The winning man’s hand. Mojo magic. Game day schemes. The Los Angeles Rams have had a rough time finding the winning season formula under head coach Jeff Fisher. The answer is probably still a season away.
7 wins 8 losses and 1 tie in 2012. 7 wins 9 losses in 2013. 6 wins 10 losses in 2014. 7 wins 9 losses in 2015. Continuing to have losing seasons is not the reason Jeff Fisher was brought on board in St. Louis. Coach was hired to bring toughness and wins to the organization. One out of two so far.
Like every Fisher team before them the 2016 Rams are a physical team. An attitudal defense, a strong ground game and a physical, big armed QB are the hall marks of a Fisher squad. Keep the game close, punish the other team and win in the fourth quarter is the game plan. The engine has sputtered so far.
The team’s defense was gutted by injury and age last year. Yet the team was still able to eek out seven wins even with horrendous QB play. Nasty defense and the running game are here to stay in Los Angeles and Todd Gurley is a big reason. An integral part of the formula it can’t be overstated how important intimidating defense and Mr. Gurley are to the aspirations of a winning season. With the team’s defense retooled and healthy the running game and dominating defense make for potent game day weapons. Only one part of the formula is still missing.
This past offseason the team identified Cal QB Jared Goff as the final piece of the puzzle after jettisoning 2015 interception machine Nick Foles. Fisher knows he needs a QB to get over the hump and he went and got one. Question is, did he get the right one? After all, this is the same group of talent assessors that thought Nick Foles was the answer, right?
Not really. Nick Foles was the best option the Rams front office could lay their hands on after they assessed fragile QB Sam Bradford’s upside. Not one coach was ever quoted as tabbing Foles as the net Tom Brady. He was referred to as a “big arm QB” who should help the team strike vertically in play action. He was and they did strike downfield. Punting would perhaps have been a better option as interception returns can get ugly.
Goff hasn’t had quite the preseason hoped for. He’s third on the depth chart and has looked like a rookie QB trying to learn how to operate under center in a NFL schemed offense. The game is moving much to fast for him as this point and the rookie is often caught “thinking’ instead of “playing.” The results have been as expected and props to the coaches for not handing the first round selection the job. He’s not ready for it. Yet.
Goff has flashed big time skills. In his first preseason game against the Cowboys he had one downfield throw that epitomized the hope for the future and the lament of the past. Under pressure with a WR running a 1/2 step ahead of a covering QB up the right sideline on a 9 route and a safety closing the top of the pattern at full speed Goff layed a perfect rainbow just out of bounds between the WR and the safety where ONLY his guy had a shot at it. It’s no secret the team doesn’t have the best WR corps and it showed here as the play didn’t result in a completion but the results were thumbs up all around. Opposing defensive coordinators now know Goff can get the ball downfield with accuracy. Unlike Foles he isn’t going to hit the defenders in the hands with the rock and he understands where he has to put the ball to maximize the plays potential. Better yet, he displayed the skill set to deliver.
The receivers are young, have talent and should get better. So will Goff.
So no, rookie QB Goff isn’t ready yet. He will be however. It’s a matter of “when” rather than “if” for the Rams leader of the future. When Goff does take the reigns club will have all of the pieces required to successfully implement the Fisher winning formula. The Titans were pumping out 13 win seasons when coach Fisher had all of his weapons in Tennessee. In the last year of his contract it would be a shame if the team didn’t at least give him a years extension so he could bring his vision to fruition. Goff is most likely a year away from assuming command. Another .500 season is probably on the horizon for this year. But 13 wins is real. 13 wins is where the Rams need to be. 13 get’s Jeff Fisher a new contract and LA respect in the tough NFC West.
Going to be a heck of a year.
What say you Sports Nation?
Another Left Coast Sports Post: on Twitter – Steven Van Over