Early last week ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen said that the Rams were the hardest team in the NFL to handicap. He went on to say that if you were betting on games to avoid betting on or against the gold and blue. This sentiment neatly summarizes this wildly unpredictable 2012 Rams team.
This year, when you show up to watch a Rams game you don't know what you're going to get. This team is like a crackerjack box. You don't know if you will find a diamond ring at the bottom, or just a couple of crusty popcorn kernels. You might have the pleasure of seeing a pass rushing, turnover hungry defense, or you could be forced to watch a defense that surrenders lots of first downs, gifts 10-yard cushions to opposing receivers, and seems all but lost when adjusting to in-game scenarios. In the case of the Rams week 12 game against the Arizona Cardinals fans got to watch both.
The lack of a true defensive coordinator has hurt the defense at times this year. There was an uproar on Twitter in the first half as the Rams cornerbacks gave the Arizona receivers easy catches underneath, allowing Ryan Lindley to look like Aaron Rodgers. Finally, the change was made to vary coverages and to create more inside pressure; this turned Ryan Lindley into Ryan Leaf. Unfortunately, these kind of changes have been missing the past few weeks. In the Rams unique situation you have to wonder who made the final call on the adjustments this week?
In 2010 the Rams drafted Sam Bradford with the hopes that the team could ride his coattails to success. This journey has been a little different than what the Rams and their fans probably expected. This year the Rams team has been exactly like Sam Bradford - hot and cold. This means impressive wins against divisional opponents, and a fair share of frustrating losses. The Rams have tied their fate to Sam Bradford, and the jury is still out on both of them.
Yes, this is a young Rams team, but many of their problems aren't the fault of young players. On Sunday, Quintin Mikells personal foul that lead to Arizona's first points were not a result of a young player. This is a football team that doesn't know how to win. Fortunately, that is the benefit of youth - they haven't learned to lose either. That is the bright light Rams fans are looking towards as the end of this season approaches.
Taking it all in - Bradford, the lack of a defense coordinator, and the teams youth - it's no wonder this is the hardest NFL team to handicap. The St. Louis Rams are desperately seeking consistency. This may be unachievable this year. All of the elements sited above won't change in the next few weeks, but as the offseason approaches it's those elements that Les Snead, Jeff Fisher, and Kevin Demoff will have to take into deep consideration. Who do you hire to be the defacto D-coordinator, how can we make the play of Bradford more consistent, and how do you compliment the youth on this team? Only time will tell.