This one made me smile: Among the Top 5 in "Total Defense", the Rams have finally landed where I thought they should be...
|Total Defense (YPG)||Complete List|
|1. Denver Broncos||274.1|
|2. Seattle Seahawks||284.9|
|3. Arizona Cardinals||312.8|
|4. New York Jets||323.2|
|5. St. Louis Rams||323.8
But what caught my eyes - as I reveled in the three NFC West teams being among the very best defenses - was in the lower left corner of the page. Have a look:
|Rushing (YPG)||Complete List|
|1. Carolina Panthers||142.2|
|2. Buffalo Bills||141.6|
|3. Seattle Seahawks||139.5|
|4. St. Louis Rams||135.5|
|5. Pittsburgh Steelers||133.4
A "Top 5" offensive category for the St. Louis Rams? If this had been the first couple weeks of a season, I could see any team having a chance to make an appearance on the page. But this is more than half way through an NFL season, and where teams normally show just how good they'll be down the stretch. At this point, teams making these lists aren't doing it with single week splashes. They're doing it by consistently excelling in a facet of the game.
I think I see why head coach Jeff Fisher looks and sounds so determined when he talks about how "Our offense needs to get better..." He sees the same stats we do as fans, and knows if he can edge his team off the bottom of the "passing stats" pile, the Rams can quickly turn into something special in 2015.
The Wes Welker signing makes more sense to me now too. Fisher sees Welker as a guy who can add a few 3rd-down conversions, while hopefully adding some mid-field catches to help Nick Foles. Fisher knows he needs to add layers to his offense, or risk Todd Gurley grinding to a halt. At 34, Welker isn't the wide receiver he used to be. A trip to the NFL Hall of Fame for the key cog in both Tom Brady's and Peyton Manning's careers is more than a possibility somewhere down the road. Rams opponents won't take it lightly when Welker trots onto the field. He'll make the heads of more than a few linebackers, safeties, and corner backs turn his way...
The loss to the Viking was tough, but don't fail to see just how much this team's learning curve is tightening up. Glitches and mistakes are there still, but so is the ability to overcome them. This young offensive line is beginning to grow into the job. But what impresses me most, is the apparent depth when it comes to offensive linemen right now for the Rams. Yes they're raw, but this may very well be the deepest talent I've seen along the line for St. Louis in the past decade.
The biggest game of the year down the stretch for St. Louis won't be against Arizona, Seattle or San Francisco. It's coming Week #12 in Cincinnati, and it will be the tipping point for St. Louis in 2015. On the road, against a all-but-guaranteed post season top team, it will be the load test for Jeff Fisher's Rams. But first they have to get by a surging Chicago Bears, and a dangerous Baltimore Ravens teams that's been reeling. After this trifecta, they'll have three straight home against Arizona, Detroit, and Tampa Bay before heading West to finish the year at Seattle and San Francisco.
Jeff Fisher, I see what you see, and I'm buying into what will be the most exciting season for the St. Louis Rams in a long, long, time...