Monday, August 18, 2014

2014 NFL PREVIEW - St. Louis Rams

ST. LOUIS RAMS                                                      

2013 Record: 7-9-0

Key Additions: WR Kenny Britt; QB Shaun Hill; DL Alex Carrington.

Key Losses: QB Kellen Clemens; OL Shelley Smith; OL Harvey Dahl; CB Cortland Finnegan; S Darian Stewart; OL Chris Williams.

HEAD COACH: Jeff Fisher

Offense: Keeping quarterback Sam Bradford in one piece will be a priority for the Rams this season after he went down with a knee injury. Bradford played in only seven games but did pass for 1,687 yards with 14 touchdowns and four interceptions. He should be ready to go for the season opener and will be backed up by Shaun Hill.
Zac Stacy (973 yards, 3.9 ypc average and seven TD) leads the way in the backfield for the running game. Benny Cunningham (261, 5.6, one TD) and rookie Tre Mason (Auburn) figure to get some playing time this year.
The receivers include Tavon Austin (40 receptions, 418 yards, four TD), Austin Pettis (38, 399, four TD), Chris Givens (34 catches for 569 yards), Stedman Bailey (17, 226) and Brian Quick, who made 18 catches for 302 yards and two touchdowns. Kenny Britt comes over from Tennessee after an injury plagued season that limited him to just eleven receptions.
Tight end Jared Cook was the Rams' leading receiver in 2013, catching 51 passes for 671 yards and five touchdowns. Lance Kendricks is the other tight end and caught 32 passes for 258 yards and four scores.
The offensive line has center Scott Wells, tackles Joe Barksdale and Jake Long and guards Roger Saffold and rookie Greg Robinson (Auburn). Mike Person, Brandon Washington, Tim Barnes and Barrett Jones will be ready to go when needed.

STATS - St. Louis ranked 30th in the NFL on offense last season, gaining 305 yards per game while scoring just under 22 points per game. The passing game averaged 195 yards (27th) and the running game 110 yards (19th) each week. The Rams committed 21 turnovers and their quarterbacks were sacked 36 times.

Defense: A solid front seven buoys this defense, led by ends Robert Quinn (NFC leading 19 QB sacks last year) and Chris Long, who had 8.5 sacks. The tackles are Michael Brockers and either Kendall Langford (five sacks) or rookie Aaron Donald (Pittsburgh). William Hayes (five sacks), Eugene Sims and Alex Carrington provide depth.
The linebackers are James Laurinaitis in the middle and Alec Ogletree and Jo-Lonn Dunbar on the outside. Tavarius Wilson, Ray-Ray Armstrong and Philip Steward will back up.
The secondary has Trumaine Johnson (three interceptions) and Janoris Jenkins at the cornerback spots while T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod are the safeties.

STATS - The Rams played solid run defense (103 yards allowed per game) and ranked ninth in that area. The pas defense was 19th overall, giving up 242 yards per game. Overall, the Rams defense was 15th in the NFL, giving up an average of 345 yards per game. St. Louis allowed just under 23 points per game last year. They showed they can get turnovers, which totaled 29 last season (14 interceptions and 15 fumble recoveries) while sacking the quarterback 53 times, the third highest total in the league.

OUTLOOK: Following a roller coaster season, Head Coach Jeff Fisher would like to see more consistency from the Rams in 2014.
For that to happen, they need to have a healthy Sam Bradford playing quarterback. The running game seems to be in decent shape and there are multiple receivers to spread the football around to.
The defense stops the run well and is fast in getting after opposing quarterbacks, evidenced by the 53 sacks last year. As long as they keep getting play like that, they should be solid again. The secondary need to show improvement after allowing too many big plays and getting just 14 interceptions.
The NFC West is one of the better divisions in pro football, so the Rams have their work cut out if they want to contend and challenge for a playoff spot this year.
An 8-8 season is not out of the question this year and who knows, if Bradford stays healthy all season and the offense continues to improve, there's no reason to think this team can't make a run for the playoffs.

Week 1- vs. Minnesota
Week 2- at Tampa Bay
Week 3- vs. Dallas
Week 4- BYE WEEK
Week 5- at Philadelphia
Week 6- vs. San Francisco
Week 7- vs. Seattle
Week 8- at Kansas City
Week 9- at San Francisco
Week 10- at Arizona
Week 11- vs. Denver
Week 12- at San Diego
Week 13- vs. Oakland
Week 14- at Washington
Week 15- vs. Arizona
Week 16- vs. NY Giants
Week 17- at Seattle

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