It's that time of the year again. The players are getting into peak physical condition, the coaches are studying plays non-stop, and the fans are ordering their new Sam Bradford jerseys, all in anticipation of the upcoming season. This also a great time for analysts, bloggers, and all kinds of sport writers, as we all get to make predictions for the year. In this series of "Boom and Bust", I will be looking at all 32 teams, analyzing their rosters and players, and decide who is going to have a great/better year and who will have a down year. Let's just hope I can do this better than Mike Florio... Well, here are our first contestants for this year's "Boom and Bust":
BOOM! - RB Steven Jackson
I know what you're thinking, "No way is it possible that Action Jackson could be better than he already is?" Well, last year, Jackson rushed for over 1,400 yards and received over 300 yards, with the likes of Marc Bulger, Kyle Boller, and Keith Null as QB, and, let's be honest, a sub-par offensive line. First off, the Rams QB sitiuation was terrible last year. "How bad?" Glad you asked, well to put this into perspective, the Rams best QB rating belonged to Josh Brown. That's correct, the Rams' best passer rating was that of their kicker from completing one pass for a TD. The next highest on the team was Marc Bulger, posting a lovely 70.7 rating (Peyton Manning's completion percentage was almost that much). Now, of course, this is also partially to blame because of the Rams struggles at the O-line. Last year, the Rams allowed 44 sacks as well as 98 QB hits. That was good enough for 26th best O-line from last season.
Now what does this all means for Steven Jackson? Well, for one, The Rams line did get somewhat of an upgrade by drafting Rodger Saffold, who I think is one of the more underrated linemen from this past draft, as well as signing veteran Hank Fraley. Plus, Jason Brown is a great young center who is due for a Pro Bowl appearance soon. And with the drafting of the future in Bradford, the opposing defenses will have to spread out more than they did for Null, even if A.J. Feeley opens the year as the starter. Plus, with the possible addition of Terrell Owens, defenses will be forced to respect the Rams passing game. My hunch is that Action Jackson will probably rush for a couple hundred more yards, mostly coming from some more breakaway runs. Expect big things from Jackson this year, barring injury, Ram fans.
Bust... - Rams' Cornerbacks
While the Rams' secondary as a whole isn't that bad with safeties Oshiomogho Atogwe and James Butler, their corners are very shaky at best. Veteran Ron Bartell is the best corner and will be the number one, but he is coming off an injury-plagued season (thigh). And frontrunner for the number two spot, Bradley Fletcher, is coming back from knee surgery. It will be interesting to see how both will fair coming back from fairly significant injuries.
Zero is a number the cornerbacks for the Rams are familiar with. Thats is, zero total interceptions from CBs last season. The Rams defense totaled only 8 interceptions, which tied with the Raiders for dead last, who, side from Nnamdi Asomugha, is far from great. To be honest, it's hard to see how they can be successful this season. The only plus I've seen for them is that the Cardinals traded away Anquan Boldin.
To sum up, Steven Jackson is going to have a great year, while the Rams' corners are going to have one year to forget. Jackson gets to look forward to Braford taking snaps under center at some point during the year, as well as a possible signing of T.O. to help open up the congested hole defenses allow for Jackson. The corners are all a bit of a question mark for one reason or another, and Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Crabtree, and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, are certainly looking forward to their games against the Rams, no offense.
Now, what do you think of the Rams this year? Did I miss anyone? Oh and if you care, I am continuing on to all 32 teams, with the Lions up next on the Pride of Detroit.