Mike Freeman's 10-Point Stance: Rams Go All-in for Jalen Ramsey

Mike Freeman@@mikefreemanNFLNFL National Lead WriterOctober 16, 2019

JACKSONVILLE, FL - OCTOBER 15: Cornerback Jalen Ramsey #20 of the Jacksonville Jaguars during the National Anthem before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at EverBank Field on October 15, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida. The Rams defeated the Jaguars 27 to 17. (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

Jalen Ramsey was traded for two first-round picks and a fourth-round pick. Who won the trade and what does it mean for both teams? Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota are about to leave NFL stardom as they arrived—together. Has the game gotten too fast for officials to do their jobs? And is Jason Garrett really in trouble this time? All that and more in this week's 10-Point Stance.

   

1. Jalen Ramsey trade is a win-win for both teams, but it won't fix everything

The Jalen Ramsey trade is one of the rare ones that both teams win, and win big.

The Jaguars received two first-round picks. That's a massive haul for a single player not named Tom Brady. 

The Rams also won because they got one of the best pure talents in football. Yes, Ramsey is that good, and that transformational.

It's a smart and bold move by the Rams and an equally good one by the Jaguars.

There's just one problem for the Rams.

"Ramsey, as far as I can tell, can't play quarterback," one AFC West team official texted on Tuesday night, after the trade was completed.

Blunt, but true.

Ramsey is good, but he can't throw well from the pocket. Although, right now, neither can Jared Goff.

The Rams defense is a lot better now, but the trade doesn't fix Goff. That's the big problem for the Rams. It's Goff.

He's, at best, above average. You know who said that? Ramsey did last year to GQ.

Now, he's not even average. He's been playing like Blake Bortles.

This will be the story of the Rams. How Ramsey and the Rams fix Goff, or even if they can fix him.

Goff had 78 yards passing last week against the 49ers. Seven. Teee. Eight. Yards. Early in the fourth quarter, he had 27 passing yards. In today's NFL, you can throw for that by accident.

He has consistently missed wide-open receivers, panicked in the pocket when little pressure was present, and overall looked totally discombobulated and nothing like the player who led the Rams to a Super Bowl last season.

Ramsey is exceptional. He will make a tremendous difference.

But not even Ramsey can repair Goff.

   

2. The Winston/Mariota NFL fail 

The truth is as clear as a Jameis Winston six-turnover game. Or a dismal Marcus Mariota 63-yard passing performance.

The Winston and Mariota eras are over.

We've seen their body of work for nearly five years now, and it's been mostly a disaster. Almost nothing has changed since they both entered the league in 2015. They aren't likely to undergo some sudden transformation or dramatic shift in competence. They are who they are.

Mariota, who has been benched by the Titans, may start again this season, as may Winston, but the point remains: It's not a question of if their respective franchises move on but when they do.

It's a stunning end to two careers that started with such high hopes. How did the NFL and so many of us in the media get them so wrong? The first two picks in the 2015 draft? How? 

The reasons are many, assistant coaches and front-office people tell me. For Winston, it's believed that his lack of maturity has hurt his on-field play. And Mariota, the thinking goes, continues to struggle adapting to the ever-shifting, increasingly aggressive and ever-quickening defenses.

Perhaps the most incisive explanation I heard was also the simplest, and it came from an assistant coach who examined both closely when they came out of college: It is difficult to translate throwing accuracy in college to throwing accuracy in the pros.

Quarterbacking, more than anything, is about accuracy, the assistant added. Without that, a quarterback is dead.

There's no substitute for it. Russell Wilson, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and the game's other top throwers are effective, in large part, because they are accurate.

Currently, both Mariota and Winston are completing 60 percent or fewer of their passes.

Winston and Mariota aren't all-time busts, but their careers as franchise leaders likely have come to an end.

Rarely do we see such a sudden conclusion to two quarterbacking eras that once showed so much promise.

Their careers will be lost in time, but the lessons NFL talent evaluators take from their failures won't be.

But don't bet that it won't happen again.

                                 

3. What's next for the Bucs and Titans? 

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 13:  Marcus Mariota #8 of the Tennessee Titans stands in the bench area during a game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High on October 13, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

According to several front-office sources, Tampa Bay and Tennessee can be expected to reset their sights on finding a new starting QB, either via trade or in the draft.

Both teams can easily move on from Mariota and Winston by letting each walk in free agency after the season. 

No one knows for certain what either franchise will do, but it would surprise a lot of teams if both didn't have new starting quarterbacks by next fall.

                                 

4. Philip Rivers can be…uh…challenging to play against

CARSON, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 06:  Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers talks on the sidelines during a 20-13 loss to the Denver Broncos at Dignity Health Sports Park on October 06, 2019 in Carson, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Harry How/Getty Images

That's it.

That's all.

That's the truth.

Moving right along... 

              

5. What's really behind the growing officiating crisis

GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN - OCTOBER 14:  Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers argues with referee Tom Symonette in the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on October 14, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty
Dylan Buell/Getty Images

NFL officials are held to impossible standards. They are doing their jobs in the age of HD television, which can reveal numerous angles after the fact that are all but impossible for the human eye to catch.

It's also true, however, that this season has seen some of the worst officiating in league history, and anyone who has watched the NFL or covered it for a long time can attest to that. This past week's gag reel came from the Browns-Seahawks game that appeared to produce multiple blown calls.

