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  • Bonsignore: Rams are a legitimate playoff threat


    By Vincent Bonsignore | [email protected] | 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, it’s time to get ahead of ourselves.

    That means it’s 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.

    It’s time to embrace and accept reality. And own it.

    The Rams are a legitimate playoff contender.

    There, that wasn’t so bad now was it? But why stop there?

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

    Boom. It’s out there.

    And really, what’s to argue at this point?

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

    An offense that’s 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 Phillips’ 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.

    That’s 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 they’re 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.

    It’s OK. Because it’s 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 Year’s 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 he’d 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 Rams’ appreciative arms in the form of 31-year-old Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who represented everything previous head coach Jeff Fisher didn’t.

    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 Goff’s 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 McVay’s 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 Snead’s overall puzzle. Especially offensively, as McVay and Snead rebuilt the infrastructure around Goff and Gurley.

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

    And as we see in McVay’s offensive teaching, design and play calling, it’s seamlessly transferred from merely “on paper” 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 he’s 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.

    It’s 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

  • #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, 10:39 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.

                        Comment


                        • #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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                              • Nick
                                Sean McVay’s intensity gets Rams’ attention as offseason work begins
                                by Nick
                                Sean McVay’s intensity gets Rams’ attention as offseason work begins
                                By RICH HAMMOND | [email protected] | Orange County Register
                                PUBLISHED: April 10, 2017 at 4:32 pm | UPDATED: April 10, 2017 at 4:34 pm

                                THOUSAND OAKS — It’s a tradition on almost every team. Show up to camp, collect your T-shirt with the catchy, coach-speak slogan on the back and attempt to minimize the eye-rolling.

                                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.”

                                There’s plenty of work ahead. This phase of offseason work, which will continue for two weeks, will focus mostly on off-field strength and conditioning. Per NFL rules, practice-like simulations aren’t allowed until next month, but Monday represented an important moment for McVay and the Rams.

                                For the first time, McVay could transition from handshakes and salutations to football talk. He could distribute playbooks and talk about offensive and defensive systems and possible position changes.

                                Most of all, he could make a good first impression on the players, and vice versa. That seems to have been a success. These offseason workouts are optional, but McVay said all players attended Monday, just more than three months after they completed a dismal 4-12 season.

                                “Everybody came with a fresh start, a different mindset,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “We left with a real bad taste in our mouths last year; a horrible taste. I’m pretty sure everybody is ready,...
                                -04-10-2017, 05:22 PM
                              • Nick
                                McVay: “This Loss is On Me"
                                by Nick
                                McVay: “This Loss is On Me"
                                Myles Simmons
                                RAMS INSIDER

                                CHICAGO — This was not the Rams night.

                                This was a night where Los Angeles had only 214 yards of offense. Only 14 first downs. Only six points.

                                A night where quarterback Jared Goff threw four interceptions, setting an ignominious single-game career high. Prior to this night, he’d only ever thrown at most two picks in a game as a pro.

                                And this was also a night where head coach Sean McVay took responsibility for all of it.

                                “I’ve got to be better for our football team, but this loss is on me,” McVay said postgame. “I didn’t do nearly a good enough job for us today and I trust that we’ll respond the right way.”

                                This is something McVay has done for each of the Rams’ regular-season losses since he took over as head coach last year. But this was as self-critical as McVay has ever been — likely because this was as ineffective as the offense has been in his tenure.

                                “I’ll tell you this, when I’m looking at it in terms of some of the intent, what we were trying to do with a lot of things, I know this — I did not put our guys in good spots and that’s something that I have to better within the framework of my role and what I can control,” McVay said.

                                Indeed, this is the only time since the start of the 2017 season that Los Angeles has failed to score an offensive touchdown in a game. In fact, according to ESPN Stats and Info, this is only the second time in McVay’s 79 games as an offensive coordinator or head coach that his offense didn’t put the ball in the end zone.

                                And that’s part of what makes the numbers look so odd for this particular contest.

                                “I’d like to say no,” McVay replied when asked if he’d imagined there would be a game where his offense didn’t score a touchdown, “but certainly this is a humbling league and either you learn from it — you’d love to play consistently well week in and week out, but tonight was a humbling experience certainly for me as a coach and for our football team, but I do trust that we will respond the right way.”

