The Los Angeles Rams have been the focal point of a lot of interest and criticism going into 2016. Just months after their move from St. Louis to Los Angeles, the Rams were the first team on the clock for the NFL Draft. The new look Rams took local Californian, Jared Goff, over Carson Wentz. Also in this off-season, the Rams were announced as the focus team for this year’s edition of HBO “Hard Knocks”. The selection had many questioning what deal Stan Kroenke might have cut with the NFL to get to Los Angeles. Television cameras following around their shiny new quarterback is the least of worries for this year’s Rams squad.
Preseason Expectations For the Los Angeles Rams
Having selected Goff with the first pick, the Rams must decide what to do with Nick Foles. Foles had a less than productive first season with the Rams in 2016. The team now sees him as more of a sale item to get draft picks or even a player for player transaction than a future of the franchise. Some teams that have shown interest in Foles include the Dolphins, Cowboys, and Redskins. Of the three, the Cowboys are the only option that seems plausible for this season. The Cowboys are itching for a decent backup for when Tony Romo’s yearly injury comes around. The Redskins are unlikely since they seem to have found their man in Kirk Cousins, and the same goes for the Dolphins with Ryan Tannehill.
The biggest issue facing the Rams this season is the sheer difficulty of their division. Being in a division with Seattle, Arizona, and San Francisco is never easy. The Rams have to face two of the best defenses in the NFL twice a year, which does not bode well for a team rebuilding and moving to a new city. The Rams will have to travel to each city and face opposing home crowds and host each team in a temporary home that will likely not provide the home field advantage the team was hoping they would have.
Not all odds are against the Rams this season, as they return star Todd Gurley in their backfield. The 2016 Pro Bowl rookie ran for over 1,100 yards in his rookie year and that is just the beginning. The young running back will be 22 years old when the season rolls around and has nothing but promise in his future, so don’t sit around and wait for the young back to experience a sophomore slump. Gurley finished last year with 10 rushing touchdowns on just 229 rush attempts.
As mentioned earlier, the Rams have to face two of the top defenses in the NFL. However, they have one of the best young defenses in the league as well. The Rams front four have been called one of the best in the league in the past two seasons and return most of their starters this year. The defense is fueled by the young freak of nature, Aaron Donald. Donald finished last season with 11.0 sacks and 43 tackles. Another young gun on the defense is former Alabama star Mark Barron. Barron is a hybrid safety/linebacker who finished last season with 79 tackles, three forced fumbles, and one sack. Look out for this young ball hawk this season in Los Angeles.
The Rams have many issues facing them this year, but have some things to work with and hang their hats on. The Rams look like a possible 9-7 squad if they get the right combination of wide receivers on the field to complement their talented running back and young quarterback. The defense needs to find a replacement for Janoris Jenkins, but the unit still looks to be steady and harassing. It seems that the team may be able to rely on the defense to win them some games late in the season. Watch out for the young Rams this season in their first year under the large shadow of Hollywood Hills. Don’t be surprised to see Los Angeles make a run at a wild card spot in the playoffs.