In 2010 the St. Louis Rams bounced back from a disastrous 1-15 record in 2009. They finished with a 7-9 record, which earned them second place in the NFC West, and they missed the playoffs by only one game. They jumped out of the NFL's cellar, and made themselves known as an up-and-coming team to be reckoned with.
This turnaround was no coincidence. These players earned every single game, and nothing was handed to this team. Let's take a look at the guys who helped make it all possible, and give them a little recognition with the 2010 St. Louis Rams Award show.
The Rams did not have any rookie defensive players that clearly stood above the rest. Some candidates, such as Jerome Murphy and Darian Stewart, made some tackles on special teams, but they lacked any real impact on defense.
On the other hand, rookie defensive end George Selvie, the seventh round draft pick out of South Florida, racked up 21 tackles and 1.5 sacks. He recorded these stats despite having very little playing time. It will be interesting to see what a defensive line guru like head coach Steve Spagnuolo can do with a raw—but talented—player like Selvie.
Is there really any debating this decision? It could be argued that the fresh new life at the quarterback position is the primary reason the Rams won more games in 2010 than the last three seasons combined.
Bradford is the breath of fresh air desperately needed by St. Louis. He racked up over 3,500 yards, 18 touchdowns and a 76.5 QB rating. He is one of only three rookie quarterbacks ever to throw over 3,000 yards (the other two being Matt Ryan and Peyton Manning), which rightfully earned him the AP Rookie of the Year award.
If he is good enough for the Associated Press' Rookie of the Year award, he is good enough for ours.
The Iron Man Award, which is being awarded to the most valuable lineman, was a difficult one. Chris Long is becoming an anchor for the defensive line, and his motor is unstoppable.
However, Roger Saffold has played a major role in turning the Rams offensive line from one of the worst, to suddenly respectable. And the fact he did so as a rookie makes it all that more impressive.
Saffold's rookie season went as smoothly as anyone could have possibly hoped for. If he keeps up his development, then it will seem as though Orlando Pace never left St. Louis.
Just like the last award, it was hard to ignore Chris Long as a candidate, as well as Steven Jackson. You could literally see the intensity in those players every single week.
But Long and Jackson were both blue chip prospects coming out of college, and they were first round draft picks. On the contrary, the 5'11" 186 pound Danny Amendola has every factor in the world working against him.
He lacks the size, the elite athleticism and he does not have true "burner" speed. However, he takes the things he can do well, route running and quickness, and converts those skills into production, and that production has been far more consistent than anyone ever expected from him.
It is fair to say that Danny Amendola is the perfect type athlete to be branded as "The Heart of St. Louis."
It was hard to to choose between Long and James Laurinaitis. The logic used to determine the winner was to ponder which player's absence would hurt the team more than the other. After thinking about it that way, it has to go to Long.
They both make plays, which is very important, but the quarterback pressure created by Long in 2010 was a huge part of why the Rams had a respectable defensive unit. His efforts have finally translated into the production Rams fans were hoping for.
His 8.5 sacks in 2010 hardly tells the entire story of his true presence. Just ask all of the offensive line coaches that instructed their players to double team him last year.
Steven Jackson is the only elite player on the Rams roster, and that stems from his consistency. Year-in and year-out, ever since he took over for Marshall Faulk, he has been able to place the entire team on his shoulders and run with it.
For the sixth straight season he broke the 1,000 yard barrier, rushing for 1,241 yards and six touchdowns. He remains the best draft pick the Rams have made in the past decade, and he also remains the best overall player on the team. When it is all said and done, there should be a banner hanging from the rafters at the Edward Jones Dome with the No. 39 on it.
Here are the 2010 honorable mentions...
- James Laurinaitis LB: 114 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 interception
- James Hall DE: 54 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 6 forced fumbles
- Mark Clayton WR: 23 receptions, 306 yards, 2 touchdowns (only five games)
- Fred Robbins DT: 26 tackles, 6 sacks
- Danario Alexander WR: 20 receptions, 306 yards, 1 touchdown (eight games, only two starts)