What Should Fans Expect From the Los Angeles Rams in 2016?
By Julio Mejia
After a 7-9 finish last season, what should Los Angeles Rams fans expect from the team in 2016?
With the preseason in the books and the Los Angeles Rams finishing up in true Rams fashion with a 2-2 record, there are quite a few talking points that have surfaced about the rebooted franchise in a new city.
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Among those subjects of concern, a question that is continuously raised is whether this will be another mediocre season with Jeff Fisher as the head coach. The quick answer is no as Rams fans hopefully won’t have to worry about being the laughing stock of the league at this point next year.
Unfortunately though, there is bad news too and to put it plainly, the 2016 triumphant return to Los Angeles could end in a fiery blaze for the Rams.
This team has a multitude of positional issues to address, most glaring at the quarterback position. I’m not going to bother mentioning Jared Goff and the mile-long list of issues he needs to work on because that merits an article all to itself.
What I’m more concerned about is the actual starting quarterback as Case Keenum wrapped up his preseason with an impressive line of 18 of 24 completed passes for 188 yards with one touchdown to go along with a passer rating of 111.1.
However, these stats are a bit deceptive as these were numbers posted versus defenses that did little to no game planning against him, so they need to be taken with a grain of salt. The fact of the matter is that Keenum has issues with overthrowing despite having one of the weaker arms in the league. Despite Goff’s struggles, it can be safely assumed that Keenum is just here to hold his spot as he continues to develop and adjust to a much more complicated system.
The receiving core is another concerning take away from the preseason along with coming off the 2015 season. It’s no secret that the Rams receiving was and continues to be considered one of, if not, the worst receiving units in the NFL pretty universally.
According to Pro Football Focus the Rams receiving corps are ranked 32nd in the league of, yes, 32. The veteran presence and the man who should be considered a top target, Kenny Britt, is not the type of player that is a game changer. He will do the job, but he is far from a make or break type player.
Tavon Austin had the same old issues of holding on to the football from 2015 repeat themselves in the preseason of 2016, with no signs of figuring it out anytime soon.
The special teams squad on this Rams team also has its share of troubling moments in the preseason, highlighted by the inaugural kickoff of the Rams return to Los Angeles against the Dallas Cowboys. In that game, Lucky Whitehead took it upon himself to welcome back the Rams by running the opening kickoff back for a touchdown.
That was the first of two kickoffs returned for touchdowns in four games by opponents, in a league where allowing two of those are a matter of some coaching hot seats. The kick and punt return teams didn’t look any better either between miscommunication to interfering with their teammate catching the ball.
Clearly, this is obviously still a unit trying to figure things out.
Aside from two of the three phases of the game having major issues to figure out along with the pressure of returning to the second-biggest market in the country, one of the most daunting factors going into the 2016 campaign for the Rams is their schedule.
A whopping five of their first seven games will be on the road, including a trip across the pond to Twickenham Stadium in London, England to take on the New York Giants. And to add to the weight of the task, the London game is considered a Rams home game and it takes away an actual home game.
All this adversity is challenging enough for any team and to pile onto the mountain they’re burdened to climb, the home opener for the Rams in Week 2 is against one of the league’s best teams in the Seattle Seahawks. Pete Carroll‘s squad may have one of the best overall teams thanks to a high-powered offense to go along with a stellar defense and this will certainly be a tough early test for Los Angeles.
Realistically, this team could easily finish with a 4-12 or 5-11 record during the 2016 season when looking at the tough challenges ahead. It’s a tough pill to swallow and theres nothing wrong in hoping for the best, but the Rams are in for an uphill battle this season.
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This season should not be considered a lost cause, but at least Los Angeles playing San Francisco twice will result in two wins. Overall, don’t be surprise if the Rams are only good enough to finish third in the NFC West.