A Manifesto: This series will provide hope. It will follow the Ram's through the pivotal 2014 offseason, exploring all facets and possibilities of what can and will make this team great. Together we will explore the current roster, free agency, the draft (prospects and mocks), happenings around the league, as well as delve into some fun hypotheticals. So take a seat, grab a beer, and enjoy the ride with me.
Part 1: A New Hope
2013 went out on bad note I'm Seattle. But never fear, there's hope to be had for 2014 and beyond. What looks good:
-Overall, the defense improved. It was already our best unit in 2012 and it took another step in the right direction this year. The run defense went from allowing 117.5 YPG to 102.9 YPG this year. PPG remained around the same. The secondary remained the same, which isn't good. The improvement in the run defense can be attributed to added experience and the addition of Ogletree but the secondary's near regression remains a curious case. While Janoris and Trumaine should have improved with another year, they weren't quite and good as most hoped. Finnegan, for whatever reason, is now a shell of his former self. McDonald shows promise but McCloed is a quality back-up at best. In the end, I'll chalk up the marginal improvement to this already stout unit as a win.
-Bradford was on pace for a career year. Through 7 games, Sam boasted a 90.9 QBR and a 60.7 completion percentage. Had he continued on that pace, he would have ended up with around 3800+ yards, 34 TD's, and 10 INT's. And that was all before we developed a running game and Schotty found out that Tavon was on the roster. If Sam can stay healthy, he can be elite.
-Saffold and Barksdale both had stellar seasons. Kicking Saffold inside proved to be genius and Barksdale really emerged as a above-average right tackle. Unfortunately their contract situations are murky, but at least we know what we've got in-house.
-Special Teams! This unit really grew out of the early season penalties. Tavon is a deadly returner while Hekker and Zuerlein are Pro-Bowl caliber talents (Hekker proved that this year). Look for good things to come.
-2013 is really where the defensive line made the jump from great to elite. Sacks only improved from 52 to 53 but we forced 24 fumbles this year. That's 1st in the league. While inconsistent early in the season, we all know that when this line is on it is REALLY, REALLY good. Robert Quinn proved himself to be elite and Brockers continued to improve his play. Langford should probably restructure his contract considering he's not playing up to the amount he's paid.
-Trust. Trust is key. This isn't about what's going on within the confines of Ram's park but what's going on between the front office and the fans. For this first time in over a decade, we can trust our coach and GM to make good decisions come draft day. I know during the Devaney era we all liked to think ourselves smarter than the front office, and we probably were. But now Snead and Fish are at the helm and yes, they are smarter than us.
-2014 has a very deep draft class at tackle, guard and corner. It's kind of the perfect storm considering it's the last year of the RGIII trade. We can trade down and still acquire talented players at positions of need.
A Preview of next time: Haven't quite decided, but expect a draft class overview of offensive lineman or cornerbacks.