2009-10 St. Louis Rams Predictions
by Jay Horne - 8/20/2009
2008 Record: 2-14 (1-7 home, 1-7 away)
2008 Against the Spread: 6-10 (3-5 home, 3-5 away)
2008 Rankings: Offense 27th Overall (26th pass, 27th rush) Defense 28th Overall (19th pass, 29th rush)
2009 Odds: 100-1 Super Bowl Odds, 50-1 NFC Championship Odds, 10-1 NFC West Odds, 5.5 Wins (O/U)
The St. Louis Rams expected to see improvements last year after capturing only three victories in 2007. However, the Rams were even worse last season and were unable to produce any success on either side of the football. St. Louis finished the season at 2-14 without any signs of progress. It could be legitimately argued that the winless Detroit Lions have more reasons to look forward to 2009 as opposed to the Rams.
While many NFL teams who struggled last year added big playmakers at key positions, St. Louis will return most of the same players that contributed to a pitiful 2008 crusade. Quarterback Marc Bulger received a lot of criticism and was partly blamed for the Rams downfall. While Bulger definitely took a big step back, St. Louis had many more problems that will need to be addressed heading into the new season.
The Rams troubles can be found all over the field. St. Louis ranked in the bottom six teams in the NFL in both offense and defense. Even worse, both scoring offense (14.5 ppg) and scoring defense (29.1 ppg) ranked second worst in the NFL. The offensive struggles could be blamed on the horrific offensive line that was unable to provide any type of achievement (or protection, for that matter). The Rams gave up 45 sacks on the season, which was a big reason Bulger struggled. The offensive line also is to blame for the running game. Steven Jackson is a solid NFL running back, but the Rams offense averaged only 103 yards rushing per game. However, St. Louis did make some nice additions over the offseason that should give the offensive front a much-needed upgrade.
The Rams first big help came when they selected OT Jason Smith as the No. 2 overall selection in the NFL Draft. Smith was the first offensive lineman taken out of possibly the most talented group of linemen coming out of college in history. Smith should be able to make an immediate impact with tremendous strength and awareness to aid a group that has definitely had their share of struggles. Also, the Rams added former Ravens center Jason Brown. Brown is perhaps the best young center in the league and should be able to anchor down the middle of the line for some time to come. These two quality additions to the offensive line should give an immediate upgrade and allow Steven Jackson more success on the ground this season. Bulger will likely still have trouble with the pass protection and possibly an even harder time finding any quality targets on the field since the Rams receiving corps is anything but impressive. The combination will again provide challenges for the Rams ability to score points once defenses zero in on the ground game.
The St. Louis defense struggled just as much last season considering the defensive line was nearly as bad as the offense. The Rams defense allowed a miserable 154 yards per game on the ground last season and only brought down 30 sacks on the season. Former first round pick Chris Long will be expected to have a better season following a sub-par rookie campaign. Also, Leonard Little has been consistent over the last few seasons despite reaching near 33 years of age.
Expect the defensive front to improve, but that does not mean they will be great against the run. Rookie James Laurinaitis will start at middle linebacker. While Laurinaitis is a solid player, having a rookie in the heart of your defense - he might be the best defender on the field -- should give you an idea about the talent level. They will still have problems stopping the run and perhaps similar problems with their pass defense. St. Louis signed former Giants safety James Butler but he has issues in coverage. Free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe can make some plays, but also has problems in coverage at times. If nothing changes, any good opposing quarterback could still expose the Rams secondary considering they allowed 8.28 yards per attempt, second worst in the NFL in 2008.
2009-10 St. Louis Rams Predictions - The Rams simply have too many problems to turn things around in a big way. The offense is the main concern considering they have to find a way to score more points. Expect Steven Jackson to have a better season, but whether that helps the entire offense is uncertain. Defensively things remain the same and so do the Rams. The under 5.5 wins here seems like a guarantee. St. Louis will finish fourth in the NFC West for the third straight year with a record in the neighborhood of 3-13.
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