The Rams have entered their second season in LA looking to improve after a disappointing first season here. There is no more question “at quarterback” this season, as the team’s focus has shifted to surrounding quarterback Jared Goff with more talent. A better O-line and a plethora of talented receivers has already affected Goff and running back Todd Gurley positively.
In 2016, Gurley was not able to take advantage of his sensational rookie season and only accumulated 885 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns through 16 games in his sophomore campaign. Goff struggled just as much as Gurley when thrust into the starting role following the struggles of veteran quarterback Case Keenum. Goff played below expectations. In 7 games, Goff threw for 5 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and only 1,089 yards in 7 games. Both Gurley and Goff seemed uncomfortable playing behind a makeshift offensive line. Gurley showed barely any of the explosiveness and force from his rookie season and Goff made poor decisions and showed no confidence throwing out of the pocket.
Coach Jeff Fisher held the team back. In four years coaching the Rams, he had no winning seasons under his belt, made many questionable game decisions and did not use his personnel to his advantage. He wasn’t intent on starting Goff even after many poor games by Keenum. He was eventually fired and replaced for the last three games of last season.
This offseason, general manager Les Snead decided to change the team’s culture. In previous years, the Rams have had a dominant defense and special teams, but a very poor offense. So Snead, after being on the hot seat, went out and brought in former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay as head coach to replace Fisher. He also addressed the offense’s many weaknesses by acquiring receivers Sammy Watkins and Robert Woods and offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth as well as many others.
This has given more confidence to Goff and Gurley, as they now have confidence in their coaching staff and teammates. So far, in three games this season, the Rams have averaged 35.7 points per game. Although the Rams aren’t likely to keep putting up points like that, it is proof that their offense is no longer one dimensional and can now keep up with other high-powered offenses. Goff and Gurley hardly resemble the players they were last year. Gurley has been absolutely dominant and already has 241 yards and 4 touchdowns and has displayed excellent field vision and great skills as a receiver out of the backfield. Goff has been mistake-free besides the game-sealing interception in a loss against the Washington Redskins, and has been a much better passer downfield, completing the occasional deep pass.
The Rams have played very well so far and could take advantage of a weak NFC West division. However, due to a relatively inexperienced quarterback and inconsistency on the defensive end, I don’t think that the Rams will reach the playoffs. I predict another 8-8 season, albeit one with more hope and success as the Rams look to take the next step and make a playoff run next year.