St. Louis Rams Questions Left Unanswered After Week 1

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 11, 2012

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 09:  Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams hands the ball off to Steven jackson #39 against the Detroit Lions during the season opener at Ford Field on September 9, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
Dave Reginek/Getty Images

Sunday's 27-23 loss to the Lions was particularly disappointing for the St. Louis Rams because it was a winnable game.

The team has been awful in recent years and the fanbase has been deflated, so nothing would've sparked more excitement toward the Jeff Fisher era than an unexpected Week 1 upset over Detroit.

Instead, the Rams fell short of securing the win—something Rams fans are all too familiar with—and we must instead be satisfied with the effort and moral victories, as if we're following our six-year-old nephew's tee-ball team rather than an NFL franchise.

But make no mistake, there was a visibly increased level of production and confidence on the field. It's just that the end result was the same, which naturally won't significantly alter the level of optimism from the fans.

Before we can start seeing the tangible results, the team will have to address a few concerns.

Here are several questions facing the team that remained unanswered on Sunday, but will certainly impact the season.


Is Brian Quick a Player?

The Rams used the No. 33 overall pick last April—practically a first-round pick—on the 6'4" small-school prodigy Brian Quick.

Quick was drafted in order to help an abysmal group of receivers that ranked among the worst in the NFL last year. With such a talent deficiency at the position, he was expected to see immediate playing time.

Quick didn't see the field at all against Detroit, and he didn't see any first-team action with the offense during the preseason either.

For someone who is supposedly a very gifted talent and worthy of a high draft pick, you would think they would at least have a four or five play red zone package designed specifically for him, but we saw nothing like that on Sunday.

No one is expecting Quick to light it up as a rookie and produce like a No. 1 wide receiver, but some modest rookie production and brief flashes of promise shouldn't be asking too much.

If the offense is going to have success this year, then Quick will have to be a part of it.

And if you think my expectations are too high and unreasonable, let me quote Steven Jackson from earlier this summer when he was discussing Quick (according the STL Today):

"He's a high draft pick and we're going to need someone on the outside to make plays, and I'm challenging him right now because we're going to need him to prepare himself over the next six weeks to be a standout on this team"

Those are the expectations. Maybe they're unfair, but they are what they are, and he needs to start meeting them. Hopefully we'll start seeing it by mid-season.


Is Sam Bradford Back on Track?

It's well documented that Sam Bradford was a rising star during his rookie year in 2010, but his popularity plummeted after his painful sophomore slump last season.

Based on the preseason and Week 1, it's fair to say that the current Bradford is looking like his rookie self rather than the 2011 Bradford, but we still need to see more.

In the game against the Lions, Bradford had a few bad misses and displayed very poor pocket awareness at times, but he managed to come out of his shell in the final quarter and take back the lead on two different occasions, which includes his 23-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Gibson.

If the Rams are going to be a competitive team this year, Bradford needs to avoid playing like he did in the first half of the game and become the fourth-quarter Bradford that we saw on Sunday.

But until we find out which version of Bradford is under center this season, it's too hard to predict how the Rams will do in 2012.


Can Chris Long and Robert Quinn Play Like An Elite Defensive End Duo?

One of the undisputed team strengths heading into the season was supposed to be the defensive line, particularly the defensive ends.

But on Sunday, the Rams only recorded one sack on the afternoon and only three quarterback hits.

Matthew Stafford was able to easily complete passes and move the ball with ease. Part of that is the freakish talent of Calvin Johnson, but the Rams rarely applied any pressure to help out.

With the three interceptions, we already saw what kind of talent is in the secondary, but the line needs to contribute. They're the difference between the defense being good, or just being acceptable.

The return of Michael Brockers will help, but Robert Quinn and Chris Long are blue-chip players who need to avoid excuses and produce no matter what.


Is Safety An Issue on Defense?

The position on defense lacking the most in talent is probably safety. Will the safety positions be a sore spot all season long, or will they be able to get the job done?

The Detroit game did nothing to answer that question. The safeties cannot be judged based on their performance against Calvin Johnson and a group of capable secondary receivers.

We still don't know if Quintin Mikell and Craig Dahl can play at an acceptable level, but the Week 2 game against an average group of Washington receivers should give us a better idea.


Will the Offensive Line Gel?

The Rams have been absolutely incapable of fielding a healthy offensive line for the last four or five seasons, and it's already looking as though the 2012 team will be following that trend as well.

In the very first game of the season, center Scott Wells and left tackle Rodger Saffold were injured and both will be out indefinitely.

Not only did the Rams lose two of their most talented linemen, but they played the two most important positions on the line.

The team was really depending on the offensive line to get into a groove and play beyond the expectations, but now the outlook is grim.

The current starters will need to gel and play at an acceptable level in order for the team to succeed. Over the next few weeks, we should be able to see if they are capable of that.


Can Young G.Z. Set the NFL Record For Longest Field Goal?

In Week 1, we saw David Akers of the 49ers tie the NFL record with a 63-yard field goal and he looked ecstatic.

He better enjoy it; because pretty soon, he'll only be able to say he tied the second-longest field goal in history.

Of course, as every Rams fan knows at this point, this is because rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein is destined to break that record.

And we don't mean he'll break it someday, at some point in his career. Most likely, it will be this season and could happen any week at any time.

And no, this has no impact on the season. But it's something we all want to see. 


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