TDT NFL Power Rankings No. 28: Los Angeles Rams
Jeff Fisher is out. Can the LA Rams change their fate under Sean McVay?
It’s been 13 seasons since the Rams made the playoffs. Now, entering their second season of the new era in Los Angeles, they are looking to break that streak. Not that it will be an easy task though, because the NFC West is tough, not to mention the rest of the conference. The Rams fired Jeff Fisher and brought in Sean McVay as their new head coach. The team has struggled with consistency over the past several seasons, but hope to get back on track with a new coach in the fold. But, are a few personnel changes enough to make the Rams a better football team?
What I Like: There is a great amount of potential on both sides of the ball. The Rams have some young talent on offense, which McVay may be able to work magic with, given his track record as a coordinator. Jared Goff, who LA drafted at No. 1 overall a year ago, is still a work in progress, but the team is hoping he’ll take a leap in year 2. The skill positions also have a chance to develop in the new system. With Todd Gurley at running back and a young receiving corps featuring Tavon Austin, Robert Woods, Pharoh Cooper and Cooper Kupp, the Rams should be able to do some nice things this year on that side of the ball.
What I Hate: While the front seven of the Rams is one of their team strengths, the secondary gives me a little cause for pause. Trumaine Johnson is the best cornerback on the roster currently, but that’s not saying much, as he was rather subpar last season. Behind him, are even more questions and concerns. E.J. Gaines has been injury prone over the past couple seasons. They added Kayvon Webster, who is far from a starting caliber corner. Safety T.J. McDonald is gone, so they may need to move Lamarcus Joyner there, leaving the nickel back role for Nickell Robey-Coleman, who is undersized.
Offensive MVP: RB Todd Gurley Gurley’s production took a step back in 2016, after he rushed for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in his rookie campaign. McVay is bringing along with him a zone run blocking scheme, which will be a bit of an adjustment for Gurley. However, he’s an extremely gifted player so that shouldn’t be a problem for him. He averaged a lackluster 3.2 yards per carry last season, but with a semi-improved offensive line, he should be in for a bounce back year.
Defensive MVP: DT Aaron Donald Donald is quickly becoming one of the most dominant defensive players in the NFL. Last season, he registered 47 total tackles and an impressive eight sacks from his interior defensive line position. His combination of brute strength and power, and his deceptive quickness have turned Donald into an unstoppable force and immovable object. The addition of Wade Phillips as the defensive coordinator should only make him an even better player.
Season Outlook: I’m not 100 percent certain on what the Rams will do this season, but I do know that they are going to miss the postseason once again. Jared Goff needs more time to develop and it’s going to take some time for him to get familiar with the new system and develop a good chemistry with his skill players. The defense will be solid for the most part, but they could struggle mightily against pass-heavy offenses. This could be a really big year for Gurley, but he can’t carry the weight of the Rams on his shoulders. This is an improved team from their 4-12 record last year, but still not ready for that next step.
6-10, 3rd in NFC West