EARTH CITY, MO - JULY 31: Will Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' offensive scheme have the Rams as one of the top offenses of 2011? (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
When the gun sounds after week 17 against the 49ers, just where will the Rams be? Obviously the Rams as well as their fans are hopeful they will be headed to the playoffs with an NFC West crown, or for the more extreme optimists, perhaps more.
The hiring of Josh McDaniels during the offseason sent a message to the rest of the NFL. The Rams will not be a sub-par scoring team any longer. And even though the season hasn't even started yet, people are already starting to take notice.
It all started when St Louis was awarded two Monday night games in 2011, granted, the Rams were 7-9 last year and one game away from winning the NFC West but still, you have to believe there is an excitement about where this team is headed, and it's being recognized, particularly with McDaniels offense coupled with Sam Bradford's right arm.
Stepping back now concerning McDaniels, there is such a thing as trying to stick a round peg into a square hole which has happened many times for several teams in the NFL in the past.
While anything is possible, I really don't believe that is the case for the Rams. Still, there are those who don't believe the signing of MCDaniels will even matter for the Rams. Those pundits may indeed be in for a real surprise once the season starts.
You can argue that players coming into a first year offense system often struggle, and that's even with a limited playbook. Makes sense right? After all, a new system is like walking into a new job and environment. Learning the X's and O's in a critical piece in success I agree, but there is an even bigger piece. Having the right personnel to match the system.
For those still in dissagreement, let's look at the '99 Rams (superbowl champs). Mike Martz came to St Louis that same year and put together one of the most potent offensive schemes the NFL has ever seen. Why? The Rams were smart enough to also bring in all the peices, tools and weapons Martz needed to complete the puzzle.
Martz was working with a new QB, running back, and a Rookie WR to name a few. For the most part, the rest of the Rams team remained intact from the previous season.
Looking at the Rams roster this year, you can see a similar occurrence and flurry of activity. McDaniels system relies heavily on TE's as well as backs who can catch the football out of the backfield. The Rams snagged TE Kendricks in the second round and he is already looking like a superstar in camp.
The Rams also picked up WR's Salas and Pettis, signed WR Sims-Walker, as well as acquired RB's Jerious Norwood and Caddilac Williams (two guys notorious for catching the ball and making big plays). Sam Bradford is also coming into his second year, and I don't expect as many mistakes. Oh and by the way, there is a gentleman named Steven Jackson still on the roster and you guessed it... he can also catch the ball well too.
What about protection? Tackles Rodger Saffold (second round pick) and Jason Smith (first round pick, 2 overall) are young bookend Tackles set to protect Bradford and open lanes for RB's for years to come. The Rams also acquired tough nosed G Harvey Dahl to shore up the interior.
Let's also not forget about G Jacob Bell who is arguably one of the best pass blockers in the league. So for all the people who think the Rams offensive numbers will not be improved this year, you better do a double take and think again.
I am in no way predicting a Rams superbowl victory, however, just because it's a first year system doesn't spell automatic disaster.
Putting the right pieces in place, and guys who can fill their roles, is the final piece to the puzzle. Have the Rams satisfied these puzzle pieces to set themselves up for success? We'll see soon enough, but I believe there will be some surprised people before years end.