The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
I had the chance to catch up to Joseph McAtee from the Turf Show Times -- the SB Nation site for Los Angeles Rams fans. He was kind enough to answer a few questions.
1. Is this Rams team as good as they looked in dropping a 40-burger on the Colts?
Two Weeks Ago: Wut??
One Week Ago: No
Look, you don't paste a team 46-9 without both sides playing a part. Did the Colts play themselves into an L? NO DOUBT. But hey, shout out to an NFL franchise talking themselves into rolling out Scott Tolzein as their starting QB. That takes courage.
As for the Rams, they played their part to take advantage of what was provided to them. Two interceptions returned for touchdowns, a pair nearly converted into as much, a fumble-formed-safety...and that's just the defense. Suffice to say Week 1 was Colts v. Colts and the Rams refereed it well for their part.
So how to frame Week 2?
This is a franchise that hasn't put together a winning effort for the last 13 seasons. This is a franchise that hired the youngest head coach in NFL history to reverse that. This is a franchise that relocated to the nation's second-largest market on the back of losing, boring football asking people to show up for a team based off of marketing and not off of football calculi.
Is this Rams team as good as they looked in Week 1?
Nobody has any idea.
That's what's gonna make this fun.
2. We're hearing that we will likely see Aaron Donald on the field Sunday. How much impact do you expect him to have in this game?
I'd expect him to be closer to 100% than not.
Look, it's Aaron Donald. Physical readiness is not an issue. Talent readiness is not an issue. Football readiness might be, but consider the converse.
There are plenty of player who were football ready and talent ready for the season and fell short. Aaron Donald not only doesn't fall short in those areas but meets the highest bar available in the NFL at that level.
How much impact do I expect him to have? (a) As much as he wants to and (b) as much as McVay allows him to.
3. I’m sure you’ve had enough discussion of Sean McVay this season that you don’t need to talk about him anymore, but of course the Redskins have a special interest in him. I saw that you posted extensive comments on your site this week from Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden about McVay's time in DC. From the time he was tight ends coach under Mike Shanahan through the last three seasons as OC under Gruden, Sean McVay was respected for his dedication, thoroughness and attention to detail. Still, NFL history is replete with young, talented coordinators who didn’t succeed as head coaches. How are Rams fans feeling about the decision to hire the youngest coach in NFL history?
Well, coming off of Week 1's result it's reasonable to understand why Rams fans are buying into the positive results of McVay's hiring coming to bear sooner rather than later. The problem is precedent.
He was yall's Tight Ends Coach, followed by a three-year stint as offensive coordinator.
The problem for Rams fans is that what often comes next is a failed stint as a head coach before a reinterpretation of lessons learned as a coordinator before another head coaching stint. Former Rams Head Coaches Scott Linehan and Steve Spagnuolo are on this path themselves, so Rams fans are hoping for the anomaly in McVay
Are Rams fans excited based off of hype?
Did Week 1 exacerbate that?
Does the grass always shine greener even in the afterglow of Jeff Fisher?
SURE. SURE. SURE. SURE. SUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUURE.
What's clear (and deserved) is that this is McVay's opportunity to have his first run atop a coaching staff. Yes in Week 1, that went as perfectly as Rams fans could have asked for. Moving forward? The sample size remains so small that it's to be determined...but hopeful nonetheless.
4. Can you tell us about a couple of under-the-radar players on the Rams team that we should keep an eye on during Sunday’s game (one offense & one defense)?
LT Andrew Whitworth was a staple on the Cincinnati Bengals O-line with Pro Bowls to his name that as a first-year Ram carried tons of hype (and pressure), but if somehow you've avoided the Cooper Kupp hypetrain, step back from the tracks. Kupp was a statistical explosive at Eastern Washington with nearly 6,500 receiving yards in college who carried his production (and popularity) to the NFL throughout the last seven months. His preseason and Week performance (4 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD) have fans buying into Kupp's immediate impact on the offense.
On defense...there's not much new personnel-wise to take the headlines. Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips is carrying the rising expectations, but it's the return of DE Aaron Donald that is going to lead storylines on Sunday. And for good reason.
5. The Redskins fielded 19 players against the Eagles to open the season that had never before played for the Redskins in an NFL regular season game, and it was hard to know what to expect; I think all Redskins fans noticed from the Eagles game that this isn't the same team the Redskins fielded in 2016. I saw a headline on TST last week that referred to the Rams as being “among NFL’s Most Unrecognizable Teams In 2017”. What did you learn about your team in Week One?
If only we had made a trade in 2012 that changed the course of our franchises. Or a coaching hire in the last year.
The Rams are trying to craft a new path, and given a 13-year run without a winning season it's easy to buy into the novelty of anyone involved. The question is how much goes into the "unrecognizable" column and how much goes into a column yet to be sorted out.
Suffice to say anything apart from recent results will suffice, but if Week 1 is any indication of what's to come...
Don't come calling for Sean McVay.
My thanks to Joe for taking the time to give us some insight into the mind of the opposition ahead of this week’s game in LA!
Which coach or coordinator will have the biggest impact on the final outcome of this game?
This poll is closed
Jay Gruden (HC ‘Skins)
Sean McVay (HC Rams)
Wade Phillips (DC Rams)
Greg Manusky (DC ‘Skins)
Bill Callahan (OL coach ‘Skins)
Matt LaFleur (OC Rams)
John Fassell (Special Teams, Rams)
Ben Kotwica (Special Forces, ‘Skins)
Matt Cavanaugh (OC ‘Skins)