The Los Angeles Rams continue to be on the cusp of doing great things as a franchise. It certainly isn’t the “Greatest Show on Turf” anymore but this team has been built to do things well on the opposite side of the ball. Despite having one of the best defensive lines in football, the Rams finished 7-9 again.
They’ve now won seven games in three of the last four season which means they continue to get close but fail to improve. The Los Angeles Rams also need to get much better at winning games out of their division. They went 4-2 against the NFC West, including a sweep of the Seattle Seahawks.
Three of their other seven losses came against non-playoff teams, Jeff Fisher should be disappointed his team didn’t finish at .500 or better this season. Now the franchise moves to Los Angeles, which means more money, more fans and more attention. It might be just what the organization needs, but it’s very unfortunate for the city of St. Louis.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Front seven, running back
The Rams defensive line is among the best in the NFL. They received plenty of hype going into the 2015 season, but instead the Rams finished 20th in rushing and passing defense. St. Louis will still be taking a ton of talent with them to Los Angeles.
Chris Long, Robert Quinn, and Aaron Donald should continue to dominate the league. James Laurinaitis and Akeem Ayers are solid at linebacker in the 4-3 scheme. If they can improve their run defense and add to the secondary, Los Angeles should have a top 10 defense.
The Minnesota Vikings took a risk on a running back with injuries in college when Adrian Peterson fell into their laps. The Rams did the exact same thing this past draft by taking Todd Gurley coming off an ACL tear.
They had to wait four games but Gurley was worth the wait. He rushed for 1,106 yards and 10 touchdowns at 4.8 yards per carry in 13 games. The former Georgia running back has the power and speed to be an elite talent. He should only get better from here on out IF he can stay healthy.
Wide receiver, secondary
Mike Martz had every right to be upset at the fact that Terrell Owens was put ahead of Issac Bruce and Terry Holt on the Hall of Fame ballot. Bruce and Holt deserve to be in Canton but since they’ve retired, the Rams have had a very tough time replacing them.
They currently have a decent threat in Brian Quick and Tavon Austin is a game breaker. However, Austin still isn’t a player that the Rams can afford to count on week to week. Nick Foles hasn’t had much to throw to and being in the NFC West with some of the best secondaries in football makes it very difficult.
They need to get a receiver that they can count on, either through the draft or free agency.
The Rams hit the jackpot with Janoris Jenkins late in the second round of the 2012 draft. The problem is that the Rams don’t really have much else in the secondary.
They finished 20th in the pass defense and they’ll need to improve and help that defensive line get to the quarterback. An elite corner through free agency could be great with the team moving to Los Angeles.
PLAYERS TO RE-SIGN:
DT Nick Fairley
S Mark Barron
CB Janoris Jenkins
K Greg Zeurlein
WR Brian Quick
RB Benny Cunningham
2016 FREE AGENT TARGETS ($32.6 MILLION PROJECTED CAP SPACE):
WR Alshon Jeffery
WR Anquan Boldin
CB Leon Hall
CB Sean Smith
FS Eric Berry
FS Eric Weddle
2016 NFL DRAFT FIRST ROUND TARGETS (NO. 15 PICK):
WR Laquon Treadwell (Ole Miss)
WR Tyler Boyd (Pittsburgh)
CB Jalen Ramsey (Florida State)
CB Vernon Hargreaves (Florida)
C Ryan Kelly (Alabama)
Read Salute Magazine‘s other NFL exit interviews:
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers