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.”

Rams Place DE Robert Quinn and RB Benny Cunningham on Injured Reserve

Robert Quinn

The Los Angeles Rams today made a couple roster moves with some veteran players, putting placed defensive end Robert Quinn and backup running back Benny Cunningham on injured reserve.

The official reason for putting Quinn on IR is a concussion that has kept him out the past two games but 2016 in general has been an injury-plagued, disappointing season for the star pass rusher.

Quinn also underwent back surgery during the offseason and was briefly hospitalized with a mystery illness last month. Although he is still only 26 years old an signed to a mega-contract through 2019, Quinn has been a disappointment the past two seasons with only nine sacks in 17 games played.

Cunningham, normally the Rams’ third-down back and kick returner, went down with a neck injury in Week 13. He has had only 21 carries and 37 touches for the worst offense in the NFL in 2016 and will be a free agent at the end of the season. As with virtually every other area of the team outside their defensive front four, the Rams will need to upgrade the talent level of their running backs corps this offseason.

It’s been a season of disaster with the Rams already with Jeff Fisher getting fired already this week and the team’s move to Los Angeles not going as smoothly as planned.

It sounds more and more like with a new coaching staff there’s going to be a complete overhaul of the team as well as the roster. We shall see if it puts this team in a position to compete in 2017.

Rams vs Seahawks NFL Week 15 Inactives

C.J. Prosise

Rams: QB Sean Mannion, CB Steve Williams, S Maurice Alexander, CB EJ Gaines, G Cody Wichmann, T Pace Murphy, DE Matt Longacre. DE Robert Quinn and RB Benny Cunningham

Seahawks: RB C.J. Prosise, RB Kelvin Taylor, S Tyvis Powell, LB Brock Coyle, LB Ronald Powell, DT John Jenkins and DE Damontre Moore

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