2013 NFL Offseason: St. Louis Rams
From Walther Football
St. Louis Rams (Last Year: 7-8-1)
TE Jared Cook, OT Jake Long.
Early Draft Picks:
WR Tavon Austin, OLB Alec Ogletree, S T.J. McDonald, WR Stedman Bailey, C/G Barrett Jones, CB Brandon McGee, RB Zac Stacy. Rams Rookie Forecast
RB Steven Jackson, WR Danny Amendola, WR Brandon Gibson, TE Matthew Mulligan, C Rob Turner, CB Bradley Fletcher, S QUintin Mikell, S Craig Dahl.
2013 St. Louis Rams Offense:
St. Louis' front office can definitely be described as aggressive. The team landed Jake Long in free agency after what seemed like a month-long courtship. They gave tight end Jared Cook a 5-year, $35 million deal on March 12. When the draft came around, they moved up from No. 16 to No. 8 in order to obtain speedy wideout Tavon Austin. All of this was done to make Sam Bradford better.
Bradford, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL Draft, threw for 3,702 yards, 21 touchdowns and 13 interceptions last season. He YPA (6.7) and completion percentage (59.5) were pretty pedestrian, however. It's unclear if Bradford's limitations were the culprit, or if it was just a lack of talent surrounding him. We'll definitely have an answer after the 2013 campaign.
Long is a high-risk, high-reward signing. On one hand, a healthy Long will tremendously bolster a weak St. Louis offensive line that surrendered 35 sacks in 2012. Long will be stationed on the blind side, allowing Rodger Saffold to move over to right tackle. Having a forceful bookend like that is crucial in the NFC West, a division comprised of many talented pass-rushers. On the other hand, Long's play has declined in recent years, thanks to numerous injuries. If Long continues to get hurt and/or regress, this acquisition will be compared to Houston obtaining Tony Boselli at the end of his career.
Cook is another new player who could easily bust. He's super athletic and has tremendous potential, but he never lived up to it in Tennessee. Acquiring him is very reminiscent of San Diego landing Robert Meachem last spring. Like Meachem, Cook is an underachiever who took way more money than he deserved in free agency. He could always blossom and live up to his talent level, but chances are that he'll be seen as a bust signing.
Moving up for Austin is likely the best of the three bold moves. Austin is a dynamic slot receiver capable of going the distance at a moment's notice. He'll be an upgrade over Danny Amendola, who signed with the Patriots. The Rams will be hoping that Austin will be way more durable than Amendola ever was.
The rest of the receiving corps is comprised of Chris Givens, Brian Quick, Austin Pettis and rookie Stedman Bailey. Quick was chosen earlier than Givens in the 2012 NFL Draft, but the latter was the rookie receiver who stood out last year. Givens caught 42 passes for 698 yards and three touchdowns in 2012, standing out with an 11-reception, 92-yard outing against San Francisco in Week 13. Quick, meanwhile, didn't do much, but like Cook, he possesses a massive amount of upside. Pettis hasn't done much in his career thus far, but he's having a terrific offseason. As for Bailey, it'll be interesting to see if he and Austin can work as well together as they did at West Virginia.
The two areas St. Louis didn't address on offense this spring, aside from the quarterback position, was the interior of the offensive line and the running back corps. The former is in decent shape, as long as center Scott Wells stays healthy. The former Packer missed nine games in 2012 with a knee problem. Right guard Harvey Dahl, formerly of Atlanta, performed well last season. The one hole up front is at left guard, currently manned by Shelley Smith. A fourth-rounder was used on Alabama's Barrett Jones, but he's unlikely to be ready for the opener because of his own injuries.
The Rams' running back stable is in poor shape. Steven Jackson packed his bags and flew to Atlanta, leaving a group comprised of Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead in his wake. Richardson showed some flashes in his rookie campaign last season, but probably isn't good enough to be a starter. Pead, who was also in his first year, has reportedly lost his passion for the game of football. This is why the Rams spent a fifth-round selection on Zac Stacy, but there's no telling how good he'll be. If St. Louis liked Stacy a lot, it would have picked him earlier than the fifth round.
Lord help us. I don't think I want to know from which cavity he pulled this gem from.
2013 St. Louis Rams Defense:
The ***** and Seahawks are praised for their tough defenses, but the Rams don't have a bad unit themselves. St. Louis' defenders did a great job of keeping the team in games when the offense sputtered last year.
