Heading into the 2011 regular season the St. Louis Rams had lofty expectations. In 2012 the Rams finished with a 7-9 record and just missed out on the playoffs due to the Seattle Seahawks winning the tiebreaker in the NFC West. This past season (2-14 record) was riddled with injuries including to QB Sam Bradford who only ended up playing in 10 regular season games.
Throughout those 10 games Bradford completed a miserable 191 of 357 (53.5%) passes for 2164 total passing yards. Bradford also threw for 6TD’s and 6 INT’s, which over the course of 10-games is unacceptable. A recent news story expressed that Bradford is excited about the upcoming season due to the addition of new QB coach Frank Cignetti (Formerly Rutgers’s OC).
Last season there wasn’t a QB coach in St. Louis and that definitely seemed to hinder the development of Bradford. The brass in St. Louis have shown that they’re serious in developing Bradford into their franchise QB and now he needs to perform. St. Louis had the #2 pick in the NFL draft this off-season and they traded down instead of drafting Robert Griffin III.
Steven Jackson had a pretty big year in St. Louis in 2011 that included 260 carries for 1145 rushing yards and 5 TD’s. Jackson needs to try and find the endzone more, but a lot of that has to do with the Rams offense being able to move the ball downfield. We’ll see Jackson as the feature back again with the Rams this season, but expect to see rookie RB Isaiah Pead get some action.Another glaring weakness on the Rams team last season was their WR core although there were plenty of injuries as well. Last year the Rams picked up Brandon Lloyd in a trade, but he left during the off-season to the Patriots. Steve Smith signed with the Rams, but he has dealt with injuries the past couple seasons and hasn’t been a go-to-guy since 2009 with the Giants.
Steve Smith did catch 107 passes for 1220 receiving yards and 7TD’s in 2009, but if he gets injured it’s going to be another season in St. Louis without much depth at WR. The Rams were trying to target Jerricho Cotchery and Jerome Simpson this off-season, but they were unable to sign either player. Some good news is that Danny Amendola will be back in a Rams jersey.
Amendola had built a good connection with QB Bradford, but last season he went down in week 1 with an injury. In that week 1 game Amendola had caught 5 passes for 45 yards before going down. Amendola is ready to go this season and as long as he doesn’t suffer an injury setback he should provide a familiar target for Bradford.
Rookie WR’s Brian Quick and Chris Givens have been attending OTA’s already for the Rams and based on recent reports coming out of St. Louis both the young guys are catching on quickly with Bradford. Last season two rookie WR’s (Austin Pettis & Greg Salas) helped the Rams in the receiving department and there are now a lot of young guys that could develop into big WR’s.
The biggest move this off-season in St. Louis was the signing of Jeff Fisher. Fisher is one of the best coaches in the NFL and I’m confident he’ll be able to gel this young Rams team into a contender within the next few years. St. Louis signed some key talent during this year’s draft, but they did a few trades to dropdown in the draft.
The Rams also went with a lot of players where the risk/reward is going to be very high. The drafted rookies could workout or the Rams could be looking to replace the players in the next couple years. St. Louis will have a lot of picks in the two upcoming NFL drafts, but this season may be another long one for Rams fans.
Even if the team stays healthy they still have too many holes on the team. Most of the players on the Rams are also role players and they’re still missing that big WR and some other pieces to the puzzle on the OL and defense. St. Louis will win more than 2 games, but I don’t think they’ll finish with over 6 wins, which is the current regular season win total set at sportsbooks.
Make sure you watch the week 2 match-up this season between the Rams and Redskins. St. Louis fans will get to watch their young QB Bradford go up against the Redskins rookie QB Robert Griffin III. The Rams could have drafted RG3, but they kept Bradford and this should be an intense game that goes down to the final minute.
This St. Louis Rams season preview was written by Scott Jack. You can read more of Scott’s sports analysis at Odds Nerd, which is the sports blog he runs.