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Rams offense made a lot of changes, not just at head coach

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams are having a fantastic 2017 season under the direction of Sean McVay, and over the weekend Jeff Fisher decided to pop his head up and attempt to take some of the credit for the Rams success this season.

However, Fisher seems about as good at understanding how well he set the Rams up for 2017 as he was at getting the team to a record better than 7-9.

In any case, having seen the idea that the roster was largely unchanged from last season to this season multiple times, I decided it is time to finally put this myth to rest. Any way one wants to look at it, the LA roster is materially different from last season.

In the most basic method, one can compare the starters from Week 1 of 2016 to the starters of Week 1 in 2017, so here’s a table comparing the two. Luckily, to make things as easy a possible, the Rams started both seasons in a two-TE, one-RB set, and here are the starters for each season.

Turnover of Rams starting offense from 2016 to 2017

Position 2016 Week 1 Starter 2017 Week 1 Starter Same/Different
Position 2016 Week 1 Starter 2017 Week 1 Starter Same/Different
QB Case Keenum Jared Goff Different
RB Todd Gurley Todd Gurley Same
TE1 Lance Kendricks Tyler Higbee Different
TE2 Cory Harkey Gerald Everett Different
WR1 Kenny Britt Robert Woods Different
WR2 Tavon Austin Sammy Watkins Different
LT Greg Robinson Andrew Whitworth Different
LG Roger Saffold Roger Saffold Same
C Tim Barnes John Sullivan Different
RG Cody Wichmann Jamon Brown Different
RT Rob Havenstein Rob Havenstein Same

Now, of course, the Rams did not start the same players for the entirety of the season, with Case Keenum taking a seat on the bench in the second half and Jared Goff taking over as the starting quarterback, as well as changing the starter at right guard for roughly half the season. However, from the above table we see that only three of eleven starters were the same from year to year, and even if half credit is given for the midseason changes at quarterback and right guard, that only makes four of eleven starters the same.

Either way one wishes to look at it, it’s a lot of turnover, but it’s obviously very imprecise because there are 176 games started by an offense over the course of the season, and this evaluation narrows the changes down to a sample of just 11 of those starts. Thus, it’s on to the next step of looking not just at Week 1 starters, but at the snaps played by players over the course of the season.

The Rams ran 960 offensive plays in 2016, including 536 pass attempts, 375 rushes and 49 sacks. Multiply those 960 plays times 11 to account for the number of players on the field on each play, and there are 10,560 snaps played by the Rams offensive personnel in 2016.

Then, taking a quick look at the offensive players that left and the snaps they played, here’s a table of only those who recorded 240 or more snaps and are no longer on the roster.

Offensive snaps lost from 2016 by Los Angeles Rams

Position 2016 Player 2016 Snaps 2017 Snaps Lost
Position 2016 Player 2016 Snaps 2017 Snaps Lost
QB2 Case Keenum 596 596
TE1 Lance Kendricks 827 827
WR1 Kenny Britt 786 786
WR3 Brian Quick 691 691
C1 Tim Barnes 1004 1004
G2 Cody Wichmann 594 594
T1 Greg Robinson 892 892
OL7 Andrew Donnal 297 297

That is over 5,600 snaps lost just from players who played more than 25% of the Rams offensive snaps. There were a handful of other players no longer on the roster who played more snaps than that, and no matter how one wants to look at it, the 2017 LA Rams no longer have personnel who played more than 50% of their offensive snaps in 2016.

There are several other ways one can analyze roster turnover from season to season, but by any method one wishes to compare the 2017 Rams to the 2016 Rams, the roster turnover easily exceeds 50%.

In short, during the offseason Los Angeles did far more than simply change their head coach and their scheme. They drastically overhauled their roster as well, and Fisher’s claim that he left the Rams in pretty good shape is rather preposterous given the actual facts of the situation.