Soon after the Los Angeles Rams dropped their second preseason game to the Dallas Cowboys, 14-10, grumblings of discontentment slid through cracks in the team’s fan base like snakes with poison apples. The true and longtime Rams faithful responded accordingly cutting the negativity off at the neck. This is because they understand that today’s Rams have long-term goals as well as the immediate task of winning a Super Bowl. With most of the offense returning, the coaches already know what they have in the starters. These fans know, too, and have questions about the rest of the offensive talent. Here is that side with the Los Angeles Rams mock cutdown projections.
Los Angeles Rams Mock Cutdown: Mid-Preseason Offense
What could possibly happen here? The Rams offensive unit is mostly set.
Here’s the thing. A good-size portion of the rest of the football world saw last year’s Super Bowl and said things along the lines of, “Coach [Sean] McVay’s been figured out,” “He was exposed!” and my personal favorite, “HE’S A FRAUD!” The fools.
Even the best have bad days. Take the New England Patriots, since we’re talking Super Bowl and the current best team. The Patriots lost five games in 2018. In three of them, they scored just 10 points each. They lost those games to the Detroit Lions (who finished 6-10), Tennessee Titans (9-7), and Pittsburgh Steelers (9-7). The closest was seven points, the other two they lost by a combined 40 points. Bad days or is Bill Belichick a fraud?
While it sounds like I may be stalling (and I am) because there’s not a whole lot that matters regarding the Rams starting offense in terms of changes coming from what we’ve seen in preseason, there’s still some method to the madness revealed.
Although it’s only for one season, Blake Bortles is the clear top choice back-up to Jared Goff. This won’t change regardless of what the other two quarterbacks do the remainder of the preseason.
As for the second and third-strings, Allen and Wolford, there will be plenty of available footage for other needy teams. The two are taking turns each week looking the best, Wolford week one and Allen week two. The Rams are likely to keep three quarterbacks again because of the uncertainty of the offensive line. They can surely become a formidable force improving all season long but an injury or two might devastate plans. Still, Rams fans have been breathing louder sighs of relief lately knowing their team’s quarterback depth is considerably upgraded.
Now that the speculation about some rookie coming in to replace what could be a Hall of Fame running back in Todd Gurley has died to the lowest mumbling since last draft day, do we have your attention now?
The Rams are simply acknowledging that major knee surgery, as well as surgeries anywhere on the body, has risks. Most of us will never intimately know but plastic surgery also has long-term effects one must incorporate into today’s care. Resting Gurley periodically means that he doesn’t play during garbage time. It may also include sitting him in games the Rams are favored heavily to win. Rams fans can live with that because Gurley has already exited some games that were well in hand. Games in which he had top-shelf fantasy numbers at the end of three quarters. The secret key here is exciting news that also falls under method to the madness.
Moving past the obviousness of Gurley dominating when he does play, we find more good news. Malcolm Brown is poised to see more mileage than ever, especially on the goal line. With four years under his belt with the Rams, he’s flourished only under McVay. Unfortunately, in two seasons he has just one touchdown on the ground and one by air to show for it. This is likely to change in 2019 depending on how he holds up as he’s not played all 16 games under McVay. Unlike last preseason when he had significant carries, Brown has not gotten any so far this preseason…as if he were a co-starter. Just saying.
The Only Battle Here Isn’t Really A Battle
As for Henderson, welcome to the big leagues, rookie! It seems appropriate. After enjoying that much-publicized 8.9 yards per carry average through college, he’s now struggling to keep his head above 2.0 yards a carry in preseason play. Improvement is noted from the first game to the second despite it not having much effect on his average. Look for him to be a team leader again in carries week three. He needs the work.
John Kelly, a 2018 6th-round draft choice, came to the Rams and immediately leaped over the 2017 pick-up, Justin Davis. He is doing all he can to prevent this from happening to him a year later. He’s the Rams leading rusher in yards like he was the previous preseason, by far. However, the Rams appear set on using Henderson a lot more in the passing game. He’s caught seven passes in two games, two less than Kelly in two entire preseasons. The young man is being groomed for primetime if needed.
The Method to Sean McVay‘s Madness
I don’t know who else saw it but there was a look McVay had at the end of the Super Bowl. A look that said, “I blew it but it won’t happen again.”
While Belichick is being considered the greatest coach in NFL history, McVay is a better offensive mind. For that matter, ex-Rams offensive coordinator Mike Martz was, too. The Patriots will never pay players top dollar overall under current management so Bill looks to all other avenues. What many call cheating is actually being a master of all other available resources.
McVay does McVay and what he’s doing now is opening up the playbook and putting together extensive offensive packages. Goff is ready for more and what the league thinks it’s prepared for is now last year’s iPhone. The Rams now have another genius the likes of Martz but with much better head coaching skills. Count on his team looking more polished and explosive throughout the regular season.
Final Rams Cutdown Projections
There’s more attention on a few new players than is spoken about publicly. We may be in for a mild but pleasant surprise or two next week.
LG (1) Joe Noteboom
C (1) Brian Allen
RG (1) Austin Blythe | (2) Jeremiah Kolone
QB (1) Jared Goff | (2) Blake Bortles | (3) John Wolford
RB (1) Todd Gurley | (2) Malcolm Brown | (3) Darrell Henderson Jr. | (4) John Kelly
The Rams may likely need more offensive line help with Aaron Neary facing suspension at the start of the season. Jamil Demby doesn’t appear to be a good enough fit at the back-up spot as well and we have every right to believe the coaching staff sees it more than us.
Good to remember that a number of players will be placed on the Rams practice squad and not lost for good.
If you missed it, be sure and check out the defensive version of this article.