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Rams and Goff on a Roll No One Saw Coming

November 5th, 2017 · No Comments · NFL, Rams

OK, everyone who predicted the 2017 Los Angeles Rams would win six of their first eight games, with Jared Goff in the upper third of the league in passing yards (2,030, ninth) and quarterback rating (97.9, ninth) … please stand up.

All of you standing … thanks to owning up to your outrageous lies. We can recommend a mental-health professional for you.

The Rams are, in fact, 6-2 after nuking the New York Giants 51-17 today.

This is getting unreal.

A team with much the same cast of players as it had in 2016 — when the club went 4-12 (its 10th consecutive losing season) — now leads the NFL in points-differential (+108) and points scored per game (32.9).

How is this possible?

Here is how, in three paragraphs:

1) Sean McVay. Apparently, the Rams’ rookie coach, 31, is a “quarterback whisperer”. He made a star out of Kirk Cousins, in Washington, which is what recommended him to Rams management, and so far McVay has Goff looking much less like “pumpkin” and far more like “Prince Charming”. Goff has thrown for 13 touchdowns against four interceptions, and is averaging 8.8 yards per pass.

2) A rebuilt offensive line. Goff played the final seven games of the 2016 season, all defeats, and was awful. He played like a deer frozen by approaching headlights — or, actually, approaching pass rushers. We thought he was jittery; turns out, he was being pummeled every week. This Rams team has a much stronger line, and in particular at left tackle, where veteran Andrew Whitworth has been huge. Goff now can drop back with some confidence he is not risking his life. He was sacked 26 times in seven games in 2016. This year? Only 10 times in eight games.

3) The return of 2015 Todd Gurley. The man who was supposed to be the marquee player for the 2016 Rams struggled mightily. Behind the new line, he is averaging a healthy 4.3 yards per carry and has caught 29 passes for 338 yards and three touchdowns. His 10 TDs are the most in the league.

Other contributing factors are the team’s fine defense, led by Aaron Donald, which remains formidable; a plus-3 in turnovers; a fine kicker in Todd Zuerline (who has converted 24 of 25 field-goal attempts); and an excellent punter in Johnny Hekker).

After the 2016 season, I wrote that the Rams would do well to go 7-9 in 2017, and that 6-10 would be OK. I suggested that the best play would be to blow up the team, trading anyone of value for draft picks and starting over.

Clearly, that was not the way to go.

I also was early on the G0ff = bust bandwagon, but lots of others were there with me. Some may have forgotten how hopeless he looked in preseason, and how terribly he struggled when he finally got on the field. It is difficult to square visions of him calmly throwing strikes down the field … to the gun shy rookie of 2016.

Now … if the Rams can win three of their final eight, they probably can get a wild card — their first playoffs berth since 2004. If they can win their rematch with the Seattle Seahawks, the Rams would have a strong chance of winning the division. If they also defeat Philadelphia, at home on December 10, they could have the best record in the NFC.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Go ahead and celebrate that 6-2.


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