Well, lets point out the obvious, the Rams should be in the playoffs this season and this is going to be a long off season for many reasons. We have a potentially great team and what we saw this season is the youngest team in the league show a plethora of talent but at other times they showed their immaturity and inexperience. There were a number of games that were winnable like the Jets game that still baffles me, this may remind many of 2010. The only difference is there isn't a lockout on the horizon so there isn't a wall blocking the players from exceeding what they did next season. This team has a great future ahead of them as long as longevity in the coaching is sustained. Now, group and individual wise, what did we learn this season?
First and foremost, I learned Fish and Snead is building something great. I still want to see Fish lead a team to greatness, more than regular season exploits but the playoffs and beyond. He's basically smashed every other of my criticisms. I'm actually giddy with happiness at the possibilities of what Snead will do this time around,.It probably won't be as big as last season considering there's no where near as talented Quarter Backs or players in my mind but it could be interesting, stay tuned.
Well, we learned that this defense is elite. There is not way that I can say much bad about this defense, they kept us in most games from the start of the season to the end. They showed intensity when the offense showed ineptness, being the only light at many points in the season. The scary part, they can and will get better next season. The Defensive line is young and so are the play makers. It seems that on any given down or game, any of the defensive players on the line can step up and make a great impact on the game. Whether it be pressuring or sacking the quarterback. Then you have our secondary that I could honestly see being elite as of next year. We know what we have in Cortland and Janoris Jenkins was outstanding at times this season, coming up with big plays at critical times. Sure he showed his weaknesses at times and Rams fans were bewildered at times when he would give so much cushion to receivers off the line. Also he seemed to be a liability in the secondary at times with his overaggressive play but I'd rather have an aggressive corner than a too lax one. The best thing we can say is our weaknesses are fairly simple going into the off season, get an OLB and a capable Safety. This defense is a few serviceable players at those two positions from being a top 3 defense in the league.
Our offense is exactly what we thought it would be, inconsistent. They showed the ability to move the ball up and down the field at ease at times, showing us exactly what we want. Then at other times we saw exactly why fans have whined for play makers and protection for Sam. I take nothing away from them, both groups improved this season, I even believe Sam went two games at the end of the season without being sacked but lets not get comfortable, this is far from the finished product. Although Sam wasn't sacked that doesn't mean he wasn't pressured. Just like some Sam skeptics could say his sack total could be his fault, him not being sacked could also be on his improvement. Throwing the ball away when needed and moving around in the pocket are just a few things I've seen him improve on as the season went along. I think we would be better served to get an OT in FA if there is one worth getting because I think people have a misconception what one drafted can do in his first season. Sure, he could be an absolute stud but with where were drafting more than likely he'll have to develop. This is where a Vet has my vote over a draftee. I might say this but I'm not against neither honestly. Also, I think there is a possibility that we draft a Tight End in the first. Sure Kendricks is getting better but if you ever watched Sam in college you noticed he relied heavily on Gresham, getting another big weapon over the middle would surely open the field up for wide receivers on the outsides.
Next we have to get to individuals, I would venture to say the most important person to start with is Sam Bradford. As I've said above, he improved this season with out a doubt. His pocket awareness defiantly improved but he is not at his cliff neither. I think I can say without a doubt that this wasn't his make it or break it season as I and many eluded to before the season started. I think it would be stupid if the front office cut bait with him now considering the progression that he has made. Looking forward as Fisher puts more responsibility in his hands I look for his pocket awareness to get better and the main thing I look for him to improve on his is obvious blatant act of locking onto his receiver. It seems that at times he picks his receiver that he's going to throw to before the ball is snapped and no matter what, whether that receiver is double covered or not he still throws an ill advised ball. With all of this, his future look bright and still has the potential to be elite in this league.
Next comes Danny "blanket" Amendola. I know here on TST many have a huge man crush on him but I think the only way we resign him is for the right price. Sure, he is Sam's favorite target but this season has proved with the punishment that he takes, he might not be able to stay healthy. I'm not going to plague his name with the overused diction, injury prone, but he is teetering in that way. In 2012, he only played in 11 games and in 2011 he only played in 1 and has never even surpassed the 700 yard mark. There is no way we should give him the tag or even venture to think about it. He is not an elite nor great receiver in this league (yet) nor should the Rams pay him like one. If he doesn't accept this fact then we should let him see what he can get in other places. I like him, sure but this organization needs to think about other areas.
I don't believe Steven Jackson will retire and if he doesn't he will be resigned, he's still a good running back in this league but I don't think he'll be the work horse like he has in previous years. I think the runs will be spread out more, if he can accept his limitations then this bolds well for the future.
Givens looks to be a stud and I'd like to see him work more on his intermediate routes and others so he can be more than a one trick pony. We saw more of this as the season went along and I was pleasantly surprised. As far as Quick goes, I'm in the same boat as many, I want to see him play more.,period.
Chris Long is a beast and while he's not elite yet in my eyes, there could certainly be a case made same goes for James.They are both the emotional leaders on this defense and it glares through every games. Sure, James had a down year considering most expectations but he still made plays none the less. Quinn looks to be a stud and I expect Brockers to get better on his pass rush. Like I said above, this defense has a bright future.
One other bulky need that we need in this offseason is a legit return man. I was hoping to see Jenkins or Pead step into this role but that doesn't look like the route the Rams want to go. This is why I'm warming up more and more to DC's idea of getting Tavon Austin in the draft because of his ability to impact the game so much at in given moment, including returning punts. While I like the idea, this kind of makes me cringe at the same time of having a major play maker for the offense going to return kicks because of how dangerous it could be. This is also why I think we should have a player that's specific job is to return kicks. I know this is not logical to some because as soon as this player shows what he can do, we will all wonder what he can do at the Wide Receiver spot, just a though of mine though.
The most important thing I'd like to bring back up that we should hold our heads up high to is, the Rams are improving and no team can take us as an automatic win on the schedule, not by a long shot. Also keep in mind we beat 3 teams that are in the playoffs which are:
But improvement should be key, we should have beat Detroit, Jets, and Miami and there's not excuse for those loses in hind site in my mind. Learning how to win is key looking forward and I don't care how it's perceived, kick the fuck out of a team when they're down, no ability to come back. This is a mantra developed by the Pats and that's why so many people love watching them. They're up by 3 touchdowns, they're looking to be up by 4 and then 5. Don't step off the throttle til it's over. Sure we can be called sore winners or whatever, but I call it karma. You know what they couldn't call the Rams, losers.
So just in case you didn't learn anything this season, you can now tell everyone
Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed. I didn't get to every individual on the Rams so please share what you learned about the Rams this season.