The Los Angeles Rams are in a situation no one thought they would be in coming into the 2016 campaign. Their Head coach Jeff Fisher is a mess as well as their General manager Les Snead. Thing’s are starting to crumble down onto the Rams and something has got to give. Here is the blueprint I have laid out to fix, what can only be described as a debacle.
Step 1: Fire HC Jeff Fisher, OC Rob Boras and DC Gregg Williams
Fisher has had five seasons with the Rams and nothing has changed. His game situational play-calling has always been suspect, but this season he has really been exposed in plain sight that he has no clue of what he is doing. Besides the fact that Fisher isn’t very good at his job. He also isn’t very good at surrounding himself with personnel to hide that he isn’t very good.
Rob Boras never should have been promoted to Offensive coordinator as he is on the same level of Frank Cignetti (former OC) and marginally worse than Brian Schottenheimer (who was really bad to begin with). The whole point of firing Schottenheimer was to go out and get a seasoned veteran OC that could really fix things for the offense. Fisher didn’t do that, in fact he did something worse in hiring a guy who only coached TE’s (a group of TE’s that weren’t very good to begin with). Wait, actually that was Cignetti who wasn’t much better than who the Rams have now.
Gregg Williams has to go. What did he do with the New Orleans Saints to get the praise he has received? Nothing. However, he has done things to receive scrutiny, like that one time he organized (or at least partly organized) a bounty program which rewarded defensive players on the Saints monetary compensation depending on which big name QB they injured and the severity of the injury. Yes, I know it’s sadistic if you think about it… Besides all that though, the Rams (Jeff Fisher) still thought it was smart to hire this guy. Williams has never been that great of a DC. What he does however, is call a super aggressive scheme that may look like a fun thing at first, but when you dive deeper it’s a catastrophe. Williams has been exposed as a coordinator that just looks much better than he is, due to the fact his defense is very talented.
Step 2: Hire Josh McDaniels as HC, promote Mike Groh to full-time OC and hire Josh Boyer as DC
There are many coaches to choose from this off-season. You have Josh McDaniels from New England and his co-worker Matt Patricia, David Shaw from Stanford, who visited the Rams recently (conincidence? I think not). Kyle Shanahan from Atlanta, Sean McVay from Washington. There are options out there.
In this blueprint and this scenario I am going to go with Josh McDaniels as the Rams HC, Mike Groh gets promoted as OC and the Rams DC? Ever heard of the coach Josh Boyer? Probably not. Well, he is the Patriots Cornerback’s coach and former Defensive backs coach. He obviously shouldn’t get all the credit for the development of Devin McCourty and Malcolm Butler, but he deserves some of it. Boyer is intriguing because he could actually be the next in line if Matt Patricia walks away from the Patriots organization.
In this scenario he doesn’t and Patricia stays to become HC after Belichick whenever he retires. That probably means Boyer has little room for advancement. Boyer could come into a Rams defense that already has plenty of talent to manage. He could focus on building up the Rams secondary to the point where it could stack up talent wise to the defensive line. Boyer isn’t the sexy name many would think of, but maybe he should be. He’s another guy from the Belichick coaching tree and if Belichick continues to promote you, you are doing a good job to say the least. McDaniels, Boyer and Groh would create a young trio of some possible fantastic coaches.
Enough talk about Boyer, onto the Offensive coordinator Mike Groh. I seriously can’t stress enough how much I like Groh. He’s a former Alabama and Chicago Bears WR coach. He, in my personal opinion deserves credit for development of Alshon Jeffery and Marquess Wilson. He also deserves credit for what he’s done with the Rams improving the WR group as a whole. Groh is a much better and more creative mind than current OC Rob Boras. Eventually something’s got to give and Groh needs to be the full-time offensive play-caller.
Lastly, McDaniels had a rough year in STL, but it’s a different situation now. The team McDaniels was trying to work with was very depleted as far as talent goes. Danny Amendola was the no.1 WR and McDaniels just didn’t have much at all to work with. However, now even though the stats are horrific the Rams have plenty to work with. Pieces like Jared Goff as the signal caller, Todd Gurley at RB and players like Tavon Austin, Kenny Britt, Tyler Higbee and Pharoh Cooper that McDaniels would have a field day creating plays for.
