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Can't Miss Slants

2014 Season Preview: St. Louis Rams

2013 Season Recap

  • Record: 7-9 (4th NFCW)
  • Head Coach:  Jeff Fisher (2nd season)
  • Offensive Rankings: No. 21 Scoring, No. 30 Yards
  • Defensive Rankings: No. 13 Scoring Allowed, No. 15 Yards Allowed
  • Pro Bowlers: Robert Quinn (DE), John Hekker (P)
  • Key Injuries w/Games Missed: Sam Bradford (9), Cortland Finnigan (9)

2014 Season

Rams current depth chart via www.stlouisrams.com

Offense

Ouch. Sam Bradford will miss the entire 2014 with a torn ACL.

Ouch.

But for the offense this season, that news may not be all that disturbing. Back-up quarterback Shaun Hill will now be tabbed to lead the offense this season, as the Rams didn’t bother making any moves via free agency to replace Bradford as their starter. Bradford played seven games in 2013, and his career stats through his first four seasons are far from impressive: 58.6 completion % and a rating of 79.0 really doesn’t allow for much confidence in a guy who has never really taken that next step as a legit starting quarterback. And even though a 2013 completion % of 60.7 and a rating of 90.9 finally showed an uptick in improvement, Bradford still wasn’t playing to the level the Rams envisioned when they selected him number one overall in the 2010 draft.

Shaun Hill is a career backup – and that’s probably for good reason – but he’s also proven that in limited opportunities he can play effectively enough to keep a team above water.

To help Hill, the Rams will have a variety of skill position players to chose from. Speedy wide receivers Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey can cause unique match-up issues, while off-season wide receiver acquisition Kenny Britt, wide receiver Brian Quick, and tight end Jared Cook provide larger, more physical options to go against the aggressive defenses in the division. Feature running back Zac Stacy and back-up Benny Cunningham should provide a quality one-two punch out of the backfield.

Defense

Undoubtedly the strength of this Rams team is their defense, however the 2013 stats really show that overall they are just an above average unit. The front seven in their 4-3 scheme is extremely formidable though, featuring what could be considered the best pair of defensive ends in the league in Robert Quinn and Chris Long. Hefty defensive tackles Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford will anchor the interior line and their 2013 combined sack total of 10.5 show they can also get after opposing quarterbacks. Alec Ogletree, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, and James Laurinaitis fill out a solid group of linebackers.

The secondary unit is very young, with the most senior of starters only having two complete seasons of experience. Both cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Janoris Jenkins and safety Rodney McLeod are entering year three as starters, while safety T.J. McDonald is entering his second season. The unit because of their inexperience is the weak-link in the defense, but no doubt with another off-season under their belts they could take another step forward in 2014 and improve on the 14 interceptions they had in 2013 (good for 20th in the league).

Biggest Key for 2014

Health. Losing Bradford as stated above hurts, but it may not be a season killer. However the Rams on both sides of the ball do not have much for experienced depth, and even though general manager Les Snead has been lauded for having very good drafts the past few seasons, losing solidified starters would cripple a team that simply cannot afford it in the formidable NFCW.

Predictions

5-11 (4th NFCW).