The Los Angeles Rams have played three games this year, winning two, and putting up a strong fight during their single loss. They’re a completely different team to what we’ve seen in recent years, and their performance so far has been refreshing to watch. It’s clear that the team is responding well to Sean McVay’s coaching style, and he is beginning to demonstrate that he’s a talented coach for the top position.Being three games into the season, we can now take a look at just how good the Rams are, and see how accurate the early predictions were.
The Team is Offense-Happy, and it Works
The driving force behind the team this year is the offense, and the offensive side has proven that it can lead the team, even when the defense is underperforming. It’s not particularly surprising, considering that McVay was formerly an offensive coordinator. Talking about the team’s most recent win against the San Francisco 49ers, McVay told the media that “I just kind of take it one day at a time, one game at a time, and I thought yesterday was a good offensive performance. Anytime that you are able to go 8 for 12 on third down, 5 for 7 in the red zone, those key situations, that’s going to give yourself a chance to score some points and do some good things.”Last week’s game against the 49ers was a masterclass in execution. Although the final score was close, the offensive team played like a dominant force. They remained composed under pressure, and results on the scoreboard in the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd quarter, meant that the 49ers were still kept behind, even as they managed 19 points in the 4th. Jared Goff is finally starting to play like the quarterback that the Rams need. Goff has many times been criticized for his performances, and some have even questioned whether he’s the right starter for the team. He has notably improved in the three games this year, which is likely a direct result of coach McVay’s influence. Goff made 22 of 28 passes and finished the game with 292 yards total. He also scored three touchdowns. Sammy Watkins also helps this offense to be as good as it is. Thursday’s game against the 49ers will now be seen as his breakout performance. He received twice from Goff, and completed two touchdowns. He has shown impressive ability to track the ball, and coach McVay has compared him to DeSean Jackson. McVay said “I heard the announcers say a Willie Mays-type catch where you’re tracking it over your inside and then over your shoulder kind of like a deep center fielder, but those are the types of plays that make Sammy a special player. To be able to make that big play down the field I thought was a huge spark for our offense at the time.”Another reason that this offense is so good, is that they can quickly adapt, and there’s talent on the bench. Center John Sullivan, was out of the game early, after suffering from a groin injury. His replacement was Austin Blythe, and there was no discernible impact on the quality of the offense. This is an extremely good sign, as it shows that the team can work closely with each other in any scenario. McVay will be pleased the entire unit works so well together, and it should be a warning sign for any team that plays against the Rams this year. Blythe’s solid performance is also good news, and it says a lot about his ability as a backup. It’s even more impressive when you consider that Blythe only had eight games experience in the NFL before 2017.McVay’s coaching style is unique in the NFL. Instead of forcing the team and the players to fit into a particular strategy or way of playing football, McVay takes the time to discover the strengths of each of his players, and then forms the strategy around those strengths. The team is better than the others in the NFC West, because they’ve got a quarterback who is performing well, an offensive line that can dominate, and they have some key playmakers who can set things in motion. None of this could be said if Jeff Fisher was still coaching the team, and the signing of Sean McVay needs to be looked at as the best decision that general manager Les Snead made in the offseason.
Comparing the LA Rams to Early Predictions
In 2016, the team had the worst offense in the NFC West. Today, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they have the best. Even with powerful teams like the Cardinals and the Seahawks, the early signs are that the Rams are strong enough to hold their own.Earlier this year, the Rams were considered to be at the bottom of the NFC West. This was before a single minute of football had been played. Sean McVay was a new signing and it was unknown how effective he would be. Names like Sammy Watkins were barely on the radar. So much has changed in just a few weeks of football, and many of the analysts are turning out to be wrong.Ahead of the season, Sporting News ranked the Los Angeles Rams 28th in the NFL Power Rankings. They said that the team has work to do on both the offense and the defense. While we can agree now that the defense is not as strong as it should be, the offense has surprised us in every conceivable way. Almost every reputable analyst was wrong about the Rams before the season started, and that’s not exactly a bad thing, especially for those who are backing the team.As it stands today, it wouldn’t be at all surprising if the Rams win the NFC West in 2017.