The Rams haven’t made the playoffs since 2004 and are in the beginning stages of their umpteenth attempt at a reboot. Sean McVay got hired to bring the Rams’ offense into the 21st century after Jeff Fisher‘s five-year quest to revive Teddy Roosevelt era football finally came to an end.
Despite being the youngest head coach in history, Sean McVay has proven himself adept at knowing what he doesn’t know which is why he made it a point to hire Wade Phillips to run the defense. He also possesses a great deal of media savvy. He is the anti-Jeff-Fisher in every conceivable way.
The Rams’ offseason was a mixed bag with Wade Phillips’ hiring being a win and tagging Trumaine Johnson being the biggest mistake. Sean McVay needs this first season to be a success because the team’s inaugural year in LA landed with a thud. In order to have a prayer in 2017, there are three things Sean McVay needs to accomplish.
1. JARED GOFF NEEDS TO LOOK LIKE A QUARTERBACK
Sean McVay got hired to do one thing and one thing only; mold Jared Goff into an NFL quarterback. The Rams placed a ton of equity in Goff and his rookie season was a disaster. Some of that had to do with Fisher not giving him reps but he still appeared incredibly raw. He didn’t look like a number one overall pick and that is where McVay comes in.
McVay overhauled Goff’s arsenal of weapons and will primarily run a two tight end set. Second round pick Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee are vital to Goff’s development. The Rams added Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds at receiver. Kupp turned heads early with how crisp his routes are and may wind up Goff’s go to target. Reynolds still needs to develop but his size and athleticism make him a major red zone threat.
Tavon Austin is slated to take on the DeSean Jackson role in McVay’s offense but at no point in his career has he shown he’s capable of that. Robert Woods signed a massive deal but outside of his blocking ability, there’s no evidence he’ll be a game changer. Jared Goff needs to make a tremendous leap otherwise the Rams will hit the reset button…again.
2. THE OFFENSIVE LINE NEEDS A LEADER
The offense couldn’t get anything going last season and that was largely due to their line. Todd Gurley hit a massive wall because there weren’t any holes open for him. Aaron Kromer came aboard to whip this unit into shape and that is no easy task. Greg Robinson is playing for his job and a switch to right tackle is his last chance. The former number two overall pick is in his last year and the Rams declined his option earlier this year. Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan signed on to provide veteran help but they are merely stop gap options given their age. Aside from Whitworth and Sullivan the rest of the line are a young hodge-podge which is disconcerting. If Kromer can get this line to overachieve it will make everything else on offense fall in line. That’s a big IF.
3. WADE PHILLIPS’ DEFENSE NEEDS TO CARRY THE LOAD
The hiring of Wade Phillps is easily the smartest thing the Rams did all off-season. Phillips brings in decades worth of experience and knows how to get the most out of his players. Robert Quinn moves to linebacker where he and Alec Ogletree should cause havoc. Trumaine Johnson needs to prove that he deserves a long-term extension. The rest of the secondary should improve with the additions of Kayvon Webster and Nickell Robey-Coleman. Lamarcus Joyner and Maurice Alexander are the sole options at safety and if they hit, they will be the cherry on top. Wade’s new 3-4 can elevate this defense to another level if everyone can buy in quickly.
The offense is a massive work in progress so it will be up to the defense to carry the load. Luckily, Phillips has made an esteemed career at building defenses that are required to carry teams with a lack of offensive firepower. McVay’s first season carries with it a lot of pressure but thus far he’s demonstrated himself more than up to the task. For fans, the next test is to see if all that media savvy and offensive know-how will translate to the field.