The NFC West just got tougher.
Oh great, the Seahawks have acquired Percy Harvin, and the NFC West just became a really tough place to play football. The headline move of the offseason so far (sorry Alex Smith) will have clear ripple effects on the St. Louis Rams, starting now with how the team responds to the increasingly competitive division in the offseason.
The Rams' offseason so far has been defined by letting players walk away. Danny Amendola, Steven Jackson, Quintin Mikell ... all of those guys played an integral role in the Rams relative succes last season. Without question each one can be replaced by a better player or at least one on equal footing with a more economical cap hit.
Jeff Fisher and Les Snead are not knee-jerk reactionists. I doubt their offseason plans just went in the trash can with this move. That's a good thing. Adjusting to an opponent during the course of a game is essential to success; adjusting to an opponent in March is the recipe for disaster.
Safeties and linebackers and more help for the defensive line were already on the team's shopping list this spring. The nature of the NFC West has changed over the years, and the Rams have to be prepared to run with two team embracing the game's natural evolution. They have the cornerbacks for it, and finding those other components will be key to the defense taking a step from very good to damn near elite.
But that was the plan all along anyway.
Hopefully, you read Danny Kelly's exhaustive piece on how to defend these new fangled offenses, the kind that Russell Wilson just happens to run very successfully. It's essentially a plan for the Rams' offseason.
With a player like Harvin, Wilson's arm just became that more much of a weapon. Think about it: defenses now have to account for the possibility of Wilson or Marshawn Lynch running the ball, somewhere on the field, or him finding the speedy Harvin in space or 50 yards down the field, with only a deep safety between himself and the end zone.
How do you mitigate that threat somewhat? A tough, physical corner that can press his man, that man being Harvin in this case, and cover him anywhere on the field. You also need a smart deep safety with the range to cover the entire field if he has to. That safety and his partner should also be able to play the box, working up closer to the line.
Seattle has a secondary exactly like that. The Rams are close, very close, and who they pursue to address the need at safety will go along way toward keeping them competitive with Seattle this year.