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Allen And Noteboom Could Make Or Break Rams In 2019 ..

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  • Allen And Noteboom Could Make Or Break Rams In 2019 ..

    Allen And Noteboom Could Make Or Break Rams In 2019
    Ian Van Roy

    Offensive linemen are the unsung heroes of football. They don’t get flashy stats like touchdowns, yards, or interceptions but, nevertheless, teams depend on them to protect their quarterbacks and open lanes for runners. Without linemen, there is no offense. With that in mind, the Los Angeles Rams are placing high expectations on newbie starters, Center Brian Allen and Left Guard Joseph Noteboom, this year.

    The Rams will need them to establish themselves as competent players very early in the season if the Rams are to repeat the dominance of 2018. This is because the offense will be leaned on more to win games, the emergence of depth issues on the offensive line, and finally how much Sean McVay’s scheme leans on the offensive line. Put simply, Allen and Noteboom could make or break this team in 2019.

    Offensive Supremacy
    Los Angeles’ offense will be more important in 2019 than ever before in the McVay era due to the expectation that the defense will continue to erode in 2019. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips’ history and issues with the roster point to this outcome.

    Phillips’ modern history shows a yearly decline in effectiveness once he starts with a team. Since 2011, Phillips has been the defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, and now Los Angeles Rams. In each stint, the first year has been his best with every other year being worse than the previous. In other words, Phillips has not been able to bring his defenses to be better than they were the previous year in each of his most recent three teams, including the Rams.

    In 2017, the Rams defense was ranked 19th in yards and 12th in points allowed. Last year, the Rams slipped to 19th in yards and 20th in points allowed. If the trend continues as the evidence suggests, the Rams defense will be in for a tough 2019 season.

    Putting analytics aside, the defensive roster is arguably worse in 2019 than in 2018. For instance, leading cornerback Aqib Talib will be one year older, playing at 33 years old. Of course, Talib hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down in his old age when on the field but his body is starting to break down. Last year, he missed eight games. Once injuries start appearing for older players in the NFL, they tend to snowball so there is a solid chance that Talib could miss more time in 2019, leaving the Rams without a number-one cornerback and sliding everyone else up a spot.

    Additionally, the Rams have lost defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Suh’s replacement will likely be rookie Greg Gaines, who is probably going to be a downgrade this year as he gets his initial bearings.

    Also, safety Lamarcus Joyner has been replaced by Eric Weddle. While Weddle seems like a good replacement based on name alone, it should not be discounted that he is getting older at 34 years old and will be 35 before the playoffs start.

    Overall, the 2019 Rams are expected to give up more points and yards in 2019 than in either of the previous two seasons. Since other teams will be moving the ball more against the Rams defense, the offense will have more pressure to reciprocate. Of course, the Rams have the tools at the skill positions and the scheme to use them.

    Scheme: Running
    At a fundamental level, Sean McVay’s scheme has been pretty simple over the last two years. He likes to run the ball left, right, center, and often. Once he is able to get some solid positive yardage with these plays, the defense will start to anticipate runs. Once McVay has the other team thinking this, that is when he busts out play-action passes and play-action screens. Since the defense is focusing on the running back, the fake handoff fools them for a split second, which gives receivers separation downfield and an easy completion for big yardage.

    Unless McVay has rebuilt this offense from the ground up (which is highly unlikely due to the continuity of the roster), he will continue to lean on running the ball early to set up play-action.

    If defenses can stop the run early, it makes passing the ball much tougher because it becomes predictable. Usually, this is because running teams find themselves in third-and-long situations if they struggle to run, where they usually have to pass to give themselves any real shot of converting a first down.

    In 2018, the Rams had an offensive line that allowed Todd Gurley (and C.J. Anderson later) to gash defenses. If the Rams struggle to run in 2019, the new linemen will be the first to be put under the microscope.

    More specifically, if Brian Allen and Joe Noteboom struggle to run block for Gurley, Malcolm Brown, and Darrell Henderson, they will find it harder to run toward the left side of the field. If they struggle to run to the left, then they will have to run to the right. This makes the running game become more predictable and easier to stop. Predictable running games lead to more punts and interceptions.

