Posts Tagged ‘St. Louis Rams’

A Look At 2015 St. Louis Rams Rookies

Posted: August 21, 2015 by The Cheap Seat Fan in Gaming, NFL
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When the 2015 NFL Draft concluded earlier this year, the St. Louis Rams came away very satisfied. They felt like they addressed a bunch of needs, while getting some elite-level talent. Some experts might not be quite as high on the picks, but in a few weeks, everyone will get a chance to see how they perform. Here’s a closer look at what to expect out of their top rookies.

 

Todd Gurley

Obviously, this rookie running back is going to make or break this draft class. He has the chance to be one of the best in fantasy football money leagues, but as for right now he is trying to just be healthy enough to play in 2015. A rough knee injury ended his college career, but he looks at it as a new beginning. St. Louis won’t rely on him solely, but he should still be in the running for offensive rookie of the year in the NFL.

Rob Havenstein and Jamon Brown

After taking a flashy running back in the first round, St. Louis addressed their OT concerns by grabbing these two. Havenstein will now be an anchor on the line for them, as Jeff Fisher hopes  to run the ball more often this upcoming season.

Brown very well could be better pro than college player. He was a tackle in college, but St. Louis could use him inside as a guard. He is big and athletic, and that is exactly what the Rams needed.

Bud Sasser

Third round pick Sean Mannion will probably not play much if at all at quarterback in 2015, and Andrew Donnal is just a solid OT to add to the line. However, those in fantasy football money leagues have a chance to learn more about Bud Sasser as the season moves along. He is a bigger receiver, and Fisher likes using guys like that. He had a lot of success at Missouri, and he could get some targets in 2015.

St. Louis is hoping that this draft class can get them back into playoff contention as early as this year. It will mostly come down to Gurley, but don’t sleep on all the line help they stockpiled.

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5 First Round Draft Scenarios for The St. Louis Rams

Posted: April 30, 2015 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
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Predicting an NFL Draft scenario is about as practiced of an impossible science as there is in sports. Hundreds of mock drafts pop up around the internet in the months leading into the draft, often fueled by hot takes of the moment, rumored rumblings or aligned by logic that is independent from the teams themselves. And while there is no doubt that such efforts are fantastic conversation fuel and helps to make the draft the spectacle that it is, it is utterly impossible to know what is really going to happen until the teams hop on the phones the day of and the Commissioner starts calling names.

In St. Louis, the Draft itself offers a much needed reprieve from over saturation of the business of the franchise’s future that hovers over the Rams like a crown of thrones. Regardless of what is uncertain over the horizon beyond 2015, what is definite is that the team will come into this weekend’s collegiate selection spectacular with a uniquely blend of both specific and ideal needs that can be addressed.

The first round specifically offers a precise intrigue about what Les Snead, Jeff Fisher and Kevin Demoff will settle on to better their fortunes, which on the field have more potential than arguably ever before during this regime’s time over the club. The NFC West is in transition and the Rams have affirmed themselves as an in-division contender, and what they do over the weekend will play a major part in whether that opportunity is seized or not.

But it all starts with getting the first round right, which is something the team has done with more regularity over the past few years than it has in over a decade. The selections of Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Tavon Austin, Alec Ogletree, Greg Robinson and Aaron Donald over the past four years in the first round have firmly rebuilt the core of the team’s talent pool and eliminated the rash of specific needs which overwhelmed the team’s offseason senses just a few years ago.

But what direction is the best path to take that 10th overall selection in? The defense has entrenched itself as one of the league’s most dynamic units, but still has some finishing touches it could stand to take on. The offense –while improving— still has much room for improvement, but is the right fit there to do that with?

Also, is staying at 10 the right fit at all? As shown in the past few years, Snead has no qualms about keeping it in neutral until the draft gets underway and then putting his spot in motion.

All of these options carry viable outcomes. Here are a few of the best possible ways to address each scenario.

 

Rodger Saffold stands to be the lone member of the 2015 offensive line who was a starter in week one of 2014.

Rodger Saffold stands to be the lone member of the 2015 offensive line who was a starter in week one of 2014.

Reaffirming the Offensive Line

It has been the most consistently reassessed, revisited and rebuilt portion of the team for over a decade now: the offensive line. The ever-present problem continues to loom large over the team yet again, as there are three starters gone from last year’s line (which was still in need of more help as is). In addition, Robinson will make the move from guard over to left tackle permanently, so acclimation time should be expected there as well.

