The response of the Los Angeles Rams to a long-awaited, seminal season in 2017 was an off-season in Hollywood Times in 2018.
After 11-5, NFC West won for the first time in 14 years thanks to rookie Coach Sean McVay got the best of the offensive, the Rams went to work to improve their defense. Six new starters will be assisting Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh's team-mate, and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib as key personnel in the Wade Phillips 3-4 system.
McVay and General Manager Les Snead did not forget to spray on the other side of the ball. They exchanged the former Saints and Patriot Wide Receiver Brandin Cooks late in the free agency.
That's a lot of variety for a talented young team still trying to find their Championship groove. Examining important parts of the Rams depth map that go to training camps and cut through the hype, some new questions come up with these new solutions.
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Broad Receiver [1
9659007] Cook's, still only 24, was traded for the second time in many Offsasons before the last year of his rookie deal. After a roller coaster ride in New Orleans and New England with Drew Brees and Tom Brady, Cooks hopes to be Jared Goff's freshman in LA.
The Rams targeted Cooks in 2017, and he gives them both a big-play and a little-play upgrade over Sammy Watkins, who signed with the Chiefs. The cooks got off to a good start with Goff before becoming official teammates. There's a good Pac-12 vibe with Goff, Cooks and Robert Woods, last year's surprise top wideout.
Cooks and Woods are more interchangeable than Watkins and Woods when it comes to their hands and abilities after catching. With Josh Reynolds, who was once Watkins' possible replacement, Cook's born out of necessity. His speed will give McVay new opportunities to stretch the passing game.
Cooper Kupp, who was outstanding as a rookie last season, is a few months older than Cooks. Their styles intersect well, especially on the pivot routes, which staples the Rams and Patriots, in which Kupp and Cooks separately drew in 2017. This year, when the field against man spread cover, the Rams will be harder to stop. 19659002] RAMS OTAs:
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While Donald does what he wants while away from the team and waiting for a lucrative contract extension, the League The hardest-fought defensive players, the Rams, find out how Suh can sit well next to him on their base three-man front.
Suh arrives in LA with renewed motivation for a one-year "prove" fare for the first time in his career. Although he has gone through the Defensive Coordinators, Suh played during his time with the Lions and Dolphins in a base 4-3 scheme.
The trick for Phillips is to get the most out of Suh and not bring him into a more limited (though more comfortable) running role in an unfamiliar defense. The third seed of the Rams, Michael Brockers, is so good against the run that Suh can take on a role of attack (instead of a gap).
Suh, 31, saw his sacking on 4.5 slip down in Miami last season after registering 8.5 in his senior year with Detroit (2014). Phillips will put him in an ideal position to be more productive as Suh plays directly from the attention Donald receives.
The Rams finished fourth in the NFL last season with 48 sacks, with Donald (11) and Brockers (4.5). produces almost a third of them. Another 15.5 bags from linebackers Robert Quinn, Connor Barwin and Alec Ogletree are gone, and with LA now having a dominant Edge Rusher, Suh needs to recover some of his pop with Phillips' help.
The Rams split Quinn, Barwin and Ogletree, and with Mark Barron in the linebacker as the only starter, there are no substitutes on the list.
Based on situational snap counts last season, Samson Ebukam (fourth grader 2017) and Matt Longacre (2015 unstretched) will now start out there as rookie Ogbonnia Okoronkwo is coming out of foot surgery. Ebukam is the better run-stopper and Longacre is the better pass rusher, but no one has proven in the coverage. Third in the mix is Morgan Fox, who is a little more rounded, but also comes from the defensive. Compared to how strong they are elsewhere in defense, the Rams are weak, inexperienced and thin at linebacker.
The Rams' defense last year ranked No. 28 against the run and gave 122.4 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry. Although Barron can increase the cover as converted security, he fights against the run. Ogletree was even worse, which led to his being sold to the Giants despite the 2017 contract renewal.
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Rams venue among the worst (for the time being)  Barron could also be challenged in the camp, but at the moment fighting Cory Littleton, Bryce Hager, former Chief Ramik Wilson and the rookie Micah Kiser at the other inside point for snapshots. Kiser is a natural insider, but not much more. Littleton can also get to QB and is equally good at run and pass coverage. Wilson plays best after starting 11 games for the Chiefs two seasons ago. But Hager, who entered the race in the Rams finale of the 2017 season against the 49ers, has the chance to turn out to be the best.
Phillips in LA has no DeMarcus merchandise or a Von Miller at linebacker. While steadiness is important to these positions, the strengths of the Rams' front and back can allow the Coordinator to take risks with the players who provide the youthiest energy and the highest uptrend against those who could be considered safe.
19659007] There was a perception last season that the Rams had strong corners, but their coverage was supported by their two senior re-signers, nickel corner Nickell Robey-Coleman and free security LaMarcus Joyner. They were active playmakers who combined five of the team's 18 interceptions.
Trumaine Johnson and Kayvon Webster had their moments outside, but were below average starters. Enter Talib from the Broncos, where he once played for Phillips, and Peters, the former Chiefs Corner, who appears as the Rams' biggest offseason prize.
Talib is a tough shutdown guy who seems to be getting better in his 30s. Peters can be burned for big pieces, but he is fearless in making them himself. It's hard to find a better combination of players that complement each other so well. They are also consistent with the Phillips mentality of blending consistent rewards with worthy risks.
The key to Talib and Peters will be to network their personality and accept the fact that they are considered Co-No. 1 corners. Phillips has treated many aggressive defenders with attitude; his track record makes them happy by placing them in positions that benefit each other's team and individual players.
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Behind Peters, Talib and Robey-Coleman are few viable fill options, but former packers Sam Shields bring another veteran presence into the depth overview. It will be difficult to face the Rams and their revised Secondary Field. The new defensive backs give Phillips endless flash scenarios to create an improved pass-rush-by-committee.
Phillips is as well able to cover defensive weaknesses as he is in magnification. As the offensive play of LA promises many points and pressure on the opposing opponents, the defensive coordinator now has the opportunity to capitalize on the mistakes of the opposing offenses.