The Rams enter the 2015 season with so many new moving parts. But with those new moving parts they are still expected to overcome quite a few obstacles and to have a successful season. At this point, just a winning season is not considered a successful one. Only a trip to the playoffs will suffice. So the question is, how many obstacles will they overcome?
There's a lot of story lines to discuss, and in this series of bold predictions, we will look at a few story lines that may or may not happen, albeit a team or individual story.
- The Rams offensive line will finish as a top 12 unit. This of course hinges on the slim chance of Greg Robinson, Rodger Saffold, Jamon Brown, Rob Havenstein, and stability at the center position for all 16 games. That in actuality might be the harder of the two tasks as the Rams have rotated more linemen in the last four years than anyone else. However, if the starting unit can stay on the field they will develop and flourish sooner than later. There might be bit of a slow start, but by week five or six they will really start to stop the defense in their tracks.
- Sam Bradford will have a better season than Nick Foles. Since his arrival to St. Louis Foles has received a mixed reaction from Rams fans, though there might be more positive than negative in those reactions. However, because these two quarterbacks were basically swapped straight up, their seasons will be measured by one another no matter what. It will be the only way to identify who got the better end of the deal. No draft pick can tell that story better than production. Bradford will have a better season and it won't even be up for discussion. This of course all depends on if both quarterbacks can stay healthy for all 16 games, a struggle for both in recent years. Speaking of which....
- Foles and Todd Gurley will both play all 16 games. Some might say "well how is this a bold prediction". Well simply put, you're probably not being honest with yourself. Neither Foles nor Gurley has a good history of being available. Foles has never been available for a full 16 games. He has suffered a concussion, a broken wrist, and a broken collarbone. The notion that the Rams got an upgrade in availability from their starting quarterback is a joke at best. Gurley was hurt every year at Georgia. He had issues with his ankles, his elbow, wrist, and a torn ACL. This might be the boldest of the bold prediction. To have both players stay on the field for 16 games will be a great accomplishment for this team, and will go a long way towards the teams success.
- Speaking of Gurley, he will play in week one, after being fully cleared, as a surprise active player game day. Tre Mason will start the first 2-4 games, but Gurley will play in week one, and quite possibly lead the team in carries after week five. Benny Cunningham however will slowly but surely eventually surpass Tre Mason in touches. Yes this bold prediction is that Mason will finish third in total touches. Cunningham is still by far the best third down back on the team. Gurley has not been allowed to practice blitz pickup which is great news for Cunningham. Tre Mason decided to lose weight this off-season. Now for a guy that struggled in blitz pickup at 207 lbs to go and then lose about 12 lbs, well we'll just say that probably wasn't the best decision. Not to mention Cunningham has the better hands and routes out of backfield. Seeing as how Gurley will eventually dominate carries, and Benny will eat up third down and passing situations, Mason will be left with "give Gurley a breather" duties.
- The Rams will correct their personal fouls issue, and finish the season in the bottom 10 for penalties. Being one of most penalized teams in the NFL has become a bit of a formality for the Rams. They continue to be their own worst enemy. There are so many silly mistakes that have caused the Rams points. This has occurred from both angles, taking away points they have scored and keeping drives alive and resulting in points for opposing offenses. However, this season the Rams will play a more squeaky clean game. The most penalized player on the team will either be T.J. McDonald or Rodney McLeod for delivering the most kill shots.
There you have it, the bold of the bold, attacking many of the biggest questions head on. There's plenty of things to discuss in regards to story lines for this team, and we have only hit the tip of the ice berg. But at the end of the day who can honestly say they won't be looking for any of these things come kickoff?