Tavon Austin: The Gadget Man
Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
Tavon Austin seemed to have disappeared on the Los Angeles Rams depth chart. Austin who sparked the eyes of many NFL Scouts at the 2013 NFL Combine when he unofficially ran a 4.25 40 yard dash. His impressive combine workout is all that Rams general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher needed to solidify they need to do what they needed in getting Sam Bradford a weapon.
The front office did just that, as they executed the second trade of that NFL draft, sending their original 16th overall pick, a second-round selection, the 46th and a seventh-round 78th pick to the Buffalo Bills for their number eighth overall pick. In addition, the teams exchanged the 71st and 78th selections. The Rams selected Austin, the speedy wide receiver from West Virginia.
At West Virginia, Austin was a complete player, that could score in a barrage of ways on the field, as a runner, receiver, and return specialist. Austin was one of the nations most electric players, as when teams figured ways of stopping him, he executes a different plan like a Gadget Man.
In 2016, the Ram’s Tavon Austin, signed a four-year extension to stay in Los Angeles, the team that drafted him in the 2013 NFL Draft. Austin signed a 4 year, $42,000,000 extension including $28,500,000 guaranteed, an average annual salary of $10,500,000. In 2017, Austin will earn a base salary of $3,500,000 and a roster bonus of $11,477,116, while carrying a cap hit of $14,977,116. The lucrative contract extension brought frustration from numerous Ram fans, because of Austin’s stats didn’t compare to that type of monetary reward.
Just my opinion, I believe that its a Catch-22 of the “likes” and “dislikes” of Tavon Austin by the Ram fans. The catch, Austin never had an offensive-minded head coach or high-quality offensive coordinator that was able to utilize his talent other than on jet sweeps. Entering his fifth season, Austin has played under four different offensive coordinators, sub-par offensive lines, less of average quarterbacks, and a basic receiving core.
Excuse me for asking, but is it fair for that blame to be placed on his shoulders? Clearly, he’s not the entire team, but some of his lack of numbers can solely place on him too.
In the week five loss to the Seattle Seahawks, Austin was used primarily as a backup running back to Todd Gurley, and I have to say, he ran the ball pretty well. Austin carried the ball six times for 27 yards and touchdown. On a third and eleven, Tavon was given the ball, ran inside, and took to the house for a touchdown. (watch video)
Tavon Austin Skates Through Seahawks Defense
The Los Angeles Rams clinched the NFC West Title last Sunday that preserved them the opportunity to host an NFC Wildcard Sunday the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Rams clinched the division by a thrilling game over the Tennessee Titans where there pro bowl running back Todd Gurley had a record day. Nothing short of Gurley's performance, we can't leave out the fact that quarterback Jared Goff played almost a flawless games by tossing four touchdowns and no interceptions.
No touchdown pass was far more spectacular than his 80-yard screen pass to Gurley. He watched Gurley race through the defense and would be untouched the entire distance. They scored the touchdown two plays later, turning the ball over at their own 10-yard line. It appeared that right guard Jamon Brown missed a blocking assignment, which allowed Titan's defensive lineman Jurrell Casey a clean hit on Goff. As Goff attempted to hand the ball off to Gurley, he was hit by Casey, fumbling the football at the five yard and scooped and scored by linebacker Wesley Woodward. The Titan's relished a brief 10-6 lead, but the Rams responded quickly with the Gurley's touchdown.
Coach McVay's Responds After Clinching Division
Shortly after clinching the NFC West and their first playoff bid since 2004, Coach McVay made it publicly known that majority of the Ram starters were not going to be active. Resting the players is damage control by preventing any injuries to key players. Players were banged up and wanted healthy bodies for the playoff game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Sammy Watkins, will be skill players who will be inactive on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers. Austin certainly has his opportunity to shine against the 49ers, a team he's played big against in the past.
Despite limited playing time, when giving the opportunity, Austin been everything of a professional on the field. He's always jumping up and down when making a play or the first to congratulate a player after making a huge play. He continues to play hard on the field even not running or receiving the ball. For example, a play in London where Gurley scored a touchdown after making a defender miss, Austin makes a huge block on Arizona Cardinal's defensive back Patrick Peterson that helped spring Gurley for the touchdown. (Watch Video)
Tavon Austin's Key Block
Austin status on Sunday is still uncertain whether he will start at running back or back up Malcolm Brown, or will start at wide receiver. One thing that is for certain, the number will be called for plentiful opportunities. At receiver, he will platoon with rookie Josh Reynolds, second-year receivers Mike Thomas and Pharoh Cooper, and starters Robert Woods and Sammy Watkins probably will be limited to third downs.
Rams offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur was asked about the receivers against 49ers, he responded that he was excited to see Austin play and definitely was going to get a lot of opportunities. He continued to say when Austin gets the ball in his hands, he is extremely explosive, and hope that they could get the ball in his hands down the field. He further was asked whether Austin would return kicks, LaFleur quickly responded he honestly didn't know, but those were a decision made by special teams coach John Fassel and head coach Sean McVay.
Austin lost his return duties after muffing four punts and losing two of them in the first five games of the season. His last turnover came against their division rival Seahawks as Austin signaled for a fair catch and misjudged the ball. The Rams could have taken over the ball at their own 30-yard line, with a 7-0 lead, but this was enough for Coach Fassel to bare. The Rams special teams have been nothing but clutch and nearly flawless this season, and this issue was causing frustration. Austin seemed to have lost his focus with fielding punts, as you can view him clearly muffing this punt in week three against the 49ers. (Watch Video)
Tavon Austin Muffs Punt
No doubt, Austin has lost many fans and many of them have been calling for his release or trade. However, throughout it all, Austin has remained positive and had shaken off his negative attention by positive social media posting. His positive attitude on the field, inside the locker room, and outside in the community continues to display his positivity.
