Monday, August 10, 2015

2015 NFL PREVIEW - St. Louis Rams

ST. LOUIS RAMS                                                        

2014 Record: 6-10-0 (4th in NFC West)

HEAD COACH: Jeff Fisher

New Players in 2015 - QB Nick Foles; DL Nick Fairley; LB Akeem Ayers; OL Garrett Reynolds; QB Case Keenum.

OFFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 28th in NFL (314.7 ypg)

DEFENSIVE RANK in 2014 - 17th in NFL (351.6 ypg)

Offense:  The Rams are going a different way this season after trading away often injured quarterback Sam Bradford to Philadelphia for Nick Foles, who will likely be the starter.
Foles, who also missed time last year with injuries, had 2,163 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and ten interceptions in Philly. Backing him up are Austin Davis (2,001 passing yards with 12 TD and nine INT) and Case Keenum, who comes over from Houston.
The running game features Todd Gurley,  a first round rookie pick from Georgia, who will be relied on to rejuvenate the Rams rushing attack. Also on hand is Tre Mason, last year's team leader in rushing with 765 yards with a 4.3 ypc average and four touchdowns. Benny Cunningham (246, 3.7 ypc, three TD along with 45 receptions for 352 yards with one TD) is also available.
Kenny Britt (48, 748, three TD) and Tavon Austin (31 receptions, 242 yards along with 224 rushing yards), along with Brian Quick (25, 375, three TD) and Stedman Bailey (30, 435, one TD) will be the primary receivers. The tight ends are in relaible hands with Jared Cook (52, 634, three TD) and Lance Kendricks, who made 27 receptions for 259 yards and five scores.
The line is comprised of center Tim Barnes, tackles Greg Robinson and Brandon Washington and guards Rodger Saffold and Barrett Jones. Rookies Robert Havenstein (Wisconsin) and Jamon Brown (Louisville) will look to crack the starting line in camp.

Defense:  There are six players who can simply dominate up front for the Rams in the 4-3 set as Robert Quinn (10 1/2 QB sacks) and Chris Long play the end positions while Aaron Donald (nine sacks) and Michael Brockers play tackle. William Hayes (four sacks) is another defensive end and free agent DT Nick Fairley comes over from Detroit to add even more to the party.
Akeem Ayers and Alec Ogletree (two interceptions) play outside linebacker while James Laurinaitis (3 1/2 sacks) mans the middle. Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Eugene Sims (three sacks) and Daren Bates add depth.
The defensive backfield has T.J. McDonald and Rodney McLeod (two INT) at safety along with corners E.J. Gaines and Janoris Jenkins (two INT) looking to start. Mark Barron, Trumaine Johnson (three picks), Marcus Robertson and Cody Davis will also be ready to go.

OUTLOOK FOR 2015 - The Rams like to spread the ball around on offense and that should suit new QB Nick Foles just fine as he ran a similar style with the Eagles. Rookie Todd Gurley will likely be the workhorse running the football after being selected in the first round of the NFL draft.
Head Coach Jeff Fisher likes to pound the ball and he should have the back in Gurley to do just that.
Foles will look to develop a chemistry with his receivers and tight ends and backs in the passing game in training camp. He certainly will have many weapons to choose from in the Rams offense.
The defense grew stronger as the season went along last year, getting 40 QB sacks while ranking in the middle of the pack in both yardage and scoring defense.
After being lit up for 30-plus points in six of the team's first nine games last season, the Rams defense tightened things up and allowed just 103 points over the final seven games, including posting back-to-back shutouts down the stretch.
Getting off to a better start in 2015 will be very important for the Rams as they open the season (at home) against Seattle before facing three road games in the first five weeks, including games at Arizona and Green Bay.
Playing in the NFC West, the Rams know they will be in for rough and tumble games against their division foes as they will attempt to move up from the basement.
That could be asking an awful lot with all the changes they made on offense, but their defense could very well be the equalizer if they stay healthy. A lot will also depend on the progress of rookie running back Todd Gurley to help balance the offense. Another 6-10 finish appears likely this season, but the Rams could do better if things jell quickly.

Week 1 - vs. Seattle Seahawks
Week 2 - at Washington Redskins
Week 3 - vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Week 4 - at Arizona Cardinals
Week 5 - at Green Bay Packers
Week 6 - BYE WEEK
Week 7 - vs. Cleveland Browns
Week 8 - vs. San Francisco 49ers
Week 9 - at Minnesota Vikings
Week 10 - vs. Chicago Bears
Week 11 - at Baltimore Ravens
Week 12 - at Cincinnati Bengals
Week 13 - vs. Arizona Cardinals
Week 14 - vs. Detroit Lions
Week 15 - vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Week 16 - at Seattle Seahawks
Week 17 - at San Francisco 49ers

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