Four things we learned from ‘All or Nothing’ with LA Rams
FOX Sports West
What we saw
All or Nothing: A Season with the Los Angeles Rams brings the football fan behind-the-scenes of an organization that dealt with more commotion than the average team. A fired coach, a cross-country move, trying to keep their No. 1 overall draft from being a bust, and a historic season which ended in an abysmal 4-12 record sums up 2016 for the Rams. But, the show somehow manages to make the disappointing return season watchable and, frankly, led me to believe that that this team was in fact better than their record shows. Besides the personality-lacking Jeff Fisher and his staff, All or Nothing's second seasongave extraordinary insight into a team that isn’t good, and made them good. There were no shortage of storylines throughout the show, but its eight-episode cap forced the show to limit itself, not allowing for full reaction of processing of things that happened. Being with a team, though, in all its entirety allows for an attachment to not just a player or coach, but to an organization. No abrupt cuts, vying to make the team, or the expected drama of the competition of camp, just 53 grown men trying to make their team better. The Rams, fortunately, has a roster filled with these types of men, and in All or Nothing, we learned a lot about them.
Gregg Williams is still insane, but it's charming
If the New Orleans Saints 'Bountygate' wasn’t enough of an indication that former Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had a screw loose, All of Nothing reminds us that that screw may have just gotten looser. At first, he seems to be a normal coach: passionate about his job, loves to yell profanity, and watches an endless amount of film. Look and listen closer, and hear that screw shaking. Gregg Williams sleeps in his office multiple days a week on an inflatable mattress with no sheet or blanket, just one pillow. When describing players, Williams uses a language that makes him sound like a weapon salesmen. In characterizing linebacker Mark Barron, he calls him a perfect 'find ball, see ball, get ball' player and praises him for the amount of 'hammer awards' he's won. These are given to the player that, as Williams puts it, 'makes a really good contact legal hit,' and that fact seems to get him a little too excited as he proceeds to tell Barron to 'not allow anyone to cross their goal line,' and to 'make sure of it.' Under all this craziness is just a 58-year-old man, so it's almost endearing.
The Rams' defense is absolutely the real deal
Honestly, all you need to do is take a look at Aaron Donald and that will tell you everything you need to know. 'You better not help him,' Donald says to a Seahawks lineman, 'be a man.' It's apparent from the start that Donald wants to set the tone and the other 10 quickly follow. Even in their weekday preparation, the Rams defense flew around walk-through practices, feed off the energy of their teammates, and know and embrace the fact that they are the strength of the team. At halftime and after games, it is the defense that rallies the team together, reminds the team of their goal, and keeps the team grounded in success. 'Go back to work' seems to be the defense's message to the team at-large: They are aware of the Rams situation and reputation, and are on an at-all-costs mission to save it. From Alec Ogletree to Trumaine Johnson, the Rams defense has an array of talent and athleticism that will thrive and be fun to watch in Wade Phillips' new system.
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY SportsJasen Vinlove
The Los Angeles Rams genuinely care for each other
Sure the NFL is, at its core, a business that pays its employees for a service. Some players and fans get caught up in the 'workplace regulations' of the league, its numbers, and money, and alas, it's easy to forget that this is a team game that the players play to do one thing: win. Add the glamour of being back in Los Angeles, and it seems almost impossible for them not to fall into a big market trap. But on this team, there are plenty of leaders, and full of players that can understand how a team can and should work. After losing three straight games with morale running low, running back Benny Cunningham, a relatively unknown name and now an ex-Ram, gathered the offense mid-practice and gave a heartfelt and soul driven speech. 'If you're not doing everything you can bro, to help us win bro, you're cheating us,' says Cunningham as he is surrounded by his offense, 'This is how I feed my family, and we lose the rest of these games, I won't have a job.' The raw emotion of Cunningham's speech is felt through the offense, and you can feel that the Rams want to respond. A simple thing, yes, but coming from a player that rarely sees the field, the threatening of a man's livelihood appeals to the offense as a whole. It is no secret that the Rams were below average in their return home to LA, but the coaches or players never lost hope. Each loss strengthened the roles of the relationships between coaches and players, and 'We can still turn this thing around' became their proverb.
Jared Goff is passionate and REALLY wants to play
There is finally no secret or running competition for the Rams starting quarterback position. Jared Goff, regardless of some of the comments McVay has made about the job, is the guy for the Rams come season. And, boy, is he ready to get on the field. Early into All or Nothing, when Case Keenum was the entrenched starter, Goff was asked about how he feels about the starting job. He tries to give an answer that’s equally honest and proper, but the fire was clearly in his eye. 'I think as a rookie, the more you can,' queue the long dramatic pause, 'kind of learn and sit back and watch and be ready for the right time.' The extended pause says it all. No Goff doesn’t want to sit back, no Goff doesn't want to watch and simply be ready, Goff wants the reins to the Rams, and a chance to prove his first-pick worth. 'Anxiety is over, I'm good now, I'm confident, and ready to go. Ready to play, get back to playing football and back to my job,' Goff tells the media with a smirk after he is named the starter in Week 11. Goff knows and has known all along that the Rams will be his team soon come, and he's handled his ascension nicely. Hear his voice crack and hear him talk football with the coaching staff, especially the offensive genius that is Sean McVay, and Goff's fire is apparent: The kid wants to play and play now.