Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups .
The Rams were one of the most surprisingly successful squads in the NFL last season. Coming off a dreadful 1-15 season in 2009 – which netted St. Louis the 2010 No. 1 pick and, naturally, QB Sam Bradford – St. Louis won six more games than it had in 2009 and were a game away from taking home the NFC West division title and a postseason berth, falling instead to the Seahawks in the season finale.
But the biggest news since their loss to Seattle was the hiring of former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. He’ll work closely with Bradfo
Quarterback, new offensive coordinator
While McDaniels helped current Chiefs QB Matt Cassel to a surprisingly good season the year he had to replace Tom Brady – who also got a little bit of McDaniels when he was in New England – and comes to St. Louis with a strong reputation as an offensive coordinator, Bradford will have plenty of work to do. The Rams will forgo the West Coast offense they ran last year and run more of a shotgun, spread-based scheme. This is where an offseason workout schedule would be helpful.
1. Wide Reciever
One of the most impressive accomplishments by Bradford last season was to throw for 3,512 yards to a corps of WRs that screams unknown and unproven (Danny Amendola, you’re our breakout star!!). The team lost Mark Clayton (patellar tendon) and Donnie Avery (ACL) while Danario Alexander missed eight games while undergoing a fifth (!) knee surgery. The acquisition of Randy Moss – if he would have let it happen – would have helped last year, but overall, the Rams really need help in this area.
2. Defensive Line
Surprisingly, the Rams weren’t terrible there last season, and much of that had to do with Fred Robbins and James Hall – who registered double-digit sacks for only the second time in his career at the age of 33. Overall, St. Louis ranked 19th in pass defense and 17th in run defense, and as you probably know, there’s a plethora of defensive linemen in the draft that could get a call from St. Louis (although drafting a WR in the first round makes more sense).
3. Defensive Backs
The Rams released standout SS Oshiomogho Atogwe, a defensive captain last year, because he was due an $8 million roster bonus Feb. 21. As a result, he left for Washington and left a huge hole in the St. Louis secondary. And while the Rams had high hopes in James Butler, he’s been plagued by injury and lost his starting spot. St. Louis probably won’t want to count on him.
The Rams still have plenty of holes to fill, but they also have young standouts on each side of the ball, particularly Bradford and MLB James Laurinaitis. In any other division, you’d say the Rams might struggle a bit and could feel good about themselves if they finish at .500.
But in the weak NFC West, they’ll be one of the favorites to win the division and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
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