Rams quarterback Jared Goff, who despite less than spectacular results so far the team is continuing to count on to be their future. Photo courtesy of nbclosangeles.com
LOS ANGELES RAMS
First Season: 1936 in Cleveland. Moved to Los Angeles in 1946, becoming the first major pro sports team in Southern California. Spent 49 years in L.A. and Anaheim before moving to St. Louis in 1995. Returned to Los Angeles in 2016.
2016 Season: 4-12, 3rd in the NFC West
* Lost last seven games and 11 of their last 12 after a 3-1 start
* Offense ranked 32nd – and last – in the NFL
Coach: Sean McVay (1st year)
Home: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, capacity 93,607
First Game/First Home Game: Sunday, September 10th, vs Indianapolis Colts
Jared Goff, QB – 54.6% completions, 1,089 yards, 5 TD, 7 INT
Todd Gurley II, RB – 885 yards, 3.2 ypc, 6 TD
Tavon Austin, WR – 58 receptions, 509 yards, 3 TD
Aaron Donald, DT (holdout) – 36 tackles, 8 sacks, 2 forced fumbles
Alec Ogletree, LB – 98 tackles, 2 INT
Mark Barron, S – 90 tackles, 2 INT
Johnny Hekker, P – 98 punts, 47.8 ypp, 78 long
Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp recovering a fumble in the end zone against the Dallas Cowboys during a recent preseason game at the Coliseum. Photo courtesy of turfshowtimes.com
Like more or less all of SoCal, I was happy at the news that the Rams were returning to L.A. after 21 years.
Given their futility of the last decade-plus, being without a winning record since 2003 or a playoff berth since 2004, I was also realistic about any chances of instant success, telling fans that they should be ecstatic if they finished 8-8.
I didn’t think that things would go as bad as they did, however, as by the time the season mercifully ended with the San Francisco 49ers completing their sweep of the Rams, their offense had reached a point where they couldn’t score off Santa Ana Mater Dei High School’s defense.
It certainly took away much of the hype of pro football coming back to the Southland.
Although Jared Goff’s season wasn’t very good, I didn’t like all the attacks on him, sympathizing with last year’s first overall pick for this simple reason:
He was a rookie, and he played like one.
People should remember that John Elway, on a very short list of all-time great quarterbacks, wasn’t so hot as an NFL rookie either, throwing twice as many interceptions (14) as touchdowns (7) in 1983.
And he ended up having an okay career for the Denver Broncos.
Do I think that Goff’s career will turn out to be anything like Elway’s?
I have no idea.
But I do think that he should be given both a break and time to develop, as it won’t surprise me to see him go through more growing pains in his second year in the league.
As for the other big issue regarding the Rams as they begin their second season back in L.A:
Much has been said about All-Pro sack master and all-around defensive stud Aaron Donald holding out and missing all of training camp, not putting on the Rams uniform once with their opener three years away.
Here’s what I think…
As good as Donald is and has been for the Rams, the reality is that their record during his three years as a Ram is 17-31.
More importantly, they only won four games with him last season.
In other words, the Rams have achieved nothing with Donald on their defensive line as far as what matters most: their win-loss record.
So if he would rather not play over wanting more money and the right to opt out, fine.
In fact, I wouldn’t mind if the Rams traded him for future draft picks, as I believe if Donald really wanted to be a Ram, he’d be at practice getting ready for the opener at the Coliseum this Sunday now.
Let him go and good riddance.
All right, the big question: How do I see the Rams faring in 2017?
I’ll be honest:
I don’t expect much from them at all.
Like last season, the Rams and their fans should be extremely happy and celebrate if they finish 8-8, for that would be a sign of real progress.
In fact, I’ll see progress if they win six or seven games.
With their new, thirty-something year old coach – who’s the youngest in the NFL – they’re in a total rebuilding mode, and have been for a while.
Which means that fans will have to continue to exude something that I advised that they do last year…
The player that many Rams fans are turning their lonely eyes to: Aaron Donald, who sat out the preseason due to a holdout and is set to possibly miss a significant chunk of the regular season. Photo courtesy of nfl.com