Replacing both starting tackles from a year ago, as well as upgrading at center and right guard all at once is a daunting task. And while it would likely elicit groans from the portion of the fan base that wants a more jersey-sellable selection in the first round, it would make it a prime year for the team to make another foray into the Draft’s offensive line pool – if the right caliber of player was there.

That does not seem to clearly be the case, as most of the top tackles in the draft are seen as more of the career right tackle mold. Iowa’s Brandon Schreff could be the exception however, as he could be the type of impact tackle that has the versatility to play either side of the line, should things not work out with Robinson on the left side. Likewise, it is too early to take the top guard/center prospects at 10. This complicates things some, but opens up a possibility we will explore later.

Stepping Up the Secondary

In a similar type of situation as just discussed, it is not a year where a top 10 player is a defensive back. However, there are a few players that would not be total reaches at the spot either. The trio of Janoris Jenkins, E.J. Gaines and Trumaine Johnson was solid last year and is a young group capable of growing more in the coming years.

Regardless of this, it was the position where the team was most susceptible to being beat, surrendering a borderline worrisome 19th most yards in the NFL last year and an average of 241 per game. While there are no first round safeties on the board at all this year, opting to go with a bigger corner such as Wake Forest’s Kevin Johnson or Michigan State’s Trae Waynes could be a smart decision. Also, Marcus Peters has been called the top talent at the position available, but has seen his stock dip some due to character concerns, similar to what Jenkins faced before landing in St. Louis. He could be worth the risk as well.

For many, Alabama's Amari Cooper represents an instant #1 caliber receiver. He caught 228 passes for over 3,400 yards and 30 touchdowns in college.

For many, Alabama’s Amari Cooper represents a potential instant #1 caliber receiver. He caught 228 passes for over 3,400 yards and 30 touchdowns in college in three years as a member of the Crimson Tide.

Getting a Big Play Threat at Receiver

It would not be a Rams draft if there was not a conversation about taking a wide receiver. And once again, it is not the worst idea in the world. The current group at the position is solid but not spectacular, and adding a potential breakout talent to the mix could upgrade the potential of the entire offering for new quarterback Nick Foles.

There are a plethora of players that fit the bill of potentially being the elusive #1 receiver that the team still could use. West Virginia’s Kevin White and Alabama’s Amari Cooper are the top players available, but there are no shortage of teams that could use them within the top 10 as well. But behind that duo, there are still some worthwhile prospects as well, including Central Florida’s Breshad Perriman and Louisville’s DeVonte Parker, both of whom fit the big, fast mold that the team needs a combo of.

Going receiver doesn’t upgrade their biggest need, but it certainly doesn’t hurt them either.

Go Into “BPA” Mode?

Then there’s the “easy” route (if there is such a thing in the draft) and going with the “best available player”. Take a look at the big board and take the top talent available period. The Rams are in position to do that as well if they choose, and it could yield some interesting results. It could net one of the previously mentioned receivers or cornerbacks, but it could also mean that another pass rusher could come into the fold, such as Mizzou’s Shane Ray, who could likely fall after his marijuana associated arrest last week. This could also mean one of the top running backs in the draft, Todd Gurley or Melvin Gordon, both of whom would bring an intriguing new element to a running back group that is still establishing itself.

And it could also mean that the team really mixes it up and takes Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Marcus Mariota, whose stock seems to be anywhere from #1 to #40 right now. Although it appears that there is movement to get him much earlier than the Rams pick right now, at some point this weekend, the team needs to add to its quarterback stash. And with a potential as intriguing as Mariota potentially being there, he may be too alluring to pass on.

Trading Back Altogether

But what if the water just is not right at all for what they are looking for at #10? Or what if another hungier club is looking to either move into the place to land a desirable target for themselves? It should shock nobody if the Rams move out of this spot altogether to assess the first round from a different vantage point.

With so many variable in play around matching their roster with what is available for the picking this year, this could be the best option for them. Having sacrificed some late round picks to acquire safety Marc Barron last fall, moving back and stockpiling early on could be the best benefit for them. Especially with the fact that so many of the right fits for them stand to still be available later in the first round as well.

 

The Time Is Now Or Never For Bradford

Posted: August 15, 2014 by The Cheap Seat Fan in NFL
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Sam-Bradford-St.-Louis-Rams

It has been quite the journey with one Mr. Sam Bradford, one that in all honesty started before the Commissioner called his name on behalf of the St. Louis Rams for the first time.  The quarterback position under the arch has long been a tumultuous one. From the Tony Banks “era”, followed by the short-lived/never started Trent Green run, then carrying through Kurt Warner and his untimely handoff to Marc Bulger—both situations that ended in horribly painful to watch flameouts—it is a position that could rightfully carry claim to a hex at the very least.

