What's Next For The L.A. Rams?

The Rams are headed back to California. They will bring with them plenty of questions about the team going forward.

So here we are on the day after and the St. Louis Rams are now the Los Angeles Rams and everything’s just a little bit different. 

Here’s a quick look at what’s next for the Rams, on the field, as they make their way from the Midwest back to California.

There’s a lot of uncertainty going forward, which won’t make the transition easy. Rams owner Stan Kroenke, and whoever he picks to lead the franchise, will have work to do to make their California adventure a successful one. 

LOSING SEASONS

The Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003 and haven’t earned a playoff berth since 2004. The team hasn’t even finished 8-8 since 2006.

That’s a lot of losing for a team that will have now relocated twice in a little more than two decades. 

In St. Louis, the Rams produced just four winning seasons in 21 years. If you include their final five years in Los Angeles, the Rams have had just four winning campaigns over 26 seasons.

COACHING UNCERTAINTY

The Rams gave coach Jeff Fisher a five-year contract, worth $7 million annually, after firing Steve Spagnuolo following the 2012 season.

St. Louis won a total of just 10 games in three seasons under Spagnuolo, who helped the NY Giants win a Super Bowl as defensive coordinator. The Rams have been better under Fisher, but still yet to break through for a winning campaign. 

In Fisher’s first four seasons, the Rams went 7-8-1, 7-9, 6-10 and then 7-9 this season. They finished with a negative point differential in each season.

With one year left on his deal, it’s not a reach to think Fisher may be coaching next season to determine his future with the Rams. 

Yes, he’s a USC product and he has already guided one team through the relocation process. But he only has six winning seasons in 20 full seasons as a head coach in the NFL. 

QUARTERBACK CAROUSEL

One of the reasons for the Rams’ lack of success over the past decade has been a cycle of ineffective quarterbacks that have contributed to offensive struggles. 

Since the beginning of the 2007 season, the Rams have finished no higher than 21st in the NFL in scoring and no better than 23rd in offensive yards.

The quarterbacks who have started games since then? 

Marc Bulger, Gus Frerotte, Brock Berlin, Trent Green, Kyle Boller, Keith Null, Sam Bradford, A.J. Feeley, Kellen Clemens, Shaun Hill, Austin Davis, Nick Foles and Case Keenum.

The Rams go into this offseason with Foles and Sean Mannion under contract for 2016 but with Keenum, who will be an unrestricted free agent, tentatively penciled in as the team’s starter.

FREE AGENTS

The Rams will have a lot of difficult decisions to make this offseason with their restricted and unrestricted free agents. 

Key free agents who will be due bigger contracts this offseason include starting cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, free safety Rodney McLeod, defensive end William Hayes and kicker Greg Zuerlein.

GOOD DEFENSE

Depending on who they bring back, the Rams should have one of the better defenses in the league next season, led by two-time Pro Bowlers in defensive tackle Aaron Donald and defensive end Robert Quinn

The Rams may lose both Jenkins and Johnson, but they’ll still return several talented young players including outside linebacker Alec Ogletree, strong safety T.J. McDonald and cornerback E.J. Gaines

RUSHING ATTACK

There is hope offensively for the Rams going forward. 

His name is Todd Gurley

Gurley finished third in the NFL in rushing this season, as a rookie, despite being limited to 13 games because of injuries. If he can stay healthy, Gurley should be one of the better running backs in the league for several years. 

He should get a boost from the Rams commitment this past offseason to go young on the offensive line, investing several draft picks to fortify the front line. The team’s offensive line was beat up by injuries throughout the 2015 season, but the bright side was that more young players got a chance to play and gained valuable experience for the future.

DRAFT PICKS

The Rams will have the No. 15 pick in the first round this spring and, thanks to the Bradford trade to the Philadelphia Eagles, will also have Philly’s second-round pick. 

That means Fisher and general manager Les Snead will have three choices by the middle of the second round of the draft. That should allow them to help solidify areas of weakness — they would be wise to target a wide receiver in the first round — or give them some chips to deal with to move up the draft board if they want to.

HOME OPPONENTS

The Rams will have seven home games in the Los Angeles area next season, because an eighth home game — against the New York Giants — will be played in London. 

The Rams will host the Seattle Seahawks, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins at their yet-to-be-revealed temporary home in 2016.

You can follow Nate Latsch on Twitter at @NateLatsch or email him at natelatsch@gmail.com


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