Last week, Austin and fellow teammate Robert Quinn, provide a less fortunate family that was displaced with a fully furnished home, food, and Christmas gifts. Having lost fans, Austin at least gained more by his community outreach.
I'm excited to watch Austin to get significant play in today's game against the 49ers. Perhaps he can play with backups and provide the excitement many Ram fans are expected to be missing. The last couple of weeks, the Rams offense had been electric after Todd Gurley erupted against the Seahawks and Jaguars. Expect for Coach McVay and LaFleur create some mismatches for Austin to display his career type explosiveness. (Watch Video)
Tavon Austin's Career Highlights
Prediction: 49ers vs Rams
Overview: This is a very hard game to predict, mostly because the Rams are resting many of their key starters. Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, John Sullivan, Andrew Whitworth, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald and Alec Ogletree are all expected to sit this one out as the Rams gear up for playoffs (I love writing that last part!). Coach Sean McVay addressed his players after last weeks division clinching win against the Titans (see the video below)
Coach McVay's Clinching Speech-Woooooooo!
Todd Gurley continued making his case for the MVP Award. The 80 yard touchdown on a screen play may have been his signature play of the season so far (see video below).
Rams Offense vs Niners Defense: Sean Mannion will start this game for Jared Goff at quarterback. The Rams line will be missing two key pieces, left tackle Andrew Whitworth and Center John Sullivan, so my guess would be that the Rams will feature a lot of short passes and running plays to offset the San Francisco 49ers pass rush. Rob Havenstein and Jamon Brown have done a good job in run blocking on the right side of the Rams line this season, and so far as I know they will be playing. Malcolm Brown and Tavon Austin will probably see a fair amount of action at running back. They aren't Gurley by a long shot, but they do offer a nice 'thunder and lightning" (power and speed) combo. Tight ends Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee could play key roles here. McVay utilized his tight ends a lot when he was the Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator and we could see that again on Sunday. I think the Rams can still put points on the board with this unit IF Mannion plays well and if the line plays well enough to run the ball and implement a short passing game. The Niners have some talent on defense, including defensive tackle Deforest Buckner, who made his presence known in The first meeting between these teams. Linebacker Ruben Foster is a dynamic play-maker on defense, and the 49ers defense as a whole comes in relatively injury free for the final game of the season. I am going to give the Rams offense a slight edge in this match-up, but I will be the first to admit that there is a lot guesswork involved here because of the number of Rams players who won't be on the fieldRSS Feed
Edge: Rams (slight)
Rams defense vs. Niners offense; Aaron Donald and Alec Ogletree are expected to sit this one out, and they are probably the Rams two best defensive players. Cody Davis will be back at safety after missing several weeks with an injury. Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been playing at an elite level at quarterback so far, winning all four of his starts and putting up Aaron Rodgers/Tom Brady-like numbers. But Rams DC Wade Phillips has been around a long time, and he likely will thrown some things at Jimmy G that the young quarterback hasn't seen before. You could also make an argument that Garoppolo at some point is due for an off game...no one is THAT good. I hope that turns out to be true, because if Garoppolo is anywhere as good on Sunday as he has been, the Rams defense minus it's best players could get lit up. Which is another reason the Rams may go to a short passing/rush heavy offense. Eating up the clock, playing old-fashioned smash mouth football and keeping the ball out of Garoppolo's hands would have it's advantages.
Special Teams: The Rams have the best special teams in the league, and even without kicker Greg Zuerlein, I check this box for Los Angeles. What may be more important than who wins this game from the Rams viewpoint will be the performance of placekicker Sam Ficken, who is replacing Zuerlein. He got off to a shaky start last week, missing a field goal and an extra point before nailing a couple of extra points. If he performs badly in this game, that is a problem going forward.
Prediction: Honestly I am tempted to write "who knows." If the Rams are starting everyone they win this game hands down. With the many star players they are resting, it's really a crap-shoot But there are those who argue Los Angeles Rams would be better off losing this game. If they do lose and the Saints win, Los Angeles drops to the four seed. That would mean a victory in round one of the playoffs would send them to Philadelphia to face a somewhat-struggling Philadelphia Eagles team. If they end up as the number three seed, they most likely would have to travel to Minnesota to face a hot Vikings team. But just to complicate things even more, dropping to the fourth seed could also mean a trip to New Orleans for the NFC title game if they and the Rams both get that far. I honestly don't know how this game will come out, but the Rams have been exceeding expectations all season. Maybe they can do it again on Sunday.
Rams 27 San Francisco 24
Ed “Pi Double i” Henderson
The Los Angeles Rams upgraded their defensive secondary today by activating veteran safety Cody Davis from the injured reserved. Davis was placedon the IR after suffering an injury to his quadriceps against the Jacksonville Jaguars in week six after his treatment was responding as they intended.
Davis played well in the Rams’ new three-four defensive scheme leading up to his injury, by recording one interception, two pass deflections, and recorded 22 total tackles this season. The Rams fan are quite familiar with Davis ball-hawking ability in the defensive backfield. In week three against the Seattle Seahawks, he sniffed out a trick play, by intercepting a deep pass intended for running back J.D. McKissick. (Watch Video)
Cody Davis Sniff Out The Trickery
As Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson motioned receiver Tanner McEvoy left, he quickly threw him the ball which seemed to be a screenplay Instead, McEvoy would heave the ball deep down the field to a McKissick who had badly beat Rams outside linebacker Connor Barwin. Davis interception would set up a touchdown run by Tavon Austin who was untouched to the end zone three plays later.RSS Feed
The Rams will host their division rival San Francisco 49ers in what is primarily a meaningful game this Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. But, don't let the Ram Die-Hard hear you say that too loudly, as this game is one of the most heated rivalries in the league. Rams head coach Sean McVay already reported that several Ram starters were going to be inactive such as Jared Goff, Todd Gurley (NFL Most Valuable Player) frontrunner, and All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald to be fresh for the NFC Wild Card name next week.
The last several weeks, the Rams have been plagued by injuries, with linebacker Mark Barron injuring his knee against the Seahawks, and an inflamed Achilles last week against the Tennessee Titans. Connor Barwin fractured his forearm against Philadelphia Eagles, Kayvon Webster and Marqui Christian, both on IR with a ruptured Achilles (Webster) and Christian's shoulder. Rams kicker Greg Zuerline was placed on the IR with a herniated disc that required surgery. Pro bowl snubbed guard Roger Saffold, was injured with an oblique last week against the Titan's. To sum up the list, potential Rookie of the Year receiver Cooper Kupp is listed out with a knee and will be inactive on Sunday.
Davis return to the Rams secondary and special team is a huge lift with his versatility to play at both safeties position. Davis at safety can allow Lamarcus Joyner to come down and play the slot corner or even the outside. Troy Hill, who replaced Webster at the starting corner opposite of Trumaine Johnson, played remarkably well in his first start against the Seahawks. Hill allowed only one completion of five yards.
Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, learning that Davis was activated as he can be used as an effective blitzer from the defensive backfield. Many 49ers fans are not too happy as the Rams will sit the majority of their starters. In week three, the Rams squeaked by with a victory against the 49ers, of the 41-39 victory, as Aaron Donald sacked quarterback Brian Hoyer to preserve the win at Levi Stadium. Since that time, the 49ers acquired quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo from the New England Patriots, in which he is undefeated in his six NFL starts, winning his first four starts with the 49ers.
The Rams have no slouches at the backup skill positions, as reserved quarterback Sean Mannion is set to make his first NFL start. Mannion who played well in pre-season potentially can be auditioning for a new team next season as he makes the start. At the running back position, Rams have Malcolm Brown, Lance Dunbar, and Tavon Austin. Austin, who may get a lot of touches provided by his lack of playing time over the course of the season.
I have to admit, I'm more excited to watch the wide receiver position, where I believe it will be an upgrade over the 49ers secondary. Josh Reynolds will probably be targeted more because of his size and preseason chemistry with Mannion, and as well as Pharoh Cooper. Mike Thomas will finally get the opportunity to shine at receiver, along with Cooper. Factor Austin in the mix at receiver as well, and not to exclude rookie tight-end Gerald Everett who has been quiet in the recent weeks.
Even with the Ram starters inactive on the field, it has been the same motto all season long, "next man up!" Intend for this to be a very competitive and exciting game as it was last season after Colin Kaepernick led the 49ers down the field for the game-winning touchdown and two-point conversion for the victory.
To make room on the roster for Davis, the Rams placed linebacker Matt Longacre, on the IR after requiring surgery on his back. Longacre played well up to this point, however, he was inactive last week when the Rams clinched the NFC West Division for the first time since 2003 and also added playoff spot since 2004.
Sweet Music-Rams Clinches Playoff Bid
Ed “Pi Double i” Henderson
The Los Angeles Rams clinched the NFC West in a decisive game over the Tennessee Titans. The Rams defeat the Titans 27-23, not only clinching the NFC West; they also secured their first playoff bid since the 2004 season. The 2003 season is the time the Rams had a winning season, as the team finished (12-4), a fate they can repeat by winning next week against the San Francisco 49ers, in the final home and regular season game.
That 2003 Rams team had one of the most prolific offenses in the league that season. Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner succumb a concussion against the New York Giants in the first game of the season and would be hospitalized. Head Coach Mark Martz would name backup quarterback Marc Bulger as the starter. Bulger earned the starting job after replacing Warner in 2002, winning six of his seven starts. Many felt that “The Greatest Show on Turf” seem to have ended after the 2001 season; nonetheless, they finished 12–4, winning the NFC West, and losing a heartbreaking NFC Divisional playoff game to the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers would continue on to Super Bowl XXXVIII only to lose to the New England Patriots.
Rams running back Todd Gurley appeared to put this game on his shoulder as he rushed 22 times for 118 yards and 10 receptions for 158 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Gurley brought out his entire repertoire today as he took a screen pass the distance for an 80-yard touchdown, another game with a 10 plus yard run, and hurdling two would be Titan’s defenders in the first half.
Gurley final statistics for the game was 166-yards total yards, recording his longest career reception for a touchdown and his first ever game with 100 plus receiving yards. Gurley posted the first 100 yards receiving and rushing game since Steven Jackson in 2006. Jackson became the only Ram player to rush for 150 yards and have over 100-yards receiving.
Quarterback Jared Goff continued his success of throwing at least two touchdowns in his fifth consecutive game. Goff’s final passing statistics were 22-36 301 yards and four touchdowns.
The Titans didn’t make the game easy for the Rams as they had fate to match as well. The Titans fought a tough battle to take the lead late in the third quarter, but the Rams responded back with Goff connecting with his fourth touchdown pass to rookie receiver Cooper Kupp, on 1a 4-yard strike in the back of the end zone. Titans were optimistic of winning to keep their playoff hopes alive, as they need help from other factors.
The Rams sealed the victory when Connor Barwin was able to keep contain and sack Marcus Mariota on a fourth and four to try and win the game. Celebrations started on the sidelines as the offenses was able to run out the clock for the victory.
