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    Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily

    Hey all my buddies and follow Rams Fan, I'm sure some or most may have read this, but for those who have not seen it I thought it was worth posting, I felt it was a well written and felt good about the read ) hope you enjoy as much as I did...

    "GO RAMS"



    Posted on 101sports.com

    Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily on Three Words
    By STL Staff on June 20th, 2013 @ 9:24am


    Shane Gray provides special Rams commentaries on 101sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ShaneGmoSTLRams.

    Do the St. Louis Rams possess realistic aspirations of returning to the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2004 – a year in which the receiving corps was still led by Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt and when running back Steven Jackson was just a wide-eyed rookie reserve – or are they still perhaps a year away from making their long-anticipated trip back to the postseason party?

    The answer to the above is actually a simpler one than it might appear on the surface. The answer –whether it arrives in the affirmative or the negative – hinges predominately on whether the Rams are steadily able to produce just three words: undeviating offensive production.

    Yes, when boiling everything down, St. Louis’ playoff hopes will primarily ride or die with an offense that – while offering the promise of being considerably more explosive than any seen since the finality of the Greatest Show on Turf days – is faced with overcoming considerable youth and inexperience in an effort to be consistent enough to help the team quality for postseason play.

    It’s nearly a given, after all, that the Rams’ young, ascending defense will be a stout one after finishing 2012 at No. 14 in the league. They return a goldmine of proven talent and adroitly addressed positional needs in the draft with the additions of linebacker Alec Ogletree, safety T.J. McDonald and depth corner Brandon McGee.

    This defense will play in a similar system for a second consecutive season, and that should prove highly advantageous. With first-rounder Ogletree on board, the front seven should be one of the premier front sevens in football. And the entire D, as detailed in a separate piece recently here at 101, has a shot at collectively setting this century’s sack standard.

    In short, this should be a top-10 troop, if not a top-five unit. On the other hand, while the defense should indeed be better, the Rams can’t assume it will be the second coming of the Fearsome Foursome, either.

    The special teams should be improved when considering that kicker Greg Zuerlein and punter Johnny Hekker are now in possession of a year of experience. This should settle both players – each of whom possesses the ability to become elite at his respective position — down just a bit. In addition, the return unit has been armed with a nuclear-like weapon in the electric Tavon Austin, and special teams coach John Fassel is salivating over the impending opportunity to unleash his new returner.

    With the defense looking primed to transform into a gilt-edged group and the special teams projecting as an above-average unit, it is up to the O to step up its consistency and overall point production to help ensure that a nine-year playoff drought is demolished and the team is optimally successful.

    If this team wants to play into January, the offense must hold up its third of the bargain.

    A year ago, St. Louis averaged 18.7 points per contest, good for 25th in the league. When we look back on last season, we see where a 7-8-1 finish could have easily been much better with even a slightly better and more reliable offense.

    Last fall, we saw a couple of clear examples where a few more points in low-scoring contests would have resulted in wins rather than losses.

    In Week 6, St. Louis traveled to Miami and lost 16-13 to a 7-9 Dolphins squad. The offense had a plethora of opportunities to put the team on top, but couldn’t seal the deal. In Week 17, the Rams traveled to Seattle and fell 20-13 to the Seahawks. Again, the Rams could not muster enough scoring to wrap up the win.

    This season, the team needs to boost the average scoring output by at least four or five points per outing.

    There are challenges in accomplishing this, to be sure. Saying so doesn’t equate to being negative – it’s simply sharing a realistic outlook and avoiding a sugar-coated view.

    For example, the Rams face possible obstacles at running back.

    For one, St. Louis enters 2013 without Steven Jackson, and second-year halfback Isaiah Pead is the only back on board to have ever started an NFL game. Furthermore, the current roster’s rushing leader – Pead’s second-year sidekick Daryl Richardson – has a career total of 475 rushing yards, 9,660 fewer than Jackson’s resume boasts.

    When considering the above, plenty of backfield questions persist.

    Will this unproven stable of backs produce dependably enough to keep opponents from keying on the pass? Will they be able to find a go-to guy, a la Jackson, or at least be able to install an effective by-committee approach? Will Pead become the lead back the club envisioned when they utilized a premium pick on him a year ago, or will he continue to struggle? Will rookie Zac Stacy exhibit the running skills that led ESPN’s Todd McShay to label him as the rookie class’ best runner in regard to both patience and vision, or will he fail to impress? Will Richardson show Chris Johnson-like flashes as he did early in 2012, or will he look more like a typical seventh-rounder, as he did late last year?