Yet when Bradford was the top overall player taken in the 2010 Draft, the mantle of franchise axis was rightfully given to him. A former Heisman Trophy winner and owner of a 23-6 record leading the Oklahoma Sooners over the course of two years, he had the credentials to rightfully be the top pick, but to think that he would make the transition into bringing a similar success to St. Louis he enjoyed at OU.

Yet now as he enters his fifth season, he is still the undisputed signal caller for the team, but he far from unquestioned in that role. Mostly because his tenure has rarely been consistently satisfying on any level. A starter since day one, Bradford has had a start and stop tenure, that has been highlighted by moments of progress, but has been more regularly shrouded by leaving too much room for interpretation both in his results and approach. And now has he enters the crossroads campaign of his career in St. Louis, where long-standing questions have to be answered with immediate results.

The Rams are on the brink of being players in the NFL. They are armed with an athletic young defense that is spearheaded by arguably the best defensive line in the game. The offense is rounding out as well, with a playmakers beginning to emerge in the passing game, a deepening offensive line and a scheme that has a stout run-based approach as well. Yet, the biggest question is still the biggest part of bringing it all together: what will they be able to get from Bradford?

Bradford had plenty of opportunities to make an impact as a rookie, and delivered on them mostly. He a had a record-setting output in his first campaign, posting 3,512 yards and completing 354 passes, both NFL rookie records. While he dealt with a bad offensive line and struggled the usual bumps that day one rookie starters usually face regarding timing and recognition, he still managed to connect for 18 touchdowns on the year, with a +3 over his interception total. It was a good starting point to run with.

But his second season, he never got out the blocks at all and suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the 10thgame. But even before that point, he struggled to keep his completion percentage above 50% and delivered only 6 touchdown passes in 10 games. The progress had stopped, and it has been questionable about whether it has ever truly picked up the needed momentum again.

Sure, he had a solid offering in 2012, setting career highs across the board and was off to a better than it seemed 2013 as well, but in the moment there is still a lot to be desired in decision-making and utilizing the ever growing variety of options in the receiving corps. Jared Cook was the biggest addition to the offense last year, intended to add a new dimension as an open field threat from tight end which Bradford had not truly had in any season since departing with Jermaine Gresham at OU. However, Cook’s impact was minimal in his games with Bradford last year, with the pair connecting only 26 times and seven of which came in the season opener.

The deep game suffered as well due to a loss of chemistry with Chris Givens as well. A year after busting onto the scene with a surprisingly adept and long absent downfield chemistry which saw the two connect on six passes of 35 yards or more, Bradford often overshot the team’s best deep threat or opted away from taking the shot at him, as they connected only once for a gain of over 30 yards on the year.

For a team that has long been starved for dynamic options in its pass game, it is essential that the ones now present are capitalized on far more often. And while the team will not be a high-octane, spread out and push the pace style team, it will be one that has a more defined offensive image than ever before. The decision to base the team around the run and offset it with the pass was smart down the stretch, and even made backup Kellen Clemens look viable in the process. With Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey figuring out their respective roles as their rookie years wound down as well, there was a better looking offensive unit in place after Bradford departed than he had available during his run in 2014. All things considered, the young Rams did as would be expected: they developed and improved.

This is a major reason why this year is the definitive season for Bradford in St. Louis. The team has been aggressive in bringing in options to improve the offense on every level and has continued that direction with the addition of Kenny Britt this year. The dedication to improving its offensive front has been just as clear, with the addition of Greg Robinson and resigning of Rodger Saffold to the sizable (yet also rehabbing) investment in Jake Long. All of the former exceptions that could be fairly made for the plight of Bradford in getting the team over the hump have been addressed, and now it is squarely on the shoulders of the quarter to do what is his charge: take advantage of his surroundings and lead the team over the hump.

What the team needs to see is progress, and steady quarterback play is the quickest way to make those strides. There are many that have given up on the idea of him being the one that can be responsible for leading those steps, and admittedly the team has stood by him in an uncontested manner longer than any other unsuccessful QB in the game today has. He has to reward that faith with victories. All other pieces are in place, and for all of the other investments in the club to reach their full potential, it has to follow Bradford realizing his.

The time for results is upon him—and it is not a clock that has much time left on it.

Russell_Wilson

After missing last week, picks are back for Week 4 and are coming back on a high note. After a near .500 week 1, there was a triumphant turn in Week 2, going 13-3 with only losses coming from the Chiefs, Bills and Chargers.

