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Five Takeaways from Rams 2017 OTAs

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  • Five Takeaways from Rams 2017 OTAs

    Five Takeaways from Rams 2017 OTAs
    Posted 4 hours ago
    Myles Simmons
    Rams Insider
    @MylesASimmons

    The Rams’ offseason program is just about complete, with next week’s mandatory minicamp the final event before everyone gets away for summer vacation. Here are six key takeaways from head coach Sean McVay’s first OTAs.

    1) Goff looks in command of the offense

    According to his coaches, quarterback Jared Goff has picked up Los Angeles’ new playbook quickly and well. That’s come through during practice, as he’s delivered confident, accurate passes over the last few weeks. Whether it’s deep balls, or timing routes to the sidelines, Goff looks, understandably, much farther ahead from where he was a year ago as a rookie.

    “I think he has done a nice job improving every single day and that’s what’s going to give us a chance,” McVay said.

    With the first-team offense and defense lining up against one another at this point in the offseason, middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said he’s observed significant progress from Goff as well.

    “He’s much more calm in the pocket. He’s able to get in and out of the huddle and get the ball where it needs to go. He’s definitely putting the ball where it needs to be. He’s definitely had a lot of good throws this offseason here,” Ogletree said. “So we just hope he continues to get better, improves his leadership some more, and just really takes over the offense.”

    There’s still plenty more work to be done as the Rams go into minicamp next week and training camp in late July. But Goff looks like someone poised to take a significant step forward in Year 2.

    2) Defensive transition appears to be going smoothly

    By now you surely know the Rams are moving their base defense from a 4-3 to a 3-4 under coordinator Wade Phillips. But based on the way coaches and players have described Phillips’ scheme, there haven’t been many complications in making that adjustment.

    “I mean, it’s not much different,” Ogletree said. “The calls are different, and that’s really about it. Everything else is still pretty much the same.”

    “The main thing is — it’s just words. It’s terminology, you know? Everyone somewhat runs the same coverages,” linebackers coach Joe Barry said. “But it’s just maybe what he’s been used to calling ‘apples’ the last five years, well now it’s ‘oranges.’”

    Watching practice, there’s a lot of chatter on defense in order to make sure everyone is lined up correctly before the play begins. Much like Goff being in command of the offense, Ogletree has done well to gain a solid understanding of the new defense as its leader.

    “On our side of the ball, I always say the middle linebacker is no different than the quarterback,” Barry said. “I walk through my meeting room every morning at 6:30 in the chow hall, and there’s ‘Tree in the meeting room watching film — every single day. We’ve talked about consistency as the truest measure of performance — he’s consistent every single day.”

    3) There’s a lot of competition at wide receiver

    It’s no secret that the Rams have plenty of room to improve at wide receiver. L.A. signed Robert Woods as a free agent and he’s consistently made catches over the last three weeks. But with Tavon Austin not able to fully participate with a wrist injury, the club was able to take a look at more players on the roster.

    Mike Thomas made a strong impression, using his speed to stretch the field and make a number of deep receptions from Goff. Pharoh Cooperand Nelson Spruce also displayed plenty of the potential they showed as rookies at this time a year ago, particularly on intermediate routes.

    But if there was one standout player at the position, it’s rookie Cooper Kupp. With his route-running ability and reliable hands, Kupp showed time and again during OTAs why he set so many records at Eastern Washington. Plus, his vaunted high football I.Q. is already coming through in practice with a few veteran moves at the line of scrimmage.

    There’s a lot of time between now and the start of the regular season, but Kupp looks like a rookie who can make an impact early.

    4) Brown making a mark at right tackle

    There have been a number of changes along the Rams’ offensive line since the end of last season, particularly with veterans Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan now on board. With Rob Havenstein now settling in at right guard, Jamon Brown has been taking snaps at first-team right tackle. According to McVay, Brown is competing with Greg Robinson for that starting spot and it appears the competition will go into training camp.

    “I think he’s done a nice job and we’re continuing to try to find what the best five guys and what that combination will be,” McVay said of Brown. “He certainly has put himself in the mix and he’s playing at a very high level right now and we’ve been pleased with what we’ve seen from him.”