    Scheme: Passing
    Imagine that Noteboom and Allen are able to hold their own with run blocking. This does not necessarily mean that they are good pass blockers.

    Of course, if they had to struggle with one or the other, the Rams’ scheme would prefer to struggle here since play-action can mitigate pass rushes to some extent. This is because the rusher has to decide whether to go after the quarterback or the running back once he is in the offensive backfield since either could have the ball. That being said, play-action fakes take longer to execute due to the additional actual act of faking the ball and sometimes having to wait for receivers to get deep downfield.

    Put simply, if Noteboom and Allen’s pass blocking whiffs, Jared Goff could be pressured or sacked before getting a chance to throw the ball away or to a check-down player, which could lead to bigger sacks and more interceptions. Also, it is worth noting that as Brian Allen is slated to be the new center, his failures to block would be even more detrimental due to the closer proximity between the defensive lineman and the quarterback.

    In the end, McVay’s scheme is extremely dependent on offensive linemen. If the newbies on the line struggle (as many do), the scheme will not work due to the inability to make the defense guess.

    Both Noteboom and Allen sat behind Rodger Saffold and John Sullivan in 2018. The Rams had great depth considering the fact that they had a third and fourth-round pick waiting in the wings. However, this year, they will be the starters with Sullivan and Saffold gone. This means that the depth pieces behind Noteboom and Allen are almost guaranteed downgrades by default. Meaning, if Noteboom, Allen, or 37-year-old Andrew Whitworth go down with injuries, the depth is almost guaranteed to be much worse than it was in 2018. If they are as bad as logic suggests, the Rams could be in huge trouble in the way described above.

    The Big Ugly Truth
    Overall, the Rams organization will be leaning on McVay’s scheme due to the expected defensive erosion in 2019 and since his scheme leans on running which leans on blocking, the success of the Rams in 2019 will likely fall into the hands of Brian Allen and Joe Noteboom and their ability to play like veterans as first-year starters. If they struggle or get hurt, they will be seen as the catalyst that broke the Rams as they were the only change on the foundation of McVay’s critical scheme. Put simply, if Noteboom and Allen play well, the Rams will be fine. If not, the Rams will be taking a slide in 2019.

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    Are the Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay 1-Year Wonders?
    by MauiRam

    The Los Angeles Rams remain one of the NFL's best teams, but they're not as good today as they were before Super Bowl LIII and may no longer be the class of the NFC West. Every team, except the Arizona Cardinals, received at least one vote from Bleacher Report's experts to win the division.

    The Rams don't inspire the same amount of confidence as they did before their Super Bowl loss and an unimpressive offseason.

    A team being exposed has become cliche for why it lost in a big moment. But head coach Sean McVay admitted as much after a 13-3 stifling by the New England Patriots.

    "I'm still kind of numb right now," McVay said after the game, per USA Today's Jori Epstein. "I got outcoached. I didn't do nearly good enough for our football team."

    The Rams' offensive juggernaut stalled. After months of other teams' attempts to emulate Los Angeles' approach or hire a McVay disciple, the Rams looked lost, incompetent and beaten.

    One should expect the team to bounce back after such a horrific performance, and the Rams will to a degree. But the same expectations heaped upon them last season shouldn't reflect their roster's current construction. The added concern of Todd Gurley's lingering knee issue can't be overlooked, either.

    First, changes needed to be made to the Rams' approach, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Patriots attacked the middle of the Rams' interior, preventing Los Angeles from establishing the inside zone run, and forced McVay's squad to beat them out wide and in space. The Rams failed miserably in the endeavor.

    The middle of the Rams offense is where scheme and roster changes meet on a Venn diagram.

    C.J. Anderson took over for an ailing Gurley during the final two games of the regular season and into the playoffs. Anderson amassed 488 rushing yards in the Rams' final five games (including the postseason). The veteran excelled as a downhill runner because of the team's reliance on the inside zone. However, teams began to adjust late in the playoff run. The Patriots, in particular, crowded the A-gaps and didn't let the Rams interior run anyone off the line of scrimmage.

