It’s been a long hard road through these retrospectives, but alas we have come to the last division. This week we will be breaking down the NFC West, or as I like to call it: “Ugh”.
Going into the 2011 season the Rams had plenty of reasons to be optimistic. They had come within a game of making the playoffs the year before with a rookie quarterback, and they reside in the worst division in pro football. How bad is it? In 2010 seven games was good enough to take the division crown. Seven…games.
Unfortunately it doesn’t really matter how weak your division is when you only win twice.
“The Greatest Show on Turf” could not be more of a distant memory. Visions of Kurt Warner throwing pin-point passes to Isaac Bruce have been replaced by A.J. Feeley under throwing some guy named Greg Salas. Former #1 overall draft pick Sam Bradford spent a sizeable chunk of the last season injured, and even when he was playing he did not look the same as his memorable rookie season. The former Sooner managed to only throw six touchdown passes in ten games. The offense averaged a hair over 12 points per game. As you might have guessed, that was good for last in the NFL.
But yet, despite all of these abysmal stats there is once again optimism in St. Louis. Jeff Fisher was no doubt the sexiest (using that word loosely) head coach signing of the off-season, and the very existence of Robert Griffin III helped the Rams trade the second overall pick to Washington for three first round picks and one second rounder. This might not be a playoff team right away, but they are on the right track.
So buckle your seat belt and hold onto Steven Jackson’s dreads, this is your Rams Retrospective!
Team Highlight: The Rams entered week eight winless, and it seemed pretty likely that was how they’d enter week nine. I say that because their opponent was the New Orleans Saints. What happened next was arguably the most shocking result of the entire regular season. Every week talking heads regurgitate sentences like “you have to get to Drew Brees” as if this is a revolutionary thought, but the Rams actually went out there and did it. St. Louis recorded six sacks, and three of those belonged to Chris Long. The Rams scored the first 17 points of the game and in the end the scoreboard read: Rams 31, Saints 21. You can break down the X’s an O’s all you want, but one of the keys here is obviously those sweet ass retro uniforms. They let the fans vote on which home game they would wear them, and the results speak for themselves.
Team Lowlight: I wanted to take the easy way out and say “everything else” but instead I’m going to put some thought into this. The Rams were shut out twice (against the 49ers and Steelers) but I’m going to narrow it down to one quarter. In week threeSt. Louis hosted the Baltimore Ravens and managed to give up three touchdown receptions to rookie wide receiver Torrey Smith in the first quarter alone. To this day whenever Torrey is feeling down in the dumps he busts out a picture of the Rams logo he keeps in his wallet for a quick pick-me-up.
Team MVP: Lost in the chaotic mess that was the Rams 2011 season was the fact that Steven Jackson once again stayed healthy for the most part and put up good numbers. Steven had 1145 rushing yards, 333 receiving yards, and one really funny commercial. Beyond all the stats, he seems to have really grown into the role of team leader. Several times down the stretch of a lost season, the camera would find him motivating his teammates. This is a good sign for the future where he will be given a chance to make an impression on a lot of younger teammates.
Needs: Signing free agent CB Cortland Finnegan was a huge move for this team, but there is still work to be done. Perhaps the most glaring hole at this point is wide receiver, as Brandon Lloyd had already left forNew England and bringing in Steve Smith (the shitty one) is not going to be enough. If Oklahoma State WR Justin Blackmon is available he would make a lot of sense for St. Louis in the first round of the draft. Justin has the skills of Terrell Owens except with more speed and less suicide attempts. The Rams are also looking for help at left tackle.
What’s a Ram’s fan drinking these days? I’m going to call this a “Bradford Bomb”. It’s like a Jager bomb but…god I’m tired of these retrospectives.
Jango Scale of Scandal Likelihood:
I’m going to rate this one pretty low. Partly because this team doesn’t seem to have a lot of volatile personalities, and partly because even if something scandalous did happen I don’t think the media would latch onto it too hard. Because at the end of the day, no one really cares about the St. Louis Rams! Cheers!
Entirely Too Early Prediction for 2012: With Jeff Fisher’s new system in place and all of those draft picks coming down the pipeline I don’t think management is in a huge hurry. The Rams won’t be able to touch the 49ers this season, but there will be gradual improvements I think. I’m going to say 6-10, with a potential playoff appearance in ‘13.
Come back tomorrow when Chris writes about the Cardinals. Is he on team Skelton or team Kolb? It’s like Twilight, except instead of sucking blood…these quarterbacks just suck!