    McVay has called Brown an “aggressive, physical player” who has grown under the tutelage of offensive line coach Aaron Kromer.

    “He’s a guy that’s really taken in to consideration all of the little things that coach Kromer’s talking about with the technique and you’re seeing it translate and we’ve been pleased with Jamon so far,” McVay said.

    Brown played both right and left tackle at Louisville, so he has experience to draw upon. But he and the rest of the offensive line will have to show their progress and cohesiveness once the pads come on during training camp. And that’s still a long way away.

    5) Dealing with absences

    A few players have missed this voluntary portion of the offseason program, most notably defensive tackle Aaron Donald. But whenever there was an absence, McVay stressed that this portion of the offseason program was voluntary.

    “I think the biggest thing is that you just want to make sure that there’s clear and open communication,” McVay said. “Those guys that have missed, sometimes it’s been exactly what we wanted, sometimes it hasn’t. I think we just keep communicating with the player our expectations, our standards. For the most part, all of these guys have really done a great job with that.

    “As a coach, you’re always going to want the guys here, but you also understand the framework of the way that some of this stuff is setup in the offseason program,” he continued. “I think the guys have really done a good job of kind of understanding, ‘If I’m not here because of some other things that do come up, let’s let it be known.’ We’re flexible with these guys as well.”

    Unlike any other portion of the offseason program, next week’s minicamp is mandatory. So we’ll see if the Rams have everyone on the field.

    “I think you always hope for [full participation],” McVay said of minicamp. “Certainly, I think each day you’re kind of ready to take on new challenges and things come up. But, that’s our hope, that’s our expectation and I guess we’ll find out next week.”

    Extra Point) McVay’s attitude and energy seems to be rubbing off on the team

    Whenever a team undergoes a coaching change, a storyline that often appears is whether or not the organization’s culture has changed as well. From being around the team throughout the offseason program, it seems like that has happened.

    The Rams’ OTAs were full of energy and competition. And there’s a strong sense of ‘We’ — as in the team — being more important than any individual accomplishment or accolade.

    “It’s been a great change so far,” Goff said at the beginning of OTAs. “I think coach McVay and his staff have implemented that and I think everyone has bought in. Honestly, I think from the leaders on the offensive side and the leaders on the defensive side have raised expectations and raised the standard. With that everyone seems to follow and so far I believe it’s been a really good change.”

  • #2
    GRob just doesn't get it. What a waste. Too bad there isn't any savings in the cap to cut him. Maybe Jamon Brown has really improved, but it should still be an embarrassment to GRob to get beat out on the right side also.


    gap

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Nick View Post
      Five Takeaways from Rams 2017 OTAs


      3) There’s a lot of competition at wide receiver
      This, I feel, is one of the greatest problems the team has had in a long time !!

      Always a Rams Fan............

      Rex Allen Markel

      Comment


      • #4
        But if there was one standout player at the position, it’s rookie Cooper Kupp. With his route-running ability and reliable hands, Kupp showed time and again during OTAs why he set so many records at Eastern Washington. Plus, his vaunted high football I.Q. is already coming through in practice with a few veteran moves at the line of scrimmage.

        There’s a lot of time between now and the start of the regular season, but Kupp looks like a rookie who can make an impact early.
        That's what I'm talkin' about!
        "You people point your 'f'in' finger and say theres the bad guy....what that make you....good?" Tony Montana

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by gap View Post
          GRob just doesn't get it. What a waste. Too bad there isn't any savings in the cap to cut him. Maybe Jamon Brown has really improved, but it should still be an embarrassment to GRob to get beat out on the right side also.


          gap

          Reports that GRob has been traded to the Lions today.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by bltkmt View Post


            Reports that GRob has been traded to the Lions today.
            From ESPN.

            ALLEN PARK, Mich. -- The Detroit Lions spent the past few weeks searching for an in-house option to play left tackle in Taylor Decker's absence. Now they have made significant moves from the outside.

