Saint Louis Rams: 5 Reasons We Haven't Seen the Best out of This Team
The Rams were one of the prime candidates to draft Andrew Luck in the coming draft (or trade him away for a ransom). Now, they might not even be the worst team in the NFC West and they'll have a chance to prove it over the last half of the season.
Saint Louis has been rebuilding and that makes it even more imperative that they win as much as possible. With Bradford as their franchise quarterback they will enjoy success very soon, but until then they need to collect as many wins as possible in a week division and remain competitive, lest they end up like the 2011 version of the Indianapolis Colts.
This football team has yet to play their best football. An upset victory against the Saints proved that.
Sam Bradford's out of His Walking Boot
The Rams incredible upset victory of the Saints was with A.J. Feeley at quarterback. That's not to disrespect Feeley, who played well in the victory, but Bradford is a franchise quarterback who has been victimized by 20 drops this season. That's after missing two games.
Brandon Lloyd is a target that will benefit Bradford immensely. Now that Mike Sims-dropsies is gone, the Rams have receivers who are more consistent and have played more consistently the past couple of weeks.
If the Rams line can actually keep Bradford upright, something they've struggled to do this season, we will see him make the progress everyone expected his sophomore year.
Steven Jackson's Back to Form
Since getting their workhorse back, the Rams offense has looked vastly improved.
He was the primary spark for an offense that up until Week 7 had scored only 56 points, the eighth lowest total through the first six games in NFL history. They've been doing everything they can to get him involved, including lining him up outside.
It gives the Rams a much needed dimension on offense. Once they have Bradford back in the lineup, he will be able to take advantage of his All-Pro back. With Brandon Lloyd in at wide receiver and Jackson in the backfield, this offense will get better.
Wow. What a game for the Rams franchise defensive end.
Long had the kind of game the NFL has been expecting from him the entire year. He sacked Drew Brees three times, on top of adding eight more pressures and batting a pass down. Long's performance might be the single greatest reason the Rams were able to overcome the Saints incredible offense. There was rarely a play that Brees wasn't feeling some kind of heat.
The Saints offensive line is no joke either. They've got two of the best guards in football on top of a pair of tackles that are rock solid. Long flashed this kind of ability all last year, and it's about time he was able to put it all on the line for one game. The best is yet to come.
Defensive Line Can Help the Secondary
It's no secret: the Rams secondary is in dire straits with injuries to their top three cornerbacks. The Rams cornerbacks were able to cope against the Saints plethora of weapons thanks to the pressure the defensive line could create.
Fred Robbins, James Lauranitis and Robert Quinn all had a sack against the Saints. Quinn was a force to be reckoned with. He has seen a lack of snaps over the past few weeks, but he made every one count when he was on the field last Sunday. He had the one sack and a pair of pressures and quarterback hits in only 40 snaps (out of the 61 total for the Rams defense). He also blocked a punt.
James Hall also added five quarterback pressures for the Rams defense. If the Rams rotate Hall and Quinn, they could get a ton of pressure every game.
To put it simply: the Rams have looked unprepared and out-coached for weeks.
Spagnuolo, Josh McDaniels and Ken Flajole had their best game of the year. The Rams didn't get to seven wins last year on sheer talent and determination. They were a well-coached football team managing a rookie quarterback.
It's a distinct possibility that the Rams were hurt more than other teams by the lockout. They brought in McDaniels to give them an offensive boost, but injuries to their most reliable wide receiver, Danny Amendola, was as big a loss as the Rams could imagine. They were running a new system without their best receiver and added a slew of new offensive players that Bradford had not played with.
There's no doubt this coaching staff is adept at what they do. However, they hadn't been during their brutal first six weeks. They dealt with injuries, the toughest schedule in the league, and less time to prepare with more new players. They may not be making the playoffs this year, but these coaches can make a statement in the last half of the season and put the NFC West on notice.