I spoke with 3k from Turf Show Times to get some insights into the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos upcoming preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on Saturday.
1) What's the general state of the fans of the Rams now that they have relocated to L.A.?
There's always been a schism. When the franchise relocated in 1994, they left behind a huge audience in Los Angeles that still followed the team. Having been a fan since the late 1980s, I remember that relocation pretty well. The difference is the penetration of media and the pervasiveness of social media.
There's been plenty of vitriol between certain LA and St. Louis fans which is to be expected. This is the internet. Several, perhaps many, people are horrible. You might have noticed. That's not specific to football.
But in terms of the general state, I think it's tough to get a sincere, accurate sense of the base right now. St. Louis is yet to deal with its first season watching the Rams from afar and recalibrating their NFL allegiances the way LA did 21 years ago. Los Angeles has yet to adjust to regular season home football and the impact of #Rams #Fisherball #7and9bullshit.
Suffice to say, it's been fascinating as hell to watch it go down, but I'd just say it's still in the middle of the process of relocating. With the Rams long-term home stadium not even opening until 2019, it's a chapter of Rams history that's still being written.
2) Tell us about two players that are standing out so far in the preseason but people outside of your fan base probably don't know very much.
So the big two are TE Tyler Higbee and WR Nelson Spruce. Both have shone in training camp practices. Both had big performances in the preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys. Both missed the second game against the Kansas City Chiefs. Both are giving Rams fans hope that the passing game won't be as anemic as it was in 2015. Both are likely being forced to carry expectations far too high for a fourth-round tight end and a UDFA WR both yet to play a single regular season game in the NFL.
3) What is the story on Jared Goff so far? Are your fans liking what they see?
Whew. It's probably an encapsulation of everything that's really wrong with the Rams under Jeff Fisher. The Rams traded quite a bit of draft capital, both in the 2016 NFL Draft as well as next year's draft, to move up to the #1 overall pick. To do so after putting up the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL in yards gained in 2015 implies that Jared Goff alone would be able to resuscitate a limp offensive unit. To this point, he's been unable to beat out Case Keenum for the starting gig (and that's by and large fair given Goff's performances in the two games and in practice to this point).
That's scary in terms what that says not only about Goff but about how Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher, who has the ultimate authority in personnel moves, and General Manager Les Snead have guided the depth chart at the most important position in sports in the last few years.
In 2014, the Rams brought Case Keenum in after the 2014 preseason but ahead of Week 1 of the regular season. Having joined the team so late in the process, he was unable to make the active roster as the Rams opted instead to roll with the duo of Shaun Hill and Austin Davis. Last year, we traded a seventh-round draft pick to get Keenum back from the Houston Texans who had scooped him off of our practice squad. With Nick Foles the unquestioned starter to open the season, the only question was if Keenum would outpace Sean Mannion, the Rams' 2015 NFL Draft third-round pick, for the backup spot. He did and after Foles' performances became less and less acceptable, Keenum took over the starting job late in the year.
Just to recap: the QB who couldn't beat out Austin Davis or Shaun Hill in 2014 and was a backup to Nick Foles who led the NFL's worst offense for most of last year is now clearly beating out the rookie #1 overall pick the Rams mortgaged most of their future to select. That is a sad, sad, sad sentence.
4) What does your fan base think of Jeff Fisher or as many of us like to call him, "Mr. 7-9"? Is he taking the players in the right direction?
Here's the scary thing. There are people who have paid attention to the Rams since 2012 who aren't calling for Jeff Fisher to be fired after four losing seasons and transforming the Rams from a 7-win team in 2012 to a 7-win team in 2015. I sincerely believe there's a segment of Rams fans for whom Jeff Fisher will never be bad enough to condemn. For a franchise that hasn't produced a winning season since 2003, I think there's just so much tolerance and acceptance among the fans for failure that Jeff Fisher has found perhaps the only environment that doesn't excoriate him for his output since taking the job in 2012.
5) In a dream world, what two players would you take from the Broncos team to help improve yours?
WR Demaryius Thomas for sure. The Rams haven't had a plus split end since the Torry Holt/Isaac Bruce days. After him, it's a bit tough. It's easy to turn to the defense, but that's been the strength of the Rams' roster as well. The need to upgrade the offense is so overwhelming I'm tempted to double-dip in spite of the quality of the defense. Tempted. I can't though. I'll tab Chris Harris to help us out in the secondary.