    At wide receiver, St. Louis said goodbye to its top target and quarterback Sam Bradford’s security blanket, Danny Amendola. His free-agent departure to the New England Patriots leaves the aforementioned group stunningly young and inexperienced, with third-year wideout Austin Pettis now the grizzled veteran at just 25. Beyond Pettis, the remainder of the receiving corps consists of two sophomores (Chris Givens and Brian Quick) and two rookies (Austin and Stedman Bailey).

    At receiver, just like at running back, multiple unanswered questions ring loudly.

    Will this unit not only produce what is expected to be some explosive plays and big production from time to time, but also avoid week-to-week inconsistencies that too often plague young receivers and youthful corps? Will Austin be able to quickly become the type of reliable threat in the slot that Amendola was, or will he be slow to transition out of the gate? Will Quick quickly rise up in year two and aid Givens in fielding a formidable starting tandem outside, or will he struggle? And will Pettis turn impressive spring and OTA performances into another season of improved play and enhanced production as a multi-positional threat, or will he stagnate?

    With all the newbies at running back and receiver and the corresponding questions that come with them, it clearly puts the onus on Bradford, who must find a way to improve his performance for a second straight season and post consistently strong, winning numbers with a supporting cast that would naturally and normally be prone to inconsistent play.
    Rams-SamBradford_23.jpg

    The task at hand isn’t an easy one, but the weapons Bradford has been afforded in 2013 are clearly the fastest, most versatile and most talented he’s been dealt thus far. Although it’s far from a slam dunk sure-to-happen-situation, the potential is there for this offense to develop into the best unit St. Louis has fielded since the conclusion of the greatest show.

    And, in spite of facing some obvious challenges that come with the extreme youth movement at the skill positions, Bradford will enter the season with the advantage of having an upgraded offensive line in front of him that appears improved at left tackle (Jake Long), right tackle (Rodger Saffold), center (with a healthy Scott Wells) and possibly left guard (via a plethora of talented options). This unit will help increase the offense’s chances of finding greatness – or at least in generating meaningfully upgraded production.

    All in all, a whole heckuva lot rests upon the broad shoulders of Bradford. With so much unproven talent around him, it is largely up to Bradford – as a fourth-year starter and the offense’s now-unquestioned leader – to help the green gang maximize its efforts.

    For example, it will be important that he aids his guys in making adjustments when he sees them struggling. It will be vital that he provide leadership and encouragement when required. It will be critical that he give out tough love when needed. And it will be paramount that he is an unswerving source and portrait of poise for the youngsters around him who could be prone to getting too down, too up or losing their way from time to time.

    In 2013, the Rams’ playoff hopes begin and end with the O and the quest to attain those three words mentioned above: undeviating offensive production. In that task, Bradford will be assigned to guiding the ship and leading the way.

    In 2010, the Rams took him No. 1 overall with expectations that he would eventually be the face of the franchise, that he would one day orchestrate a steady, highly productive offense and that he would lead the club into a highly successful era. It is time for him to do just that.










    Comments




    Corey Casey • 8 days ago

    Yes it is time for Sam to become the elite qb we thought he would be when he drafted him. I believe he will my prediction 36 td's 4,500 yards and completes 63% of his passes.




    Shane Gray STL Rams Corey Casey • 8 days ago

    I believe the St. Louis coaching staff would be very, very well pleased with such numbers, Corey.



    James Jack • 8 days ago

    weapons weapons weapons, Sam has them for the very first time since Oklahoma.
    train



    Shane Gray STL Rams James Jack • 8 days ago

    Absolutely, James. Now let's see how quickly they can put it together.



    BmoreRamsFan8 • 6 days ago

    Great Article!! This could be easily be a .500 or below team. I don't like to say that because I Love My Team but it's true. "Youngest Show On Turf" It also could be an above .500 team. Like you said it all depends on how well they work together and how quick the young talent picks things up. Dropped passes are critical. Timing on routes are critical. Great protection is critical and how Sam reads defense is also very critical. Can Shotty handle all this young talent on offense and manage our offense like Coach Fisher envisions it. That was 1 thing last season a lot of calls on offense had me shaking my head. If Fisher believes in Schotty I will to... For now. I think by mid season Stacy takes over as our #1 Back. With Pead and Richardson battling for the #2 spot. Quick will progress and will have flashes and mentions of Calvin Johnson similarities. Can't wait to see Pettis in preseason. Find out if he can get better separation than what he has been doing in the past. I always liked Pettis and thought he had a lot of unseen talent. Did Givens work so hard in the off season on his routes and catching ability to were he will have to be double covered. Leaving opening's in the offense. Austin, Cook just everything. DEFENSE!!!! Great coaching is followed by great athletes because of great coaching. We have 1 hell of a coaching staff! I'm ready for game day, Are you? Great read Shane you got me even more hyped for Sunday.





