Raise your expectations Rams fans! I say raise your expectations. Set your sights firmly on the playoffs. I say anything less than the playoffs for the Rams this year would and should be a disappointment.
After all it is year 3 of the Fisher/Snead regime, you remember, the break out year that we kept reading about a couple of years ago. But now that all the picks are in and year 3 is upon us, we timid Rams fans are hedging our bets.
The division is too tough.
The schedule is too tough.
The Rams don't have a number one receiver.
Bradford is injury prone or any other way you want to finish this sentence.
Schottenheimer is not imaginative enough.
The Rams could have a good year and still go 8-8. No No NO! I say it is the break out year. It is time for the Rams to crash the party and get back into the playoffs.
Look, I get it. I have been a Rams fan for many years and have watched alot of Rams losses. A couple of years ago the Rams completed the worst 5 year record in NFL history. Yeah the Colts got the first pick in the draft, but anybody that was watching knows that at the end of the 2011 regular season, the Rams were the worst team in the league. There were games when I just had to laugh at the Rams, it was either that or cry. At that point my expectations for the team were zero, and I was just hoping that they could get back to competitive football.
You could see that things were different in the 2012 season with the hiring of Jeff Fisher as the head coach. Sure there were some disappointing games: The Jets and Vikings home games come to mind as well as the Patriots game in London. But, holy crap they won all of their NFC West home games! The Rams pulled themselves from the bottom of the barrel to the middle of the pack in year one of the Fisher/Snead regime and it felt pretty good.
Last year. Huh. Yeah, last year just as us Ram fans were starting to get our hopes up...BAM. The Rams get stomped in Dallas. And then worse...oh my god so much worse; The 49er's beat up on the Rams in St Louis on national TV. How many of us swore off the Rams after that game (raises hand)? So the Rams change offensive philosophy and win a couple of games, and then of course, Bradford tears up his knee and is out for the year. Really? Really??
I get it, believe me. You are tired of being let down by this team.
But it is year 3 for Fisher and Snead. The team has bought in to their philosophy: Good defense/run the football/balanced offense. They have had some success with this philosphy, and now they have drafted it. It is a game plan that can and does win Super Bowls. Jeff Fisher has raised the level of this team to respectability. Sure you can question some of this regimes personnel moves (we could argue all offseason over those...oh wait, we have). Fisher has built this team they way that he wanted. Ogletree, Austin, TJ McDonald, Jenkins, Joyner are all guys the Rams specifically targeted. They had alot of options including a big trade with Buffalo when they picked Greg Robinson. The Rams could have made some drastic moves in the offseason if they thought that was what was needed, but they did not. Yes, the Rams need a handfull of their young players to raise their game, but I think this is easily the most talented team the Rams have had in 6 or 7 years. The team returns 21 starters. This is Fisher's team. The team that Fisher built. This is the team that Fisher thinks he can win with.
It is time to make the playoffs.
Let me be clear and say that I am not advocating that the Rams should fire Fisher if they do not make the playoffs this year. It is my hope that Fisher will be the coach for many years and lead the Rams to multiple Super Bowl wins (and I have hoped the same thing for every other coach the Rams have had as well). I think that it would be good for the Rams to have a long term head coach. I would not fire the current staff unless they had a really bad year.
What I am saying is that it is time for Rams fans to raise their expectations. It is time to get back into the playoffs. The Rams veterans know, listen to what they are saying in those interviews. Raise you expectations Rams fans. After all, isn't making the playoffs what every sports fan wants? Coach Fisher has brought respectability back to the Rams. You don't have to limit your hopes to mediocrity anymore. Raise your voices to talk about the playoffs and what it will take for the Rams to make the playoffs this year.
Whether you are doing it out of respect for coach Fisher or because you are holding him accountable, it is time for us Rams fans to collectively raise our expectations for this team.