Head Coach McVay Victory Speech
Look for the Rams fans to out by numbers next week at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, to try and secure a bye in the playoffs. Congratulations to the Rams, as they finished one the most amazing story for their young rookie head coach Sean McVay.RSS Feed
Ed "Pi Double i" Henderson
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
The Los Angeles Rams will be without the services of starting linebacker Mark Barron today, from an injury he sustained against the Seahawks in the first series last week, with apparent knee complications. Barron was a full participant in Friday practice, but Coach Sean McVay stated that the cold weather last week in Seattle caused discomfort in Barron's knee. Expect Corey Littleton to get the start in the absence of Barron today. Littleton replaced Barron last week, after leaving the game, and he will have a huge assignment on stopping both Tennessee Titan's running backs Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray. Bryce Hager is expected to compliment Littleton in certain packages.
Today's game against the Titans, Barron was a healthy scratch, as Nashville's weather will be in the low 40's, something that impacted Barron's inactive status. Reserve linebacker Matt Longacre was officially listed as inactive on Friday, as he is still having complications from a back injury. Carlos Thompson expected to play in his place while out, as the next man up.
As expected, linebacker Kasim Edebali, who signed with the Rams earlier in the week, as well is inactive for today's game. Running backs Justin Davis and Lance Dunbar, defensive back Isaiah Johnson, and offensive lineman Cornelius Lucas are the other inactive players to round up the inactive's list.
The Rams seek to secure and playoff spot today with a victory over the Titans and perhaps clinch the NFC West Title as well, something the teams haven't accomplished since the 2003 season (NFC West Champions) and 2004 (last playoff appearance).
Predictions: Titans vs Rams
Overview: The Los Angeles Rams can clinch their first NFC West title since 2003 with a win against the Tennessee Titans. They can also clinch even if they lose if Dallas Cowboys beats the Seattle Seahawks, but you would always rather win your way in if possible. The Rams still have an outside chance at first round bye if they can win out. Tennessee's playoff path is more murky. If they can win their last two games they would finish 10-6 and probably, but not definitely, make the playoffs. Even if they lose this game they still have a chance to get in with a win in their season finale against division rival Jacksonville. But as I Rams fan I'm not especially worried about whether the Titans make the playoffs. All I want for Christmas is for the Rams to win the NFC West. That seemed like science fiction--or at least sports fiction-- when the season started. But it could very well happen on Sunday.
Rams Offense vs Titans Defense: Speaking of things that seemed unlikely in September, how about Todd Gurley winning the MVP? Even a week ago that seemed improbable. But after a monster day against Seattle in the Rams huge 42-7 dismantling of the Seahawks, that idea isn't even a little bit crazy. In fact with two weeks left in the regular season, it's very likely a two man race between Gurley and NFL legend Tom Brady. Every week opposing defenses pledge to stop Gurley, and it just never seems to happen (Watch Video Below).
Todd Gurley Untouched For 57-Yard Touchdown
Of course, when a team rushes for over 250 yards against one of the league's better defenses, as the Rams did last week, they guys upfront are playing a big part as well. You seldom see one NFL unit dominate another opponent the way the Rams O-line whipped Seattle's defensive line last week. Seahawks defensive tackle Michael Bennett, made it quite in his post game press conference (Watch Video Below). I don't know why none of the Rams O-lineman wasn't named to the pro bowl, but there isn't a better line in the league right now. The Rams receiving corp is back at full strength, and Gurley is a major factor in the air attack as well. There is also Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp to worry about, not to mention tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. The Rams only passed for 120 yards last week, but that was mostly because Gurley and the running game were so dominant. The Titans are 25th in the league against the pass, giving up an average of 200 yards per fame this season. I would be willing to bet the Rams at least double their passing yardage from last week in this game . I also think Gurley will easily top 100 yards rushing. If I am right on both of those subjects, the Rams should win, barring a rash of turnovers.
Gurley Humbles Michael Bennett
Rams Defense vs Titans Offense: If you wonder why many people consider Aaron Donald not only the best defensive player in the NFL, but maybe the best player period, check out last week's game at Seattle. I am old enough to have seen most of the game's elite defensive linemen. Reggie White. Warren Sapp. Howie Long. I think Aaron Donald has a chance to be better than any of them, if he isn't already. The way he dominated the Seahawks last week almost defies description. Double teaming him didn't work. The athleticism of one of the league's most mobile quarter backs didn't work. Officially, AD had three sacks, four quarterback hits, two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble (Watch Video Below).
Aaron Donald Dominating Game Against Russell Wilson
But the funny thing is that if you watched the game, those numbers don't even tell the whole story. The rest of the defense was stellar as well. Linebacker Robert Quinn seems to be heating up, Connor Barwin had one of his better games, and Rams defense as a whole had maybe their best performance of the season. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota has been battling leg and ankle problems, and it has hurt his mobility. In general he hasn't had the kind of year he would like, although tight end Delanie Walker is always a concern for opposing defenses. My guess is that the Titans will try to run the ball with Demarco Murray and Derrick Henry, both to dampen the Rams pass rush and take advantage of a defense that has had it's problems stopping the run at times (not last week however). If Tennessee can run the ball and control the clock, they have a chance in this game.
Kicker Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein Placed On I.R.
Special Teams: The Rams got some really bad news this week when they were forced to put kicker Greg Zuerlein on injured reserve, ending his season. They signed former Penn State kicker Sam Ficken as his replacement. Zuerlein is probably the best kicker in the league, and losing him hurts the team. Even so, the Rams have the best special teams in the league, and they continue to come up with big plays. Pharoh Cooper killed it against Seattle last week, and has been named to the NFC Pro Bowl, with good reason. (Watch Video)
Pharoh Cooper Long Return
He leads the league in total kickoff return yardage and is second in total punt return yardage, despite the fact that he didn't return punts until the third game of the season. Punter Johnny Hekker, was also named to the Pro Bowl, and he is just simply the best punter alive. As a former high school quarterback he is also a constant threat on the fake punt. The Rams excel in all phases of special teams play. Although we'll have to see how Ficken does--he's never kicked a field goal or extra point in an NFL regular season game--the Rams special teams always seem to play well this season.RSS Feed
Prediction: On paper Los Angeles should win this game. But there are some concerns. Will they come out flat after playing their best game since the Greatest Show on Turf days last week? Will they be overconfident against a Titan team that has been struggling? We won't find out until Sunday. But I like the Rams in this one.