    Shane Gray STL Rams BmoreRamsFan8 • 5 days ago

    Thank you for the kind words, BmoreRamsFan8...

    I like the "youngest show on turf" moniker and I hope that comes to fruition this fall. Tremendous potential with this offense and the weapons therein... how well they can overcome their overall level of inexperience will be critical. As you said, terrific veteran coaching staff on board and a heckuva defense in place. Going to be a very interesting year. If the offense can hold up its third of the bargain, it will be a good year, too.



    BmoreRamsFan8 • 7 days ago

    3 words I can think of a lot of 3 words that can make our team better.
    (Progress not regress)
    (Come in Strong)
    (Finish even stronger)
    (Take our Respect)
    (Work well together)
    (Believe in us)
    (Rams 12th Man)
    (Road wins needed)
    (Great clock management)
    (Keep penalties down)
    Should I keep going?



    Shane Gray STL Rams BmoreRamsFan8 • 7 days ago

    All would be beneficial, BmoreRamsFan... take care.



    BmoreRamsFan8 Shane Gray STL Rams • 6 days ago

    Thanks you to Shane. Here's to a Great and Healthy memorable season!


    Ramzzy99 • 7 days ago

    A good insightful well written article...

    Shane Gray STL Rams Ramzzy99 • 7 days ago

    Thank you, Ramzzy99.


    Rob Stewart • 5 days ago

    This will be a very interesting year indeed! I'm exitied to see how this transitions out. Hopefully in a good way! They certainly have the capability!


    Shane Gray STL Rams Rob Stewart • 4 days ago

    Yes, the potential is absolutely there Rob. Will indeed be interesting to watch it all play out.



    Stephon Livinto'die Balle • 5 days ago

    I really like this article opened up my eyes to some potential flaws but I believe in the stash nd the great coaching staff he leads this is Sam's go hard or go home season for me but with all those weapons all that protection nd all this stability (system-wise) I believe in him...but someone like you should publish my challenge to all Rams fans. I challenge us as rams fans to be the best toughest nd LOUDEST fans in all of football I challenge us to be better fans than Seahawks fans... The new start of a rams dynasty


    Shane Gray STL Rams Stephon Livinto'die Balle • 5 days ago

    Thanks for the comments, Stephon. I think most of Rams Nation is beginning to believe in Fisher ... if they weren't upon his hiring.

    As for your challenge, I love it. During the Greatest Show era, the dome was known nationally as one of the loudest -- and sometimes the single loudest and most imposing venue to visit -- in the entirety of the league. If the Rams can get that type of home field back, it will certainly assist them in dominating opponents at home.


    Scout Ready • 8 days ago

    I think the Rams made a mistake by not signing Ahmad Bradshaw as a free agent running back. Bradshaw when healthy is a terrific back and would have added a veteran presence for the new RB by committee approach. Another mistake, letting WR Denario Alexander go. But hey, this team will be fine as is. Gotta have a new stud at RB step up. Zac Stacy anyone?


    Ramzzy99 Scout Ready • 7 days ago

    Maybe, but personally I felt that they should have signed fullback Vonte Leach out of Free Agency. What better friend for a corp of young RB's than a stellar fullback to lead the way thru the holes...

    Shane Gray STL Rams Ramzzy99 • 7 days ago

    That certainly makes sense, however, it looks like St. Louis is moving primarily to a one-back system.

    BmoreRamsFan8 Scout Ready • 6 days ago

    Our rookies need as many snaps as they can get. Bringing in a Vet running back would help/hurt their progression. Plus we would have to cut Ganaway or Cunningham. Cunningham will probably go on IR leaving us with 4 backs by committee Stacy, Richardson, Ganaway and Pead. Good thing Fisher drafted a couple running backs last year to sit behind Jackson. Fisher and Co. are doing a great job. The speed that our offense is going to have will open up some big holes for some big runs. Once that starts happening Defense are not going to know what to do to stop us. Hopefully we start clicking early on and not in the middle of the season or towards the end. If that happens and we stay healthy. We are playoff bound. I would be more worried about the Safety position then the Running Back. I'm hoping Cody Davis make the cut. If he ends up on the practice squad some1 will snatch him up.

    Shane Gray STL Rams Scout Ready • 8 days ago

    St. Louis wanted to go young at running back, right or wrong. We will know in a few months if they did -- or did not -- make a mistake in that regard. There are no guarantees, but running back is one of those positions -- unlike wide receiver -- where a rookie can more often come in and make a quick impact (Stacy), or a second year guy (Pead, Richardson or even Ganaway).


