For the past decade the St. Louis Rams have been one of the laughing stocks in the NFL. Every year I walk into the office and call out “St. Louis Rams to the Super Bowl” and get ridiculed. Deep down I know the odds of that happening are minimal, but as the years have gone by the organization has shown an interest in placing a good product on the field. Last year they made huge strides in building a solid foundation for the future, but they may still be one or two pieces away from a playoff contender.
The first game of the season will be this Sunday when they open at home against the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals will be a different team this year as they have the reigning coach of the year in Bruce Arians and a solid quarterback in Carson Palmer. Superstar receiver Larry Fitzgerald is ecstatic about his new quarterback, as he has had the likes of John Skelton, Ryan Lindley, and Kevin Kolb, to name a few, since Kurt Warner retired.
“I’ve watched him for a long time and seen him make some incredible throws,” said Fitzgerald. “When I found out he was going to be here, it was kind of a breath of fresh air.”
Although Carson Palmer has proven he can be a top caliber quarterback, the past two seasons haven’t translated into a lot of wins. Coach Arians is hoping to work some of the same magic he used with Andrew Luck this past season to put up some numbers in the win column.
This will be a good opportunity for the Rams to start the season on the right note, as the next three games will be against tougher opponents. The Rams front seven will be bringing a lot of pressure against the Cardinals’ offensive line. The Cards o-line is already going to be without their rookie 1st round draft pick, guard Jonathan Cooper, as he suffered a broken left fibula.
It won’t get easier for Palmer in the secondary as the Rams posses one of the best corner tandems in the league. Cortland Finnegan will match up against Fitzgerald and that almost assures second year corner Janoris Jenkins will cover Michael Floyd.
The Rams may be young and inexperienced at the safety position but head coach Jeff Fisher is not making an excuse out of it. Fisher recently told Nick Wagoner of ESPN youth is not a concern.
“We’re young, but that’s not an excuse as far as what takes place on Sundays,” Fisher said. “We’re going to line people up because they’re ready to play.”
When it comes to the offense, coach Fisher might not have a choice at the receiver position as none of his wideouts have been in the league longer then three years. Austin Pettis is the lone wide receiver with more than 2 years experience. Pettis will be looking to keep his spot in the rotation as second year receiver Brian Quick is breathing down his neck. Chris Givens has already shown he can be a deep ball threat and 8th overall pick, rookie Tavon Austin, will be lining up in the slot position.
The Rams defense was the unit that got the win for the Rams early on last season. This year the Rams will need a total team effort, as Carson Palmer is a much-improved quarterback and the Cardinals also have a stout secondary led by Patrick Peterson. If the Rams want any chance at making the playoffs, they need to come out and win games against teams like the Arizona Cardinals who aren’t expected to make any noise. The biggest obstacle for the Rams will be the fact that they play in the toughest division, but they proved last year they could rack up wins against their divisional opponents.