Rams CB Troy Hill Handed Two-Game Suspension for Violating the NFL’s Substance Abuse Policy

Rams backup cornerback Troy Hill has been suspended without pay for the first two games of the 2017 regular season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, Alden Gonzalez of ESPN.com reports.

Hill won’t be eligible to return to the active roster until Sept. 18, following the Rams’ Week 2 home game against the Washington Redskins. But he can participate in all offseason and preseason practices and games until then.

That suspension probably stems from Hill’s DUI arrest the Saturday morning before the Rams’ Nov. 20 home game against the Miami Dolphins. The Rams made him inactive for that game, then later stashed him on their practice squad and didn’t activate him again until the middle of December.

During the incident, Hill was driving on an L.A. freeway at around 8 a.m. PT when his Mercedes swerved over multiple lanes and crashed into the back of a semi truck. Hill, who suffered a busted lip during the crash, was given a field sobriety test and arrested on the spot.

An undrafted free agent in 2015, Hill initially signed with the Bengals and played in spurts for the Rams last season, starting four games.

A Rundown of All the Los Angeles Rams 2017 NFL Draft Picks

Sports Illustrated has a complete rundown of all of the Rams 2017 Draft Picks and some commentary as well.

Round 2, Pick 12 (No. 44 overall)

Gerald Everett, TE, South Alabama: The Rams throw a curve ball with their first pick of the 2017 draft, taking Everett, a player cut from the same TE/slot receiver mold as Evan Engram. This comes one year after L.A. nabbed TE Tyler Higbee in the fourth round. Everett has upside as a pass catcher, but this is early for him and there were a lot of defensive options on the board. GRADE: D+

Round 3, Pick 5 (No. 69)

Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington: This is another good one in terms of value, but confusing in terms of team fit. Kupp is a polished receiver capable of handling a heavy workload. He’ll have to prove he can live outside, though, and the Rams just used a Round 2 pick on a slot-type TE in Gerald Everett.? GRADE: B–

Round 3, Pick 27 (No. 91)

John Johnson, S, Boston College: Kind of a perfect mid-to-late Round 3 pick. Johnson has obvious bright spots in his game, including his ability to mix and match coverages. He’s also got a long way to go before he’s a complete product. Wade Phillips is a great defensive coordinator if a player needs development, though, and Johnson’s movable skills will give Phillips some options. GRADE: A–

Round 4, Pick 10 (No. 117) Josh Reynolds, WR, Texas A&M

Round 4, Pick 19 (No. 125) Samson Ebukam, OLB, Eastern Washington

Round 6, Pick 5 (No. 189) Tanzel Smart, DT, Tulane

Round 6, Pick 22 (No. 206) Sam Rogers, FB, Virginia Tech

Round 7, Pick 16 (No. 234) Ejuan Price, DE, Pittsburgh

A Look at the 2017 Rams Schedule with a Glance at the Good and the Bad

The 2017 NFL Schedule is out, and here’s a look at the Rams slate for the upcoming season, with the home games in bold:

Sep. 10 Indianapolis Colts 1:05 PM

Sep. 17 Washington Redskins 1:25 PM

Sep. 21 at San Francisco 49ers (Thu) 5:25 PM

Oct. 1 at Dallas Cowboys 10:00 AM

Oct. 8 Seattle Seahawks 1:05 PM

Oct. 15 at Jacksonville Jaguars 1:05 PM

Oct. 22 Arizona Cardinals (London) 10:00 AM

Oct. 29 BYE

Nov. 5 at New York Giants 10:00 AM

Nov. 12 Houston Texans 1:05 PM

Nov. 19 at Minnesota Vikings 10:00 AM

Nov. 26 New Orleans Saints 1:05 PM

Dec. 3 at Arizona Cardinals 1:25 PM

Dec. 10 Philadelphia Eagles 1:25 PM

Dec. 17 at Seattle Seahawks 1:05 PM

Dec. 24 at Tennessee Titans 10:00 AM

Dec. 31 San Francisco 49ers 1:25 PM

What’s Good about this Schedule: The Rams have a shot to get off to a quick start with two home games to start 2017 against the Colts and Redskins before two straight road games.

What’s Bad about this Schedule: Three rough games against three good defensive teams on November 5th, 12th and 19th, as they play at the Giants, home for the Texans and at the Vikings.

Becoming Fundamentally Sound

Rams ownership almost always portrays itself as an organization that wants to win.  It says winning is important.  It says all the right things.  “We’re going to put a lot of money into the defensive line.”  Or  “We’re going to draft a top SEC running back” Or “We’re going to go out and get a franchise quarterback.”  And they do.  They’re really good at picking up pieces, but tying those pieces together and making fundamentally sound supporting moves is not in their wheel house.

