member of the 2014 draft class, and one of my favorite prospects of said class, Easley was an incredible talent, and likely would’ve been taken higher than 29th had he not needed ACL surgery on both knees. He was an explosive defensive tackle, who, despite being undersized for the position (6’2″ 290), had a non-stop motor, swift first step, and refined hands that stayed active, could rip and slap when rushing the passer, and help him win with leverage. Despite his reported character concerns, he was also voted team captain. To put Easley’s first step into context, check out these images via @PP_Rich_Hill. Easley’s time as a Patriot was limited to 22 games in two seasons due to continued injuries that saw him on the IR before the regular season had even been completed; he finished with 25 total tackles, three sacks, and an interception in New England. Once more, he never quit fit into the “Patriot Way” and continued to serve as a headache.

We are well aware of Jeff Fisher’s desire to bring along these so-called “character risks,” which for the most part, have worked out (see: Jenkins, Janoris; Fairley, Nick; Johnson, Trumaine; Olgetree, Alec). Easley provides depth along an already-talented Rams’ line, but, when healthy, figures to be more of a force next to Aaron Donald than Fairley was.

Against the run
Easley’s first step and use of his hands translated the next level as it should have, serving him well along the line: he lined up as a 0-, 3-, 5-, 6-Tech, and even in a Wide 9 alignment during his days at Florida where he was able to use the aforementioned traits to shoot gaps and play in the backfield.
(3-Tech; outside shade of guard)
(0-Tech; head up over center)
(5-Tech; 5 shade)
(6-Tech; was head up on tight end before he went in motion)

He played a similar role during his days in New England, while occasionally lining up as a nose tackle due to his athleticism and ability to, you guessed it, control gaps. What’s not lost in Easley’s scouting report is his outstanding motor and non-stop hustle, always looking to make a play. He moves well laterally, sheds blocks win a timely fashion, and can make plays all by himself; his ability to win with leverage also translated to the next level and served as a key facet of his game.

Against the pass
For all his success as a run stopper, Easley’s work as a pass rusher looks to be his greatest strength and something that will provide a boost to the Rams. He was graded by Pro Football Focus as a top five defensive tackle, using a production-per-snap measurement, despite seeing a lowly 427 snaps. Using that same metric, he was PFF’s second most productive pass rusher.

He can have an impact on the interior or widened out, utilizing his strength and quickness through the gaps to get the quarterback, provide pressure, and open up things for his teammates.
Here is a great example of Easley’s use of his hands that remain active and propel him to the quarterback just before his rush is about to stall. His quickness off the ball forces Khaled Holmes on his heels, allowing Easley to use his aforementioned rip move.
Finally, Easley is lined up as 0-Tech when he explodes off the ball and gets into the center with ease. Had he stuck with his early plan of bull rushing him into the quarterback a little longer, Easley might’ve better-executed his swim move. Regardless, he manages to walk the center back four yards- one of the nose tackle’s primary pass rushing objectives- and ends up in Ponder’s line of sight, which, coupled him getting his hands up, disrupts Ponder’s view. The interception is a testament to Easley’s hustle as he doesn’t give up once the ball is released; it’s one helluva play for a defensive lineman.

Despite Easley’s health issues over the years, it’s hard not to be excited about what he brings to the table. He is only 24 years old, and it appears his best football is ahead of him while playing on a line with Donald and Robert Quinn, who are expected to draw more double teams and defensive focus each week. Thus, Easley should undergo a seamless transition in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Rams WR Mike Thomas could have a surprising 2016 season.
Dec 5, 2015; Bowling Green, KY, USA; Southern Miss Golden Eagles wide receiver Mike Thomas (88) runs off the field with teammates after scoring a touchdown against Western Kentucky Hilltoppers during the first half of the Conference USA football championship game at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
With the 206th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, The Los Angeles Rams select Mike Thomas, WR Southern Mississippi

The Los Angeles Rams went offense for the most part of their draft picks, and their selection of WR Mike Thomas could be a steal. According to Pro Football Focus, their team of evaluators released its list of the top 10 sleeper picks of the 2016 NFL draft as Thomas checked in at No. 3 on the list. Thomas had their 11th highest receiving grade of all the wideouts in this year’s class. According to PFF’s metrics, Thomas averaged 2.98 yards per route run, which was fifth best among receivers in the class.