Rams 34 Titans 24
Ed “Pi Double i” Henderson
The Los Angeles Rams have come one game closer to clinching the NFC West, after a decisive win over the Seattle Seahawks 42-7 yesterday. The Rams haven't won the NFC West since the 2003 football season, where the Seahawks have controlled the division, the Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers won a couple years through the span. The Ram fans have been waiting not only for the opportunity of a winning season (last in 2004), double digits in the win column, and the opportunity to root for their team in the playoffs.
The Ram fans had seen the organization the past 14 years; hire a total of five new head coaches throughout their losing span. When the Rams head coach Dick Vermeil unexpectedly retired after Super Bowl XXXIV, Mike Martz was named the new head coach of the Greatest Show on Turf. Martz led the Rams to the playoffs three times, including a Super Bowl appearance only to lose to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. Martz would be fired in 2005, where Assistant Coach Joe Vitt, replaced him as the interim head coach.
The Rams hired Scott Linehan as the next head coach, as he coached the team for the next two seasons, from 2006-2008, as he was fired and replaced by defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. The Rams hired New York Giants guru defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, as his defense shut down and upset the highly favored New England Patriots in Super Bowl in XLII. His tenure lasted on two seasons with the organization from 2009-2011.
The Rams will then hire Jeff Fisher, as he never seemed to get the team going in the direction that was expected. Essentially after free agency signing of high profiled names such as Cortland Finnegan, Jake Long, and Jared Cook to name a few, and players from NFL Draft it just not working. Fisher will never lead the Rams to a winning season, his 7-8-1 record in his first season with the team, was the best record team produced under his tutelage.
Fisher was unexpectedly fired after the Rams took a plummeting loss to the Atlanta Falcons 42-14, played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum last season. It appeared that his players had laid down on him in this game as the woes of losing continued. The Rams started the season with a 3-1 record but lost the remaining eight out of nine games they played. Fisher was replaced by special teams coach John Fassel. (Watch Videos)
Fassel brief stint as the interim head coach didn’t fare better as the Rams lost the remaining three games they played, including a heart breaking loss to the 49ers in the last game of the season at home.
Jeff Fisher Informs His Staff That He's Been Fired
Jeff Fisher Announces His Firing To The Players
During the off-season, the Rams searched and found their new head coach, by hiring Washington Redskin’s offensive coordinator Sean McVay. McVay, a young innovative coach with an enthusiastic personality, brought in a new “We Not Me” image to his young Ram team, something that the veterans bought into his philosophy of coaching the game. (Watch Video)
The Rams Introduces Sean McVay As New Head Coach
The Rams remarkably have 10-4 record, with two games remaining on their schedule, they have the opportunity of winning 12 games this season, something they haven't accomplished since 2003. Rams travel to Nashville next week and will be hosted by the Tennessee Titans on Christmas Eve. They will travel back home the following week to play an NFC finale’ on New Year’s Eve, against their rejuvenated rival, San Francisco 49ers.RSS Feed
The Rams beat the 49ers in week three at Levi Stadium, after in a game where the 49ers had a late fourth-quarter surge almost taking the lead. The Rams held on to win the game of the score of 41-39, by stopping the 49ers deep in the red zone in the final minute. If the Rams win their final two games, they will control their destiny by clinching a home playoff game as well as a potential first-round bye.
Congratulations to General Manager Les Snead and Vice President of Operations Kevin Demoff, they finally seemed to have found the missing piece of getting this team with a winning success, after being under so much scrutiny of Jeff Fisher continuous losing seasons, and the blockbuster trade to draft Jared Goff number one in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Goff has turned a lot of non-believers into firm believers, as his continuous good play have potentially landed him onto a pro bowl selection. After starting 0-7 in games played, Goff currently has a 10-11 overall record now as the Rams starting quarterback. He is poised and has this young team moving on all cylinders and shall be anxious to win next week's game against the Titans.
Rams Quiet The Twelves
Ed “Pi Double i” Henderson
The Los Angeles Rams played a game where they conceivablely outplayed the Seattle Seahawks in about every aspect in the first half. Head Coach Sean McVay, had a very aggressive play calling for the offense, as the Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips did same the on the opposite of the ball.
The defense has cause two turnovers, LaMarcus Joyner jarred the ball loose from Seahawk’s receiver Tanner McEvoy, and Robert Quinn causing quarterback Russell Wilson to scramble and put the ball on the ground too.
The defense has pressured Wilson all game by forcing him to either run around or throw passes a lot quicker than the norm. He has been sacked four times and also sacked four times. Trying to avoid a sack and create stress on the defense, he even throws the ball past the line of scrimmage two-yard beyond the line of scrimmage.
The Rams defense has suffered a blow to the defense as linebacker Mark Barron has been out the game since the first defensive series with an unspecified injury and not returned.
The special teams been clicking because of the punt returns of Pharoh Cooper who nearly had his second special team touchdown on a punt where he was tackled at the half yard line. Just before the half, Cooper almost returned another one for the distance if not for the tackle by linebacker Michael Wilhoite.
