Originally posted on Rams Herd  |  Last updated 12/8/11

With the 2011 season having ended for Rams fans long ago and the stench sure to linger for a while it might be a good idea to move on…assuming you haven’t already. 2011 Was a disaster, no doubt about it. Even if the Rams win out, which they won’t, they will fall short on last season’s win total.

The best thing about 2011? It is not 2012. No, 2012 is a new start, another chance and based on this year’s performance a new, much more representative schedule (hopefully) and perhaps a new coach.  The blind faith so many felt after a 4-0 preseason can be renewed. Phrases like, “this is the year”, and “this season will be different” are sure to be heard throughout the Gateway city.

That is the beauty and allure of the NFL. One season’s performance does not guarantee the same result the next. The Rams are proof positive of that trend. Simply look back on 2009-2011and the point is made. That being said as a wise man once said it’s time to block out the bad and harness the good.

Here are 5 things to be excited about for 2012

Chris Long

Long is finally living up to his draft status this year and has 12 sacks in 12 games. It's tough to say anything positive about the St. Louis defense after the thrashing they have taken this year, but Long is it. He is having a career year and has recorded a sack in all but three games this season.

More than likely Long will finish the 2011 season in the top 5 for sacks. The continued development of Robert Quinn will only help Long that much more as teams will have to account for both. He won’t surprise anyone in 2012 but as his NFL skills seem to have matched up with his college talent he shouldn’t have to.

 

Wide Receiver(s)

In the 2011 NFL Draft the Rams would loved to have taken either AJ Green or Julio Jones, problem was their surprising 2010 campaign prohibited that from happening. Not a problem this year. Picking at #2 over all the Rams will have their choice of wide receivers available.

Besides who comes in there is also who will be returning (hopefully) or coming back. Add a Justin Blackmon or Alshon Jeffries to a group with Brandon Lloyd, Danny Amendola, Greg Salas, Danario Alexander and Brandon Gibson and immediately they all get better as a group.

A Full Offseason

Rookie camp, OTA’s, Mini camps, oh my!  Having an entire off season together will give the Rams the time needed and required to come back stronger in 2012. It was difficult to build on the success of 2010 when the players were not able to get together and work through a new offense and playbook. It is still too soon to tell who will be running the show but one cannot overestimate the importance of a team working and practicing together.

Health

Think of the sheer number of games lost by starters this year…it is staggering. The Rams have had the misfortune of placing more than 10 players on Injured Reserve. Jerome Murphy, Danny Amendola and Ron Bartell were casualties before the season could even be considered a dismal failure. Six players who were penciled in to be starters when the season started are on IR, along with three key backups/depth players who had either taken over as starters because of injuries or would have.

Once can never be quite sure what to expect from a player coming off of a major injury. But one thing is for certain. It has to be better than this.

Sam Bradford

With his sophomore slump out of the way Bradford can get back to being the franchise quarterback the Rams pegged him as when the made him the number 1 overall pick back in 2010. The recent news that USC OT Matt Kalil intends to return to school makes it more likely the Rams will finally add a play-maker to the roster, perhaps Oklahoma States Justin Blackmon.

If management, whomever it may be, can convince Brandon Lloyd to stay in town might we finally see the full depth of Bradford’s potential? One way or the other at least it give us something to look forward to.

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