Les Snead and Sean McVay work hand in hand to build the Rams’ roster, from cuts to trades to free-agent signings – and everything in-between. Snead tends to be a little bit more open when it comes to the Rams’ moves, which is why it was good to get his insight this week after the team trimmed its roster to 53 players.
Snead spoke to reporters on Wednesday and shed some light on a few topics, from the team’s edge rushers to his two quarterbacks. Here are the six biggest takeaways from what he said to the media as the season rapidly approaches.
He knows Stetson Bennett is “not there yet”
Bennett didn’t have a very good preseason. He was the lowest-graded quarterback in the NFL, according to PFF, and he threw three interceptions – a number that could’ve been a lot higher if not for drops by defenders.
The Rams obviously aren’t writing off the rookie after just three preseason games, but Snead acknowledges that Bennett isn’t playing at a high level yet – like a lot of rookies in their first preseason.
“So we did get to see some of the mobility, the ability to use that mobility within the pocket, move the chains, and he was a guy that was not necessarily, or I would say a little bit fearless sometimes in terms of trying to make a play,” Snead said. “We did see some of that. Like a lot of rookie QBs, not there yet. The transition to the NFL can be humbling at times and he’s gone through that. Usually, if you can overcome those lessons, apply them, you have a good shot of evolving to whatever potential you might have.”
Rams tried to trade for Kevin Dotson most of the preseason
The Rams’ trade for Dotson didn’t come out of nowhere. He was a player they’ve been eyeing for a month, patiently waiting for Pittsburgh to feel comfortable enough with its offensive line to trade Dotson. Snead said the Rams were trying to trade for him all preseason.
“We’ve tried to trade for him most of the preseason,” Snead said. “They wanted to hold onto him to make sure that they got through preseason healthy and didn’t necessarily need him and still have the surplus that we thought they might have. Right now, let’s get him up to speed and then from that point we’ll see where he fits in and what ends up being our best five along the way.”
LA is glad to get Logan Bruss back on the practice squad
The Rams surprisingly cut Bruss, who was their top pick in last year’s draft. It was a tough call to make, given the assets they sunk into the Wisconsin lineman, but there is a silver lining. Bruss cleared waivers and made it back on the Rams’ practice squad, which the team is thrilled about.
“Don’t want to give up on Logan yet. Jacked that he wants to come back because that’s not easy,” Snead said. “When we draft a player, release him, and probably release a player a little earlier than we would normally do, it’s a lot easier for him to say, ‘Maybe a new ecosystem, new environment’s better for me.’ He really liked what was going on here. (He) felt like this was the best place for him to have a shot of improving and getting to where he thinks he can be and where we think he can be.”
He doesn’t think Matthew Stafford struggles to connect with teammates
The “big” story of the week was Stafford’s apparent struggles to connect with his younger teammates. It became a story because his wife said on her podcast that Matthew feels like he’s being looked at by other players as a coach, rather than one of the guys and a teammate.
Snead addressed that storyline and said he doesn’t think Stafford has trouble connecting with the Rams’ unquestionably young roster.
“First of all, I don’t think Matthew has a problem connecting with his teammates,” he said. “And when you’re in a football building, especially when training camp starts, you go down to Irvine. The locker room is small and you’re squished in there and it’s a very intimate workplace. If you listen to hall of fame speeches, a lot of times the players will not necessarily mention missing games or things like that. They’ll say they miss the relationships that are built in those locker rooms and in and around the locker rooms, like even with equipment people. But every year is different. Each team is different. … But at the end of the day, we definitely have some ways that we like to be intentional about engineering a cohesive collective because that chemistry is very important, especially in a 32-team league when it’s hard to out talent people, it’s hard to out healthy people, it’s hard to out scheme people. So all the variables, chemistry being one of them, is very important to try to give you that edge in that season.”
Rams’ offensive line type has changed a bit with the scheme
Interestingly, Snead said the Rams’ running scheme has changed a bit this year, which has in turn caused them to look for different linemen. He suggested they’re moving away from their wide zone slightly and skewing more toward bigger linemen, which we can see with Coleman Shelton and Steve Avila stepping in as the starting center and left guard.
“He’s got to somehow, within the scheme, know where he needs to go to stay in the way and can he get there before the defender can get there,” Snead said. “And then can he keep the defender from going where the defender wants to go? Now within that, yeah, we’ve had some changes within the scheme and a little bit from our normal wide zone. So we’ve seen this year, we tilted a little bit bigger, wider, but that could also be for anchor. You have a pocket passer. It’s nice for a pocket passer to have a little more space right up the middle and then try to let those speed rushers kind of run around you and things like that. But you’re always trying to find quality linemen, tough to do because every team is trying to find those.”
Rams like their edge rushers but they’re always in the market for help
The Rams have chosen not to make any notable additions at edge rusher all offseason. Yes, they added three rookies in the draft but outside of that, nothing. It doesn’t sound like help is on the horizon, either.
Snead said the team is “very comfortable” with the experience it has at outside linebacker, in part thanks to Michael Hoecht. So when pairing that with the fact that the Rams don’t see a lot of valuable edge rushers on the market, it’s led them to standing pat at that position.
“We’re very comfortable with that. I mean, in Michael’s case, he might’ve even from an OLB standpoint, and like you said, making a move from inside DL to OLB might’ve led our outside line backers in sacks last year getting that opportunity,” Snead said. “So I would say there is some evidence that Michael, even though he is not a household name, okay wait a minute, he has a chance to… he’s done some things. He’s put some things on tape, things you can measure that are objective and not just subjective, that he can be greater than maybe his reputation as a player to date. Same with the young players. Rookies have to come in. They probably have a better reputation at their university or college that they played at last year than they do in the NFL, but now it’s their time to show that their skillset can translate to our league, and it takes time. But that’s why we went out and drafted those players. We definitely liked what they brought to the table. They’re just less experienced than some.”