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2014 NFL Season Preview- St. Louis Rams
After hiring head coach Jeff Fisher in 2012, the St. Louis Rams went from a team that won 15 games in a five year stretch, to a 7-8-1 record in what has become the most competitive division in football. The team looked to improve on that record in 2013.
The team started the year 1-3 and the offense had no sense of identity. Before week 5, rookie running back Zac Stacy took over the starting job from Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. Stacy was definitely the surprise of the season rushing for just under 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. Quarterback Sam Bradford was lost for the year after week 7 with a knee injury, but Stacy and the defense were able to carry the team through the season.
The running game helped the defense by controlling the clock and the defense improved to the ninth best run defense in the league. Defensive end Robert Quinn recorded 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles on the season and was voted to his first Pro Bowl. Chris Long added an additional 8.5 sacks to make him and Quinn one of the most feared defensive end duos in the league.
Their 2013 rookie class had many standouts. Wide receiver Tavon Austin had a slow start to the year, but had a monster game in Week 10 at Indianapolis with over 300 all purpose yards and three touchdowns. Linebacker Alec Ogletree joined a talented linebacker corps with James Laurinaitis and managed to record over 100 tackles, six forced fumbles, and returned his only interception for a 98-yard touchdown. Wide receiver Stedman Bailey showed a great work ethic the whole year and could beat out Austin Pettis for the number two receiver.
Rams 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing yds
Opponent Rushing yds
NFL Rank- 27th
NFL Rank- 19th
NFL Rank- 19th
NFL Rank- 9th
NFL Rank- 30th
NFL Rank- 15th
After finishing 2013 with a 7-9 record, head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead looked to make in impact in the upcoming year. Snead believes that this is a make or break year for the team and their chance to compete in the NFC West.
By trying to help the team catch on in 2014, the team hired Greg Williams to be the team's new defensive coordinator. Williams was most notably the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints during the bounty scandal.
In May, wide receiver Stedman Bailey was suspended four games by the NFL for violating the league's use of performance-enhancement substances policy.
Notable additions- WR Kenny Britt, QB Shaun Hill, DE Alec Carrington
Notable departures- CB Cortland Finnegan, QB Kellen Clemons, RB Daryl Richardson
Tavon Austin Highlights
2014 NFL Draft
Going into the draft, the team held the 2nd and 13th overall selections. Jeff Fisher planned to fill voids left by free agency through the draft. Most notably safety, offense tackle, and quarterback.
The safety position needed depth to be able to contend with the Seahawks, Cardinals, and 49ers. T.J. McDonald proved to be great down the stretch but he needs a safety next to him to improve the team's pass defense.
The Rams also needed to improve the tackle position. Jake Long will be back from an torn ACL and their isn't anyone else on the roster who can match Long's ability.
Their situation at quarterback also raises questions for the team's future. Sam Bradford has shown he has the ability to be great but cannot stay healthy. The team needs to be prepared to have a suitable backup in case Bradford goes down.
With the second overall pick, the Rams selected Auburn tackle Greg Robinson. Robinson was considered the best run blocking tackle in the draft but he played in a system in college that played to his strengths, so there are many questions on how well he pass protects. With their second first round pick, the team selected Pitt defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Donald was seen as the best pass rushing defensive tackle in the draft. He was criticized for being undersized and raised questions on how well he can compete at the pro level.
Other notable draft picks include Robinson's Auburn teammate, running back Tre Mason in the third round. Mason was considered as the best inside running back but wasn't seen as a very fast runner and was criticized for not being able to break away on most runs. The team selected SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert in the sixth round. Gilbert skill set is undeniable, but his first few years at Texas raised questions about how he deals with high level competition. The team also drafted Missouri defensive end Michael Sam. Sam was the SEC defensive player of the year but fell in the draft after a poor combine performance.
Prior to draft, Michael Sam went public with his homosexuality. Sam became the first openly gay football player to be drafted.
Tre Mason Highlights
What to Expect
With the addition of Tre Mason and Kenny Britt, the Rams should have enough talent to make some noise in the NFC West. Mason and Zac Stacy will be the center of the bruising, inside running game that Jeff Fisher likes to instill in his teams. Greg Robinson will likely play at right tackle opposite to Jake Long to fit to Robinson's strengths as a run blocker. If Sam Bradford does go down this year, backup Shaun Hill has proven to be a solid quarterback in a fill in situation.
The pass defense will be able to make much better strides thanks to the additions of four defensive backs in the draft. Aaron Donald will likely be used as a situational pass rusher due to the play of Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers last season.
The Rams have the personnel to having a winning season, but the idea of winning the division is a different question. Arizona, San Francisco, and Seattle have stacked teams and it will be hard for St. Louis to overthrow them.
Best record they can hope for- 9-7