Coliseum could emerge as temporary home to second NFL team

With the Los Angeles Rams officially in place and back at the Coliseum until construction of their new stadium in Inglewood is finished in 2019, the question of where a potential second team will play temporarily has been nagging ever since the National Football League approved the San Diego Chargers or Oakland Raiders to eventually join the Rams.

Unofficially, the Coliseum was always the safe bet. But that might be official any day now as the President of the Coliseum Commission – Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas – will take up a proposal to amend the Coliseum’s lease with the University of Southern California so that two NFL teams can share the stadium with the Trojans.

USC’s current lease allows for accommodation only one NFL team. But when the NFL voted January 12 to approve the Rams relocation to Los Angeles along with a potential partner, the need for a second venue became essential.

If the Coliseum Commission and USC can come to an agreement on an amended lease, the question of where the Chargers or Raiders will play in Los Angeles could be finalized.

The Chargers are currently deciding whether to join the Rams in Los Angeles, and have a year to make their decision. Negotiations between the two teams are on going. If the Chargers opt to stay in San Diego, the Raiders would have the option to then join the Rams.

The Chargers hope to make their decision soon, as they have a season to market in either Los Angeles or San Diego.

However, a high-ranking NFL official said Wednesday the Coliseum Commission proposal is not connected to the Chargers and Rams negotiations. The NFL has been working with the Coliseum for months as a temporary home to a second team, and this is the natural course of those talks.

Incidentally, if talks between the Rams and Chargers move into next week – or even if an agreement is reached late in the week – an NFL source indicated an announcement could be delayed until after the Super Bowl so as not to upstage the league’s signature event.

Rams: Vermeil wishes he could’ve done more for Phillips

Tip of the cap to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who caught up with former Rams coach Dick Vermeil and got him to open up about Lawrence Phillips, the troubled former Rams running back who was found dead Jan 13 at a California jail. The death of Phillips, who was 40-years-old, was ruled a suicide.

Phillips was drafted by the Rams in the first round of the 1996 draft, but was cut a year later during Vermeil’s first season with the team. Looking back, Vermeil wishes he could have done more to get Phillips on the right track.

“I’m disappointed we weren’t able to do more for him when I was there,” Vermeil told the Post-Dispatch. “I’ve said this many times, I wish I had been back in coaching for two or three years before I was confronted with him. Or never left coaching ad had all that experience in dealing with kids with problems.

“I probably could’ve have dealt with him better _ with better understanding. I’m sure my coaching staff would’ve been more informative with me if they knew him better.

“But it is what it is _ he’s gone.”

As Thomas pointed out in his story – which you can read here – Vermeil went above and beyond trying to help Phillips during their season together.

As so many others who tried to help Phillips during his troubled life, Vermeil couldn’t reach him.

“He’s been on a spiral down for a long time,” Vermeil told the P-D last week. “I saw him a couple times when I was coaching the Chiefs before he got in (the latest) trouble. He came in with Eric Warfield, my corner. He played with him in college.”

“What a waste of a person,” Vermeil said of Phillips’ death. “What a waste of a physical talent.”

Rams: Could Carson Wentz be the quarterback of the future in L.A.?

It almost went without saying Nick Foles wasn’t guaranteed the starting quarterback job with the Los Angeles Rams in 2016. But Rams general manager Les Snead made it official during an interview with Alex Marvez of SiriusXM NFL Radio that the position will be up for grabs during training camp.

As of right now, that means Foles will compete with Case Keenum for the job.

Unless, of course, another legitimate staring quarterback winds up on the roster between now and training camp – which is pretty much a given.

With all due respect to recent rumors indicating Peyton Manning is a possibility, the most likely place the Rams will find a potential starting quarterback is through the draft next April.

The problem is, the two top-ranted quarterbacks – Cal’s Jared Goff and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch – figure to be gone by the time the Rams make their first selection at No. 15 in the first round.

The good news is, there is another quarterback gaining momentum and barring a dramatic surge up the draft board, he should be available at No. 15.

His name is Carson Wentz, and he played collegiately at North Dakota State. That isn’t exactly a hotbed breeding ground for NFL quarterbacks, but Wentz is firmly on the NFL’s first-round radar.

And he all but solidified first-round status Tuesday during workouts at the Senior Bowl when he emerged by some observers as the best quarterback of the day.

