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Behind Enemy Lines: An Inside Look at the Rams


NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Titans face the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

The Titans are coming off a 25-23 loss to the 49ers, a loss that dropped the team's record to 8-6.

The Rams are coming off a 42-7 at Seattle, and are now 10-4.                                     

This week, I caught up with Gary Klein, who covers the Rams for the Los Angeles Times.

You can follow Gary on Twitter @LATimesklein.

Here's how our conversation went…

Wyatt: Hey Gary. Well, the Rams are one of the NFL's most improved teams this season. After finishing 4-12 last season, when the team parted ways with Jeff Fisher, the Rams are now 10-4 and a win away from clinching the NFC West. How surprised are you with the turnaround?

Klein: Well, I knew there was a possibility for great improvement, simply because the Rams hired an offense-minded coach to help nurture Jared Goff, and every move the Rams made during the offseason, including the hiring of head coach Sean McVay, was made to help his development. But I think most people are surprised they are contending for a division title with a chance to finish the season with 12 wins.

Wyatt: This is McVay's first head coaching job. He's just 31 years old. But he's already being billed as a genius by some. What has impressed you most about him?

Klein: I think for being so young, and for not ever having been a head coach, I have been impressed with his offensive scheme, and with his ability to instill a new culture, if you will, with one of the youngest teams in the league. And I think he and the front office, they've done a good job bringing in some veteran players who have influenced the younger guys, not only with their performance on the field, but with their presence in the locker room.

Wyatt: I think Goff's improvement has surprised many as well. He's thrown for 3,503 yards, with 24 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. A year ago he threw for just over 1,000 yards with five touchdowns and seven INTs. Did you see such a dramatic turnaround coming for him, and how has it happened? 

Klein: Jared Goff, looking at him from afar, people thought the Rams made a mistake by picking him. They thought he was struggling and he wasn't going to be able to improve. But if you watched enough NFL football, part of it was that he was a rookie, and he just needed a chance to kind of get his feet wet and develop. And now the Rams have hired a coach who has a history of helping quarterbacks, and scheming on offense. So I am not surprised that Jared Goff has developed. I think he still has room to grow. I don't think by any means he is a finished product, or that he is a superstar. He still has a long ways to go. But I think with McVay, and with offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, the offensive coordinator, and with Greg Olson, the team's quarterbacks coach, they have a pretty good dynamic combination that's helping him.

Wyatt: As good as Goff has been throwing the ball, running back Todd Gurley has been real workhorse for the Rams. He's already racked up 1,817 scrimmage yards, including 1,187 and 13 rushing touchdowns. He's being talked about as MVP of the NFL. Has he clearly been MVP of the Rams, and how good has he been all season?

Klein: Well, he really has been the thread their offensive success is kind of built upon. His ability to run, and the offensive line's improved play, has opened things up for Goff and the receiving corps, which has also been upgraded. Gurley's ability to run, and really this season his ability to catch passes out of the backfield has made him a multi-purpose threat. It really has been the key to the Rams offense.

Wyatt: OK Gary, last question here, and I appreciate you doing this: How has the Rams fan base been? With the Chargers and Rams both in town now, it's sort of created a competition for fans in the city. How has Los Angeles embraced the Rams being back?

Klein: I think the Rams knew they had a process when they moved back here after being gone for more than two decades. It wasn't like fans were just going to instantly be attracted to the Rams. This is Los Angeles, and if you don't win, fans are not going to come. And the Rams struggled last year. They had some initial excitement, then they really struggled, and fans stayed away. And I think even initially this season, fans were hesitant to embrace them. But now that they are winning, I think there is an upsurge in interest and in enthusiasm, and if the Rams can kind of keep it going, I think we'll see them embraced, just like any winning team in Los Angeles. looks back at the all-time series against the Los Angeles Rams. (AP Photos, Donn Jones)

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