            The Lions traded for Rams offensive tackle Greg Robinson and signed Cyrus Kouandjio on Thursday morning, bringing in two more players to compete for the team's open left tackle position after Decker had right shoulder surgery last week. Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick in 2014, had been demoted in Los Angeles,

            "Good athletes that have ability and they played a bit in the league," coach Jim Caldwell said of the Lions' additions. "We're happy to have them. Both guys give us an opportunity to get better, and that's the key."

            A source told ESPN's Adam Schefter that the Lions sent the Rams a 2018 sixth-round selection in return for Robinson.

            Robinson, 24, has played in 44 career games with the Rams, starting 40 of them. Los Angeles had tried moving him to guard and right tackle before eventually deciding to trade him to Detroit with one year left on his rookie contract.

            "Since we drafted Greg, he has been committed to our organization, his teammates and community outreach," Rams general manager Les Snead said in a statement. "We appreciate his dedication and the effort he's put forth over the past three seasons. We wish him the best as he embarks on this new chapter."

            Caldwell said he isn't worried about Robinson's struggles with the Rams and that he believes he fits well in Detroit.

            "I'm concerned about what he does for us here and now and this point forward," Caldwell said. "I don't look back much. Those are speculation and stuff. You guys can do that. I guess that makes for interesting reading.

            "For us, he's got ability. He's very capable, and we're happy to have him. We're looking forward rather than back."


            A lackluster tenure with the Rams now over, Greg Robinson says joining the Lions will offer a boost to his career. Brad Mills/USA Tdoay Sports

            Robinson was told about the trade Wednesday and flew out of Los Angeles International Airport around 10:30 p.m., arriving in Detroit around 6 a.m. and joining practice -- but not participating -- at 10 a.m.

            He said the trade "was a big surprise," but one that will benefit him, saying his time with the Rams "haven't really went the way I would like."

            Kouandjio, 23, was signed by the Lions after being released by the Buffalo Bills last month.

            It has been a tumultuous offseason for Kouandjio. He injured his hip during a fall at his home in January and then was found half-naked in a field after climbing over an electric fence in April, according to the Buffalo News. During the April incident, Kouandjio reportedly yelled "Shoot me" at the officers. He was not arrested but was hospitalized.

            Caldwell declined to go into detail about what Kouandjio told the Lions about the incidents but said that "some of the information, obviously, has been inaccurate." Caldwell didn't say what the inaccurate information was.

            Asked about the April incident, Kouandjio said "a few things were blown out of proportion." Further asked how he explains that night, he paused before saying, "We keep that in the past."

            Kouandjio deserves a second chance, Caldwell said.

            "No one's perfect. I think those things are behind him," Caldwell said. "Like the situation we're talking about with Greg, the same thing with Cyrus. We're looking forward and we're not worried about what happened in the past."

            The Lions have been trying to replace Decker, who had surgery on his right shoulder last week. Decker is out indefinitely, though the NFL Network reported that he is expected to miss four to six months, which would cost him at least the start of the 2017 season.

            Kouandjio and Robinson will join a left tackle competition with Cornelius Lucas, Tony Hills, Corey Robinson and possibly Joe Dahl. Caldwell wouldn't rule out Dahl staying at tackle but said the team will consider moving him back to guard, where he worked out mostly last year.

            On Thursday, Dahl continued to take first-team reps at left tackle as Greg Robinson, Corey Robinson and Kouandjio all sat out practice. Kouandjio said he expects his hip to be ready for training camp.

            To make room for Greg Robinson and Kouandjio, the Lions waived long-snapper Jimmy Landes and offensive tackle Arturo Uzdavinis.

            Cutting Landes means the Lions will likely go with Don Muhlbach -- their longest-tenured player -- at long-snapper again.

            "Muhlbach is our guy. That's where we are at this point," Caldwell said. "He's been great for us. He hasn't been good, hasn't been average. He's been great."

            gap

            Comment


            • #7
              Wow. Lions are really taking a gamble on the bust train this year for their tackle spot. Two physically talented head cases.... I'm surprised they didn't make a play for Clady.

