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2013 NFL Preview: St. Louis Rams

by Photo of Kenneth Teape

Can the Rams continue in the right direction against tougher competition and heightened expectations?

2013 NFL Preview: St. Louis Rams

The NFL Season is getting closer and closer. The Baltimore Ravens took home the Super Bowl last year, but this next season will surely come with plenty of surprises. It's time to get ready for the start of the year by taking a look at all 32 teams to gauge where they are, starting with the worst and ending with the reigning Super Bowl Champs. It's the CHARGED.fm 2013 NFL Preview, and today we're previewing the St. Louis Rams.

Last Season:

After three pretty disastrous seasons under Steve Spagnuolo, the St. Louis Rams brought in Jeff Fisher to right the ship and so far that is exactly what he has done. In the first season under Fisher the Rams improved across the board; they scored 106 more points and gave up 59 less, going from a negative 214 point differential in 2011 to negative 49 in 2012.

Even though they still had a negative point differential, the Rams saw vast improvements on the defensive side of the ball. They ranked 14th in the NFL in points and yards allowed per game, giving up averages of 21.8 points on 342.6 yards. In 2011 they ranked 26th and 22nd respectively in those categories. Where the Rams struggled on defense was getting to the quarterback as they totaled 35 sacks on the season, good for 19th. The Rams also struggled in turning the opposing team over, finishing the season with only 17 interceptions and four fumble recoveries. If the offense had not taken care of the ball as well as they had there is no way the Rams finish the season with a 7-8-1 record like they did.

Much like the defense, the offense was improved for the Rams last season. A big reason for that is the maturation of quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford had a solid bounce back season, starting all 16 games for the second time in three years and putting up career highs across the board. The 3.702 yards and 21 touchdowns were both career highs for Bradford; the 13 interceptions were also a career low for a full season.

Steven Jackson spearheaded the run game with 1,042 yards and four touchdowns; it was the eighth consecutive season that Jackson topped 1,000 yards rushing as he failed to do so only in his rookie year. Daryl Richardson showed promise in the times that he spelled Jackson, averaging 4.8 yards per rush in his backup role.

As a whole the Rams offense was not explosive, but it got the job done methodically and at a pace they could succeed at. It is a far cry from the “Greatest Show on Turf” that used to play in St. Louis but they still had some highlights from last season. Check them out here!

Offseason:

Key Losses (New Team): Steven Jackson, RB (Atlanta Falcons); Robert Turner, C (Tennessee Titans); Bradley Fletcher, CB (Philadelphia Eagles); Quintin Mikell, S; Trevor Laws, DT; Danny Amendola, WR (New England Patriots); Rocky McIntosh, LB; Craig Dahl, S (San Francisco 49ers); Brandon Gibson, WR (Miami Dolphins); Barry Richardson, OT (Tennessee Titans); Wayne Hunter, OT; Matthew Mulligan, TE (Green Bay Packers); Mario Haggan, LB; Justin Cole, LB (Cleveland Browns)

Key Additions (Old Team): Jake Long, OT (Miami Dolphins); Jared Cook, TE (Tennessee Titans); Will Witherspoon, LB (Tennessee Titans); Matt Giordano, DB (Oakland Raiders); Zach Potter, TE (Jacksonville Jaguars);

Players Re-Signed: Williams Hayes, DE; Jermelle Cudjo, DT; Kellen Clemens, QB; Chris Williams, OT; Darian Stewart, S

Players Drafted: Tavon Austin, WR, West Virginia; Alec Ogletree, ILB, Georgia; T.J. McDonald, S, USC; Stedman Bailey, WR, West Virginia; Barrett Jones, OL, Alabama; Brandon McGee, CB, Miami (FL); Zachary Stacy, RB, Vanderbilt

Heading into the offseason the Rams had a few holes to fill on their squad. They needed more receivers to help Bradford improve, a safety to man the defense, some depth on the offensive line and a linebacker to be paired with James Laurinaitis; they nailed all of them in the draft alone. They most explosive wide receiver tandem in recent college football history will be continuing their show with the Rams as Austin and Bailey will both play big roles in the Rams’ offense this season. Check them out dominating at West Virginia together:

Cook at tight end is just another weapon to help push Bradford in a positive direction. Ogletree is an impact performer and will wreck havoc alongside Laurinaitis for as long as they share the field. Jones will fill in across the offensive line as a versatile backup. McDonald will step right into the starting lineup as a third round pick. Stacy is another option in the backfield as the Rams will be transitioning there without Jackson; the last time his name did not sit atop the Rams running back position on the depth chart was 2003. The roster as a whole looks a whole lot younger, deeper and more talented after this offseason.

Season Outlook:

The Rams surprised everyone last season by going 7-8-1 and look poised to continue improving under the watchful eye of Fisher. He brought it some players last year that had character issues but they were able to keep it together and perform well on the field in Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins. Both players had some checkered history but combined to give the Rams two shutdown corners.

For this team to take the next step Bradford needs to continue his development. Last season was a nice step in the right direction and with new and improved weapons he should continue to do so. Many of the moves made this offseason were catered to helping Bradford out. Bradford looks like he will have a lot on his shoulders though as the running back core does not resemble anything close to what Jackson gave them. Richardson showed flashes but does not look like a full-time starter in the NFL. The running game could be what dooms this offense and team from taking that next step forward.

The Rams have solid bookends on the defensive line as well in Chris Long and Robert Quinn in addition to the stout defensive backs. Safety is major concern though as both starters from last season are gone and no-names in addition to McDonald are slated to take over. Along with the running back position this is quite possibly the weakest position on the Rams roster.

Those two things could doom the Rams in their rebuilding effort as the schedule does no favors for this Rams team. Without a running back to keep teams honest and safeties to slow down the opposing passing offenses, two divisional games each against the 49ers and Seahawks, then match-ups with the Falcons, Saints, Bears, Texans, Panthers and Colts look a lot more daunting. The Rams should not regress from last season, but improving much more than one or two wins would be a huge surprise; they did surprise people last season so seeing them do it again should not be out of the question.

Let CHARGED.fm find you the best St. Louis Rams Tickets all season long!


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