                                But even with McVay’s self-criticism, players didn’t simply let themselves off the hook — particularly Goff.

                                “We definitely appreciate when he does that, but we need to be better and that’s the bottom line,” said Goff, who finished 20-of-44 passing for just 180 yards. “We are the ones on the field, we’re executing, need to make the plays, just need to do a lot of things better and we will.”

                                McVay often notes that he’s so self-critical because it’s what he and the rest of the coaching staff asks the players to do. And based on cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman’s postgame comments, that approach seems to be working.

                                “You just got to go home, look yourself in the mirror … and ask yourself, ‘Did I do everything that I [was] supposed to? Did I give all the effort that I was...
                                -12-10-2018, 04:13 AM
                              • MauiRam
                                The California Cool of Jared Goff
                                by MauiRam
                                In the midst of a wild three-year career arc that has taken him from rookie bust to MVP candidate, the Rams quarterback has learned to enjoy the ride. How far can his surge lift L.A.?
                                BY TIM KEOWN
                                11/14/18

                                Not long ago, the keepers of football's sacred texts detected a tragic flaw. The college game was spreading out and speeding up. It had become too simple, too bloodless -- and the repercussions could cripple the NFL. What they were witnessing was an insult to the thousands of men who sacrificed their bodies and brains on the game's altar. A quarterback standing 15 feet behind the center, catching a snap and throwing the ball to a receiver before the defense could even react? This was an act of pure expedience, a shortcut in a sport that does not abide them. Who was left to teach a young quarterback to nudge up close to the center, put his hands in another man's haunch and take a proper snap? A quarterback should be close enough to feel fear, and to smell a nose guard's rancid breath, and the suggestion that these gimmicky offenses would work in the NFL -- against grown-ass men, they thundered -- was an affront to the legacies of every great American who ever took the time to teach a man the seven-step drop.

                                But one by one, the thundering old men were replaced by younger men who identified an opportunity within the perceived decay, and the sacred texts began to be rewritten. These new men, unburdened by the psychic lore of Joe Namath's creaky knees or Joe Montana's jigsaw-puzzle spine or Y.A. Tittle's bleeding forehead, took the obvious skills of the spread quarterbacks and set them loose against NFL defenses.

                                And now what is this we have before us -- fun? Yes, a league that can't define a catch without seven pages of footnotes is being overrun by this most endangered concept. Fun destroys the myth that everything must be difficult and exhausting and earned. Fun puts the game's inherent martiality at risk. Turns out you can make your way down the field faster, more efficiently and far more often by standing back there and finding the receiver most open.

                                It's starting to feel like a revolution, and every revolution needs a frontman. Rams quarterback Jared Goff, under the progressive vision of head coach Sean McVay, is the leader of one of the NFL's most dynamic offenses. Just two years after 2016's top pick suffered through the turgid, sclerotic final days of the crumbling Jeff Fisher empire -- losing all seven of his rookie starts -- Goff is an ascendant star, an MVP candidate, a player who symbolizes the promise of the new over the stubbornness of the old.

                                "It's funny that the spread quarterback was seen as such a scary thing going into every draft," Goff says. "I played in the spread, Patrick Mahomes played in the spread, Deshaun Watson, Mitchell Trubisky -- the NFL is so stuck in its ways sometimes. If you don't innovate and adapt, you're going to be left...
                                -11-15-2018, 12:25 AM
                              • NJ Ramsfan1
                                Thoughts and Observations
                                by NJ Ramsfan1
                                The Rams picked the absolute worst time for an offensive clunker, laying an egg in the Super Bowl, and there were plenty of culprits. Start with Gurley, who showed again that he's obviously hurt, despite the repeated and ridiculous proclamations to the contrary by the organization, McVay and Gurley himself. Was a tight end's name mentioned all night? Higbee and Everett apparently went into Witness Protection, because they were totally invisible. Ditto for Robert Woods, who contributed virtually nothing. Only Reynolds and Cooks carried their weight offensively though Cooks' two drops killed us (more on this later).