Running back Todd Gurley have run the ball 17 times for 144 yards in the first half with three rushing touchdowns. Just before the half he rips of a 67 yard touchdown run on third down and 20 with excellent blocking by not only the offense linemen, but receiver Sammy Watkins. The Rams lead the Seahawks 34-0 at the half as a statement to let the 12th man, they can’t hear them at all! At the expiration of the first half, the twelves starting booing, but it gets worst as the Rams deferred to receive the ball the second half where the bleeding may continue.
Ed “Pi Double i” Henderson
The Los Angeles Rams have announced the seven inactive players for today’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at Century Link Field.RSS Feed
No surprise with third-string quarterback Brandon Allen, who reportedly didn't practice all week with an ailing back. Recent practice squad promotes Cameron Lynch, Isaiah Johnson, and Carlos Thompson also are inactive.
On another note, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner, have been cleared to play, news Ram fans were hoping not to hear. Wagner didn’t practice all week due to a hamstring injury he sustained last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
However, the Seahawks other starting linebacker K.J. Wright remains in concussion protocol and will be inactive for the game. This is still a blow to the Seahawks defense that’s been decimated by injuries on the defensive side of the ball with losing three pro-bowlers, Cliff Avril, Richard Sherman, and Kam Chancellor.
The Rams look to clinch not only a playoff spot today, as well the NFC West Division with a victory over the Seahawks. They lost a thriller at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Week five, 15-10 as the Rams didn’t secure the ball with five turnovers with two in the red zone. The team is focused after losing a shootout thriller to the Philadelphia Eagles last week 43-35, with the Eagles clinching a playoff berth. Neither two teams have lost consecutive games this season but something will have to give today unless there’s a tie, which will complicate the playoff picture further.
Prediction Seahawks vs Rams
At the risk of pointing out the obvious, this is a huge game for the Rams. It almost amounts to a playoff game for the division. A Rams win would all but guarantee the NFC West title, giving them a two-game lead with two games left. While Seattle Seahawks, technically can still win the division under that scenario, it will require the Los Angeles Rams losing it's two remaining games against the Tennessee Titans and San Francisco 49ers, while the Seahawks log wins against the Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals. Possible, but not very likely, especially since the Cowboys will have Ezekiel Elliot back for their December 24th. match up with the Seahawks, and may very well be gunning for a playoff spot themselves. A Rams loss, meanwhile, would mean Seattle could win the division by taking it's two remaining games. The Rams would still have a reasonable shot at a wildcard slot, but they would rather win the division and clinch at least one home playoff game. There is also the psychological factor, Seattle has dominated the division over the last five years, and to be the best you have to beat the best at some point.
Cooper Kupp’s Career Game
Rams Offense vs Seahawks Defense:RSS Feed
The Seahawks defense is facing severe injury issues, and they could get worse by gametime on Sunday. Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman are out for the season, as is Cliff Avril. As of Saturday, middle linebacker Bobby Wagner, one of the best in the NFL at his position, was listed as questionable with hamstring issues. My guess is that he will play, but whether he will be his normal self is another question. It looks more likely than not for linebacker K.J. Wright, who will not play, was listed as doubtful, as is defensive end Nazair Jones. That's a lot of talent that either won't play or won’t be at full strength for the Seahawks. The Rams, meanwhile, are expected to have Robert Woods, who was their most effective receiver prior to a shoulder injury sustained against Minnesota Vikings, is back in action. In his absence, rookie receiver Cooper Kupp has stepped up in a big way (Watch Video Above), and Sammy Watkins is an elite talent even if his numbers haven't always reflected that this season. Because the Seahawks are banged up at linebacker and in the secondary, their defensive line probably needs to step up. But when you are talking about the Rams offense, it really starts with running back Todd Gurley, who is having a monster year both running and receiving. Coach Sean McVay has promised to get Gurley more touches this game, and an effective running game would go a long way towards notching a win for the Rams. If both of these units were at full strength it would be an epic match up, and even with the injuries the Seahawk defense playing at home is no walk in the park. But, the Rams may just have too many weapons to deal with in this game.
Rams Defense vs Seahawks Offense:
No quarterback in the NFL has done more with less this season than Russel Wilson, and you can make a very strong argument for him as the league's Most Valuable Player. Wilson is a super-mobile athletic magician, and the Rams defense really needs to keep him in the pocket to win this game. The Seahawks offensive line is probably a little better than they were when these teams met in Los Angeles earlier this year, having added Duane Brown (a multi-time pro bowl player who has also been named to the All-Pro team) at left tackle and with Luke Joeckel back at guard. Even so, this isn't one of the league's top offensive lines, and the Seahawks running game this year has mostly consisted of Wilson. Seattle does have some dangerous receivers, especially Doug Baldwin and tight end Jimmy Graham, a major threat in the red zone. The Rams last week lost cornerback Kayvon Webster for the season, and that's not good. But they do have Trumaine Johnson (early reports that he suffered a concussion against the Eagles were incorrect), and Nickell Robey-Coleman, who has been a pleasant surprise this year, will play a more prominent role at cornerback. Robey-Coleman at a little over 5'8 is at a bit of a height disadvantage against taller receivers, but his bulldog attitude and athletic ability help make up for a lack of stature. The Rams also have one of the better safety tandems in the league with LaMarcus Joyner and John Johnson III. Of course, when discussing the Rams defense, the one name you can't ever forget is Aaron Donald. Russel Wilson this week said Donald is the best defensive player he's ever faced, and not many people would argue with that. He brings back memories of players such as Reggie White and Lawrence Taylor in the offenses have to always account for him on every play. He's THAT good.
Edge: Even (Because of Wilson's magical abilities)
I added this category this week specifically for the Seahawk’s home field advantage this game. In the Rams worst performance of in this 2017 season, they were trounced 24-7 in Minnesota. In my opinion, the Rams offense was out of sync in that game in large part because of the crowd noise generated by the Vikings faithful, and at times I thought Rams quarterback Jared Goff looked a little flustered. Let's not forget, Goff calls a lot of audibles, and that can be a challenge under those conditions. There is a reason the Seahawks crowd is known as the ''12th man," and that isn't just media hype.
