(The defensive preview can be found here.)
Year three with head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Year two for Sam Bradford. Year one under OC Josh McDaniels. No pressure or anything. Just a bland offense without interesting storylines.
It's not as if the Rams have two young offensive tackles a stud QB who broke all kinds of rookie passing records in his first NFL season and a Pro Bowl-caliber running back. It's not like they were hyperactive in the free agent market. It's not like they have the chance to resuscitate a franchise who went from the highest of highs in winning a remarkable Super Bowl to the lowest of lows in a 1-15 season that probably blinded a few kids.
Sorry. I have a sarcasm test tomorrow, and I needed to get one last practice session in. It's not like anyone reads this. It's not as if this is one of the most read NFL sites on SB Nation. And it's not as if SB Nation is leading the way in fan-sourced coverage on the internet. It's not as if anyone uses the internet. It's not like there actually are people. Yeah, sure, existence exists. Whatever.
Previewing the totally not real, uninteresting St. Louis Rams after the not jump.
For game-related info, check out the SBN page for the game. For Eagles news leading up the game, check out Bleeding Green Nation.
Other previews: SB Nation (Sports Network), Rams Gab, NFL.com, ESPN
St. Louis Rams, 0-0, t-1st - NFC West
Philadelphia Eagles, 0-0, t-1st - NFC East
*Statistics won't be available until week 2 of the regular season
STL pass - N/A
PHI pass D - N/A
Here we go, kids. The Rams went out and signed Mike Sims-Walker and drafted two WRs after taking TE Lance Kendricks in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Maybe most inspiring, they took an offensive mind in Josh McDaniels whose track records in New England and Denver suggests an ability to craft yard-devouring machines (say what you will about the Broncos in his tenure, but the numbers don't lie). There's plenty to get excited about, but it's not going to be as simple as throwing everything in a pot and turning the heat on. Football's not paella.
If there's one obvious reason the Rams' passing offense won't come sprinting out of the gate, it could be this Eagles defense. Along with Asante Samuel, the Eagles made headlines by swooping under the Cowboys to sign Nnamdi Asomugha. To add to the embarrassment of riches, the Eagles traded backup QB for Cardinals CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and a second round pick. At safety, they're nowhere near the level of their cornerback unit, but there's talent back there with Nate Allen and rookie Jaiquawn Jarrett, their second pick from the '11 draft. The real question could be Kurt Coleman. The former Buckeye was selected at the back end of the 2010 draft, and got a pair of starts by season's end. If there's a weak spot to be had behind the linebackers, you have to guess it would be Coleman.
STL run - N/A
PHI run D - N/A
There isn't a bigger question mark hovering over this game than this. Line battles aside, for the first time in Steven Jackson's career, he'll have talent behind him on the depth chart. So the obvious first concern is work rate - what share of the carries will (or should) Jackson get? And how to implement the running game against a team with such a strong secondary? In last year's opener, the Rams ran the ball just under 31% of their offensive snaps. Jackson carried the ball for all running plays except for two (Mike Karney and Kenneth Darby had a single carry each). Any change to that first number will be either a specific result of intention by the coaching staff or the result of a game out of control (meaning we're running the ball to kill clock or passing the ball to try and score as quickly as possible).
As if this wasn't already intriguing enough just on the Rams' side, the chance to exhibit a stronger run game in 2011 than last year could rely on Philly's weakest defensive unit: their LBs. Starting in the middle will be rookie fourth-rounder (and extremely undersized) Casey Matthews. Expect the broadcasters to mention his relation to brother Clay at least a handful of times. Alongside him will be Moise Fokou, a serious issue in pass coverage, and Jamar Chaney who lacks enough acceleration or speed to be effective in anything beyond a straight line run defender. If the O-line can open some things up in the run game, this could be a game for Jackson and Co. to steal some headlines.
STL O-line - N/A
PHI D-line - N/A
Ah, line play. It decides everything, but rarely works in the spotlight. So what here? The Rams needed more tenacity along the interior in run blocking, so they added Harvey Dahl and Tony Wragge to provide some attitude to the talents of Jason Brown and Jacob Bell. And of course, Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold return for years three and two, respectively. Overall, it's a line built for protecting Sam, but that doesn't mean they can't create some holes in the run game (especially on the right side).
Philly has a spotty line that should pester teams this year. With Trent Cole, new signing Jason Babin and veteran Juqua Parker, there's talent on the edge. Inside, Mike Patterson and Antonio Dixon aren't ignorable bodies. It's going to be a battle along the trenches, and believe that I'll be watching it for the majority of the game. if the Rams are going to put up decent numbers offensively, the line is going to have to keep Sam unbothered and create space for Jackson to work in.
It's going to be a hell of a game. More than anything, I'm just glad football's back. So get ya mind right. The Rams play tomorrow, and it's going to get crazy here on TST. There are few things I enjoy more than that.