The St. Louis Rams have been a consistent disappoint leading up to the 2011-2012 season, amplified even more by a flash of potential when they went 7-9 in 2010-2011 only to drop back down to 2-14 in 2011-2012. But I’m not writing this to inform you of things you already know, but instead to speculate where the team was when Fischer/Snead took over, analyze the game plan of our latest front office over the last two off-seasons, and predict what we can expect from the new regime this coming fall.
The Ram’s personnel coming into the 2011 offseason was weak. Simply put, the talent was just not there in certain places. Poor chemistry and execution filled that roster, accompanied with a plethora of season-ending injuries and starters who belonged on practice squads. But alas, there were cornerstone players, game changers, even, only needing a little more help from a supporting cast. Say what you will about Spagnolo’s drafts (admittedly about 75% of his picks did not pan out), but he didn’t completely strike out in his time. James Laurinaitis, Chris Long and Robert Quinn have proven to be high quality picks and leaders for a suffering team. However, the only real player with game-changing potential on the offensive side of the ball is still regarded as Sam Bradford.
Enter Jeff Fischer. From the beginning of his tenure in 2012, it was clear our defense was primed for a break out if they got only a little more help. The front seven had a few holes, but was absolutely loaded with potential. The secondary, on the other hand, was completely crippled at cornerback. With so many holes to fill on the offense, including areas in wide receiver, offensive line and tight end, it was clear a few high quality picks/free agent acquisitions would not boost the offense into the top half of the league. Quanity was the goal here: fill as many holes as possible, establish a decent offensive supporting cast, learn a new playbook and begin to build from the bottom. The defense, on the other hand, was established and ready to burst out.
Our offense certainly made large strides in 2012, but Fischer recognized it was not yet time for a breakout. First, it was the defenses turn. The focus for the defense was getting impact players in each hole, whereas the offense focused on developmental players (read: Brian Quick). Starting with the signing of immediate starters Kendall Langford, Cortland Finnegan and Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and then drafting Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins, the defense was set. Big money was spent here, even with the early resigning of Chris Long and James Laurinaitis. After the off-season, the defense was nearly set.
Now, in the 2013 off-season, we turn to the offense. Established at the ground floor last year, big moves are being made to fuel this primed up offense. Sam Bradford is repeating a year in the playbook, developmental players are getting a feel for the NFL, and big money is being transferred to this side of the ball. Moving up to take Tavon Austin is the perfect example of the changed mentality this front office has this season. Match that up with the signing of Jake Long and Jared Cook, and you can start to see the similarities.
So, where are we going to be at next year? Will we regress like in 2011? Are we going to the Super Bowl? I can’t say for certain, purely speculation, but our defense is set to keep improving to become and elite defense this year and, after drawing these comparisons, I think you’re going to see this St. Louis Rams offense create a whole new established personality like we saw out of the defense last year. They’ll be faster and stronger and play with an intensity we haven’t seen at Rams Park in years. The offense is set to find a personality just like the defense did last year, and we may be looking at a whole new Rams this coming season.
Writing that last sentence gave me Goosebumps. What you do you guys think?