It all starts up front for the Rams, who have a tremendous duo of defensive ends. Chris Long and Robert Quinn recorded 11.5 and 10.5 sacks, respectively. Long's figure could have been higher, as he had some bad luck in some instances. Quinn, meanwhile, is just entering his third NFL season, so the sky is the limit for him.
Defensive tackles Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers complement the two stud ends. As a rookie last season, Brockers stopped the run well and also registered four sacks - a decent number for a player at his position, especially when considering the LSU product missed the first three games of the year. As for Langford, the former Dolphin disappointed in his first season with the Rams, notching just two sacks. If Langford doesn't improve, St. Louis will likely be looking for an upgrade next spring.
If Long, Quinn and Brockers can continue to place great pressure on opposing signal-callers, the secondary will obviously continue to benefit from that. The talent level of St. Louis' defensive backfield is a bit mixed. On one hand, the team has a pair of stud cornerbacks, Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins. The former didn't allow a single touchdown all season, while the latter, despite being a rookie, didn't surrender a score after Week 8. Trumaine Johnson, another 2012 rookie, performed well as the team's nickel corner.
Unfortunately, the safety position is a disaster. Last year's starters, Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell, are no longer with the team. Two players named Darian Stewart and Rodney McLeod were slated to start there before the Rams spent a third-round pick on USC's T.J. McDonald. That selection won't cure St. Louis' safety woes because McDonald is not good in coverage. Stewart was a wreck as a starter back in 2011.
The Rams spent one other pick in the first four rounds on a defender. Their second first-rounder was used on linebacker Alec Ogletree. The Georgia product has some off-the-field issues, but there's no denying his talent level. Jeff Fisher has experience with turning troubled players around (Janoris Jenkins), so Ogletree could definitely pan out in St. Louis. If so, he and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis will be a solid tandem. Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who is good against the run, will go back to playing two downs.
2013 St. Louis Rams Schedule and Intangibles:
Remember when the Edwards Jones Dome was such a huge advantage for the Greatest Show on Turf? Sam Bradford will have to rekindle that magic, much like Matt Ryan did with the Georgia Dome. The Rams were 1-7 as hosts in 2011, but improved to 4-3 last season.
Greg Zuerlein's nickname is "Greg the Leg" because of his massive kicking power. He blasted 7-of-7 tries from 40-49 and 7-of-13 attempts from 50-plus. However, he was just 23-of-31 overall and missed eight of his final 16 kicks.
Punter Johnny Hekker ranked in the middle of the pack in both net average and attempts inside the 20.
St. Louis was outgained in both punt and kickoff returns, but there were no touchdowns involved on either side.
The Rams have a pretty difficult schedule. In addition to battling the ***** and Seahawks twice each, they also have to deal with the Falcons, Saints, Panthers, Bears, Texans and Colts.
2013 St. Louis Rams Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Quarterbacks *** Offensive Line *** Secondary ***
Running Backs * Defensive Line **** Special Teams **
Receivers ** Linebackers *** Coaching ****
2013 St. Louis Rams Analysis: The Rams are a tough team. They went 7-8-1 last season, but fought hard, losing by more than 10 points on just three occasions. They'll be better in 2013, but the ***** and Seahawks have also improved. St. Louis would have a decent shot at a playoff berth in another division, but life is much more difficult in the NFC West.
Projection: 7-9 (3rd in NFC West)
Re: 2013 NFL Offseason: St. Louis Rams
I find this assessment of the offense a typical CYA (cover your a**) evaluation. They take the safe route allowing them to say, "we knew it", but if Cook and Long shine then they say we felt there was a chance this could happen. They spend no time talking about the fact that these players may benefit from better coaching and a more friendly system. But what do I know, I'm biased and optimistic.
Maui, I agree where did they invent that story about Pead. Nonsense. And where is this strategy about drafting Stacy earlier coming from. 31 other teams didn't draft him earlier either, not that they all needed a RB. This writer needs to stop drinking before doing team assessments.
The safety position write-up is lame. If Stewart was a wreck back in 2011, why is Jeff Fisher, WHO PLAYED THE POSITION, willing to start him. Hmmmm, was Craig Dahl the devastating loss we all feel he wasn't? As for McDonald, someone has to play in the box, why not a guy who tackles well and hits hard enough to get the teeth shaking.
Finally, how do you say in the final paragraph the Rams will be better in 2013 and then give them a worse record. Did they mean we'll only lose by 10 points or more only once or twice in 2013.
Other than all this great assessment. Sorry, I'm partial and have a huge amount of anticipation for this season.