Jeff Fisher is now in his fourth year coaching the St. Louis Rams. Fisher is one of the more respected coaches in the league, who holds on to a lot of old school values that he’s able to implement onto younger teams. One has to wonder how long the leash is going to be on Fisher though after this season. He has twenty wins and twenty seven losses along with one tie, since he’s coached the Rams, who are one of the teams rumored to be leaving for Los Angeles. Fisher had been a big supporter of often injured quarterback Sam Bradford, but now his quarterback is Nick Foles. In 2013, Foles shocked the world by finishing the season with twenty seven touchdowns and two interceptions but in 2014 injuries and reality set in as Foles finished with thirteen touchdowns and ten interceptions. Chances are Fisher might be quick on the trigger to pull Foles if he struggles early to go back to his guy Austin Davis who filled in admirably last year for an injured Bradford. Rams also went and drafted Sean Mannion of Oregon State who has some pro potential but is still a project.
If rookie running back Todd Gurley has a successful return from his torn ACL, Tre Mason may find himself in a back up role more sooner than later. Gurley has the blend of speed and power that some are comparing to Adrian Peterson. In a tough division and with questions at quarterback, a healthy Gurley may see north of twenty five touches a game if he’s at full health.
It’s not a stretch to say the passing game had it’s struggles last year when the leading receiver was your tight end with 52 catches and 634 yards. Jared Cook is a good, big bodied tight end who would probably flourish in a better system, but there has to be little belief that this offense will turn high-flying anytime soon. Kenny Britt led the team in receiving yards with 748, but Britt is undependable off-the field and seems to be uninterested in football most of the time. The Rams drafted West Virginia wide outs Tavon Austin and Steman Bailey in 2013 and both have been underwhelming. Bailey has shown flares of being a better wide receiver than Austin, who is more of a Percy Harvin type of player, but with a small frame. Austin just hasn’t gotten his footing in the pro game. Brian Quick might be the best option for the team at wide out, but there is not number one corner in the league who is scared of him.
The offensive line looked as if it was on its way to being one of the best in the league, but with Joe Barksdale now in San Diego and Jake Long looking for a new team (at present time, Atlanta is the favorite) things are looking shaky. Young Greg Robinson is their starting left tackle for the next decade or so, if things go according to plan but it’ll be a tough season as he’s the only formidable member of this offensive line.
This defensive line must eat this offensive line for lunch when they practice though. . .
The Rams added free agent Nick Fairley to a mix that already has reigning defensive rookie of the year Aaron Donald who finished the season with nine sacks and proved from day one to have unnatural power at his disposal. Robert Quinn’s sack numbers were down last year, but one might equate that to the fact that Chris Long was sidelined due to injury. At full health this is a pass attack that makes offensive tackles lose sleep. At the linebacker spot it seems that James Laurinattis and Alec Ogletree have a friendly competition as to who is the best linebacker on the team. Laurinattis has the better instincts where Ogletree is the better athlete.
Mark Barron is an aggressive safety that gives defensive coordinator Gregg Williams flexibility in his blitzing packages. When considering those packages though, corner Janoris Jenkins needs to become more disciplined. He bites on pump fakes and jumps on double moves to often.
The Rams are a team people keep saying will make a leap, but where and when? Sure, the 49ers will have a down season, but Arizona and Seattle are still viable opponents in their division. Asking this defense to keep their team in games week after week is a tall order especially when the offense will be generally predictable throughout the year.
Predicted Record: 7-9
Predicted Pro Bowlers: Aaron Donald, Chris Long, Todd Gurley