The St. Louis Rams will start their veteran mini-camp next week, and as usual there will be a lot of new faces on the field.
Expectation levels have arisen for this franchise under the watchful eye of Head Coach Jeff Fisher and GM Les Snead. Both coach and general manager received rave reviews from their NFL brethren and the very patient and loyal St. Louis Rams fan base for the 2014 draft class. The Rams filled plenty of holes on the roster, and there is plenty of competition to go around.
But, does this mean the Rams are going to finally break through this year and have a winning record? Or qualify for the playoffs? Maybe even win the division? I don’t know.
Honestly, we’re not going find out until the games count. And when they do, most eyes will be on Sam Bradford and the offense. There has never been such a lightning rod at the quarterback position in the St. Louis Rams football era since Tony Banks.
Bradford’s career numbers look good. Last year he threw 14 touchdowns and four interceptions had over 1,600 passing yards. He connected on 60 percent of his throws and improved his quarterback rating from 82.6-90.9 while adapting to a run-oriented offensive game plan.
In the first four games last year, Bradford attempted at least 40 passes per game with a season high of 55 versus the Atlanta Falcons. For all those passing attempts, Bradford averaged 6.4 yards per pass. The low-water mark game was at home against the San Francisco 49ers when Bradford threw the ball 41 times and only connected on 46 percent for 202 passing yards. Of his four interceptions, three were returned for touchdowns. And with the Rams offense still struggling to score points, Bradford had to be damn near perfect with the ball in his hands.
But he didn’t finish the season. He’s only played two full seasons at quarterback. His career numbers are good, yet the Rams still haven’t had a winning season. Usually if you have a winning season then there is playoff football.
This year’s team is expected to take it to the next level. The Rams shored up the offensive line, resigning Rodger Saffold and drafting Greg Robinson. They added a veteran receiver in Kenny Britt. Snead is banking on this young receiving corps to step up and for Jared Cook to play more consistently.
This season has already been tabbed “make it or break it” for Bradford. I think if he stays healthy and the offensive line stays away from any major injuries, the Rams will take that next step.
The Rams are built to play rugged, smash-mouth football. The reduced amount of pass attempts in their victories last year proved it. Last year four of the seven victories occurred when the magic number of pass attempts was around 20. And if Kellen Clemens can go 4-5, what will Bradford do after suffering ACL injury last season?
For more Rams Roundup, go to youtube.com/stlamericanvideo.