Or,as Senior Bowl executive director Phil Savage told the Houston Chronicle, the 6-foot-6, 240-pound Wentz has certainly caught the attention of NFL scouts in a major way with his arm strength, athleticism and production.

“Carson is big. He’s got a strong arm and is very athletic,” said Savage, a former Cleveland Browns general manager and Baltimore Ravens director of player personnel. “He’s in an offense that’s more conventional to the NFL, rather than all the spread offense type of stuff. Even though he’s coming from the FCS, he’s got a lot of traits that people think will carry over to the NFL.

“I think he’s probably going to be the most-watched player here. Hopefully, he winds up being the face of the franchise.”

Wentz finished his career at North Dakota State going 20-3 as a two-year starter and finishing third in school history with 5,115 career passing yards, 45 touchdowns and a 64.1 completion percentage. After suffering a broken wrist last season, he came back to lead the Bisons to their fourth straight National Championship.

Of course, Wentz did all this at the FCS level. And he knows he must overcome that distinction as the draft draws closer.

“I think there’s obviously a lot of doubts coming from the FCS level,” Wentz told the Houston Chronicle. “I want to address that right away and prove I can play at a high level, play at a fast level, and compete with those guys and really excel. I feel I have the mental and physical abilities to play at this level. I’m ready and excited to prove that.”

It looks like he’s well on his way to doing just that.

Depending how the draft unfolds next April, he might just be the quarterback the Rams tab as the new face of their franchise.

Rams: Report of stalled talks between Chargers completely false

A report came out Monday from a San Diego radio host indicating talks between the Chargers and Los Angeles Rams on a potential stadium partnership in Inglewood had stalled and that the Chargers were likely to remain in San Diego in 2016.

The report indicated the information came from a high-ranking Rams source, and needless to say, it made the rounds rather quickly.

Within minutes of it coming out, though,  Rams CEO Kevin Demoff immediately shot it down to me saying it was completely false. Demoff, it should be noted, has been in charge of the Rams relocation to Los Angeles from the outset and is the point man in discussions with the Chargers.

Demoff insisted to me yesterday in no uncertain terms there is no merit to the story.

He followed up this morning with an official comment:

“We continue to have ongoing discussions with the Chargers about their opportunity to partner with us in Inglewood. Any reports to the contrary are false.”

The erroneous report is likely the result of the information blackout over the last eight days as the Chargers weigh their partnership options with the Rams. It’s left some fans and media types frustrated and in some cases, reaching for straws as they either guess or piece together what is going on from afar.

I’ve been able to do some digging over the last couple of days, and here is the latest:

From what I’ve gathered, it’s both a complicated and uncomplicated situation.

Uncomplicated in that the Chargers are simply doing their due diligence crunching all the various numbers that would result in a move with the Rams to Inglewood. But complicated in that we are talking about a stadium project that will cost more than $2 billion and includes a number of different revenue stream availabilities.

So while it isn’t rocket science, it’s also a painstaking process digging into all the materials.

The Chargers are taking their time. But I suspect they are closing in on a decision.

As far as any notion the Rams are trying to get over on the Chargers, it’s a false narrative.

Granted, the Rams aren’t laying out the red carpet inviting the Chargers to take whatever they want from whatever shopping aisle they chose, but the deal on the table is the one they pledged to fellow owners in Houston and the one fellow owners approved.

There is no deviating from it.

So while it’s fun to speculate and create wild stories to pass the time, the reality is what’s going on right now is pretty boring, meticulous stuff.



Rams source: “Likely” Rob Boras becomes permanent offensive coordinator

The Los Angeles Rams last week asked for permission to talk to Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, presumably as a prelude to a Shurmur/Rams reunion. Shurmur spent 2009-2010 as the Rams offensive coordinator, and the assumption was they were looking to reel him back in for the same position.

The theory seemed a bit presumptuous, considering the Rams seemed comfortable lifting the interim off of Rob Boras’ title and making him the permanent offensive coordinator. Boras, you’ll remember, replaced Frank Cignetti as the Rams OC late last season, prompting a bit of an offensive awakening and a 3-1 Rams surge to end the season. The Rams averaged 22.5 points with Boras coordinating the offense  after averaging less than 16 points over the first 12 games under Cignetti.

In any event, it’s all moot now. The Minnesota Vikings late Saturday hired Shurmur as an offensive assistant coach. And a Rams’ source on Sunday said it’s “likely” Boras will be the permanent offensive coordinator.