    Rodger Saffold, John Sullivan and Austin Blythe served as the Rams' starting offensive interior. Two of the three are no longer with the team. Saffold signed with the Tennessee Titans, while Sullivan remains a free agent after the Rams declined his 2019 contract option.

    Los Angeles drafted Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen with third- and fourth-round picks in the 2018 draft. They're expected to start at left guard and center, respectively.

    "They've had a great opportunity this offseason to get all the repetition that they needed that can really help them grow to understand how to handle it themselves," running game coordinator/offensive...
    4 weeks ago
  • MauiRam
    Eye on the enemy: Should the Dallas Cowboys be worried about the Los Angeles Rams?
    by MauiRam
    By Dan Rodgers

    If the Dallas Cowboys are going to improve upon their playoff performance last year, they’re going to have to come up big against some tough opponents. In this final installment of our Eye on the Enemy series, we take a look at one of the opponents standing in their way, who just so happens to be the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year - the Los Angeles Rams.

    With one of the game’s brightest offensive minds currently in the league, the effervescent Sean McVay has rescued this Rams team from the pit of misery and turned them into one of the best teams in the league. McVay’s presence immediately propelled his team into postseason action after a 12-year playoff drought. A drought that included 10-straight losing seasons, resulting in the selection of five players that were either first- or second-overall picks in the entire draft. It was bad. Really bad.

    One of the benefits of being terrible for so long is that McVay inherited some blue-chip talent. Players like Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, and Jared Goff were already on the team when he showed up. McVay is a guy that knows how to get the most out of his tools, and let’s face it - the Rams have compiled some nice tools over the years.

    Why they can be dangerous
    The Rams offense is loaded with talent and after leading the entire league in scoring in 2017, they put together another 30+ average points scored season just to remind people they’re the real deal. Considering the previous 10 seasons their offensive finished outside the top 20, including dead last three different times, that’s quite the improvement. You have to go all the way back to 2006 when Scott Linehan was their head coach to find a Rams offense that finished in the top 10.

    The Rams rack up the yards both on the ground and through the air. The team has completely remodeled their wide receiver corps over the last couple years by trading for a former first-rounder (Brandin Cooks), signing a veteran free agent (Robert Woods), and finding a gem of a receiver in the third round (Cooper Kupp). Their organization did a great job using all facets of players acquisition to bolster this group, and if something like that sounds should.

    The Woods signing was such an under the radar move, At the time, it seemed like they overpaid for him after giving him a five-year, $34 million deal a couple years ago. After all, he never reached 700 yards in any of his four seasons with the Buffalo Bills. But in just two seasons with the Ram’s he’s put together 2,000 yards receiving, including a nice 1,200+ effort last year.

    And if the duo of Cooks and Woods isn’t enough, the team has another dangerous weapon in Cooper Kupp. He was on pace for a 1,000 yard, 12 touchdown season before an injury sidelined him for the rest of the year.

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  • r8rh8rmike
    3 moves the Rams should make to boost their chances of getting back to the SB in 2019
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    Three moves the Rams should make to boost their chances of getting back to the Super Bowl in 2019

    L.A. is up against the cap but could use some depth on the edge and at guard

    by Jared Dubin
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    The Los Angeles Rams went all in for the 2018 season, and their boldness paid off. The Rams were one of the best teams in the NFL from wire to wire, and eventually represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. They came up short in that game and did not exactly shower themselves in glory with their performance, but they'll return much of the same core in 2019 and they should be expected to once again find themselves among the inner-circle contenders for the Lombardi Trophy.

    Given that they have one of the best and deepest rosters in the league, and the majority of the players on it played significant roles on last year's squad, the prescription for the Rams to get back to the Super Bowl is largely about improving on the margins. Anything they can do to put guys like Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Eric Weddle, and John Johnson in position to succeed is a good idea.

    Here are three ideas we've got.

    1. Sign Nick Perry to add depth on the edge

    The Rams have the best interior pass rusher in the league in Aaron Donald, and a strong secondary rush man on the interior in Michael Brockets. They brought back Dante Fowler Jr. on a one-year, $12 million deal, and also brought Clay Matthewsover from the Packers on a one-year deal.

