Otto Greule Jr
The St. Louis Rams are more than they've been in the past decade. More effort, more love of the game... They've struck a cord with their fans, and I can't help but believe the Rams wish this season could continue. It can't, but it doesn't take away from what the NFL world has seen of Jeff Fisher's Rams this season. This has been a remarkable year for the team's rookies. One of the most admirable aspects of this team is how they show up to play, every game, and on every down.
Let's take a look at the Rams who finished the 2012 season on a high note.
Chris Long saved his best for last. His non-stop motor has been key to the rise of the Rams defense into being mentioned among the NFL elite. He sacked Seattle's rookie phenom Russell Wilson three times, and was a constant presence in the Seahawks back field. Long and Robert Quinn have become an amazing defensive end duo. Now that he's been signed to a long term deal, he'll help form the base of what the Rams will look like as they continue to improve.
The Rams wide receiver corps has risen from the ashes. They were one the team's worst units in the NFL in 2011. This season, Danny Amendola has been an outstanding offensive weapon for Sam Bradford, but injuries stymied what could have been a break out year. The rise of Chris Givens has many wondering if wide receiver should be all that high on the team's 2013 draft list. Austin Pettis has turned into a red zone weapon, and the much maligned Brandon Gibson leads the Rams in receiving yardage. If rookie second round pick Brian Quick develops, this could be a solid unit in 2013.
Sam Bradford fought his way through what many believed to be his "make or break" year. He proved doubter wrong, as he improved in every quarterback category. No longer hobbled by an injury from 2011, he showed his ability to lead the Rams. While the Rams' offensive line started the year by allowing Bradford to be beaten into the turf with sacks, he showed a rare and growing pocket presence as the season wore on. There's little doubt the addition of a true quarterback coach to the staff has help Bradford improve. Hat tip to Frank Cignetti, Jr.
The greatest improvement for the Rams over the 2011 squad has to be in the defensive secondary. They played great in coverage against the red hot Seattle Seahawks. There's little doubt some of the six sacks suffered by Russell Wilson came when he had no open receivers. Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Jonson and Bradley Fletcher are arguably one of the best corner back units in the NFL.
The most scrutinized unit for the Rams in 2012 has been their offensive line. How amazing is it that Sam Bradford wasn't sacked once by Seattle, one of the best defenses in the NFL. The loss of Harvey Dahl for the season didn't phase Rams offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. He's worked with "pieces parts" all season long, and done a masterful job. Just so you know, if I were to name my offensive player of the year for the Rams, it would be left guard/center Robert Turner. He's had a stellar season after coming to the team from the Jets as a free agent.
SPECIAL ADDITION TO THE QUICK FIVE:
Jeff Fisher, Les Snead, Kevin Demoff, the entire Rams front office and coaching staff have so much to be proud of in 2012. Thank you for a great season!!!!