2015 NFL Season Preview- St. Louis Rams
The Rams finished last in the NFC West, but they played well enough against good teams to give a lot of hope for the future.
St. Louis beat good teams when the won the turnover battle and didn't allow return touchdowns. In eight of their 10 losses, there was at least one return touchdowns by the opposing defense.
After Sam Bradford suffered another torn ACL in the preseason, quarterbacks Shaun Hill and Austin Davis each started eight games in 2014 and both put up the same type of stats. Tight end Jared Cook finished as the team's leading receiver despite have inconsistencies throughout the year. Kenny Britt became the team's go to receiver after Brian Quick went on injured reserve and the team doesn't seem to know how to use Tavon Austin in the passing game.
The defensive line struggled early on but lived up to the reputation as one of the best young groups in the league. Defensive end Robert Quinn made the Pro Bowl despite having almost half the sacks he had last season. Linebackers Alec Ogletree and James Laurinaitus each had over 160 tackles. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins is capable of making game changing plays but also gave up a bunch of blown assignments in which he guessed wrong and allowed wide open completions. The team traded for Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Mark Barron mid season and his presence was immediately felt in the run game and blitz packages as he recorded three sacks.
The rookie class gave the team a lot hope for future success. Tackle Greg Robinson switched from guard to tackle after Jake Long went down and played better than expected. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald was everything the Rams hoped he'd be and the disruptive playmaker was named to the Pro Bowl and was named the NFL defensive rookie of the year. Running back Tre Mason became the starter midway through the year and showed burst and explosiveness.
Rams 2014 Rankings
Opponent Passing Yards
Opponent Rushing Yards
NFL Rank- 23rd
NFL Rank- 20th
NFL Rank- 13th
NFL Rank- 14th
NFL Rank- 28th
NFL Rank- 17th
With a record of 20-27-1 in three seasons as head coach, Jeff Fisher has never finished better than third in the division, but has never had a bad enough team to be fired.
After offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer left to become the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Georgia, the team promoted quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti Jr. to be the offense's new play caller.
Notable Additions- QB Nick Foles, DT Nick Fairley, LB Akeem Ayers
Notable Departures- QB Sam Bradford, QB Shaun Hill, RB Zac Stacy, T Jake Long
Rams 2014 Highlights
2015 NFL Draft
With the tenth overall pick, the Rams had many positions that needed to be addressed. Most notably at quarterback, guard, linebacker.
Sam Bradford proved he couldn't stay healthy and neither Shaun Hill nor Austin Davis is the long term answer. The team traded for Nick Foles but he was having a down year before his injury.
The running game suffered from the poor play of the guards. St. Louis needs a right guard like Dallas found in Zack Martin.
The starting linebackers are solid but the team needs more depth at the position. The team needs a linebacker than can rotate into the strong side spot when Alec Ogletree comes of the field.
St. Louis ended up selecting Georgia running back Todd Gurley with the tenth overall pick, Gurley was seen as the best power back in the draft but he is coming off a torn ACL he suffered in mid November. The pick was questionable as the team already has a young running back in Tre Mason who rushed for over 700 yards after starting midway through the year.
The Rams also notably selected Wisconsin offensive tackle Rob Havenstein in the second round and Oregon State quarterback Sean Mannion in the third. Havenstein is the prototypical mammoth Wisconsin offensive lineman but his lack of quickness and athleticism might force him to play inside at guard. Mannion is a tall, well built quarterback with great accuracy but must improve his footwork and mobility.
Todd Gurley Highlights
What to Expect
The acquisitions this team made in the offseason make the race for the NFC West crown even more interesting.
With Nick Foles as this team's starting quarterback, the team has a smart decision making signal caller with a proven a record with getting the ball down the field. Having a running game with both Todd Gurley and Tre Mason gives St. Louis two runners with different styles that can be used in different situations. If the team can learn how to utilize Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey, the receiving corps could be one of the more dangerous in football.
If defensive end Chris Long can stay, the defensive line should be able to dominate almost any offensive line they go against. If Janoris Jenkins can tighten up his fundamentals and improve on his instincts, the secondary could be one offenses would want to avoid.
With the newly acquired players and a healthy team, St. Louis could leap frog over San Francisco and Arizona to take the second spot in the division and possibly a wild card spot.
Best record they can hope for: 9-7