Headed into this week, the game of the week may be the first game, with the Niners heading into St. Louis coming off two consecutive bad losses and facing a team in the Rams that was a torn in their side last year. Sunday could be owned by the visitor, with six road teams having favorable chances this week.

Get your info up, and let’s get back into it. Lines and over/under for Sunday Games to come when set.

SEASON RECORD (Minus Week 3): 22-10

THURSDAY

San Francisco 49ers at St. Louis Rams (Line: SF -3.0, Over/Under: 42)

SUNDAY

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills (BAL -3.0, Over/Under: 44.5)

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns (CIN  3.5, Over/Under: 41.5)

Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions (DET -3.0, Over/Under: 48.0)

New York Giants at Kansas City Chiefs: (KC -3.5, Over/Under: 43.5)

Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings (MIN -2.5, Over/Under: 42)

Arizona Cardinals at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (TB -1.0, Over/Under: 40)

Indianapolis Colts at Jacksonville Jaguars (IND -8.0, Over/Under: 42.5)

Seattle Seahawks at Houston Texans (SEA -2.0, Over/Under: 41.5)

New York Jets at Tennessee Titans (TEN -3.5, Over/Under: 40.5)

Philadelphia Eagles at Denver Broncos (DEN -10.5, Over/Under: 58)

Washington Redskins at Oakland Raiders (WSH -3.0, Over/Under: 45)

Dallas Cowboys at San Diego Chargers (DAL -1.5, Over/Under: 47)

New England Patriots at Atlanta Falcons (ATL -3.0, Over/Under: 49)

MONDAY

Miami Dolphins at New Orleans Saints (NO -7.0, Over/Under: 48)

The days of the West being the laughing stock of the NFC have been turned in for what it represents now; perhaps the most talented division in the NFL with two legit Super Bowl contenders. Yet outside of those two popular contenders in San Francisco and Seattle, there are two teams on the other half of the division that are growing as well.

The Rams beat the Niners and Seahawks last season, and have undergone an aggressive expansion to their offensive capabilities. In Arizona, they had added a signal caller with some experience for the first time since they last made their Super Bowl appearance, and the osmosis of that should change the ceiling of their capabilities.

Yet, it is tough to grow as team when the two most complete teams in football are scraping it out atop the league. With two of the most exciting young signal callers in the game, coupled by the two best defensive units in the game, the Niner-Seahawk showdown this season is one that will meet twice in the first 16 games of the year….and could ultimately meet a third time to see who heads to New York in February for the NFC.

ALL-DIVISION TEAM

QB: Colin Kaepernick RB: Marshawn Lynch, Frank Gore WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Golden Tate TE: Vernon Davis OT: Jake Long, Russell Okung OG: Mike Iupati, Paul McQuistan C: Max Unger

DE: Chris Clemons, Chris Long DT/NT: Justin Smith, Brandon Mebrane OLB: Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks MLB: Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman CB: Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson FS: Earl Thomas, SS: Donte Whitner

K: Phil Dawson, P: Andy Lee, KR: Tavon Austin PR: Patrick Peterson

 

 

After five consecutive years of at least 80 catches and 1,000 yards, Fitzgerald was held to career-lows across the board in 2012 due to lame duck QB play.

After five consecutive years of at least 80 catches and 1,000 yards, Fitzgerald was held to career-lows across the board in 2012 due to lame duck QB play. A major bounce back could be in store with his new QB on hand.

ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-11 in 2012)

The Good: There are some exciting elements to the defense. Between Calais Campbell, Dan Williams and Darnell Docket, there’s plenty of push up front and Darryl Washington proved to be one of the emerging young linebackers in the game a year ago. The secondary is headlined by one the best playmakers in the league in Patrick Peterson, and the addition of Tyrann Mathieu could provide one of the most unique sparks on any unit in the West.

The Bad: There still is no dependable option out the backfield. Ryan Williams’ health still is not clear, nor is how much he can offer. The reach to see what Rashard Mendenhall has left in the tank hasn’t been encouraging either, as he has been sidelined through much of the preseason with continuing knee issues. Add in the fact that first round pick, offensive guard, Jonathan Cooper is out for the the season already as well with a broken leg, and the offense as a whole is still missing crucial parts of the balance that is needed to compete.

X-Factor—Carson Palmer: Smartly, instead of prolonging the development of the offense via another leap for a backup or waiting for a rookie to develop, Palmer was brought in to be an instant fix. He’s steady, with the type of downfield arm that can find Larry Fitzgerald consistently, as well as help 2012 first round pick Michael Floyd round into form.