Back in 2009 Rams Nation was excited about the arrival of new head coach Steve Spagnuolo.  He came from the 2008 Super Bowl winning NY Giants with a long history of being a tough defensive coordinator.  Rams ownership again decreed its commitment to winning and paired the new head coach with Offensive Coordinator Pat Shurmur.  The Rams brought in some roster talent (OT Jason Smith, LB James Laurinaitis, and DT Dorell Scott) and the fan base sighed a deep sigh of relief.  But over the next 3 years the Rams complete what would be the worst 5 year stretch in NFL history.  What did we miss?

The problem was the pairing of a first year head coach (defensive background) with a first year offensive coordinator who had never called plays before.  A recipe for disaster which I called out at the time.  I genuinely believe the Rams made that move fully understanding the fundamental flaw.  (A little conspiracy theory?  Not really.  Football is a business and not all decisions are grounded in the concept of winning.  But that’s an entirely different article.)

For now let’s just say the Rams have learned their lesson.  This year they’ve paired a young offensive juggernaut in head coach Sean McVay with a seasoned defensive stalwart like Wade Phillips.  Unfortunately, I’m worried the Rams are about to make a different, but equally devastating fundamental flaw.  Again, I’m not completely opposed to the pieces; just worried about their arrangement.  The Rams have high expectations for 2nd year QB Jared Goff, but I hear nothing in free agency or draft news about comprehensive moves to make him successful.  There are 3 elements required to have a successful passing game: 1 you must have a solid offensive line, 2 you must be able to spread the field, and 3 you must have a strong running game so your offense doesn’t become one dimensional.  The Rams are constantly working on their O-line and they’re at least aware of the need for speedster wide receivers (the Rams just signed veteran WR Robert Woods).

Last year the Rams had a trio of high potential running backs: Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham and Todd Gurley.  Two of the 3 are gone (Gurley remains) and there is absolutely no conversation regarding their replacements.  My guess?  We’ll settle for a couple last minute pick ups of career second stringers.  That kind of move is right out of the Rams standard operating procedures (when they’re not picking up players from other team’s practice squad).

The Rams need to stop looking at pieces.  I firmly believe if the Rams don’t pull off a couple miracle trades for productive running backs, then Jared Goff will not have a successful second-year season.  Optimistically, we’d be looking at another 6-10 season or worse if this structural gap is not addressed.  Good teams understand their strengths and weaknesses and how to live with them.  The Rams annually add new pieces, but somehow are unable to understand how a successful NFL team functions as a whole.


Rams Bringing in Wade Phillips to Coach the Defense

NFL: Oakland Raiders at Denver Broncos

With Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay getting the gig as the new head coach of the Rams, the team is bringing in Wade Phillips to coach the teams’ defense.

His last job was as Defensive coordinator for the Broncos, which he did for the last two seasons, leading Denver to a Super Bowl last season.

If Redskins OC Sean McVay Gets Hired; Look for Wade Phillips to Come in as Rams DC

Sean McVay

Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay has reportedly interviewed for the Rams head coaching vacancy twice and if he gets the job he is looking to bring Wade Phillips along to coach the defense, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports.

Phillips is one of the premier defensive coaches in the league and would help bolster McVay’s chances.

Rams Request a Number of Head Coaching Interviews

Josh McDaniels

The Rams now have requested head coaching interviews with Buffalo’s Anthony Lynn, and New England coordinators Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports citing sources.

Additionally Schefter says that the team has requested permission to interview Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay.

Rams QB Sean Mannion Ready to Return to Backup Role Sunday vs 49ers

Sean Mannion

Quarterback Sean Mannion has not been on the Rams’ active game-day roster since the season opener against the San Francisco 49ers.

But with two games left in a lost season — and a new head coach to be hired — the Rams are beginning to look to the future, Gary Klein of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Mannion appears on track to return to the backup role on Saturday when the 49ers visit the Coliseum.

Rookie quarterback Jared Goff, who grew up in Northern California and played in college at California, participated in the team’s light workout Monday. He is expected to clear concussion protocol at some point this week and start against his hometown team.

But Mannion – not veteran Case Keenum – could be the No. 2 quarterback.

“We’ve talked to him about that being a potential,” interim Coach John Fassel said.

Fassel said a determination about Goff’s status would almost certainly be made by Thursday, the day of the Rams’ final practice for the 49ers.

And if Goff is not able to play?

“We’ve talked about both Case and Sean,” Fassel said. “We’d love to get Sean some reps in the situation like last week, where something happens to Jared – whether he can’t find his helmet or his shoelace breaks – get Sean in there for a little bit of work.

“Case has performed well when required, but it would be good for the team to get a look at Sean and see what he can do if pressed into service by necessity.”