McDaniels didn’t get a fair shake anywhere besides the Patriots organization, it’s time for him to get a chance to prove himself.
Step 3: Cut DE Eugene Sims & C Tim Barnes
This one is easy, Sims is a fan favorite, but you need to keep in mind the Rams can use all the cap space in the world. Sims is going to be owed three-million next year with no cap hit. You have to at least try your luck cutting him and then maybe re-signing him back cheap. The obvious one is Tim Barnes. He is a train wreck for the Rams and appears to be the biggest weak link year in and year out. Barnes somehow received an extension going into this year, but that is going to be short-lived. The Rams would save 2.5 million-dollars by cutting Barnes.
Lastly, with the roster cuts I would be on the fence in possibly cutting Lance Kendricks. I am a fan of his, but again the Rams need all the cap space they can muster up and saving them four-million dollars in cap would be tempting. Ultimately though, the lack of growth Tyler Higbee and Temarrick Hemingway (whether it was there fault or not) leads me to believe getting rid of Kendricks would be foolish.
Step 4: Re-sign Trumaine Johnson, Dominique Easley, Kenny Britt, Benny Cunningham, Greg Zuerlein, Ethan Westbrooks & Matt Longacre
No, I didn’t forget T.J. McDonald, I just simply wouldn’t bring him back for the amount he is going to ask for. McDonald is a young hard-hitting safety that will likely command seven to nine million-dollars annually and the Rams can’t afford that. Just with the guys I have the Rams re-signing alone the Rams would have a projected 20 to 25-million in cap space left after all the deals were made.
The Rams can slide Mo Alexander over to Strong safety and either try out Cody Davis and Marqui Christian at FS, delve into their UDFA safety I loved Brian Randolph, draft a safety to take over, sign a FA safety or even move Mark Barron back to safety. There are options and with McDonald’s impending lawsuit which could net him a whole season behind bars, the Rams would be wise to move on if he doesn’t give them a big discount.
Step 5: Sign WR Josh Gordon, LT Matt Kalil, C Eric Kush
With Josh Gordon it’s not really going to be up to him commanding money. He really doesn’t have a leg to stand on in demanding a big deal since he really hasn’t played much outside of pre-season in two years. He still showed flashes in pre-season and is highly talented. He is only 25-years old and while he may seem like a risk, he’s a risk the Rams really should have already taken. He won’t receive more than five-million annually which is perfect for the Rams. In a scenario where Britt leaves or even if he stays I believe the best option would be Terelle Pryor, but he is going to cost too much and Browns will be able to pay him what he wants easier than the Rams.
Matt Kalil is exactly what you are thinking he would be, a plug-in-play tackle to hold the fort until someone steps up. Eric Kush never should have been cut to begin with, but he still could end up back with the Rams unless he wants to gloat at how stupid they were (and I don’t blame him at all if he does that).
Step 6: Fill in the missing pieces as best as possible via the draft
It might be a little unbearable for McDaniels not having a first-round pick seeing as the last time he didn’t real get to have one in Denver since Elway demanded he pick Tim Tebow. However, the Rams still should have enough picks to improve their team in 2017.
2nd Round: Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Anyone who knows me, knows I love Awuzie’s game and think he might actually end up being the best CB from this draft. E.J. Gaines can’t stay healthy and has had an atrocious return to the starting lineup, LaMarcus Joyner has proven he is only going to work as a Nickel corner, Troy Hill and Mike Jordan have a long way to go before they can consistently start. Awuzie on the outside across from Johnson would bring back the tenacity the Rams once had with Joyner and Johnson.
3rd Round: Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
He seems to have completely fallen out of the first-round and for the time being he’s fallen into the third. Sutton is a clone of formerly Mike Groh coached WR Alshon Jeffery. Sutton didn’t go to a standout school and his stock has unfairly taken a hit because of that. With Gordon being a risk it would be smart to double up on WR in the off-season to give Goff all the weapons to grow with.