Record: @STL (L), DET (W), @NO (L), @TB (L), CAR (W), @SF (L), SEA (L), ATL (L), HOU (L), @JAX (W), IND (W), @PHI (L), STL (W), @TEN (W), @SEA (L), SF (L)

Prediction: Wrong place at the wrong time for the Cards. While they have a talented defense, as well as some producers on O, they are in the toughest division in the league, and they aren’t better on either side of the ball than any of their division mates. They won’t be an easy date on the schedule by any means, and are a prime pick to spring an upset victory that shakes up the standings. But until they get an answer in the backfield and some more experience for the defense, they’ll be relegated to the bottom of the West. Record: 6-10

 

With Richard Sherman and company looming over the top, the Seahawks allowed the fewest points per game in 2012...(and led the league in most trashed talked per QB as well).

With Richard Sherman and company looming over the top, the Seahawks allowed the fewest points per game in 2012…(and led the league in most trashed talked per QB as well).

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (11-5 in 2012)

The Good: The most unpredictable offense in the league has had a full offseason to develop together, and it has no shortage of ways to get the job done. There’s the vertigo that Russell Wilson can put a defense into, while trying to see where he comes out of the pistol, whether its downfield 25 yards himself, or to Golden Tate or Sidney Rice, there’s no easy way to call it. Oh, and then there’s the issue of the league’s most brutal back as well, Marshawn Lynch. Pick your poison.

The Bad: Like many quickly emergent teams, they are an injury away at a few positions from being in trouble. Russell Okung has to stay healthy, as does Lynch. The team’s biggest addition, Percy Harvin, is already out for the majority of the season and if Wilson goes down, the season could very well do the same thing, as Tavaris Jackson is his support. Chris Clemons rebound is also crucial to the balance and depth of the defense.

X-Factor—Bruce Irvin: Irvin never quite picked up the nuances of defenses outside of what he was drafted to do: bum rush the passer. If he can begin to be more of a factor in coverage and run support, he’ll be able to stay on the field more, which means the Hawks could have a 15 sack-potential player in waiting.

Record: @CAR (W), SF (W), JAX (W), @HOU (L), @IND (W), TEN (W), @ARI (W), @STL (L), TB (W), @ATL (L), MIN (W), NO (L), @SF (L), @NYG (W), @ARI (W), STL (W)

Prediction: This is one of the most complete teams in football, if not the most complete. The experience of playing, and winning, together last season will do wonders for them. They have the best secondary in football in Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, as well as a brutal front line on both sides of the ball. They may not have an amazing record in the regular season, but this is a team to build to go a long way. 11-5

 

With their longtime franchise runner gone, the responsibility for the Rams leap forward year falls squarely on the shoulders of Bradford, who will have more assistance than ever.

With their longtime franchise runner gone, the responsibility for the Rams leap forward year falls squarely on the shoulders of Bradford, who will have more assistance than ever.

ST. LOUIS RAMS (7-8-1 in 2012)

The Good: There are finally both options and time to utilize them for Sam Bradford. The additions of Jared Cook and Tavon Austin put wrinkles into the St. Louis attack that have been gone for nearly a decade. The team went all in to land All-Pro tackle Jake Long and succeeded, which should provide Bradford with the breathing room to finally be able to stretch the field some.

The Bad: Will they be able to move the ball on the ground consistently enough? When Steven Jackson moved this winter, the club decided to stay young, with second year backs Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. The addition of Zac Stacy will give them a third leg in the young backfield, but it remains to be seen if they add enough to both relieve pressure on Bradford or keep defenses honest.

X-Factor—Alec Ogletree: For a long time, the Rams have not had an athlete at outside linebacker that can both cover and be released on blitz as well, but Ogletree has shown the potential to do that and more thus far. With the PED-related release of Jo-Lonn Dunbar, the rookie will be counted on to expand the defense in a similar fashion as the offense.

Record: ARI (W), @ATL (L), @DAL (L), SF (W), JAX (W), @HOU (L), @CAR (W), SEA (W), TEN (W), @IND (L), CHI (L), @SF (L), @ARI (L), NO (L), TB (W), @SEA (L)

Prediction: Much has changed for the Rams in the year that Jeff Fisher has been in control, and the roster that comes into the season is much more talented one than they have fielded in some time. There is reasonable excitement for their potential, and they should show more than just flashes of their potential by hanging with the Seahawks and 49ers. But the young team will need to mold together some still, and they are likely a year away from a breakthrough. 7-9

 

Kaepernick went 7-3 as a starter in his breakout season, and now returns with a chance to be the most diverse offensive threat at QB since Michael Vick's prime.

