Like many impassioned sports fans, I have to admit, at times, to being less than reasonable when it comes to my St. Louis Rams.
The intense emotional involvement in watching my favorite football team often causes a skewing of perception. They lose, and they're the worst thing ever. They win, and they're Super Bowl-bound.
So, doing my best to remain level-headed, I will not claim that the offensive line problem is solved, even though they only gave up two sacks and five total quarterback hits to a defense that sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times the week before.
What I will do is list four reasons—genuine, impartially thought-out reasons—Rams fans can be optimistic about the rest of the season and even the next few years to come.
Enjoyment of the game. That is without a doubt the most important thing Jeff Fisher has instilled in the 2012 St. Louis Rams.
I had always heard that he was a "player's coach," without ever really knowing why. After watching his sideline reactions (like the one pictured above), it became crystal clear. The players love playing for him because he loves his job and he shows it.
That kind of enthusiasm is infectious. Since arriving in St. Louis in January, he has been able to remind a franchise that has gone 16-65 since 2007 that the Rams are still playing a game, so they'd might as well have some fun.
From there, it was a short step to getting the Rams to believe in themselves and their ability to win games. Four games into his first season, Jeff Fisher has changed the culture of the St. Louis Rams.
A lot of this can be attributed to Jeff Fisher and new Rams general manager Les Snead.
In the offseason—because of Jeff Fisher's presence—St. Louis was able to land Cortland Finnegan in free agency. Then, Fisher and Snead worked together to take Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson in the draft, giving the Rams' secondary the potential to be one of the best in the NFL.
That potential is quickly becoming a reality. Finnegan and Jenkins are each playing exceptionally well, and the Rams defense as a whole has eight interceptions through four games—only four interceptions shy of its season total from last year.
With an improved linebacking corps and the return of 2012 first-round pick Michael Brockers to help shore up the run defense, the St. Louis Rams defensive unit could wind up being one of the scariest in the NFL.
Second-round pick Brian Quick and fourth-round pick Chris Givens each had a more active role in the Rams offense in Week 4.
For Quick, who many expected or at least hoped would have an immediate impact, it was his first catch of the season. Givens had his first catch a week earlier against the Chicago Bears.
Both players apparently had trouble getting up to speed with the NFL game and possibly the playbook. Givens got earlier work than Quick, mostly as a kick returner.
Seeing both of them in action in Week 4 against the Seattle Seahawks is encouraging.
Brian Quick is the big target that the Rams have not had in a very long time. Givens has the speed to be a genuine deep threat outside the numbers—something else the Rams have not had for far too long.
If those two can get on the field and stay on it, then the slot will open up for Danny Amendola and the running game will open up for Steven Jackson.
I can't decide which one I like better.
Whatever you call him, this guy is impressive.
Greg Zuerlein played for Division II school Missouri Western, where he set an NCAA record with 21 consecutive field goals, nine of which came from beyond 50 yards
Four games into his rookie season, he is 12-for-12 on field-goal attempts, including a 56-yarder in open-air Soldier Field in Week 3, a 58-yarder in Week 4 against the Seahawks (which set a Rams record) and a 60-yarder later in that same game (which broke his own record set just two quarters before).
Zuerlein's leg is so strong that the Rams merely have to get to an opponent's 45-yard line to be in his range. This drastically shortens the field for an offense that needs all the help it can get. Without Greg Zuerlein, the Rams don't beat the Seahawks in Week 4.
So take heart, weary Rams fans. Things are looking up indeed.