4th Round: Josh Harvey-Clemons, S, Louisville
It may seem crazy to not hit the panic button and take some offensive lineman, but that irrational behavior is what put the Rams in this position in the first place. Harvey-Clemons is a freakish athlete standing at 6-foot-5. Harvey-Clemons would surely be a project and in the fourth-round that is the perfect time to grab one.
5th Round: Chad Wheeler, OT, USC
The talent level probably projects him as a first to second round pick. However, with Wheeler’s off the field issues and his injury history should push him down the board enough to make it worth picking him in the fifth round. The Rams would surely pick at least one lineman in this draft and Wheeler is the one that makes the most sense later on.
6th Round: T.J. Watt, EDGE, Wisconsin
J.J. Watt’s brother is a solid player. He may never amount to anything, but watching him play this season at Wisconsin he did show the ability to rush the passer. The Rams in this scenario released Eugene Sims and will have to add a pass rusher to fill the void. Watt is a guy that could really develop under the coaching of DL coach Mike Waufle and the leadership that is on the Rams line.
7th Round: Fish Smithson, FS, Kansas
I absolutely love Fish Smithson, but he’s not getting talked about at all. He led all FBS in tackles last season and continued to be one of the only bright spots for the hapless Kansas Jayhawks. Smithson shows ability to be exactly like Rodney McLeod. In the seventh round it makes sense to grab another safety and have him, Harvey-Clemons, Cody Davis, Marqui Christian and Brian Randolph all battle it out for the FS job.
HC: Josh McDaniels
GM: Les Snead
OC: Mike Groh
DC: Josh Boyer
QB’s (2): Jared Goff, Sean Mannion
RB’s (4): Todd Gurley, Benny Cunningham, Malcolm Brown, Chase Reynolds
FB (1): Corey Harkey
WR (7): Kenny Britt, Josh Gordon, Tavon Austin, Pharoh Cooper, Courtland Sutton, Nelson Spruce, Mike Thomas
TE (3): Lance Kendricks, Tyler Higbee, Temarrick Hemingway
LT (2): Matt Kalil, Chad Wheeler
LG (2):Greg Robinson, Cody Wichmann
C (2): Eric Kush, Demetrius Rhaney
RG (2): Rodger Saffold, Jamon Brown
RT (1): Rob Havenstein
DE’s (5): Robert Quinn, William Hayes, Ethan Westbrooks, Matt Longacre, T.J. Watt
DT’s (4): Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, Dominique Easley, Morgan Fox
OLB’s (3): Mark Barron, Josh Forrest, Cory Littleton
MLB’s (2): Alec Ogletree, Bryce Hager
CB’s (5): Trumaine Johnson, Chidobe Awuzie, LaMarcus Joyner, E.J. Gaines, Mike Jordan
FS (3): Cody Davis, Brian Randolph, Fish Smithson
SS (2): Maurice Alexander, Josh Harvey-Clemons
K: Greg Zuerlein
P: Johnny Hekker
LS: Jake McQuaide
This is the final 53-man roster for the 2017 that I predicted. It could look a lot different and I would expect that to be the case. However, with this roster and the proper coaching staff, the Rams would be able to make a run at the NFC west title. McDaniels having the reigns would mean Goff’s development could go without a hitch. Having a plug-in-play LT in Kalil would be enough to fix the OL, moving Greg Robinson to guard and getting rid of Barnes would also help. Speaking of Goff, with the acquisition of FA WR Josh Gordon, the re-signing of Kenny Britt and the draft pick of Courtland Sutton. The Rams would be handing out plenty of weapons for their young QB to improve the last place offense.
The defense would only get better bringing in Chidobe Awuzie via the draft to go alongside Trumaine Johnson. Boyer’s ability as a CB’s and DB’s coach would leave room to develop players like Mike Jordan, Brian Randolph, Fish Smithson and Josh Harvey-Clemons. With the increase of about 10 million in the cap for 2017, the Rams could very well bring T.J. McDonald back, but they could also pursue elite FS Eric Berry.
Regardless of their decision the Rams with a new regime and a similar roster structure could be a legit force in the NFL.