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  • Bonsignore: Rams are a legitimate playoff threat


    By Vincent Bonsignore | vbonsignore@scng.com | Daily News

    PUBLISHED: October 23, 2017 at 12:16 pm | UPDATED: October 23, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    At the risk of getting ahead of ourselves, itís time to get ahead of ourselves.

    That means itís time to stop pretending or skirting or avoiding.

    Be it out of fear of jinxing, the other shoe falling or having been burned and hurt so many times before simply protecting yourself from getting your hearts ripped out and trampled upon again.

    Itís time to embrace and accept reality. And own it.

    The Rams are a legitimate playoff contender.

    There, that wasnít so bad now was it? But why stop there?

    The Rams are a legitimate threat to make a serious postseason run, too.

    Boom. Itís out there.

    And really, whatís to argue at this point?

    Take a look at the rest of the NFC and tell me thereís a team that has all its bases covered like the Rams do right now.

    An offense thatís generally been humming behind second-year quarterback Jared Goff, an offensive line playing as well as any in the league, a deep, versatile group of wide receivers and pass targets and running back Todd Gurley, the favorite for Comeback Player of the Year honors and the Most Valuable Player award.

    They lead the league in scoring and are ninth in total yards. They are the sixth-best rushing team in the NFL and the 12th-best passing team. On both fronts, there is ample room to get even better.

    There might be better defenses in the NFL, but after stabilizing themselves after a shaky initial transition to Wade Phillipsí 3-4 defensive scheme, the Rams have surrendered just 39 points over the past 14 quarters and, by all data and metrics, seem to be getting even better while combining an underrated back-end pass defense with the big push being generated upfront by Aaron Donald and friends.

    Thatís not all.

    The Rams special teams are as good as any in the NFL with punter Johnny Hekker, sure-footed kicker Greg Zuerlein and return and coverage units that have already scored touchdowns on a kickoff return and blocked punt, forced a critical fumbled punt and also picked up an important first down on a fake punt.

    At various times this year, the Rams have beaten opponents by outgunning them offensively, slamming the door shut defensively or generating points via special teams. Sometimes all in the same game.

    Few teams can say that. And fewer can confidently count on all three phases clicking on a game-to-game basis.

    The Rams can.

    Which means they are uniquely built to deal with whatever weather issues lay ahead. And theyíre versatile and flexible enough that, if one part of their game is struggling, they can rely on multiple others to help steady the ship or, as they already have this year, flat out be the difference in winning a football game.

    Those are the qualities of a playoff team. And one that can make a serious postseason run.

    Go ahead and embrace it. Own it.

    Itís OK. Because itís all valid.

    The Rams moved to 5-2 Sunday by thrashing the Arizona Cardinals, 33-0, in London. To put that all in perspective, the last time they saw the Cardinals was in a 44-6 whupping on New Yearís Day at the Coliseum to finish off a dreadfully embarrassing 4-12 season.

    Success never seemed so out of reach than it did that day.

    A new coach needed to be hired. A 13-year culture of losing needed to eradicated.

    The worst offensive line and wide receiver groups in the NFL had to be rebuilt. Gurley needed to be nursed back to life after being let down by bad coaching, bad blocking and a terrible supporting cast.

    Let alone Goff, the victim of 26 sacks in seven games that left him so battered and bruised and ineffective, a national narrative materialized insisting heíd forever be considered a bust.

    The future seemed dauntingly miserable. And all roads back to respectability seemed closed, unavailable or nonexistent.

    But lo and behold, a gift from the coaching heavens fell into the Ramsí appreciative arms in the form of 31-year-old Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who represented everything previous head coach Jeff Fisher didnít.

    McVay was young and creative with a deep offensive background after being groomed by sharp offensive minds like Jon and Jay Gruden and Mike Shanahan. He valued teaching and communication and accountability, and the staff he built represented and preached all of those principles.

    It was difficult not to be impressed by the energetic McVay merely at first glance. And he instantaneously made people assess Goff in a different light when, upon being asked what he thought about the young quarterback, continually reminded everyone it was Goffís presence on the roster that attracted him to the Rams job in the first place.

    McVay immediately developed a bond and chemistry with holdover general manager Les Snead, whose future with the Rams seemed dubious at best after the collapse of the Fisher regime. Snead was granted a reprieve thanks to the working connection he forged with McVay, and I still recall multiple conversations with Snead in which he praised McVayís ability to distinctly and effectively articulate and describe the characteristics he sought in the type of players he needed to produce in his system.

    Even if it meant whipping out a smartphone or other available mode of technology to visually describe it.

    That was reflected in the players the Rams soon began to acquire and how easily you could visualize them fitting into McVay and Sneadís overall puzzle. Especially offensively, as McVay and Snead rebuilt the infrastructure around Goff and Gurley.

