On the Clock: Los Angeles Rams
by Mario Granata
As the Rams pack up the trucks and make the move from the midwest to Los Angeles, they do so with some uncertainty. The hot button topic happens to be the fact that RGIII needs a team, and the Rams, who orchestrated the most forgettable swap of picks for player might be his landing spot is just to funny to write about. So, I promise to only mention it about 10 times in this article. In all seriousness, the Rams who were in the toughest division in football for the past few years are in a position to make a run if they can cross their T’s and dot their I’s.
Head Coach: Jeff Fisher
Career Record: 169-156-1
Offensive Coordinator (Rank): Rob Boras
32nd YPG, 32nd Pass, 7th Run
Defensive Coordinator (Rank): Gregg Williams
23rd YPG, 23rd Pass, 20th Rush
It seems that the Rams are playing throwback football in the new age of the NFL. They have a coach that at the tender age of 58 as of today (Happy Birthday, Jeff) will be entering his 22nd season as a head coach. Yes, since 1994 and his debut with the Houston OILERS, Jeff Fisher has been patrolling the sidelines with his Magnum PI Stash screaming at players and yelling at officials. The most telling part is that he has been able to stay as a head coach despite only appearing in 11 playoff games. With a change of city, the Rams also might be in the market for a new coach if the Rams fail to make the Divisional Round of the playoffs this season. They have already started cleaning house, and more moves could be on the way.
No one in the NFL pays a backup quarterback 8 million dollars per year. However, that is what the Rams are currently doing. Let’s be honest, Nick Foles isn’t the answer. His fluke, yes fluke season that he had with the Eagles is the only reason he was signed, and is not the answer in LA. With the recent cuts that the Rams made, they currently stand just over 58 million dollars under the cap, and so for this season at least, they could hang onto Foles and let him have one more shot if they don’t make a run at a quarterback in free agency or in the draft. The clock is ticking for Foles and I doubt that Fisher is going to hang his make or break season on him. His contract details are below:
The Rams have a decision to make concerning their defense. They currently have Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers who have been a very formidable duo in the middle of Williams’ 4-3 look. They should resign Brockers who is playing in his option year, making over 6 million this season. Unless they want to go big up front, they could resign Nick Fairley, which would only be a 2-3 year deal, but Fairley who is 28 might want a longer deal to stay in LA. Hey, did I mention that Brockers was a part of that RGIII trade?
Back end patrollers Mark Barron and Rodney McLeod are up for contract this year and if anything has taught us about Gregg Williams he loves to have those safeties who like to stick their nose in there and get dirty. Remember BountyGate? Yeah, we don’t either, because it never happened. You know how I know? Santa told me. All kidding aside, McLeod and Barron were in the top three in tackles for the Rams both tallying over 80 tackles between them (Barron, 113. McLeod, 81.) They should be resigned.
Two other names to keep an eye on is CB Janoris Jenkins and CB Trumaine Johnson who are both up for contracts this season and both had a combined 33 pass breakups this season. Between these two and the combo of Barron and McLeod, and their contributions to the defense, it’s no wonder that the Rams parted ways with Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, and Jared Cook. The Rams saved an additional 23 million with their release to pay these guys. Hey, did I fail to mention that Jenkins was involved in the RGIII trade as well?
The Rams, as mentioned earlier, have 58 million dollars, which they are going to use much to resign some of the players they have on the defensive side of the ball, which leaves their 32nd ranked offense holding the bag. This is probably the reason why the top four names for the Rams in the draft are Paxton Lynch, QB, Memphis, Carson Wentz, QB, North Dakota, Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss, and Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor.
If the Rams don’t make any moves this offseason at the quarterback position, and if Jeff Fisher wants to extend his coaching career, they could take Lynch or Wentz. I highly doubt that Fisher wants to start over again with a young QB, and putting on their shoulders the responsibility of digging the worst offense out of the basement. Fisher doesn’t have that kind of time but the management might feel that with a new city, they need a new franchise quarterback to match. He wouldn’t go wrong with either of these guys, but then again, how much time does he have to groom them?
Treadwell has been compared to DeAndre Hopkins, who we all know made the most of the rotating quarterback carousel in Houston to the tune of 111 receptions, however, I am not sure that is the #1 need for the Rams. They made some strides the past few years through the draft, most notably Greg Robinson who was able to open up some holes for Todd Gurley, however lacked in his pass protection.
Coleman might be the best receiver in the draft, and would pose a definite threat to opposing teams with the multifaceted Tavon Austin on the opposite side of him, or in the slot next to him. He could be a steal for the Rams if they are able to make some moves prior to the draft to make him a nice toy, and not a failed experiment. Hey, Coleman went to Baylor. You know who else went to Baylor? RGIII.
Did I mention RGIII yet? Yes, as mentioned earlier the irony of the Rams actually signing him is too interesting not to mention. Fisher, once upon a time, was blessed with a quarterback who wanted to prove the doubters wrong as a ‘mobile’ quarterback in Steve McNair, and he led them to the doorstep of a championship against the greatest show on turf, coincidentally, the Rams. RGIII, of any other quarterback in this draft or free agent class, has quite possibly the biggest chip on his shoulder, and Fisher could offer him the comfort zone to prove them all wrong. Plus, RGII with all his endorsements is tailor made for LA. His million dollar smile would light up LA just as Magic Johnson’s did, and I know that doesn’t put points on the board, but it does put fans in the seats.
Another name to mention would be OT Russell Okung. Fisher and the Rams had a front row seat for his dominance on the offensive side of the ball, and with the recent trend of players who are slighted from their previous team (or not resigned) they often travel to division rivals to give them a taste of what they missed.
With the talent pool think at linebacker and if the Rams make some offseason moves to address their offense, they might take a linebacker in the draft and surprise everyone. They sure could use it.
Did I mention RGIII yet?
A Quick Guide to the Rookie Wage Scale (First Round Breakdown)
On the Clock: 2015 St. Louis Rams
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