Edge: Seattle (by a lot)
This is where the Rams have a big advantage in my opinion. Seattle placekicker Blair Walsh has had a bad year. When he lines up for field goals and even extra points, it's not just a job, it's an adventure. Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein, meanwhile, has been the NFC Special Teams Player of the Month in two consecutive months, and that's no accident. Every week I mention Johnny Hekker is the best punter on the planet, and that hasn't changed since Sunday. Pharoh Cooper is as good a return man as there is in the NFL. And let's not forget Cory Littleton, who leads the NFL in blocked punts. The Rams blocked one punt for a touchdown last week against the Eagles, and just missed blocking another one. Los Angeles has the best special teams in the NFL, and that could be a factor in this game.
Edge: Rams (by a lot)
This is arguably the Rams biggest game since they were blown out by Atlanta Falcons in the 2004 NFC Divisional Playoffs, and I expect a tough, physical game. It will be as close to a playoff atmosphere as you can find during the regular season. It could easily go either way...but I think the Rams are a little more complete than Seattle, especially with all of the Seahawks injuries.
Rams 24 Seattle 21
Prediction: Rams vs Eagles
Overview; This is probably the marquee game in the NFL this weekend, and a potential NFC title game preview to boot. It pits the two highest scoring offenses in the league--in fact the Philadelphia Eagles and Los Angeles Rams have scored exactly the same number of points. It also will showcase some of the league's elite players. Todd Gurley vs Jay Ajayi/Legarette Blount. Aaron Donald vs. Fletcher Cox and, of course, it also matches the number one overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft (Rams quarterback Jared Goff) and the second overall pick ( Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz).
ToddAarAaronRams Offense vs Eagles Defense
The Eagles reportedly will be going all-out to shut down Rams running back Todd Gurley, both as a runner and a receiver, then take their chances that Goff can't beat them without Gurley being the engine that drives the car, or in this case, the offense. Of course, shutting down Gurley is easier said than done, especially since I'm not convinced that the Eagle linebackers can cover him as a receiver. There is also the little matter of the Rams receiving corps. Sammy Watkins has been looking more like the guy the Rams thought they were getting from Buffalo recently. He is an elite talent. Cooper Kupp leads all NFL rookie receivers, and has a chance to break the team record for rookie receiving yards, currently held by Eddie Kennison. Josh Reynolds has been slowly seeing more action, Tavon Austin is one of the fastest men in the NFL..could this be his breakout game? Yeah, I know I seem to ask that every week, but the guy is just too talented to keep not producing. Then there's Pharoh Cooper. What he does as a return man shows how dangerous he can be in the open field. There is even a possibility Robert Woods may play this week, though I have my doubts. He was leading the team in receiving yards when he hurts his shoulder against the Vikings a couple of weeks ago. Eagles comes into this game ranked 16th in the league in passing defense, and there are those who think their secondary overall isn't ''all that." We may find out if that is true in this game. Of course, the Eagles front seven is no walk in the park. A big concern is defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, Philly's answer to Aaron Donald. Cox is scary good (though not quite Donald in my opinion), and if he is in Goff's face all day that will be an enormous problem. Defensive end Brandon Graham comes in with 8.5 sacks, and the Eagles as a team are averaging 2.8 sacks per game, seventh in the league. One of the keys to the Rams offensive success this year has been the play of the offensive line, both in opening holes for Gurley and protecting Goff. How well they do those things this week may determine who wins this game.
Rams Defense vs Eagles Offense
The Eagles have a two-headed monster at running back with Ajayi and Blount, and they will be trying to take advantage of a Rams defense that comes in ranked 27th against the run. Another concern for the Rams is the health of Alex Ogletree, who suffered an elbow injury in the win over the Cardinals last week. He is the Rams signal caller on defense and a major factor in this unit. At last report he was listed as questionable for this game. If he can't go Bryce Hager, who did a decent job last week against Arizona Cardinals, will replace him. Hager isn't bad, but there is a reason Ogletree is the starter. Inside linebacker Mark Barron is also listed as questionable, and if both Barron and Ogletree are out, that could be a huge problem. My guess is that both will play. Former Eagle Conner Barwin is out again for the Rams at outside linebacker, but rookie Samson Ebukam played very well last week. He doesn't have Barwin's all around football skills, but he is a freakish athlete who presents a different set of challenges and I don't think the Rams lose much with him in there. Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is an MVP candidate who can beat you with his arm or his legs. Let's hope he becomes well-acquainted with Aaron Donald on Sunday. Wideouts Alshon Jeffrey and Nelson Agholor are both excellent, and stopping this group will be the Ram defense's biggest challenge this season. Tight end Zach Ertz was in concussion protocol at last report, and his status for the game is questionable. The good news for the Rams is that defensive mastermind Wade Phillips has had a week to game plan for these guys. The bad news, aside from injury concerns, is that the Eagle offense is really, really good. Even last week, when they were held to ten points by the Seattle Seahawks, a key fumble deep in Seattle territory and a series of other miscues were major factors.
The Rams special teams are the best in the NFL in my opinion, and they played a huge role in last week's win over Arizona. A blocked field goal by Micheal Brockers and a 70-yard punt by Johnny Hekker out of his own end zone were crucial plays, and Arizona also had a missed extra point. Greg Zuerlein also missed an extra point--proving nobody is perfect--but he was money on field goal attempts, as he usually is. Don't be surprised if this game comes down to a late field goal attempt by Zuerlein, who is a threat from 55 yards plus.
