St. Louis Rams: 5 Reasons to Believe Jeff Fisher's Team Will Be Better This Year
The St. Louis Rams needed to bring in a new head coach with a pedigree. In Jeff Fisher, they not only get a coach with years of experience, but a coach with winning experience.
There is a lot to be excited about as we head into a new season, but here are five reasons to believe the 2012 St. Louis Rams will turn in a better performance than last year's two-win season.
It is present on the sidelines more than anywhere else, but it still matters.
Fisher comes in with a regular season record of 142-120. In the postseason, he's 5-6. I know the knock against Fisher is that he was never able to win a Super Bowl. I don't buy it as a fan of a team who has averaged three wins in the past five seasons.
Owner Stan Kroenke realized it was time to stop playing games and bring in some one who has been there and done that. Fisher coached for 16 years in Houston/Tennessee. That's the kind of consistent foundation this team needs.
If that doesn't convince you, this will: The combined career record of every Rams head coach to walk the sidelines since 2005 is 74-132.
Quarterbacks Coach Frank Cignetti
Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator for St. Louis last year. What most people don't know is that he also served as quarterbacks coach. It's a role that you probably wouldn't think required much attention since he was already working with the offense anyway. You would be sadly mistaken.
A quarterbacks coach gives the team someone who can work one on one with the passers and give them the undivided attention that an offensive coordinator can't. That's invaluable, especially for a guy who still needs to establish himself in this league.
Frank Cignetti will serve as the quarterbacks coach for the Rams this season. Cignetti brings 22 years of coaching experience.
In his rookie season, Sam Bradford threw for over 3,500 yards en route to winning Rookie of the Year. Coincidentally, he had a quarterbacks coach.
Last year, under McDaniels, Bradford had to learn a new offense without one. This year, he has another new offense to learn, but Cignetti will be there to guide him through it. Having a quarterbacks coach is crucial to the game for the reasons listed above, but also because football is such a detail-oriented sport. Having a position coach narrows the focus and interaction of the quarterback with a coach who is there to help him and only him.
Offensive Coordinator Brian Schottenheimer
I know the Jets fans reading this (if there are any) have a grudge against Brian Schottenheimer because of some of the play calling in recent years. The bottom line about the guy is he's young and he's had success (two AFC Championship appearances). That's good enough for me, but in case it isn't good enough for you, here's why Brian Schottenheimer makes the Rams a better team in 2012.
Schottenheimer runs a West Coast offense that features a quarterback who makes changes at the line of scrimmage. At the same time, he was able to utilize his running backs in New York to a point where the Jets were a ground-and-pound threat. Steven Jackson is incredibly versatile as both a speed and power running back.
What Schottenheimer gives the Rams that Josh McDaniels didn't is that West Coast offense. McDaniels liked the deep ball because he worked with Tom Brady for so long in New England. The deep ball isn't Sam Bradford's forte, and Schottenheimer knows it. Plus, in Bradford's rookie season, he worked under Pat Shurmer, who also runs the West Coast offense.
Defense has always been the Achilles heal for St. Louis.
I love what the Rams have to offer defensively in 2012 for a few reasons. First, let's go back to Jeff Fisher. He's always been a defensive coach. His teams finished in the top 10 in total defense seven times in his stay at Tennessee, and just outside the top 10 in numerous years.
In addition, there is a wide range of defenders who have potential on this team, and they are giving people the idea that the Rams could finish in the top 10 in total defense for the first time since 2001, when they made the Super Bowl. Let's start on the line with a group of guys I think are primed for a breakout year.
The defensive ends are Chris Long and Robert Quinn. Long is entering his fifth year and he has a new contract. Oh, and he had 13 sacks last year. Quinn is coming off a rookie season in which he gained five take downs. In the middle, the Rams gain two new faces. First-round draft pick Michael Brockers only played two years for LSU, but his 6'5'', 322-pound frame is monstrous. Kendall Langford comes over from Miami, and is the speedier of the two.
James Laurinaitis is, simply put, a beast at middle linebacker. I know I sound like a fan, but I get excited when I think of him demolishing a running back trying to scoot his way through the middle. His 142 tackles led the team in 2011.
In the secondary, the team gains CB Cortland Finnegan, who played under Fisher in Tennessee. This is a guy who has had five interceptions twice in his career. Let's not forget about FS Quintin Mikell.
Without question, this is the best defensive unit I've seen on the Rams in a long time.
Youth is a big deal on the 2012 St. Louis Rams. The average age of the team in 2011 was 26.5 years, and I wouldn't be surprised to see that number go down this year. Here are some names that could become household ones by the end of the season.
Danny Amendola, WR, 26 years old
I absolutely love Danny's potential even after a season-ending triceps injury in Week 1 last year. He's quick, he's fit, and he can catch the football in short-yardage situations.
I still think he could end up like Wes Welker.
Brian Quick, WR, 23 years old
Another wide out with so much potential, but it may be too early to proclaim this guy as a bona fide offensive threat. Still, I love what he's done in the preseason.
Quick was taken in the second round out of Appalachian State in this year's draft, and he stands at 6'3'', 220 pounds. That's a big, physical ball hawk the Rams have been looking for.
James Laurinaitis, MLB, 25 years old
If the Rams are a top-10 defensive team in 2012, the former Ohio State backer will be right in the middle of it because, let's face it, he's nasty. He's a tackling machine and with Chris Long, he anchors this defense. Enough said.
Lance Kendricks, TE, 24 years old
Kendricks is a favorite of Sam Bradford, and if he can be utilized by this offense, it will take major pressure off the other wide receivers.
He only started 10 games last season, and if he can play a full season, I see him being the most productive tight end on this team since...and that's my point.