              Comment

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              • Nick
                Jared Goff on Rams offense: 'I've understood all of it and grasped all of it so far'
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                "I think it’s important to try to kind of just get refreshed, recharged; take better care of myself," McVay said. "I’m a little bit heavier than I’d like to be right now."

                McVay called his first offseason program "a great learning experience," a description he may use for every stage this calendar year. Phase 1, McVay said, was about establishing an identity and having his players learn the system. Phase 2 was about improving techniques and mastering the system. Phase 3 was about coming together as a team.

                "And the nice thing about it is we feel like we were able to accomplish that," McVay said from the team facility on Thursday. "By no means are we where we need to be for what we’re striving to accomplish, but I think in terms of what we were trying to get done in the offseason program, we felt like it was a successful offseason program."


                Below are five key takeaways from that program.

                Jared Goff is a quick study: Goff recently asked McVay how much of his offense has been installed, and McVay told him about 95 percent. "If that’s what we have in," Goff said, "I’d say I’ve understood all of it and grasped all of it so far." Goff added that he has learned this year's offense "much quicker" than he learned last year's, which he attributed to spending an entire season in the NFL and then having a full offseason to prepare. Goff, who is 22 and coming off a catastrophic rookie year, made several nice, downfield throws during 11-on-11 drills. But that was without pads or contact. It's extremely difficult to truly evaluate in a setting like that. What's important is that teammates notice more confidence, more leadership, more conviction in Goff. And that he is seemingly picking up the playbook quickly. The rest will sort itself out later.

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                The intensity in new coach Sean McVay’s eyes and voice, though, made it impossible to scoff at the “We Not Me” message that Rams players, coaches and staff members wore on blue, cotton tees Monday as the team opened the first phase of its two-month offseason workout program at Cal Lutheran.

                “Everyone was at full attention,” McVay said. “Guys were locked in. They were engaged. They were ready to go. I think it was definitely the way we wanted it to come off, as a coaching staff. Right now, it’s about building relationships with these guys.”

                It’s time for a culture change. Previous coach Jeff Fisher largely took a laissez-faire attitude that basically told players to have fun and be loose, as long as they prepared and came ready to play on Sunday. That level of trust made Fisher popular among players, but it also produced a 31-45-1 record from 2012-16.

                It’s far too early to fete McVay, the youngest coach in NFL history when the Rams hired him in January, but one thing is already clear: McVay is no Fisher. McVay’s body language suggests perpetual intensity, and that seemed to come across to players during their first formal meeting with McVay on Monday.

                “I think there’s some really good, new energy here,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “Coach McVay and the rest of his staff have done a great job exuding that energy and really letting us feel it. I think it’s really a fresh start for a lot of people. I think it’s a really good feeling. Just freshness is the best way to describe it.”

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                Head coach Sean McVay has reiterated that one of his main goals throughout training camp is to build team chemistry and establish a new identity as an organization. And judging from Saturday’s practice, McVay is bringing that point to the grass.

                He was not only out on field moving from the offense to the defense, but he even stepped in as a player at one point, lining up at outside linebacker to cover running back Todd Gurley.

                “I like to get out and be active, otherwise I’ll probably gain a lot of weight,” McVay said with a laugh. “Then I had an injured quad in the offseason, so I have been rehabbing in my time off and I’m ready to run and play some DB for us now.”

                “Today, he came out here healthy," Goff said after acknowledging his head coach's previous injury. "I was like, 'Man, you’re moving around.' He said, 'Oh yeah.' He’s back.”

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                Goff was met with a series of chants and energetic applause as he took the field for his second training camp. The young quarterback looked composed throughout practice, communicating verbally with his team of receivers and running backs, while appearing more secure behind his offensive line.

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                “We’ve been able to really slow it down, strip it down to the point where we’re teaching every single day. Great detail on the technique and fundamentals as well as scheme and growing, kind of putting it all together so that players can really understand the sequence of the ‘why,'” said O’Connell, of how offensive meetings have adjusted in an all-virtual setting.

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