The Los Angeles Rams are 3-4 heading into Week 9. All things considered, the Rams are fortunate to still be in the playoff picture. No, I am not joking, the Rams are only 1.5 games behind the Seahawks for the NFC West division lead. So, what will it take for the Rams to be legitimate threat?
Bring in Jared Goff or at least Sean Mannion
Remember rookie Jared Goff? You know, the No. 1 overall draft pick in the 2016 NFL Draft that the Rams traded a high premium to secure him? Well while he is becoming cozy on the bench, the Rams’ starting quarterback Case Keenum hasn’t produced much since the start of the season. In Keenum’s most recent game against the New York Giants, he threw four interceptions in a game the Rams should have won.
At this point, the Rams know exactly what they have in Keenum, and he does not give the team the best opportunity to win. Goff is supposed to be the future starter, and right now, it doesn’t matter if he’s “NFL ready.” He needs to learn the rhythm of the game, which is something he cannot learn while holding a clipboard on the sideline. Just expect plenty of rookie mistakes.
Speaking of forgotten quarterbacks, shouldn’t we feel bad for Mannion? He has been neglected since joining the Rams as a rookie since last year. Okay, not willing to put Goff in? Fine, how about Mannion? Mind you, Mannion may not be the quarterback of the future, but I believe he has more of an upside than Keenum. He has much more zip on the ball and can make some plays downfield. Someone needs to replace Keenum whether it be Goff or Mannion.
Alter the offensive playcalling
Something needs to change here and fast. I don’t care if you fire offensive coordinator Rob Boras, throw away the playbook, or at least run more unexpected plays, but for the love of Rams football, please stop being so predictable. If you’re on a goalline play, don’t hand the ball off to Todd Gurley up the middle. Even a casual football fan can see that coming. Also, if you’re going to hand the ball off to Tavon Austin, don’t use the exact same formation three to six times a game. It stops becoming a trick play if the formation looks so familiar. Finally, if the box is stacked with eight or more defenders, call an audible. If you need a reference, look at the film on a Peyton Manning drive. Defenses are not doing anything special to contain the Rams offense. It’s time for the Rams to counter that strategy.
Obviously, this isn’t something that the Rams personnel can control, but it doesn’t make it any less vital to the success of the rest of the season. What we’ve learned so far this season is that the Rams have even less depth in key positions than initially thought. On offense in particular, if the Rams were to lose Kenny Britt or Brian Quick, the receiving corps may be in deep trouble. As it is, the Rams haven’t had the services of Nelson Spruce or Pharoh Cooper.
Defensively, the entire secondary is a huge concern. Trumaine Johnson and E.J. Gaines both have been banged up, and there isn’t much reliable depth behind them. If the Rams are going to win many more games this year, they will need them both to stay healthy. T.J. McDonald, Maurice Alexander and Cody Davis have done a solid job at times, and losing any one of them would be bad news to the defense. Quite possibly the scariest thought is losing Alec Ogletree or Mark Barron. One must wonder what becomes of the defensive scheme with so little linebacker depth? Actually, let’s not think about that.
It’s important to note, there isn’t much to improve. However, these improvements are necessary, especially as the schedule becomes tougher. It’s crunch time for Jeff Fisher and the coaching staff: put up or shut up.