We have the two highest-scoring teams in the NFL squaring off in this one, and I think the final score will reflect that. This game will be a shootout between two of the games young guns at quarterback, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if they both go over 300 yards passing on the day.
Rams 34 Eagles 31
Rams Promotes LB Carlos Thompson
Ed “Pi Double i” Henderson
The Los Angeles Rams made a surprising move today, by promoting linebacker Carlos Thompson and releasing rookie linebacker out of University of Pittsburg Ejuan Price.
The Rams added Thompson this past spring as a free agency addition, to help at the linebacking position. The 6’5” linebacker, is in his second year from Ole’ Miss (University of Mississippi) and went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft. He would be signed later by the Houston Texans and released last season after injuring his knee.
Thompson injured his ankle in the second pre-season game against the Oakland Raiders at the Oakland Coliseum, as a Raider blocker dove way late after a tackle was made and rolled his ankle causing a fracture. The Rams would waive Thompson at the final cuts, who cleared waivers, and then added to the practice squad.
There has not been any word on how Thompson will be used on Sunday or even if he’s going to be active. However, if he’s part of the active roster, more than likely will be used on special teams.
Most oddsmakers are picking the Rams by about a touchdown in this game, and on paper you certainly have to like their chances. They won the first game in London by a 33-0 score that could potentially have been even more one sided. They are 8-3, while the Arizona Cardinals are 5-6.
The Rams are coming off an impressive win over the New Orleans Saints that they dominated more than their six point margin of victory would indicate. But...being the nervous sort that I am, I do have some concerns about this game. Will the Rams be looking ahead to the showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles next week? Will they be a little flat coming off a big win over the Saints? How about overconfidence against a team they trounced 33-0 (and it could have been worse) earlier this season? As for the Cardinals, they are on a little bit on a roll following a big win last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars, a likely AFC playoff team. They will no doubt be out for revenge, and they still have some faint playoff hopes. No NFL game is ever a slam dunk--unless it's against the Cleveland Browns--and there is a possibility of an upset. A few ''experts'' are actually predicting that..
Rams Offense vs Cardinal Defense
The Cardinals do have some talent on defense. Chandler Jones comes in with 12 sacks, Patrick Peterson is an elite cornerback, and Karlos Dansby is a smart, veteran linebacker. But they face a tall task in slowing down a Rams offense that is explosive and can beat you on the ground and through the air. MVP Candidate Todd Gurley ran for 106 yards in the London game, and the Rams rushing attack totaled 197 yards. A similar total on Sunday will probably spell victory for the Rams. Gurley is also a huge threat catching the ball out of the backfield. Rams leading receiver Robert Woods is still out, but it didn't seem to matter much last week as Jared Goff threw for 355 yards against the Saints. Peterson will likely be locked up with Rams receiver Sammy Watkins, which will be one of the more interesting match ups in this game. But even if Peterson can win that battle, The problem the Cardinals face is having only one Patrick Peterson against one of the deepest and best receiving corps in the league. Cooper Kupp had eight catches for 116 yards against New Orleans, and he seemed to be open all day long. Josh Reynolds had a touchdown catch and 37 receiving yards, and my guess is that we will see more of him on Sunday. Pharoh Cooper has shown what he can do in the open field as a return man, if Jared Goff can get him the ball. Tavon Austin has mostly been used as a decoy this year, and his yardage totals are pedestrian. But he is also one of the fastest men in the NFL, and as the old saying goes ''speed kills.'' Throw in the receiving skills of Todd Gurley out of the backfield as well as tight ends Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett, and I just think the Rams have too many weapons for this Cardinal defense. That's especially true if Gurley can run the ball effectively, opening up the play-action passing game.
Cardinals Offense vs. Rams Defense
Blaine Gabbert will start at quarterback for Arizona. He threw for 236 yards with an interception against Jacksonville. He's no Carson Palmer, and I personally consider him average at best. He did beat the Rams last season (with the San Francisco 49ers), but this is a very different Rams team, with a completely different defensive scheme. The Cardinals do have future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald at wide receiver (who is still a very good player), and Jermaine Gresham is a decent tight end. But starting wide receiver John Brown is out with a toe injury, and the rest of the Cardinal receivers don't scare anyone. The last time I checked Adrian Peterson's playing status was listed as a ''game time decision'' because of a neck injury. He's been up and down this season for Arizona, but he is the Cardinal's only serious rushing threat. The other big problem Arizona faces is that their O-line just isn't very good. Mr. Gabbert, meet Mr. Aaron Donald. Not to mention Mr. Micheal Brockers and Mr. Robert Quinn. Quinn, by the way, played easily his best game of the season last week against the Saints. If he is getting it figured out, this defense could be truly scary. At the other outside linebacker spot, Conner Barwin is out with a broken forearm. Rookie Samson Ebukam, will start in his place. Ebukam is a freakish athlete who has been timed at 4.45 in the forty yard dash. That's faster than most NFL wide receivers or cornerbacks. Some scouts consider his football skills to be a little raw, but he played well last week against the Saints.
Greg Zuerlein was named the NFC special teams player of the month in November, winning that award for the second month in a row. He's the first guy to win that recognition in two straight months since....well, nobody actually, he is the first ever. Johnny Hekker is the best punter on planet earth. Last time I checked, Pharoh Cooper was leading the votes for return man from the NFC for the Pro Bowl. Add the coaching of Special Teams coach John ''Bones'' Fassel, and it's not hard to see why the Rams have the best special teams in the NFL.
As is mentioned in the ''overview'' section, there are reasons to think the Cardinals could win this game. But the Rams clearly are better than Arizona in all phases of the game, and unless they come out flat, or go into turnover mode, they should win and run their season record to 9-3.
Rams 35 Arizona 20