Kaepernick went 7-3 as a starter in his breakout season, and now returns with a chance to be the most diverse offensive threat at QB since Michael Vick’s prime.

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (11-4-1 in 2012)

The Good: The gang has gotten even deeper on defense. While the mainstays of Patrick Willis, Navarro Bowman, Justin Smith and Aldon Smith are back to hold the fort down in their particular fashions, the team took a gamble on former Pro Bowl corner Nnamdi Asomugha to tighten up the club’s slot coverage. Add in the presence of Eric Reid, who was an All-SEC safety a year ago and this year’s unit has the ability to be even better than than 2012’s, which finished third in fewest yards yielded.

The Bad: How will the receiving group rally without Michael Crabtree. After the emergence of Colin Kaerpernick, Crabtree played the best football of his career, averaging seven catches per game in route to his first 1,000 yard season. Kaepernick had a bad habit of locking on his first read a year ago, which often was Crab. How he progress both through his reads and in comfort with other options is important.

X-Factor—Anquan Boldin: After defeating the Niners in the Super Bowl, where he had 104 yards and a touchdown, he crossed over to join them this year. An offense that highlights quick reads and short passes could bring out the best in the physical first down machine.

Record: GB (W), @SEA (L), IND (W), @STL (L), HOU (W), ARI (W), @TEN (W), @JAX (W), CAR (W), @NO (W), @WSH (L), STL (W), SEA (W), @TB (W), ATL (L), @ARI (W)

Prediction: Kaerpernick has been one of the most visible players in the NFL during the offseason, and now gets a full season to prove why. The defense will be stout and they have the tools between Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Kaepernick to lead the NFL in rushing. They’ll have to emerge from a tough NFC West slate, as well as matchups with the three other division champions from 2012, but they as talent as it gets and are in line to return back to where their year ended last. 12-4

 

 

I am 100% sure there will be a Festivus-style air of grievances over this one (as there always is). All I ask is that you direct them to the comments section….or to me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

 

It’s no secret or understatement to say this is a busted season for the St. Louis Rams. Following up a season that they made huge strides from the cellar of the league to being a game away from the playoffs, the expectations coming into this season were justified in thinking another slight step forward could happen. All of the good parts of the team were back, quarterback was poised to take another step forward in his development and they were in a division that was wide open for the taking.

At this point, Bradford's preservation may be taking the lead over his development

Yet, they didn’t account for one thing that’s become apparanet: Murphy bought season tickets to the Rams this year, and applied his law non-stop from day one.

None of these elements have taken effect in pushing the team forward. As a matter of fact, no part of the team that was intact on week one has taken a step forward. There are bright spots, and some individuals are showing promise, but overall looking at this team as a project that can still be added to in certain places to get better again would be terrible mistake. A facelift is needed in a “Thriller” vs. “Bad” Michael Jackson style. Because once again, the spirit of the team is back to where it was from 2005-2009, and that played out like prolonged horror flick, that actually got scarier with each sequel.

It’s not an impossible job, but there is no part of this team that should be safe….

 

To read more, head over to St. Louis Sports 360 and see why if the Rams return anywhere close to resembling this team next season, they should be kicked out of the city: http://stlouissports360.com/saving-face-is-the-wrong-path-for-these-rams/

And for more on this and everything else in-between the sports and my world, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan.

The NFC West was a bad type of record setting last year. It was the first division in NFL history to not produce a winning record. It also was a division that nearly flipped it’s standings in the course of one year, and continues into this year as a division that is changing its face still.

The Seahawks, the owner’s of the dubious record, will try to defend the division, albeit with a roster still in need of a lot of aid. Arizona is looking for a renaissance at quarterback, to rediscover the passing attack that won them back-to-back division titles in ’08 and ’09. Jim Harbaugh takes control of a ship in San Francisco that sank like the Titantic a year ago. In St. Louis, one of the NFL’s most improved teams from a year ago will look to turn its potential into a snatching the most available wide open playoff ticket in the NFL.

The hangover from last year will remain though. It’s still a division in flux that could easily host three teams with losing records and is nearly guaranteed to see two with double digit loses. But if any team gets on a solid winning streak, no division could be easier to hijack a surprise trip out of the regular season from.

 

 

ALL-DIVISION TEAM

QB: Sam Bradford RB: Steven Jackson, Frank Gore FB: Moran Norris  WR: Larry Fitzgerald, Braylon Edwards, Sidney Rice TE: Vernon Davis OT: Russell Okung, Rodger Saffold OG: Mike Iupati, Harvey Dahl C: Jason Brown

Jackson ran for over 1,000 yards for the sixth consecutive season in 2010.