Pretty good selection with the 206th pick if you ask me. He also shined in his senior year at Southern Mississippi. Thomas Tallied 1,391 receiving yards and 311 kickoff return yards for 1,702 all-purpose yards. Finished the year with 1,391 yards receiving on 71 catches and fourteen touchdowns. With that in mind, PFF also mentioned Thomas flashed signs of a future star.

Thomas likely fell in the draft due to average measurable and the fact that he played against a lower level of competition at Southern Miss. But he had the 11th highest receiving grade in this draft class, and flashed the kind of ability at times that leads you to believe he has a chance to develop into a very special player. His 2.98 yards per route run average was the fifth-best mark of any receiver in this draft class. His second-highest game grade of the year came against Washington in the bowl game, which should at least somewhat dampen fears about the level of competition he faced. He’s a potential steal for the Rams, which currently doesn’t have the strongest offensive supporting cast around new QB Jared Goff.

If the Los Angeles Rams use Thomas in the offense, I think he does have the potential to prove his value was a lot higher than the 206th draft pick. According to Ramblin Fan Staff Writer T.J. Randall, he pictures Thomas having 31 receptions for 354 yards and two touchdowns in the 2016 season. If Franchise quarterback Jared Goff can make an early friendship with Thomas in training camp, expect those two to continue to help each other out on the offense. Thomas also got an early draft grade of “A” from Ramblin Fan Co-Editor Blaine Grisak.

“Being drafted in the 6th round, not only did they get good value, but they get a guy that’s motivated to prove people wrong. There is a good chance he becomes the number two receiver for the Rams this year on the other side of Kenny Britt with Tavon Austin playing in the slot.”

Trust me, Los Angeles Rams WR Mike Thomas is one to watch this season. He’s motivated and ready to bring his talent to Los Angeles. Do you think Mike Thomas can prove the doubters wrong in 2016?

Todd Gurley's best runs are not only impressive in result, but also in process. The NFL is slowly returning to the days of old where running backs are selected with premium first round picks. The NFL is often dubbed a passing league, sure, but the best teams of late have also had strong rushing attacks. Todd Gurley marked the return of high level running backs entering the league, followed by Ezekiel Elliot in 2016 and a plethora of running backs for the 2017 class, such as Dalvin Cook, Leonard Fournette and Christian McCaffrey.

Gurley is more than just a flashy athlete, though. There is nuance to his game. He does not have to be as precise as other backs in the league because of his athleticism, but the ability is certainly there. His top five runs highlight both his athleticism and his great feel for the game.

*plays are listed in order of occurrence*

Week 4 vs Arizona Cardinals

There are three key components on this play. The most notable of those components is how well center Tim Barnes executes here. This is an off-tackle zone concept with a backside blocker (Jared Cook). Barnes's first job is to fire off to his left with the rest of the line and force a defender out to the left. With a little help from rookie guard Jamon Brown, Barnes clears a defensive lineman out of the B-gap he was lined up over. Barnes then makes his way up the field to get a hand on safety Tony Jefferson. The second block wasn't so pretty, but good blocking is not always pretty. Barnes got in the way of Jefferson and allowed Gurley to beat the safety inside.

Secondly, right guard Rodger Saffold makes an impressive play from an athletic standpoint. The lineman he ends up blocking is lined up to his left and the run is set up to go to the left side, meaning Saffold has to quickly cover a lot of ground and get his feet under him to seal that defensive lineman off. He gets a great first step off the line to get himself even with the defender, lands a solid punch and continues to fight the defender while moving his own body to put his back to the rush lane and keep the defender out of the way. He finishes it all off with a demoralizing throw to the ground, too.

The last main component is the play fake that keeps linebacker Deone Bucannon from filling the rushing lane. Faking the end around to Tavon Austin forced Buchanon to jump in the opposite direction of the true play, leaving him out to dry for Rob Havenstein to take care of.
Gurley makes a great play in his own right, too. He very subtly helps Barnes' second block by not declaring a path and forcing Jefferson to pause. Once Barnes gets in position, Gurley plants his foot, heads down field and zooms past two defensive backs before Tyrann Mathieu hunts him down.