    But Matthews will be 33 years old this season, Fowler sandwiched his eight-sack 2017 with four sacks in 2016 and 2018, and recorded only two sacks in eight games with the Rams last season, and there is not much in the way of depth behind those guys. Matthews seems likely to spend at least some of his time playing inside linebacker, with Samson Ebukam acting as the rush man off the edge opposite Fowler.

    Can 2018 draft picks Trevon Young, Justin Lawler, and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo really provide the edge depth this team needs? Probably not. That's where Perry, another former Packer, comes in.

    He missed much of last season due to injury, but recorded 18 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, and 18 tackles for loss in 2016 and 2017. With the Rams having only $6.6 million in cap room, according to Spotrac, they cannot afford to go big-game hunting, even now that signings don't affect the compensatory pick calculations. So taking fliers on low-money, moderate-upside guys is the fix here, and Perry fits the bill.

    2. Sign Shawn Lauvao to provide interior OL insurance

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  • AvengerRam
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    by AvengerRam
    When McVay took over, and Les Snead was advised he was staying, they apparently hatched a two part plan:

    1. Focus the bulk of the available resources on fixing the offense from an OL and receiving corps standpoint.
    2. Stand pat with the defensive personnel and see if Wade Phillips can work his magic.

    Part 1 is working out extremely well. This is an entirely new offense with the addition of Andrew Whitworth, John Sullivan, Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Gerald Everett and Cooper Kupp. What was a "middle school" embarrassment is now a dynamic, balanced and diverse attack that is scoring points (in 3 games, they've score 48% of the points total achieved in 16 games last year). Just how good this offense is, and can be, remains to be seen. However, the improvement is undeniable.

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    Time will tell.

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  • MauiRam
    One big reason why Wade Phillips could help make Rams contenders
    by MauiRam
    One big reason why Wade Phillips could help make Rams contenders

    Eric Edholm

    Ever since Wade Phillips took over the defense of the Denver Broncos back in 1989, he has improved every new unit he has been involved with the following season — in most cases by leaps and bounds. Seven different times Phillips has come in over the past 27 NFL seasons and made a clear, unmistakable impact running the defense in his first year with a new team.

    Talk about one of the best hired guns in NFL history. Who can boast such a mark?

    Phillips took over an aging Broncos defense that year, one that allowed 341.9 yards and 22 points per game the year prior. After his first season as coordinator, the Broncos had made massive improvements — and with only one major defensive addition, with rookie Steve Atwater — to 275.4 and 13, respectively.

    Now in 2017, Phillips is the new defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams, and his mission is to repeat his brilliant history. A few weeks prior to his 70th birthday, he remains at the top of his game. He also has maintained his wonderfully dry sense of humor and is enjoying the successful release of his new book, “Son of Bum,” and having some fun with it.
    If you don’t appreciate Phillips on some level, you might want to ask yourself why. He’s a funny guy and a heck of a defensive coach. Phillips also could have a lot more fun in 2017.

    This season he’ll be running a Rams defense that has the reputation of being one of the league’s best, but it was one that underachieved last season under Gregg Williams. It allowed 337 yards and 24.6 points per game, which didn’t help an overmatched offense in what ended up a 4-12 season — one that started out with a 3-1 mark. The talent is there, but the results were not.

    Can Phillips make that much of a difference, serving under a first-year head coach (and a 31-year-old at that) in Sean McVay? We shall see. But Phillips’ history suggests that the Rams can expect immediate statistical improvements, including one crucial stat that could lead directly to more wins.

    Over those past seven first seasons running a team’s defense, which included his 2007 stint as the Dallas Cowboys’ head coach, Phillips has shaved off an average of 35 yards allowed and 5.1 points scored. Those are fine results indeed, especially the points. But the biggest difference in his teams’ defensive turnarounds? Turnovers.

    Only once since 1989 has a Phillips-run defense created fewer turnovers than the unit he inherited the season before. Four times his teams made major improvements — the ’89 Broncos improved by 16 turnovers created (from 26 to 42); the 2002 Atlanta Falcons improved by nine (30 to 39); the 2004 San Diego Chargers by 13 (20 to 33); and the 2011 Houston Texans by nine (18 to 27).

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    -06-06-2017, 09:58 AM