Friday, August 26, 2016

LOS ANGELES RAMS - 2016 Season Preview

LOS ANGELES RAMS                                                                             

2015 Record:  7-9-0  (St. Louis Rams)

Head Coach:  Jeff Fisher

New Faces for 2016 -  DL Quinton Coples, CB Coty Sensabaugh

OFFENSE:  The quarterback situation for the Rams appears to be in flux as the regular season approaches. Top draft pick Jared Goff (California) has been dropped on the depth chart, leaving Case Keenum as the starter.
Keenum passed for 828 yards last season with four touchdowns and one interception in six games. Goff and Sean Mannion will start the season in reserve.
The running game is on much more solid ground with Todd Gurley entering his second season after a stellar rookie year in which he rushed for 1,106 yards (4.8 ypc average) and scored ten touchdowns. Backing up Gurley will be Benny Cunningham (140 yards) and Tre Mason, who gained 207 yards and scored one touchdown.
The wide receivers include Tavon Austin, who led the team with 52 receptions (for 473 yards) and also five touchdowns, and Kenny Britt (36, 681, three TD). Brian Quick (10, 102), Bradley Marquez  and rookie Pharoh Cooper (South Carolina) are also in the mix.  The tight ends are Lance Kendricks (25, 245, two TD) and Cory Harkey, along with rookie Tyler Higbee (Western Kentucky).

DEFENSE:  The Rams play the 4-3 set with William Hayes (5 1/2 QB sacks) and Robert Quinn (five sacks) at the ends. The tackles are Aaron Donald (eleven sacks) and Michael Brockers. Quinton Coples, Eugene Sims, Ethan Westbrooks and Louis Trinca-Pasat  are the backups.
At linebacker will be Alec Ogletree in the middle along with outside backers Akeem Ayers and Mark Barron. Zack Hodges, Bryce Hager and Cameron Lynch provide relief.
Trumaine Johnson made seven interceptions (co-leader in NFC) and will be at cornerback spot along with Rohan Gaines. The safeties are T.J. McDonald and Maurice Alexander. Free agent Coty Sensabaugh, along with Lamarcus Joyner, Christian Bryant and Cody Davis will fill in when needed.

OUTLOOK:  The offense has nowhere to go but up after finishing dead last in the NFL with an average of only 298 yards per game in the 2015 season. The Rams averaged only 17.5 points per game while the passing game was at the bottom of the league as well, managing a paltry 175 yards per game.
Goff was selected as the first overall pick to attempt to solve the issues there, but so far Head Coach Jeff Fisher has not been impressed. Case Keenum is a journeyman quarterback and will likely be the starter when the season begins.
Todd Gurley will get better and better as he pounds and churns out the yardage in the backfield. He has the break away speed as evidenced by a 71-yard TD run last year.
The defense was decent last year and had a bend but not break mentality as they allowed just 20.6 points per game, which ranked 13th overall in the NFL.
If the team can get any improvement from their passing game, it will lessen the pressure the defenses put on Gurley in the running game. That remains to be seen and the Rams play in the NFC West against two of the league's better defenses in Seattle and Arizona.
After a 7-9 finish a year ago in St. Louis, the Rams packed it up and headed back West to Los Angeles, where they played for many years up until the 1995 season.
Whether or not they give the L.A. crowds reason to cheer very often depends on the offense getting its act together this season.

Fearless forecast -  6-10 this year

Week 1 - at San Francisco
Week 2 - vs. Seattle
Week 3 - at Tampa Bay
Week 4 - at Arizona
Week 5 - vs. Buffalo
Week 6 - at Detroit
Week 7 - vs. NY Giants (London, England)
Week 8 - BYE
Week 9 - vs. Carolina
Week 10 - at NY Jets
Week 11 - vs. Miami
Week 12 - at New Orleans
Week 13 - at New England
Week 14 - vs. Atlanta
Week 15 - at Seattle
Week 16 - vs. San Francisco
Week 17 - vs. Arizona

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