Week 5 vs Green Bay Packers

More than anything, this highlights Gurley's patience and lateral agility. Havenstein (right tackle) and Garrett Reynolds (right guard) do a good job of opening up a lane for Gurley, but Gurley is the one who holds the linebackers. Gurley takes the hand off and presses the heart of the line of scrimmage, keeping Nate Palmer (51) and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (21) stuck in traffic. Just before he gets to the pile up, Gurley sticks his left foot in the ground and slips outside of the right guard. He then has a lot of room before he meets a third level defender. Once he meets that defender, Micah Hyde (33), in space, Gurley gives a little shimmy that gets Hyde to hesitate and allow Gurley to bounce outside of him and turn up field until he is finally knocked out of bounds.

Week 7 vs Cleveland Browns

This play is almost disastrous. Multiple offensive linemen fail on their assignments on this play, but Gurley salvages it and turns it into a massive gain. The goal on this play is for the left guard, Reynolds, to pin the lineman to his inside shoulder, while Barnes pulls around him and clears out the rushing lane. In order for that to work, Brown, the right guard, needs to extend to the second level and get a piece of Demario Davis (56). None of these blocks are executed well.

Reynolds loses some ground when trying to pin his man out of the rush lane. That alone tightens the rush lane a lot. Barnes, too, fails to get push on the linebacker he took on in the gap. Brown does not even get a hand on his man. He hesitates in getting to his spot and taking on Davis, enabling Davis to fill any space left in what was supposed to be Gurley's path.

Gurley takes the play into his own hands. He bounces back to his right through a very small cutback lane. He fights through traffic to get through that lane, then immediately has to break a tackle once he escapes. After the broken tackle, Gurley realizes everything ahead of him is a mess, so he bolts to the opposite sideline and turns back up the field once he gets past Austin, who makes a great block to give Gurley space outside the numbers.

Week 8 vs San Francisco 49ers

Unlike the last run, the offensive line did their job here. This is an off-tackle run with a pulling guard (Reynolds). Brown and Barnes do a good job of down blocking and sealing off the left aside of the rush lane, while Havenstein and a pulling Reynolds work well to the second level and get a bit of push on their defenders. Gurley once again displays his patience and burst here to complete the play.

Gurley is given the option of going outside of Reynolds and having a definite 1-on-1 situation or going inside of Havenstein and possibly putting himself in traffic. As he has done before, Gurley presses one way and goes the other. He works as far down the field as he can without declaring where he is going, even veering off to his right some initially, then takes a few quick steps to work inside of Havenstein and fly down the field. Gurley's decision gets 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt to lose his balance, while his freak athleticism allows him to burn the other safety Eric Reid in space and work his way to the end zone.

Week 14 vs Detroit Lions

A few things go wrong here, but Gurley saves the play again. The most obvious blunder is Reynolds, the left guard, being blown off the ball into the backfield. That takes away one of Gurley's possible rush lanes on this outside zone play, theoretically making the play much easier for Detroit's linebackers. On top of that, left tackle Greg Robinson appears confused on his assignment. The rest of the line steps to their left and (if they can) up the field in unison, whereas Robinson takes a step to his left and then sits in the gap, waiting for a defender. Robinson should have attacked Stephen Tulloch (55), if the context clues the rest of the line is giving off is any indication of the play call.

Very quickly, two of Gurley's rush lanes are eliminated. His only remaining option is to bounce outside of the tackle and hope Cook makes a good block. Luckily, Cook does land a solid block to clear the linebacker wide of the play. Gurley's flexibility shows when he turns up the field once he is around the more inward set tight end, Lance Kendricks (who pinned his man inside very well). Gurley lost no speed making that turn, enabling him to burn past the second level with ease. When he is presented with a 1-on-1 with the safety, Gurley whips him with sudden a change of direction and a little hop step. Todd Gurley is already one of the best running backs in the league. He takes advantage of well blocked plays, in addition to his ability to create explosive plays in his own right more than most backs in the NFL. Gurley has plenty more of these runs in store for 2016, especially with some of the pressure to carry the offense now being taken off of him because of rookie quarterback Jared Goff.
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 Footballteam, and Political Science.