clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

St. Louis Rams: 2014 Season Review - Part 1

With all 16 games from the 2014 season finally reviewed, here is part one - of a two part series - which will cover the offensive unit. What position group performed the best and who was the best performer at each position?

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jeff Fisher insisted this team was better than the record would indicate. Yet, our buddy over at ESPN adamantly disagrees, and I use the word "buddy" lightly. Now, with that being said, he's right to a degree. The team in a sense stayed the same, but overall I have to say they regressed. The difference from 2013 to 2014 is the defense and offense flipped. That would actually kind of equate to a stalemate, but when you add in the special teams' performance, and there was a bit of a drop off for the team as a whole.

The line's run blocking was atrocious for most games. There were very few good performances overall. They were also very inconsistent pass blocking as well. As a team, the Rams only eclipsed 100 total rushing yards in a game nine times. The Rams only had 7 runs that went for 20 or more yards in 2014, as opposed to 11 in 2013. The team kept their total interceptions down to 11 last season and finished with only 16 total turnovers. This season the Rams had 16 interceptions alone, and 22 total turnovers. Of those 16 interceptions, 10 Came with the quarterback under pressure. As a whole, the Rams only averaged 4.1 ypc. The line also allowed 47 sacks which is by far the most since that scary 2011 season. The best player here was no one.

Overall Grade - D

At quarterback Shaun Hill proved to be as advertised; nothing more than a journeyman back-up. He is without question a very solid back-up. But a solid starter? Not so much. He was re-installed as the starter because he supposedly would do a better job taking care of the football than Austin Davis. When the dust settled he did just that finishing with eight turnovers in 8 starts, to Davis' 12 turnovers in the same amount of starts. Davis finished the season besting Hill in QB rating, yards, touchdowns,  and touchdown to interception ratio. Davis had a touchdown percentage of 4.2, to Hill's 3.5. Hill also showed horrible deep ball accuracy and arm strength. By my count, he missed a wide open Kenny Britt for deep touchdowns - all of which could have been 50 yards or more - 6 times. We're talking corner badly beat, walk in, easy touchdowns. All but one was under thrown badly. But when reviewing the games there was one glaring difference, Hill was much more composed when blitzed. Seven of Davis' turnovers came when heavily blitzed, and three had a check down open. In conclusion I would have to put the blame on inexperience. Overall, Austin Davis was the better player.

Positional Grade - C-

The running back position really suffered from poor blocking. This is a talented and deep group. They really flourished when given the opportunity. Benny Cunningham really added a nice dimension to his game this season with his receiving and pass blocking. He is really developing into a complete back. Zac Stacy in my opinion did not do anything to get benched. Like the others he was a victim to poor run blocking, bad play calling, and a good first half of the schedule. Playing from behind will never allow a running back to get in a groove. Not to mention the Rams rotation made zero sense the first eight games of the season. Tre Mason eventually proved to be what he was believed to be from the second the Rams drafted him the third round; the most explosive back on the roster. He displayed some great lateral agility, toughness, tackle breaking, vision and patience. Throw in another great find in Trey Watts and the Rams might have the deepest backfield in football. Watts has a future, and it does not only consist of special teams. He is a great option out the backfield and a really hard guy to tackle. He's very shifty with great burst, though his top end sped is suspect. This was an easy one, the best player here was Tre Mason.

Overall Grade - A-

The receiver position has once again left me feeling like a believer. Unlike most, I see what they are capable of. This group is really good. Kenny Britt basically told the whole world to shut the hell up and kiss my ass. As mentioned earlier Shaun Hill missed him deep badly on numerous occasions. If half of those passes are completed, he probably  finishes the season with about 1000 yards and 6 touchdowns. And this is without him being utilized properly. Britt stands 6'3" 225 pounds - though he looks as if he played the season at 230 - he has a vertical of 37 inches, and he is adept at catching jump balls. Sounds like he probably should have had more red-zone looks. He did however show a complete skill set beating defensive backs senseless underneath,  intermediate and deep.

Brian Quick finally began to grow into his own. He, like most, accredited Kenny Britt playing a huge role in his development. But it was also about that time. He has developed a reputation as being a hard worker, which might have something to do with the great relationship he developed with Terrell Owens. Quick looked like a man on a mission to start the season. Now, with that being said, there has been too much blaming of the injury for his final stat line. While it's true that it's kind of difficult to produce when you're not suited up, Quick's performance badly decreased, long before the injury. After the fourth game - which saw him go for 5-87-2 - teams put an emphasis on stopping him, and they did. The next 3 games he was completely eliminated going 4-43-0. Quick proved two things: he's not a number one, he is however a helluva number two. Number one guys are not stopped so easily.

The better "one" on the team - not named Britt - is actually Stedman Bailey. Bailey is the real deal, and it sucks that he has to deal with inconsistent backup play and bad playcalling. He and Kenny Britt really made some DB's look silly together. Tavon Austin is, well, Tavon Austin is terribly underutilized. He's not a traditional reciever but that doesn't he can't be one. As I mentioned in my what went wrong with the Tavon pick article, his size isn't the issue. He should be a 55 rec 30 rush guy. The sooner the staff realizes this, and give  him more screens and double moves, rather than speed outs and dive runs, the sooner he can have more explosive plays. You can tell watching him the game has really slowed down for him. Chris Givens is the forgotten man and it sucks. He has been dropped to the bottom of the totem because he was never drafted to be at the top. He was drafted for depth, was forced to the top, produced, but then the players brought in to be at the top, developed. Basically he was used then thrown to the side. He is however good depth, but may be better served as trade bait. The best player here was hands down - or up - Kenny Britt.

Overall Grade - B+

Jared Cook continues to be a model of inconsistency. Cook had far too many drops on the year, two of which could have gone for touchdowns, and both could have won their respective games. He also showed a knack for half ass-ing his routes. I very rarely saw him come out of his breaks with authority. However, he did demonstrate much better blocking this season, and at times he was a much more physical player after the catch. Lance Kendricks has been - and remains - the most underutilized, underrated and under-appreciated Ram there is. Because of this, there's a good chance he may be lost to free agency. He's a very physical blocker and his best performance of the year may have been against the Broncos. Kendricks successfully took Von Miller and Damarcus Ware out of the game. He was used as an extra lineman often and found himself in one on ones and won repeatedly. Kendricks is a good route runner, and has a good nose for the end zone. Cory Harkey has really developed into a valuable piece of the pie. His blocking and physicality makes a huge difference. He had a great season not only as a lead blocker in the box, but he has also developed into a great open field blocker. The best player of this group goes to Kendricks for having the best and most complete all around game.

Overall Grade - B

Offensive Grade C+

*****I made a few changes. The overall QB grade is now a C- in stead of a C, and the overall offense grade is now a C+ instead of a B-. These were my initial grades when writing but I thought that I might be being a little hard on the QB's considering the circumstances, not mention personal, biased feelings, of disappointment. But after further review, I have reached the conclusion the initial grades were indeed fair.*****