                                Goff could never get it going. He wasn't helped, as his offensive line played poorly for much of the night, especially Austin Blythe, who was tossed around like a salad every time I watched him. Goff nonetheless took a couple of ill-advised sacks and was skittish on throws when pressure came. He continued his pattern of making bad reads from time to time, trying to hit covered receivers while others roamed free. It's his biggest weakness, IMO, and one has to hope it's the byproduct of youth which will be improved with reps and experience.

                                Three pivotal plays changed the course of this game. One was the phantom holding call on Sullivan during Gurley's 27 yard run- a call that changed the drive and forced a punt. Terrible, over-officious call. And plays two and three were the drops by Cooks- difficult catches for sure, but ones made by big time players in big time moments. The 2nd one in particular on a beautifully thrown ball by Goff REALLY hurt, as a possible 10-10 tie was replaced by an interception thrown one play later. Game over.

                                McVay was outcoached. One can safely say that because when a man's bread and butter- offensive football- is reduced to a pile of trash on the biggest stage in the sport, he didn't do a good job and had no answers. Why weren't the tight ends incorporated more? Why wasn't CJ Anderson given a bigger role given Gurley's continued troubles? The Goff fake handoff and play action fooled no one. And I think if the offense is predicated too much on the success of one guy (Gurley), you're going to have problems, as evidenced tonight.

                                Credit Phillips, who had the defense ready. They played well enough to win, and despite their lousy coverage of Edelman, made stops when needed and kept New England off the scoreboard. We'll certainly see some changes for next year, but couldn't have asked too much more from them- this defeat rests squarely on the offensive side of the ball. And if you had bet me this would be the way the game would go, I'd have lost my shirt.

                                In time, I'll appreciate the season we had, but in sports, you must take advantage of opportunities given to you in Championship Games, because you never know if or when you'll ever get back. A bitter pill to swallow on so many levels....
                                -02-04-2019, 04:29 AM
                              • MauiRam
                                Bonsignore: Five things the Rams must accomplish in training camp
                                by MauiRam

                                The Rams are counting on new left tackle Andrew Whitworth to bolster a position that has been a problem area for the team for years. (Photo by Michael Owen Baker)


                                A year ago this time the Rams were still getting used to their new Southern California surroundings after making the 1,825-mile trip back home from St. Louis.

                                There was so much still hanging in the air.

                                An entire franchise was making the move across country. A practice facility was hurriedly being constructed to be ready in time for the regular season.

                                Families were still settling into new homes and neighborhoods and schools. Directions were required to find the nearest grocery store, let alone figure out how to get from one temporary practice site to another across three counties and more than 100 miles.

                                “In flux” is as good a way to describe it as any. And that’s not even getting into the actual football side of things. Although we all know how that turned out.

                                That isn’t to excuse the depths the Rams fell to in the eventual 4-12 season. Many of their problems were carryovers from their former home, unrelated to distance and upheaval.

                                It’s simply to point out there was an obvious and constant undercurrent of instability this time last year. And no matter how much the Rams tried to deny or manage or work around it, it was just wishful thinking. Instead they spent a year trying to get comfortable while never really getting comfortable.

                                The difference now can’t be understated. The Rams are no longer the new family on the block. They are established members of the community.

                                And as they approach their second training camp at UC Irvine as the Los Angeles Rams, you get the sense 100 percent of the focus is back on football rather than spread across various different areas.

                                The question is, will stability equate to a much-needed on-field turnaround?

                                For that to be the case, here are five things the Rams much accomplish over the next four weeks:

                                OFFENSIVE LINE MUST GET SQUARED AWAY

                                It would be easy to point to second-year quarterback Jared Goff or running back Todd Gurley as the keys to finally getting the Rams offense out of first gear, and their contributions are critical. But the reality is Goff and Gurley remain beholden to the point of attack.

                                There are tangible reasons, however, to believe the offensive line can at least elevate itself to average rather than the league worst it was last season.

                                The addition of free agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth changes the whole dynamic. A two-time Pro Bowler who continues to get better with age, Whitworth, 35, immediately locks down a position that has baffled and sabotaged the Rams for years. It means Goff’s backside is better protected, often as a one-man operation that allows tight ends to be more active in the passing game. It means Rodger...
                                -07-25-2017, 09:06 PM
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