    Itís remarkable looking back how quickly it all unfolded for the Rams. It all seemed so daunting on New Yearís Day, but reeling in McVay and the personnel changes that ensued transformed the Rams almost overnight.

    And as we see in McVayís offensive teaching, design and play calling, itís seamlessly transferred from merely ďon paperĒ to actual on-field production and success.

    Goff looks like the top overall pick and franchise quarterback he was billed to be. Gurley has been resurrected into an MVP candidate. All the other pieces fit and make sense and complement each other. As do the plays being called.

    McVay has even figured out a way to make Tavon Austin a viable and productive member of the Rams offense, for which Coach of the Year honors would have been warranted had it not been for the fact heís also turned the Rams into legitimate playoff contenders almost overnight.

    Yes, playoff contenders. I said it.

    And legitimate threats to make a serious postseason run.

    Itís time to embrace reality.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We're not the only one who think the Rams will be in the playoff mix this year.

    Go Rams!

    viper
    Rams receiver Cooper Kupp celebrates after scoring a touchdown during Sundayís win against Arizona at Twickenham Stadium in London. (Matt Dunham/The Associated Press)

  • #2
    Oh my.

    mmmmmm, I am going to hold off on calling them a playoff contender till the halfway point. BUT I do like what I see so far, even in the 2 losses we have had I have been very pleasantly surprised at the new look Rams.

    I still have a few concerns ............ well one concern to be perfectly honest and one little worry.

    My concern is Goff. He came out hot but has slipped back the last few weeks. Not sure if this is down to the reliance on the resurgent running game or not but its still there. He has been off a good few passes and some of his throws have come out like ducks. Now, if he can get that under control then we are golden.

    My one little worry is the play calling on offence and blowing timeouts in the first quarter of games. Just what is up with the timeouts so early. Come the second half, they seem to sort themselves out here but that first half can come back and bite us bad.

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by RamDez View Post
      mmmmmm, I am going to hold off on calling them a playoff contender till the halfway point. BUT I do like what I see so far, even in the 2 losses we have had I have been very pleasantly surprised at the new look Rams.
      I'm with you Dez. The Rams could be a legitimate playoff threat, and I love what I see so far, but I can't bring myself to drink the Kool-Aid yet. I need a few more wins against good teams, and then I'll be all in. Regardless, this is an exciting time to be a Rams fan.

      Comment


      • #4
        Great Article! Finally someone with some sack is on the same plane.

        I know everyone is different, but I still don't understand.

        Not like I haven't been wrong many times before with my emotions or logic towards my Rams.

        Hell, I've been all in for over 50 years. And right now this looks better than well over half of those years.

        Damn right I'm all in!

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Curly Horns View Post
          Great Article! Finally someone with some sack is on the same plane.

          I know everyone is different, but I still don't understand.

          Not like I haven't been wrong many times before with my emotions or logic towards my Rams.

          Hell, I've been all in for over 50 years. And right now this looks better than well over half of those years.

          Damn right I'm all in!

          For me, "all in" as in being convinced the Rams are a playoff team. Call me gun-shy, but I need just a few more wins.

          Comment


          • #6
            These kinds of articles scare the heck out of me. Yes, there's a lot of good and promising things going on, and lots of cause for optimism. There's a little euphoria in the air after going 2-0 on a daunting Jacksonville, London road trip, especially with the drubbing of the Cards. I just hope no players read these kinds of articles. This is still a green team. It's great to be 5-2, but we should beat Indy and SF, and the Cards have problems. So, really, what's separating us from the pack at this point are the 2 good road wins in Dallas and Jacksonville. Balance that against 2 losses at home to NFC playoff caliber teams. So, let's just take a few breaths here. I've seen many a football season turn on a dime and go south. McVay has got it right. One day at a time. We'll have a better idea in a month or so.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm in the it's too early camp as well. Heck, my stomach was still in a knot with 5 min left in the London game. Things can turn around so quickly in football, especially injuries, God forbid.

              I don't think McVay will let players buy into any hype.
              Last edited by isaacbruce4ever; -10-25-2017, 11:39 AM.
              “Oh, 100 percent,” Donald said. “I feel like the words, ‘Thank you,’ ain’t enough. You’ve got to show it... Instead of saying thank you — show it.”

              Comment


              • #8
                I agree, it's too early to say we have finally turned the corner towards the playoffs. We have had our hopes dashed in an instant too many times. But, this season feels different. We haven't had a functional offense since the Marc Bulger days. One thing that stuck out for me in the article was that we are getting it done on all three aspects of the game, offense, defense and special teams. He mentions that we are the only team in the league hitting on all cylinders in each of those categories at the same time.