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    citr92 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily

    "youngest show on turf"
    lol

    i think the rams will have a better than expected year with another year under fisher, so excited

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    Re: Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily

    I too fell well be a lot better than others believe, Yes we have a lot of rookies and experienced players, Put we have a great coaching staff and one thing many from what I see forget just how talented our young Rams truly are. I know its going to be a very hard road to travel and their are many question marks. But I feel pretty darn good about this season and were well be come fall.

    "GO RAMS"

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    MACD is online now Registered User
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    Re: Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily

    I predict Sam will duplicate his performance at OU with this offense: 45 td's/10 interceptions, and a plethora of wins.

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    Re: Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily

    I remain optimistic, and I think Fisher and staff have begun to put together a very good team They should be a force in the future. ...but I doubt it will be this year. Too much youth and too many mistakes will be made this year. I just can't see this young team coming together so fast. Yes, they have speed on the outside at WR and TE, but bad routes will be run and I would guess that Bradford's TD to Int. ratio will get worse before it gets better. I like the defense and think it will be top 5. But I can't see this offense getting drastically better overnight.
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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    Re: Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily

    I understand your thoughts, And agree to a point. I have faith in Sam and know he has the tools and realize what he has been thru, I'm hoping that he can get back to that level now he has whta he has needed since the start.

    I agree their will be mistakes made by the rookies, But this coaching did one heck of a job getting players to play and play well. As i mentioned before after watching a lot of film of all our newcomers rookies and vets I honestly feel we will make the playoff. I know I said it lol But the talent is so deep on both sides of the ball its going to be be difficult for teams to cover all of them at the same time. Just my thoughts

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    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
    I remain optimistic, and I think Fisher and staff have begun to put together a very good team They should be a force in the future. ...but I doubt it will be this year. Too much youth and too many mistakes will be made this year. I just can't see this young team coming together so fast. Yes, they have speed on the outside at WR and TE, but bad routes will be run and I would guess that Bradford's TD to Int. ratio will get worse before it gets better. I like the defense and think it will be top 5. But I can't see this offense getting drastically better overnight.
    I think if they stay healthy on both lines, the improvement won't necessarily rely on the rookies.

    This second year stability thing can't be over-estimated,imo, & across the board, not just for Sam. Guys like Pettis and Kendricks came on strong late last year. Cook already knows the offense & already clicking with Sam, from what I've read.Throw in guys like D-Rich and Givens who showed in flashes what we can reasonably hope to see more consistently this year & it's not a bad core with high potential in themselves. Add flashes from the rooks- like we got last year & hope they settle in for a meaningful second half of the season. That late bye might be a blessing. Help a young team break through the rookie wall & finish strong & grooved into the offense.

    I wish they had a vet RB to blitz block but they're clearly planning to throw over the stout front sevens of the NFCW, rather than run at them. Probably a wise choice, considering recent history. It ain't gonna be Ground Chuck out there, that's for sure.

    I do agree that they'll have to rely heavily on that D but the question marks at safety are more worrisome to me than the green WRs or Sam.

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    Re: Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily

    Quote Originally Posted by Azul e Oro View Post
    I think if they stay healthy on both lines, the improvement won't necessarily rely on the rookies.

    This second year stability thing can't be over-estimated,imo, & across the board, not just for Sam. Guys like Pettis and Kendricks came on strong late last year. Cook already knows the offense & already clicking with Sam, from what I've read.Throw in guys like D-Rich and Givens who showed in flashes what we can reasonably hope to see more consistently this year & it's not a bad core with high potential in themselves. Add flashes from the rooks- like we got last year & hope they settle in for a meaningful second half of the season. That late bye might be a blessing. Help a young team break through the rookie wall & finish strong & grooved into the offense.

    I wish they had a vet RB to blitz block but they're clearly planning to throw over the stout front sevens of the NFCW, rather than run at them. Probably a wise choice, considering recent history. It ain't gonna be Ground Chuck out there, that's for sure.

    I do agree that they'll have to rely heavily on that D but the question marks at safety are more worrisome to me than the green WRs or Sam.
    I too think that if the Rams are successful this season, guys like Pettis and Pead will be the reason, not the rookies. With the speed they now have at WR and TE, it will be a different team to watch, for sure. But 2nd and 3rd year guys will need to step up.
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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    Re: Rams’ 2013 Playoff Hopes Hinge Heavily

    completely agree my friend,

    I honestly feel with our coaching staff we have and what they did to players last season by bring them in and playing as a team, As we all know a major shift in personnel happened last year and they pulled it together, again with a new system for Sam and new players to the team. They pulled them together by realizing the players talent and putting them in a position position to make plays, this Rams team this year will have a lot more pure talent.

    I truly look forward to seeing their talents used by one of the best talented coaching staff in the league. I Agree on mistakes being made and we will have our share this year for sure, But feel we are going to make the push for a playoff spot and get it.

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