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  1. #1
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    The Uncertain Road: How the Lockout Might Impact the NFC West

    The Uncertain Road: How the Lockout Might Impact the NFC West-road.jpg
    The Uncertain Road: How the Lockout Might Impact the NFC West

    Many observers have argued that the lockout is particularly bad for the St. Louis Rams, given that they are a young team with a second year QB and a new offensive coordinator. The conventional wisdom says that Sam Bradford will have a difficult time adjusting to a new system with a shortened offseason.

    Fair enough, but perhaps its more instructive to look at the issue in comparison with the Rams' NFC Western Division rivals.

    When viewed through this lens, a different picture emerges.

    Start with the reigning division champions, the Seattle Seahawks. They too have a new offensive coordinator. What's worse, they don't know who their starting quarterback will be in 2011. Will Matt Hasselbeck, an unrestricted free agent, return? If not, is Seattle willing to turn the reigns over to Charlie Whitehurst, or will they take their chances with the likes of Ryan Mallett or Jake Locker in the draft? With all this uncertainty, one could argue that the Seahawks are in a worse position than the Rams.

    How about San Francisco? They have an entirely new coaching staff that will install a new system as well. But who will run it? Alex Smith? That seems a bit unlikely. Would the Niners take a Blaine Gabbert or Cam Newton in Round 1? Perhaps, though it is no certainty that they'll have that opportunity. With a strong defense, San Francisco may be closer than their 2010 record would indicate. But with a choice of Smith, a rookie QB, or waiting (and hoping) for the opportunity to acquire a veteran, there's no guarantee that the offense will progress.

    Finally, there's Arizona. They have promoted passing game coach Mike Miller to offensive coordinator. This move may be largely cosmetic, but their quarterback situation is arguably the worst in the division. Does anyone have faith in Derek Anderson, Max Hall or John Skelton? Like San Francisco, the Cardinals would love to be able to make a pre-draft move for Kevin Kolb, Marc Bulger or some other veteran. Without the opportunity to do so, will they have to rely on a rookie?

    Given these factors, I think its safe to say that the Rams' offensive adjustment should not be any more difficult than that of their rivals. Given that fact, it may come down to raw talent and poise. In those categories, would anyone bet against Sam Bradford in favor of one of the other current QBs (or potential rookie starters) in the division? As long as Sam gets a few more weapons, I sure wouldn't.

    How about the defenses in the division? Will there be a big impact? Perhaps not, but that could be a good thing for the Rams. Their defense is young and entering the third year in a great system. The Seahawks' defense also has some young talent, though it is only entering its second year in its system. The Niners, arguably the most talented defense in the division, will have a new coordinator. Then there's Arizona. Well, let's just say that Adrian Wilson aren't getting any younger, and if they have to use a high draft choice on a QB, they won't be able to reload with a player like Von Miller.

    So, in the end, the lockout may hinder the Rams, but I'd argue that the rest of the division will be impeded even more. As the only NFC West team set at quarterback, they are the sole team in the division that can truly take a "best player available" approach in the draft. The rest of the division will, in the absence of a pre-draft free agency and trade market, have to decide between bolstering another part of the roster or grabbing a quarterback (even at the risk of a reach) in the draft.

    Thus, while we all hope the labor dispute is resolved soon, it might not be the worst thing in the world if the settlement were to occur immediately after the draft, rather than a few weeks before.

    In any event, whatever Rams' prospects for a division championship were before the lockout began, I don't think they have been diminished by the current impasse.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: The Uncertain Road: How the Lockout Might Impact the NFC West

    Great read AV..

    The only team that concerns me in the NFC West is the Whiners. They were the "underacheivers" last season and with a new headcoach they might just turn things around sooner than later.

    I do however (without RAMS glasses on) have our RAMS as the favorite to win the NFC West.

    Thanks again for a great read!

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    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: The Uncertain Road: How the Lockout Might Impact the NFC West

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Great read AV..

    The only team that concerns me in the NFC West is the Whiners. They were the "underacheivers" last season and with a new headcoach they might just turn things around sooner than later.
    I'd agree with that. Their biggest issues are (1) QB - who is going to be?; (2) RB - will Gore come back 100%, and (3) OT - they really had some trouble with the outside pass rush last year.

    That said, they have a lot of talent on defense, and that alone should put them above Seattle and Arizona.

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