The problem, though the league will deny this, is that the game is moving too fast for some of the officials, and they are guessing at the calls.

The Monday night game between Detroit and the Packers was another example of the problem. A Lions goal-line score was called a turnover on downs by one ref and a touchdown by another. Then, with the game in the balance late, another series of very questionable flags helped Green Bay secure a come-from-behind win.

The first step in addressing any problem is to acknowledge there is one. And while the NFL did that, in part, by admitting they made a mistake on one of the calls against the Lions, it's clear the speed at which the game is played now is a problem for the officials. But if the NFL can't see that for the leaguewide problem it has become, it won't get better anytime soon.

     

6. Stranded in Atlanta

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 13:  Quarterback Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons looks to pass during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Falcons 34-33. (Pho
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I've long believed Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan is overrated, but even his critics like me have to admit what he's doing now is damn impressive.

Ryan has thrown for at least 300 yards in six consecutive games to start the season, tying a mark held by both Kurt Warner in 2000 and Steve Young in 1998.

Despite his statistical heroics, Ryan is part of a team that has won only once in six games this season. In some ways, it's reminiscent of times Aaron Rodgers would try to carry the Packers on his back only to find himself out of the playoffs at year's end. It's admirable, but it's also not the way the Falcons want to go. But with the Atlanta defense allowing the second-most points per game, surpassed by only that team in Miami, the Falcons' fate seems already sealed. The same might be true for coach Dan Quinn.

                 

7. Words of wisdom

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 31: Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady #12 chat before a preseason game with the New York Giants at Gillette Stadium on August 31, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

You may have missed the fact that Tom Brady recently passed Peyton Manning to claim second place on the all-time passing yardage list. That's obviously impressive but not nearly as much as the effusive praise Bill Belichick offered in his weekly news conference about his longtime QB when explaining why he gave Brady the game ball after the Pats' win over the Giants:

"Well, I mean, Tom breaks a record every week, so we could really probably give him the game ball after every game. But, I think this one's – I mean, in terms for what he's accomplished in terms of total career passing yards, it's pretty noteworthy. And I thought he played well in the game. […] I thought he showed a lot of leadership and toughness and just passing ability and accuracy that helped us win the game."

No, it's not over-the-top, but for Belichick, that's as close to gushing praise as anyone will receive.

                             

8. Fast start

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 13:  Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals scrambles with the football during the NFL game against the Atlanta Falcons at State Farm Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Fa
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Quietly, very quietly, Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is proving why the team made him the first overall pick in the draft.

After throwing for 300 yards in three of Arizona's first six games, Murray became only the third rookie to accomplish the feat, joining Cam Newton and Andrew Luck.

His other numbers are equally impressive. He's completed 64.3 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns, four interceptions and two rushing scores. More importantly for the Cardinals, the offense is averaging 376.8 yards a game. Last year through six contests, it was averaging 220.3.

Like a lot of newer and young quarterbacks, Murray is taking advantage of his mobility to a great degree, buying time to read a defense if he needs it or just taking off and running when his options break down.

Murray also has shown an understanding of how an offense works in the pros as well as any rookie I've seen in a long time.

And he's just getting started.

                    

9. Is Jason Garrett finally in trouble?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - OCTOBER 13:  Head coach Jason Garrett of the Dallas Cowboys reacts against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on October 13, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Almost every season, speculation arises surrounding Cowboys coach Jason Garrett's job status, and every year, the speculation proves to be wrong.

After Dallas was smoked by the Jets this past week—the Jets—Garrett's job status has become a topic of debate yet again.

While part of that is just the heat the comes from coaching the Cowboys, part of it is also rooted in doubts about Garrett's ability to competently guide a team into playoff contention.

Even Jets quarterback Sam Darnold could see it:

"They just kind of did what they do," he told The Athletic's Jon Machota. "They do it every single week. They just play one-high, occasionally two-high, and they like to stop the run. I knew that I had to throw the ball today to have success, and we did that."

That kind of predictability from such a talented roster is kind of, well, bad.

All teams are somewhat predictable. But the smart coaches and coordinators shake things up no matter how dominant their unit is. They want opponents to guess at least a little.

If Garrett isn't helping the Cowboys do that and they keep losing because of it, his luck may finally run out.

                                              

10. Ravens are who we thought they were

BALTIMORE, MD - OCTOBER 13: Lamar Jackson #8 of the Baltimore Ravens runs against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first half at M&T Bank Stadium on October 13, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images)
Will Newton/Getty Images

One theme coaching and front-office personnel repeatedly emphasized to me during training camp was that the Ravens could be not just one of the most formidable rushing teams this year but also one of the best running teams we've ever seen.

The season rushing record is 3,165 yards, set by the Patriots in 1978. The Ravens already have 1,230 yards through six games, and a big reason why is thanks to the powerful and purposeful running of quarterback Lamar Jackson. Through six starts, Jackson is averaging 6.7 yards per rush and almost 77 yards per game on the ground.

And what has to be scary for the rest of the league is that unlike earlier in the season, when the second-year quarterback was trying to beat teams from the pocket, Jackson has made a concerted effort to use his legs to beat defenses in recent games .

That doesn't mean Jackson can't beat teams through the air, but if he has his full Steve Young going, the Ravens will not be an easy team to beat.

                                                                                                             

Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL. 

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