Our old friends the Los Angeles Rams got a national TV opportunity in their “battle for LA” against the Chargers Saturday night, and fell behind 21-0 before rallying for a 21-19 loss.
Not many guys that played in St. Louis got a chance to participate, but as the Rams approach their final preseason game, we have been able to glean a few things…
1) Their “ones” on offense got drilled. Quarterback Jared Goff took the offense down to the Chargers eight-yard line on his first possession, but got the ball stripped by Joey Bosa, fumbled, and Melvin Ingram went 76 yards the other way to dig a 14-0 hole. Goff got intercepted on a terrible throw later in the quarter. The offensive line was not good, and if Goff had any chance, that was ruined by the play of the right side of that line. The starters did have one good field goal drive to get within 21-3 before Goff was removed, but overall that group did not look good.
The defense was awful, but the only starters they used were cornerback Trumaine Johnson and free safety LaMarcus Joyner. Clearly, if the Rams have to use any depth…if they have any injuries at all on defense during the regular season…they’re going to stink. Heck, they’re trying to use 213-pound Mark Barron as an inside linebacker, injury prone defensive end Robert Quinn as an outside linebacker, the 5-8 Joyner a free safety, and former Broncos backup Kayvon Webster as a starting cornerback. And…
2) They still haven’t signed Aaron Donald. Donald is acclaimed as the best interior defensive lineman in the NFL. In the Madden ’18 game, there are only three players that have near perfect 99 ratings: Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Broncos linebacker Von Miller and Donald.
Despite again being the youngest team in the NFL, going 4-12 last season and not having a winning season since 2003 (thirteen straight non-winning seasons), the Rams have the least cap space in the NFL. How does that happen? Either way, they’re right up against the NFL salary cap. Signing Donald will be problematic for them. He’ll show up and play, but likely won’t be happy without a new deal. Otherwise, why hold out, right?
3) They still haven’t figured out the offensive line. As happened for the last ten years in St. Louis, the Rams still have no idea how to build an offensive line. New left tackle Andrew Whitworth, who’s 35 years old, is the only other Rams starter joining Donald in Madden’s top 100 players (Johnny Hekker is in the top 100, too). Whitworth is highly regarded now, but for how long? Hall of Famers Orlando Pace, Walter Jones and Jonathon Ogden didn’t play past their 35th birthdays. That’s a tough position.
It’ll be interesting to see how long Whitworth can go. We know Rodger Saffold is injury prone. He’s the left guard. 32-year-old center John Sullivan missed the 2015 season after microfracture knee surgery, and started just one game last season for the Redskins. And on the right side, the Rams spent the offseason with Rob Havenstein at right guard and Jamon Brown at right tackle, but flip-flopped them just before the first pre-season game. Both are struggling.
By the way, during the off-season the Rams traded their 2014 first pick, Greg Robinson to the Lions. By all accounts he’s made a great impression and will be the Lions opening day left tackle. Until the Rams figure out how to make offensive linemen good, Goff and Todd Gurley aren’t going anywhere.
4) Almost all the currency from the last eight years of premium draft picks is gone. The only players remaining of the eight acquired from the huge Robert Griffin III trade are Michael Brockers and Alec Ogletree. First and second round picks came and went. Chris Long. Donnie Avery. Jason Smith. James Laurinaitis. Sam Bradford. Lance Kendricks. Brian Quick. Janoris Jenkins. Isaiah Pead.
Roger Saffold, Robert Quinn, Brockers, Todd Gurley, Tavon Austin and Donald are still around. Out of all those high picks, Gurley, Donald and Quinn are the only ones to make a Pro Bowl for the Rams. The Rams will start the season with about twenty players that played in St. Louis. The last thirteen years have been one big mistake. It’s hard to overcome that level of ineptitude.