DE: Darnell Dockett, Justin Smith DT: Brandon Mebrane, Isaac Sopoana OLB: LeRoy Hill, Aaron Curry MLB: Patrick Willis, James Laurinaitis CB: Marcus Trufant, Patrick Peterson S: Quinton Mikell, Adrian Wilson

K: Josh Brown P: Donnie Jones Returner: Leon Washington

 

 

ARIZONA CARDINALS (5-11 in 2010)

Offense: L. Fitzgerald-WR, K. Kolb-QB, B. Wells-RB, J. Feely-K (C-)

Defense: D. Dockett-DE, A. Wilson-S, C. Campbell-DE, P. Peterson-CB (C)

 

The Good: Say what you will about Kevin Kolb’s price tag or what was given up to get him, but he gives the Cardinals identity and consistency in the pocket. Last season’s shuffle through Derek Anderson, John Skelton and Max Hall produced 10 touchdowns against 19 interceptions. Even if he doesn’t become an elite QB, Kolb will be better than this and when Larry Fitzgerald is on the other end of the pass, it doesn’t take an All-Pro QB to change this team’s prospects.

The Bad: The defense isn’t any better. There’s an aging linebacker group in front of a young secondary that doesn’t get much support at safety in coverage. On the offensive side, they are a mixture of injury prone and underachieving at running back, with Beanie Wells being relied on to carry a big load. The offensive line was not changed at all after being one of the worst units in the league a year ago.

Peterson will shoulder much responsibility for salvaging the Cardinals' defense immediately in his debut.

X-Factor-Patrick Peterson: On some accounts, he was the best player available in April’s draft, and the Cardinals have invested in him as such. The trade of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to land Kolb was made with much more confidence with Peterson stepping in a corner. He’ll be eased into the mix, but by year’s end he could find himself with a Defensive Rookie of the Year nod, as well as some highlights in the return game.

Fearless Prediction: CAR (W), @WSH (L), @SEA (L), NYG (L), @MIN (W), PIT (L), @BAL (L), STL (L), @PHI (L), @SF (W), @STL (L), @DAL (L), SF (W), CLE (W), @CIN (W), SEA (W)

In The End: The Cardinals have some talent on defense, but it’s still very prone to being ravaged for some big weeks against the wrong offense. However, unlike last season, they’ll be able to score easier this season and answer back more. They’ll be better, but until they get faster on both sides of the ball and add a lot more protection for Kolb, they won’t talk the crown. Record: 7-9

 

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers (6-10 in 2010)

Offense: F. Gore-RB, V. Davis-TE, B. Edwards-WR, M. Crabtree-WR (C)

Defense: P. Willis-MLB, J. Smith-DE, D. Whitner-S, C. Rogers-CB (C+)

 

The Good: Braylon Edwards represents a major step forward as a legit downfield option with some size. He’ll join a receivers group with Josh Morgan and Ted Ginn, which would be great as a relay team, but has struggled to turn that into football productivity. Also, Edwards will loosen coverage over the middle on Vernon Davis, as well as give Michael Crabtree the chance to become a high quality #2 option, which is what he seems to be best tailored for.

The Bad: Alex Smith will start at the helm, but still doesn’t have the assurance that the team is his for even the full season. The plan is to keep rookie Colin Kaepernick in the wings for as long as possible, but any prolonged struggle by Smith will make cries for his assent to starter to get louder and louder. It’s hard for Smith to have the confidence to look forward to running a team while looking over his shoulder.

Smith will take the controls to begin the Harbaugh era, but how much of a leash he truly has remains to be seen.

X-Factor-Frank Gore: Although he had yet another season ended early by injury last fall, Gore dug his feet in and demanded a new contract before taking the field this year. He was rewarded with a $21 million dollar deal, and will now have to deliver on it for a full season. A consistent and heavy run attack will loosen up defenses and give Smith a much easier scenario to work with. Gore has the talent, but now has to put it on display for a full go around.

