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Cowboys @ Rams Preseason Week 1 Game: Jared Goff’s Development Questionable

We talk preseason football with Rams’ blog Turf Show Times.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams-Training Camp Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Dallas Cowboys and the Los Angeles Rams will get together on Saturday night for their first preseason game of the 2016 season. In a way football is back, although the exhibition games don’t hold quite the impact of the real deal. Still, we want to get into the swing of things by starting our Five Questions series with our opponent's SB Nation blog. In this case, Turf Show Times. Let’s get right into it.

Blogging The Boys: So the big change, you're a Los Angeles team now, instead of St. Louis. How has that adjustment been for you, for the fans in general and for the team? Can you give us a feel for what it's like to deal with that big of a change as a fan of a team?

Turf Show Times: Well, I've been a Rams fan since the late 1980s, so I remember the move from Los Angeles to St. Louis well. This one's a bit different for two major reasons: one, the city of St. Louis had a credible plan to keep an NFL team in a new stadium, and two, social media. So to see how the Rams and the NFL dealt with the city of St. Louis was pretty troubling largely because of the precedent it set. For that city to offer a second stadium in less than 25 years and offer $500m of public money behind it and not get any support for that from the league...I just don't know how any fan base will feel comfortable when there's turnover at the ownership level knowing that there's nothing a tenant city can do to keep a team at the league's behest. If anything, it'll be wild to see a new Rams owner in 30 years courting a new stadium in San Antonio...

Ultimately though, social media only amplified some of the lesser discourse involved. Playing Los Angeles fans against St. Louis fans was understandably pretty ugly. And the pettiness throughout that was directed between fans instead of the team's front office and the league was...well, I just sympathize with whatever SBN site has to deal with this next, because it's just not enjoyable to see the vitriol.

BTB: What's the word on Jared Goff? We know he's not going to start right away, but what has his early work shown? Do you think he might start at some point soon?

TST: SPEAKING OF TOPICS THAT ARE UNCOMFORTABLE...So the word is not great. It's not bad either, but to have traded up to get the #1 overall pick in a draft and not have that prospect wow you from day one is not the greatest thing to have ever happened. So yes, Case Keenum, who averaged just more than 165 passing yards per game in his five starts in 2015, has been named the starter for Saturday. Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher has a history of slow playing his rookies especially with the Rams including both 2014 NFL Draft first-rounders OT Greg Robinson and DT Aaron Donald, so there's certainly precedent.

I think the major issue here is that constant retreat of the horizon. Fisher and the Rams have always pointed to some indeterminate point in the future for success. The idea that the Rams would trade away so much draft capital to take a QB and then bench him "until he's ready" as if that shouldn't be Week 1 continues to push accountability down the road for a head coach and general manager in Les Snead who have yet to oversee a winning season since being hired in 2012.

BTB: Many Cowboys fans, myself included, have a man-crush on Aaron Donald. We even had dreams of him falling to us in the draft. Talk about how he has developed? How has he changed the defense, and how would you rate the defensive line? It appears to be a strength of the team.

TST: He's ridiculous. It's hard to really explain how good he is, because he's so consistent and so profoundly disruptive. He's uncommonly quick for a defensive tackle. He's violent with his hands out of his stance. And he's just relentless thereafter, and part of that has to be acknowledged as related to conditioning. He just keeps coming and coming and coming. And yes, he's the best player on the Rams and it certainly helps spearhead the defensive line as the best unit on the team, but he really is a very unique and overwhelming talent.

As for rating the defensive line, I'm eager to see how they come out of the gate this year. DE Robert Quinn was the best player on the team prior to Donald's arrival in 2014. He had to shut down mid-season last year to have back surgery, so we'll have to see how he looks in 2016. And the Rams cut ties with longtime DE Chris Long on the other side, promoting backup William Hayes into the starting role. Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams likes to throw all kinds of blitz packages at opponents, which makes it a bit easier for the defensive line though it does stress the secondary. So I'm obviously biased, but I'd still rate the Rams' line one of the best in the NFL.

BTB: What are a few of the key position battles going on that will play out during the game? Name a few players Cowboys fans can watch on the Rams who are trying to make the team or perhaps even become starters.

TST: The Rams have four major areas to whittle through for the 53-man: wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback and safety.

At WR, there's a huge logjam after stacking up on talent this offseason. Behind Tavon Austin and Kenny Britt, the Rams have two veterans in Brian Quick and Bradley Marquez. We've got two drafted rookies in Pharoh Cooper (fourth-rounder out of South Carolina) and Mike Thomas (sixth-rounder from Southern Miss). The UDFA crop is led by D'haquille "Duke" Williams (Auburn), Nelson Spruce (Colorado), Marquez North (Tennessee) and Paul McRoberts (Southeast Missouri St.). Gonna be interesting to see how Fisher rotates them in for PT and who shows up well.

The Rams play out of a two-linebacker base, but there's a half dozen new names to sort through including 2016 NFL Draft sixth-round pick Josh Forrest. Brandon Chubb, the cousin of Georgia RB Nick Chubb, and Nic Grigsby are the UDFAs to watch.

As for the secondary, it's hard to get a sense of where the Rams are. They lost longtime starters CB Janoris Jenkins and S Rodney McLeod to free agency this offseason and didn't bring in anyone through the draft at either position. So they're promoting from within and hoping E.J. Gaines, a fifth-round pick from the 2014 NFL Draft who missed all of last year with a foot injury, can return to form. How this depth chart looks on Saturday is something I can't predict.

BTB: What do you hope to see from the Rams during the game? What needs to happen so that the next day you can call it a success (besides no injuries!)?

TST: Well, it's the preseason. Sure, I'd love to see Jared Goff toss some ridiculous post route for a TD. Seeing the offensive line create a great pocket for each passing down would be awesome. But the real key here is to avoid injuries as you mentioned and get a feel for the back of the roster. Todd Gurley didn't play a down of the preseason last year, and I'd say he did ok. The bigger thing is to start sorting out the depth chart at the back. We've all got to get from the 90-man to the 75-man roster after the third preseason game, and figuring how that's going to happen is probably the biggest effort on Saturday. So if by the end of the game your backups have outplayed our backups so completely and consistently that we don't have any better idea of who to shed and who to keep...that's probably the only thing I'm really concerned with.

Thanks to Turf Show Times for the knowledge.

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