Football Nation Preview: The 2013 St. Louis Rams

By Justin Henry
June 24, 2013 10:01 am
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Long 2012 Record: 7-8-1

2012 Downfall

Difficulty Finishing Drives

All things considered, Sam Bradford had himself a pretty good 2012 season.

The former top pick cleared 3,700 yards for the first time, and posted his best passer rating: an 82.6.

While his numbers looked much more presentable, it's not the prettiest possible picture.

The Rams had the fifth worst yards-to-points ratio in the NFL, a metric Cold Hard Football Facts calls "Scoreability." The Rams were tenth lowest in offensive yards (5,264), and scored just 299 points (eighth worst). They score one point for just every 17.61 yards gained (the best in this category, New England, scores a point every 12.29 yards).

It also hurts when rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein misses eight field goals. Then again, six of them were from over 50 yards (he'd attempted 13 beyond 50 yards), so the offense surely struggled getting him close enough.

Third Down Percentage

Going hand in hand with the poor "Scoreability" measurable is the Rams' difficulty in driving down the field. Maybe the knowledge of having "Greg the Leg" on the sideline took pressure off of the offense, but this stat still undercuts an otherwise resurrected team.

The Rams had the fourth worst third down percentage in football, a paltry 31.6 success rate. The only three teams that finished with a far worse average were vastly inferior to the Rams as a whole: Cleveland, Jacksonville, and Arizona.

Part of this comes from an offensive line shaky in pass protection. Bradford was sacked 35 times behind a group that included the likes of battered Roger Safford, a perpetually-cut Quinn Oijinnaka, a hobbled Scott Wells, and overmatched Barry Richardson.

2013 Projected Wins: 8

Top 3 Rookies

-Tavon Austin, WR (1/8): Joystick-centric athlete ran a 4.38 forty, makes defenders miss with rarefied speed; also applicable to St. Louis' average special teams.

-Alec Ogletree, LB (1/30): Undersized linebacker still adds pop to any pass defense, both chasing down quarterbacks, and batting down passes with his long arms.

-TJ McDonald, S (3/71): Demonstrates versatility in blitzing, covering the slot, and playing centerfield zone, but can be a liability in deep man coverage.

Other Moves

For the most part, the Rams have kept a low profile during the free agent process. Between the releasings of Quintin Mikell and money owed to Jason Smith (traded prior to last season to the Jets), both players are owed a combined $10.02M.

But since the Rams needed offensive line help, they broke open the piggy bank for Jake Long on a four-year deal. Long's missed six games over the past two seasons, but is better than anything protecting Bradford now. Roger Saffold will move to right tackle.

To bolster offensive play-making, St. Louis also acquired tight end Jared Cook. Only twice in franchise history has a tight end had 600+ receiving yards for the Rams, and not since 1988 (Pete Holohan, 640). Cook had 759 in 2011 with the Titans.

Potential Starting Lineup

QB - Sam Bradford
RB - Daryl Richardson
FB - Lance Kendricks
WR - Tavon Austin
WR - Brian Quick
TE - Jared Cook
LT - Jake Long
LG - Shelley Smith
C - Scott Wells
RG - Harvey Dahl
RT - Rodger Saffold

DE - Chris Long
DT - Kendall Langford
DT - Michael Brockers
DE - Robert Quinn
OLB - Jo-Lonn Dunbar
MLB - James Laurinaitis
OLB - Alec Ogletree
CB - Cortland Finnegan
CB - Janoris Jenkins
FS - TJ McDonald
SS - Darian Stewart

K - Greg Zuerlein
P - Johnny Hekker
LS - Jake McQuaide

 

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