Our series on all 16 regular season matchups for the Washington Redskins continues with a visiting NFC West opponent in Week 2...
Week One: St. Louis Rams (1PM, FedEx Field)
What Happened – Last year held another disappointing season for St. Louis fans as the Rams went 6-10, while ranking in the bottom half of the league in both offense and defense. At the beginning of the year, big things were expected from the former OU product, Sam Bradford, but yet another ACL injury derailed his hopes of a productive 2014, and forced the Rams to juggle QBs all season looking for a replacement. After ending last year on a three game losing streak, there is no light at the end of the tunnel.
What’s New – The biggest offseason move for St. Louis was the quarterback swap that came in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles. The Rams sent Sam Bradford to the City of Brotherly Love, while getting Nick Foles in return. Foles, despite the hype surrounding him, should do little for the Rams. He had great success a couple of years ago because of Chip Kelly’s dynamic system, but the reality is that he is an average thrower at best with absolutely no mobility. Foles doesn’t have the health issues that Bradford does, and he is certainly better than the Rams’ other options, but he isn’t the future of the franchise.
Question for Training Camp – The offensive line in St. Louis was a major concern last season, though the bad play around it also helped punctuate its unimpressive year. With only two starters returning in Greg Robinson and Rodger Saffold, there are plenty of question marks flying around. The team didn’t add any established players to the mix this offseason, but was able to take several promising talents away from the draft. While second-rounder Rob Havenstein seems to already be NFL ready, third-rounder Jamon Brown is also expected to develop, potentially into a star player. Regardless, the Rams must find an identity on the O-line during training camp.
Matchup to Watch – New defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s system will be especially showcased in this game. It isn’t as though the Rams offense is elite, but it has plenty of athletic and versatile players like Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, and Brian Quick, that rely on raw athleticism and shifty play to get it done. Barry will look to run a 3-4, one gap, aggressive style of defense this season, which means that this matchup will be less about strategy, and more about physical firepower. It will be a chance to show off the “get-up-the-field-and-rush-them 3-4,” as Coach Jay Gruden put it, and prove the ability to overpower the Rams’ versatile threats.
Fantasy Focus – The pickings are slim when it comes to the Rams fantasy prospects. The one possible beacon of light is the rookie running back, Todd Gurley. He certainly has the talent to be a star player in the NFL, but the situation is lacking. Gurley was the tenth pick in the NFL draft and is regarded by many as the best RB in the 2015 draft class. His problem is the injury bug. Gurley is likely to miss part of his first season due to a torn ACL. He’s going in the fifth or sixth round of most fantasy drafts, which means he should be avoided. With his questionable health and inexperienced O-line Gurley won’t be a fantasy game changer in 2015.