                While we may come up short this year when all is said and done, I think we can all agree, at least at this point, that we appear to be headed in the right direction. As you mentioned Dez, Goff is still struggling at times. What I would say to that is that he is a still a work in progress. He has all of the tools, he's learning a new playbook, working with new receivers and is acclaimating himself to the NFL. Some might say with all of that going on he is actually performing well under the circumstances. He has shown confidence, accuracy and command of the position often. Just look at that last drive in the Seattle game. That was as impressive as heck. He did his job there. It was a tough catch for Kupp in the end zone, but catchable. With more reps under his belt he will become more consistent. Remember, it took Troy Aikman a few years to put it all together. He had his growing pains too. Goff seems to be ahead of him in that regard.

                A far as the timeouts go, I agree. McVay seems to be burning through them with disregard of how important they are for challenges or time running out. I hope he starts using them more judiciously.

                While we might not be there yet, we are well on our way. It is a great time to be a Ram fan!!!

                Go Rams!!!

                viper

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Seacone View Post
                  These kinds of articles scare the heck out of me. Yes, there's a lot of good and promising things going on, and lots of cause for optimism. There's a little euphoria in the air after going 2-0 on a daunting Jacksonville, London road trip, especially with the drubbing of the Cards. I just hope no players read these kinds of articles. This is still a green team. It's great to be 5-2, but we should beat Indy and SF, and the Cards have problems. So, really, what's separating us from the pack at this point are the 2 good road wins in Dallas and Jacksonville. Balance that against 2 losses at home to NFC playoff caliber teams. So, let's just take a few breaths here. I've seen many a football season turn on a dime and go south. McVay has got it right. One day at a time. We'll have a better idea in a month or so.
                  Agreed. It's tough enough for a coach to motivate and prevent complacency; articles like this, as well-intentioned and as complimentary as they may be, don't help. Last thing we want is a young team resting on its laurels. There is MUCH hard work that lies ahead and MUCH improvement to be made in multiple areas. And we all know one bad injury, God forbid, can derail everything.

                  The writer makes an assertion and backs it up with some good points. The Rams can validate this by taking care of business in 11 days and going into the Meadowlands to beat a 1-6 Giants team who should be better than they are. Can't stumble with a much tougher slate of games on the horizon.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post

                    I'm with you Dez. The Rams could be a legitimate playoff threat, and I love what I see so far, but I can't bring myself to drink the Kool-Aid yet. I need a few more wins against good teams, and then I'll be all in. Regardless, this is an exciting time to be a Rams fan.
                    I am in this camp. I want to be all in and I am enjoying this season but I too am gun shy. Let's see the rams take care of biz off the break against the g men. That would go a long way for me to embrace playoff talk. I do feel like there wont be a meltdown this year and we will finally have at least a 9-7 record which back in June seemed a stretch to me......

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post

                      For me, "all in" as in being convinced the Rams are a playoff team. Call me gun-shy, but I need just a few more wins.
                      Like the article stated "Playoff Contender" and if the season ended today we'd be in the playoffs. Don't understand how that's not a playoff contender? As we all know there are no guarantees one way or the other. To me, you can never be convinced the Rams are a playoff team until they are actually in the playoffs. All you can do is believe they are a contender and will get in. And with those sentiments "I'm All In"

                      I guess I'm in the lonely camp that believes something great is going to happen.



                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Curly Horns View Post

                        Like the article stated "Playoff Contender" and if the season ended today we'd be in the playoffs. Don't understand how that's not a playoff contender? As we all know there are no guarantees one way or the other. To me, you can never be convinced the Rams are a playoff team until they are actually in the playoffs. All you can do is believe they are a contender and will get in. And with those sentiments "I'm All In"

                        I guess I'm in the lonely camp that believes something great is going to happen.


                        The problem is, the season doesn't end today. Last year when we were 3-1, we would have been in the playoffs, but that didn't work out very well. Years of disappointments have made me cautious, and its going to take some time and some winning streaks to give me full confidence something meaningful will happen at the end of the regular season. Again, I love what I'm seeing so far this year and hope it continues.

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                        • #13
                          I seriously doubt anyone will be any less disappointed because they are gun shy now.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by macrammer View Post

                            I am in this camp. I want to be all in and I am enjoying this season but I too am gun shy. Let's see the rams take care of biz off the break against the g men. That would go a long way for me to embrace playoff talk. I do feel like there wont be a meltdown this year and we will finally have at least a 9-7 record which back in June seemed a stretch to me......
                            It's definitely too early for me to buy in to the current talk of playoff team and one of the top teams in the league. We just don't have the accomplishments for those credentials yet. It's going to take another 5-6 wins to get into the playoffs. And a season can go south in a hurry. Let's see them take care of business on the road vs. the Giants, a troubled team. And let's see them beat Houston at home, a playoff caliber team. We'd have a bead on a playoff spot at that point.

                            Comment


                            • #15
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