Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Fishing for Answers: St Louis Rams Season Preview

2011 Record: 2-14

2011 Rankings
Total Offense: 31
Rush Offense: 23
Pass Offense: 30
Scoring Offense: 32
Total Defense: 22
Rush Defense: 31
Pass Defense: 7
Scoring Defense: 26


The Rams suffered through a plethora of injuries last season, particularly at WR and it showed. They were among the worst in the league in Passing offense, Total offense, and Scoring offense (where they were dead last). If the Rams can keep QB Sam Bradford healthy, the new coaching staff should put him in position to make plays. Bradford had a really bad sophomore slump last year, partially due to injuries and partially due to horrendous offensive line play in front of him. Second round picks Brian Quick (WR-Appalachian State) and Isaiah Pead (RB-Cincinnati) should provide a boost to the big-play potential of the offense. You know Jeff Fisher is going to run the ball, and with Steven Jackson and Isaiah Pead, he should have a solid 1-2 punch. The O-line is still a bit of a question mark and this offense has a long way to go before being considered dangerous.


The Rams were downright awful against the run last year and took direct steps to address that by drafting LSU's Michael Brockers in the first round of the draft. The Rams have a lot of youth on defense with first round picks dominating the front line (Brockers, DE Robert Quinn, DE Chris Long). Jeff Fisher favorite Courtland Finnegan was the biggest free agent acquisition the Rams made this offseason and he should give their beleaguered secondary some help. Second round pick Janoris Jenkins, who starred at Florida before being kicked off the team and playing his senior year in FCS should be in the running for the other starting corner spot and Jenkins could develop into a shut-down guy. The Rams defense should be better than last year and will keep them in games


Jeff Fisher was given pretty much complete control of the team and swung two trades in the first round of the draft that enabled them to land Brockers, Quick, Jenkins and Pead in the first 50 picks of the draft. The youth revolution is on in St Louis and with Sam Bradford entering his 3rd year, he has the ability to take that next step and move this team forward towards being a contender. The Rams have a brutal schedule, including a 4-week stretch in the middle of the season where they play Green Bay, New England, and San Francisco around a bye week.

If the Rams were a TV Character

Gabe Lewis (The Office)

Gabe is a marginal character that is only relevant on rare occasions on a show that has gone downhill lately that no one really watches any more. Similarly, the Rams are a supporting player in a division that has easily been the worst division in football over the past few seasons.

What They're Saying

Our buddy Will Horton from, who by now should own the Gateway Arch for his dedication to St. Louis, dropped by to give us some insight on the Rams. You can find Will on Twitter @RamsHerd. He also writes for This Given Sunday, one of the best general NFL blogs out there.

1. What were the biggest moves the Rams made this offseason?

A 2-14 season is a good motivator for change, and the Rams have made a ton of it, cleaning house from top to bottom. Of their 2011 front office and coaching staff, only one man still remains - money man Kevin Demoff. The biggest move made by the Rams, and the biggest reason for hope in St Louis, was Stan Kroenke's willingness to go after Jeff Fisher, and refuse to let the Dolphins steal him away. 

Kroenke made it clear to Fisher that he had carte blanche to remake this team in his image by clearing the decks, and giving him free rein (and a blank check) to hire his own staff, from the GM down to the waterboy. The resulting staff -- even with Gregg Williams in Commissioner Goodell's penalty box -- is pretty amazing. Ray Sherman is coaching the wide receivers, and hopes to make Brian Quick the new Terrell Owens. Paul Boudreau hopes to rebuild a no-name O-Line that protects Bradford as well as he did Matt Ryan in Atlanta. And former Giants and Raiders defensive line coach Mike Waufle gets his hands on the team's most talented unit, now bolstered by two 6'5" 320-pounders in the middle, veteran Kendall Langford and rookie Michael Brockers. 

Fisher also loves his defensive backs, and the Rams have completely remade their secondary, in both attitude and ability, around Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins. Jenkins appears to be the real deal in camp, and may be a rapidly rising star here. 

2. What are your expectations for the Rams this season?

Offensive firepower remains a concern, at least until Boudreau proves that he can make this underachieving offensive line work, and until Brian Schottenheimer gets his passing game clicking. Working with Sam Bradford (who actually likes reading playbooks) instead of Mark Sanchez should help, but we still have huge question marks at receiver. 

An optimist sees a decent core emerging from Brian Quick and Greg Salas / Chris Givens on the outside, with Danny Amendola and Lance Kendricks as effective inside targets, but realistically no one knows yet what we have there. 

No one will know what we have on offense period if we can't keep Bradford healthy, and back on his projected growth curve. I expect an improved team, and hope for a healthier team, but until I see this offense click I can't project more than a handful of wins coming from this roster. 

This is a long-term rebuild, but with Fisher and the bounty of draft picks coming from the Redskins (thank you Robert Griffin III), we are well positioned to re-enter the realm of contenders within a few years. 


The Rams won't be as bad as they were last year, but I still question their offense's ability to actually put points on the board. 4-12

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