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Los Angeles Rams - Preseason Week 3 Twists and Turns

Posted on August 28, 2016 at 3:20 PM

There's the exciting muddle of trying to divine who will be left standing after the final slicing through 90 players vying for a roster spot. The locked in players don't show themselves much in the preseason, so there's a sense they can be counted on when the coming season spins toward full-tilt. Coaches speak in positive terms, with the common adjectives and verbs well set to sooth gathered media...

 

In Los Angeles, the newly relocated Rams have a lot on their collective plates. Returned from a 20 year Midwest sojourn, the bright lights of a massive media market and fan base are glaring. A team that's been in "re-build" mode since 2012, their roster is absolutely packed with potential, and portent. So after three weeks of preseason games, where are they as a team in the broad scheme?

 

It's hard not to see advances across the board for Jeff Fisher's Rams. The offensive line still a bit of a work in progress, there's position depth to go along with its promise. At quarterback, a mountain of NFL Draft capital was expended to dot a long lost "i" at the position, yet I can't help but think team owner Stan Kroenke and head coach Jeff Fisher lent making a splash in Los Angeles a dialed up need. Jared Goff hasn't been around long enough to even begin to think of where his future career track will lead, and anyone making immediate judgments needs a time out...

 

As a long time fan of the L.A./St. Louis/L.A. Rams, my view of the team I've loved since childhood can be jaded at times. A tenet in my life has bent me toward being a "glass is half full" fan. I veer hard away from judgment, and lean even harder toward trying to understand things more than most people I know. Whether we as NFL fans want to admit it or not, the amount we actually know about running or coaching an NFL team isn't much. We know just enough to make us think we know... That being said, here's some rather broad thoughts on the 2016 Los Angeles Rams:

 

On offense, the Rams have looked better than in recent years. The pressure to deliver on offensive coordinator Rob Boras is close to staggering when you think about it. Taking over his post mid-season in 2015, he stirred the pot of well burnt offense-stew as best he could, showing slight improvement by week 17. He'll benefit from having fewer inexperienced linemen in 2016, but little else. His wide receiver and tight end corps remain huge question marks, and after viewing the last three dress rehearsals I can't help but notice a New England-esk bent in Boras' offense when it comes to passing? Since 2010, the Rams' offense lent itself toward "dink and dunk" passing. Short routes designed to move the chains, with very sporadic efforts to stretch the field mixed in. Infuriating to fans, two and three yard passes were the norm. In 2016, I see a passing offense looming that's going to move out more, and count on yardage after catch very hard. Boras has to do SOMETHING to alter the well advertised - if not shouted - notion that running back Todd Gurley is going to run the ball...

 

On defense, most eyes will focus on Jeff Fisher's move of Alec Ogletree to middle linebacker. I've long held my notional breath on Ogletree's penchant for "watching, not reacting" as an outside linebacker. Fisher brought in Hall of Fame middle linebacker Mike Singletary to coach Ogletree, who has the physical talent that few can deny. Can he cross the bridge to being "The Guy" in the middle? It's not an understatement when I say the Rams entire defensive future in 2016 rest on Ogletree's shoulders. How he performs will effect the defense as a whole across the board. If he's ineffective against the run, it will change how the defensive line can stunt or rush the passer. If he falters in underneath pass coverage, it will bite into what the secondary will be able to do.

 

A long unstable position for the Rams, their safety positions aren't set in stone. Last season was the first time in quite a few years that the position didn't mightily suffer. The loss of Rodney McLeod in free agency may loom larger than most would like to believe...

 

The "potential" for the 2016 Los Angeles Rams is something that's got me tenuously excited. I know these last three contests are only preseason games, but the energy displayed by this team at every level is palpable. No team facing the Rams this season should take them lightly. In Denver, the Rams experienced their first offensive test against one of the most talented defensive groups in NFL history. While not played at regular season norms, the chance to taste this level of competition may very well be the best thing the Rams have experienced thus far. I can live with the few dropped passes by Rams receivers, simply because virtually all who saw action Saturday night against the Broncos had little to no NFL experience. They'll settle down, but can they find their metal to prevent an early season slide that's haunted the Rams over the years?

 

The roster cut down to 75 players is about to happen. Many of the players who are about to see their NFL dreams shattered are well known. A surprise cut this early could be wide receiver Brian Quick, but I think Jeff Fisher will hold back the hammer until next week. Quick hasn't lived up to anything close to his potential, though he showed flashes before a severe shoulder injury in 2014. The future of former first round draft picks Dominic Easley and Quinton Couples could loom large in the week to come, but Jeff Fisher's love of defensive line depth could be their saving grace. I won't be shocked by a move by general manager Les Snead to dip into available free agent safeties in the coming weeks, nor will it turn my head if a name or two - well known to Rams fans - in the secondary hits the unemployment line.

 

All in all, the Los Angeles Rams are moving forward as a team. That said, as a fan of head coach Jeff Fisher - he's on my bucket list of people I'd like to one day meet - it's hard not to see the 2016 season as pivotal for both he, and general manager Les Snead. The Los Angeles market is one where sustained momentum and notice remain uncontested must-s. A middle of the road win-loss record just won't do. This roster - built over the last four years - has a half-life. Free agent bleed out will hit hard over the next few years, and the idea of another re-build of this team is a shadow no one wants to see cast anytime soon...


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