The last four months have been unlike any other stretch in the recent history of the St. Louis Rams. High profile firings and hirings, more than $100 million in free agent contracts handed out and a slew of draft day wheeling and dealing that netted the team a ton of potential. Oh yeah, and all this is playing out against the backdrop of stadium politics. At the very least, the Rams are finally sharing a little bit of the city sports spotlight with the Cardinals.
Over at SB Nation's NFL hub, we kicked off our series of offseason team reports, kicking the tires on where things stand with all 32 NFL teams after the draft and first waves of free agency. On Monday, the Rams got pulled onto the exam table and placed in the stirrups.
I'll let you head click over there to read the full report. As a bit of bonus content, I'm adding a handful of questions the team has to answer if they really do have a shot at competing this season. My list and some speculative answers after the jump.
Did the Rams do enough to address their needs at wide receiver?
There might not be a bigger on-field question than this one. With no blue chip prospects in this year's draft, the Rams added two receivers who offer something different than the smattering of possession receiver they already had on the roster. Chris Givens gives them a real vertical threat, and Brian Quick is the big man with sure hands. It takes time for receivers to learn the pro game. Where Givens and Quick offer strengths where they can contribute right away. Sam Bradford could find Quick's size and hands useful on fades and jump balls, not to mention the red zone.
Can the injured players rebound?
On offense, no injury hurt more than the loss of Danny Amendola. Bradford lost his safety valve for quick dump off passes. Having Amendola on the field would surely have cut down on the sack totals. Greg Salas is another player who might have helped, but suffered a season-ending injury instead. This question extends to most of the defense, though the injured players in the secondary may be pushed into depth roles after offseason acquisitions.
Will the offensive line finally get it?
Both of the Rams' young tackles struggled badly before succumbing to injury. The new coaching staff has given both Roger Saffold and Jason Smith a vote of confidence, believing that Paul Boudreau, the new offensive line coach, has the answers. The middle of the line is strong with Harvey Dahl, an undrafted played Boudreau turned into gold with the Falcons, and veteran center Scott Wells, who should be a big help for Bradford in pass protection.
Is outside linebacker going to be a problem?
It's the one major area of need that the Rams did not wholly address. They did sign Jo-Lonn Dunbar from the Saints, and he looks to have one starting spot nailed down. Improvements to the defensive line should help, as well as in the secondary, where Cortland Finnegan and rookie Janoris Jenkins both have bona fides in run support. With nickle packages so prevalent, outside linebackers are less important than depth at defensive back, but teams do still have to stop the run, the game hasn't evolved that far.
Will young players progress?
This might be the most important question for the Rams in 2012, as they look to salvage recent draft picks. I mentioned Salas above, but last year's 2nd-round pick Lance Kendricks comes directly to mind here. Did you know only two offensive skill players played more snaps last year than Kendricks? Josh McDaniels used him as a run blocker almost as much as he had him on the field for passing plays. He really needs to improve his hands to put his speed and separation skills to good use.
Can you think of more offseason issues and questions for the Rams?