St. Louis Rams Preseason Analysis
After finishing 2011 with a dismal 2-14 record, last place in the NFC West, and 193 total points (12.1 PPG/last in the league), the St. Louis Rams are looking to bounce back.
With a very busy off-season, the Rams now officially have the youngest team in the entire NFL, with high hopes and new expectations.
Bradford Starting to Look Comfortable
The former AP Offensive Rookie of the Year changed the poise in the pocket against Kansas City, as he threw for 102 yards and two touchdowns.
With a solid veteran receiver in Steve Smith on the outside and finally healthy Danny Amendola as the number two man, Bradford seems to be getting on track with the receivers he has.
When Danario Alexander comes back fully healed from injury, and rookies Brian Quick and Chris Givens get their opportunities, the Rams offense will have a flurry of attacks for the first time in a decade.
Defensive Changes Are Being Made
The defensive front of the Rams looked awful in the preseason opener, aside from a few big shots from missed blocks.
But the newly revamped line seems to be coming together.
Chris Long had 13 sacks in 2011, and Robert Quinn will be causing problems on the other side. With only one sack in the opener, the Rams defense had five sacks against the Chiefs.
Signing big interior defensive lineman Kendall Langford, while drafting LSU's Michael Brockers, will not only begin to jam up the middle of the trenches, but it will also create openings for fourth-year middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.
The biggest change will be in the secondary, however. Of course, the addition of Cortland Finnegan from Tennessee will be a huge boost. Rookie corner Janoris Jenkins has been rumored to move from corner to become the starting safety over Craig Dahl (who is usually getting burnt for touchdowns).
With a stout defensive line, open linebackers and a faster secondary, the Rams defense will be a force to reckon with in 2012.
Jeff Fisher Boosts Rams' Morale
Not only do the Rams come into 2012 with a brand new team, but they come in with an established NFL head coach in Jeff Fisher.
On the sidelines, you can see that he gets on his players and demands their respect. He is a gritty defensive-minded coach who has numerous winning seasons under his belt.
A boost of morale comes along with him, as the St. Louis Rams are trying to basically start from scratch after failing miserably last season.
Fisher brings a new attitude, a new game plan, and a new mentality, in that he won't let this 31-to-17 win over the Chiefs get to his players' heads.
“There were some really good things and some things we need to improve upon,” Fisher said (via StLouisRams.com). “Overall, I thought it was improvement because of last week. We’d like to see the same type of improvement (this week).”
Of course, a very big improvement from the previous week, Fisher is assuring this meaningless preseason outcome will be enough to show the team what they can work on.
“There were enough mistakes in that game to correct keep their attention and keep them focused,” Fisher said.
Tight Ends Will Bring a New Key to Offense
Second-year tight end Lance Kendricks will be a big factor in the offense, from what I've seen so far.
He had two catches for 24 yards and a touchdown against the Chiefs, following two catches for 18 against the Colts.
However, in 2011, he had 28 catches, 0 TD and most importantly, NINE DROPPED PASSES.
Clearly Sam Bradford sees him as his security blanket.
With the uncertainty of the starting receiving core for 2012, Kendricks will have to continue his improved role as a part of the offense. Coming to camp with eight extra pounds of muscle and a new, built-up stamina, those drops of last year aren't affecting his confidence this season.
“Camp is going well,” Kendricks said (via StLouisRams.com). “I’m feeling confident. I’m feeling a lot more in shape, feeling better. I think that’s (from) staying focused, keeping my head in the playbook and trying to learn the offense.”
Look out for a big year coming from Lance Kendricks.
Only Time Will Tell
It's been a very long and productive off-season for St. Louis.
A big loss in Week 1 was immediately followed by an impressive win in Week 2. Changes are being made and position battles are in full force.
This is a team that is learning to play together in a completely new system for the 2012 season.
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