This is the worst time of the year, for a whole month there is basically no NFL news. But that's alright because somehow we made it past those horrible days, July 28th training camp starts. Hell, it's the best thing after the draft, since you never know what will happen in the NFL season you can go from winning one or two games to a playoff team. Also when training camp starts we can finally let what happened last season go, and have unrealistic thoughts and expectations for next season.
When training camp starts every team is 0-0 with a chance to make the playoffs and ultimately the Super Bowl, which every fan hopes their team can get to. The St. Louis Rams have a good chance of being a good team next year just like every team. Just like the other 31 teams the Rams have issues they have to workout during training camp.
1. The development of Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford is the man in the spotlight in St. Louis; in my honest opinion drafting him was the most important decision the Rams have made since moving to St. Louis . Most likely it will be hard for Sam Bradford to land a starting spot by the first preseason game, and after last season we learned that the Ram's coaching staff won't just hand the starting spot to any player. If Sam Bradford want's to crack the starting lineup by week 1 or 2 of preseason it will start by him and Jason Brown developing "chemistry". We all know that Sam Bradford has the physical abilities, and he has great accuracy. Basically it's like this if the Rams want to do what the Atlanta Falcons did in 2008.
Sam Bradford will have to have a bigger year than any quarterback that we had last year, so basically anything over 13 passing touchdowns will have to be a good year for Sam Bradford. If Sam Bradford can throw less than 20 interceptions it would be a good year. Also something that would help is him doing good on 3rd downs or giving us more first downs, so our defense won't stay on the field all game.
There are two big questions that Sam Bradford will face going into training camp.
How will he handle being under pressure of the defense? Making reads under center are tougher than when you are in shotgun, plus the Rams offensive line, while it might be okay, it isn't the best.
How well does he know the playbook? While we do need Sam Bradford for our offense to be successful, we cannot afford for him to throw 25 picks because he doesn''t know the right routes.
3. Will the defensive line play better?
Coach Spags was a great defense coordinator with the New York Giants, so last year when the Rams had 19 sacks by their defense line most people weren't impressed. Also the defensive line played poorly at times letting running backs and blockers reach the second level, especially after the midway point of the season. The Ram's lose Leonard Little (he could play for the Rams this year but no reports specify otherwise) who had 6 and a half of those sacks. Chris Long has been getting reps on the left side and is supposed to be more comfortable. Also Chris Long had a hell of a finish last season and this year hopefully he brings some of that with him. James Hall mans the right side of the line. I think the defensive tackles will become good run stoppers and are headed by Fred Robbins, Chris Hovan, Clifton Ryan and Darell Scott. I think we are solid in the middle with the veteran influences. I don't know who will start besides Fred Robbins, but we have much better depth there now than this time last year.
However, there are three questions that I have with the defensive line.
The first question is who will bring the pressure? Most likely Chris Long will be double teamed a lot, and if the Rams want to be successful they have to develop a pass rush.
Will the rookie defense ends make an impact during training camp? I don't know why the Ram's chose 3 defensive ends in the draft, but they have to have some plan for them.
Will our defense tackles make plays? By that I mean will they get in the backfield, will they draw a double team and allow the defensive ends and linebackers to go to work.
3. How does the wide receiver position play out?
The St. Louis Ram's have a lot of potential at wide receiver this year and it will be interesting to see how it all plays out at training camp. There are many ways that this could go, but either way, barring injury, our wide receiver depth will be great. Last year Laurent Robinson started great and became the number 1 option until an injury derailed what could have been a good season for him...and Robinson being out maybe cost us a win or 2. After last season it became obvious that Donnie Avery isn't a number 1 receiver. I think he would be a good number 2 or slot option. Last season we had Danny Amendola , Donnie Avery, Brandon Gibson, and Jordan Kent as our wide receivers; looking back it becomes obvious to why the Rams best pass catcher was Steven Jackson. This year it could be different. We have a lot of pass catchers this season with a newly added Mardy Gilyard, Brooks Foster and the other receivers coming back from injury, Donnie Avery putting on 10 pounds of muscle to avoid further injuries and promising undrafted free agents. The Rams' wide receivers should actually be good next season and finally take some of the attention off of Steven Jackson.
My two main questions for the wide receivers are as followed.
Who will become the number 1 receiver? Laurent Robinson looked like he filled the void pretty nicely last season but he is often injured. It will be interesting to see how coming back from the injury plays out for Robinson,
Will our receivers be play makers? There is a difference between catching the ball and making something happen, Can anyone of these wide receivers make plays of 3rd downs, fight for extra yards, or get open deep? Well, we will have to see.