Fearless Prediction: SEA (W), DAL (L), @CIN (W), @PHI (L), TB (L), @DET (L), CLE (W), @WSH (W), NYG (L), ARI (L), @BAL (L), STL (W), @ARI (L), PIT (L), @SEA (L), @STL (L)

In The End: All of the same issues remain from the last few years. It is relying on an injury prone star running back and worn down QB to lead the offense. The defense still has an elite asset in Patrick Willis, but he can’t be everywhere at once. The secondary is still very vulnerable and the pass rush looks shaky. Year one of the Jim Harbaugh era will show how much work he has ahead of him still. Record: 5-11

 

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS (7-9 in 2010; Division Champs)

Offense: S. Rice-WR, Z. Miller-TE, M. Lynch-RB, M. Williams-WR (C+)

Defense: C. Clemons-DE, B. Mebrane-DT, M. Trufant-CB, E. Thomas-S (C)

 

The Good: They’ve got the weapons to make it happen on offense. The offensive line is solid on both ends and Robert Gallery is a step forward inside. Sidney Rice, Mike Williams and Zack Miller are the best starting receiver/tight end combo in the division. If Marshawn Lynch has any of the beast mode left he unleashed on the Saints last year, the running game will be solid as well.

The Bad: It’s also a woefully young team at some critical places. Starting a second year guy in Russell Okung and a rookie (James Carpenter) at offensive tackle is a risky proposition. Lofa Tatupu was the best tackler on the team and was released, weakening an already shaky group. The offense isn’t deep, and any injury could prevent them from reaching their potential as a group.

The Seahawks are unsettled in a lot of departments. Okung needs to be consistent & healthy in year two.

X-Factor-Tavaris Jackson: He’s getting what he wanted in Minnesota: a chance to be the unchallenged starter from day one. They will be careful to not put too much of the team’s fate on him to win, but that’s a bad sign in itself. He won’t be asked to win games, however an overly reserved approach is just as bad. Letting him roll the dice and going with the outcome would be a much smarter approach.

Fearless Prediction: @SF (L), @PIT (L), ARI (W), ATL (L), @NYG (L), @CLE (W), CIN (W), @DAL (L), BAL (L), @STL (L), WSH (W), PHI (L), STL (L), @CHI (L), SF (W), @ARI (L)

In The End: While they are far from the “accidental” playoff team they were made out to be a year ago, it is still a team that had a losing record a year ago and got worse at the most important position. A mixture of a defense with no playmakers and an offense without a leader will keep the Hawks with a similar record from last year, but with a more appropriate result. Record: 5-11

 

ST. LOUIS RAMS (7-9 in 2010)

Offense: S. Bradford-QB, S. Jackson-RB, M. Sims-Walker-WR, D. Amendola-WR (B)

Defense: C. Long-DE, J. Laurinaitis-MLB, Q. Mikell-S, J. Hall-DE (C+)

 

The Good: They’ve got Sam Bradford, and that’s an advantage nobody else in the division has. As a rookie, he threw for over 3,500 yards with a makeshift receiver group and one-dimensional running game. The team took an aggressive approach in putting new and diverse options everywhere on the offense to accent new offense coordinator Josh McDaniel’s scheme, and with a more experienced Bradford at the helm, the unit will flow much easier. Mike Sims-Walker provides them with a big, every down target and Jerious Norwood and Cadillac Williams offer more options out the backfield to get a fresher Steven Jackson than in many years.

The Bad: The defense needed to get faster, but didn’t. Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher is a solid, but not exciting cornerback tandem. It’s also a thin coverage group, that would be in bad shape if anymore injury finds it (Jerome Murphy is already gone). They don’t match up well against the big, physical receivers that line nearly every week of the Rams schedule. The linebacker group struggled a year ago to stop runners from turning the corner, and that it still is among the least athletic groups in the league.

With a new scheme and arsenal, Bradford stands to take the Rams, and himself, to new levels.

X-Factor-Lance Kendricks: The scheme that new coordinator Josh McDaniels employs makes good use of the tight end spot, and the Rams wisely picked up an athlete capable of maximizing the position in Kendricks. The former wide receiver at Wisconsin gets up the field as well as any wide receiver he’ll line up with and has already proven to be a redzone favorite of Bradford’s in the preseason.

Fearless Predictions: PHI (L), @NYG (L), BAL (W), WSH (W), @GB (L), @DAL (L), NO (L), @ARI (W), @CLE (W), SEA (W), ARI (W), @SF (L), @SEA (W), CIN (W), @PIT (L), SF (W)

In The End: They came up short by just a game in their quest to go from worst in the league to the playoffs a year ago. This season they’ll finish the move to the top of the division, due to an expanded offensive approach and Bradford’s rise continuing to take him up the QB hierarchy league wide. The schedule will open up brutally for the first seven weeks, but it ends with matchups with divisional foes that they can easily outmatch. Record: 9-7

 

To see how right, wrong or in-between this all works out, and me living with it, follow me on Twitter at @CheapSeatFan and @STLSport360.