Can the St. Louis Rams become Super Bowl contenders?

Photo Courtesy of ESPN

Photo Courtesy of ESPN

The Super Bowl is only 7 days away and it got me thinking; what would it take for the St. Louis Rams to return to the big game?

There is the obvious: trade for Peyton Manning, sign the entire Seattle Seahawks’ defense and resurrect Vince Lombardi so that he could coach the team. Obviously, none of that is going to happen, so what small alterations could the Rams’ front office make in order to become a Championship contender again?

Quarterback

A lot of people have already given up on Sam Bradford and how far he can lead his team. I do agree with most of his critics: he has not lived up to the monster contract he signed as a rookie, but that was something the St. Louis Rams front office gave him, not something he demanded.

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

(Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

When the season starts next year, Bradford will be entering his 5th season in the league coming off an ACL injury. Although Bradford was on pace to have a career year, he was doing it quietly with no real splash. I think St. Louis Rams fans need to accept Bradford will not be the next Peyton Manning or even the next Eli Manning, he just your average starting quarterback.

I know it will be hard to accept that Bradford might not be an elite quarterback, but it is nothing the Rams should hang their heads about; after all, Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson won Super Bowl rings. If the Rams want to make the Super Bowl with Bradford, he will need to become more of a game manager than a playmaker.

The Defense

As previously mentioned both Dilfer and Johnson took their teams to Super Bowl victories with out being the focal point of the team, but in exchange they had a stout defense to make up for their deficiencies.

The St. Louis Rams have been quietly building an elite defense. Many experts believed this was the year the team was going to crack the top 10, with guys like Robert Quinn and James Laurinaitis leading the charge.

The defense finished the season ranked 15th, but did end the year on a strong note looking like a top 10 defense. If the Rams hadn’t come out of the gate flat to begin the season, they could have very well finished in the top 10.

The Rams defense has already shown they could be the identity of the team as they bailed the offense out multiple times and even led them to a handful of victories. The old saying goes “defense wins championships” and if the Rams can add a few young pieces to their secondary and keep them healthy, next year they will be a force to reckon with.

Offensive Firepower

Although the defense carried the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Baltimore Ravens to Super Bowl wins in the past, the offense did have a little bit of firepower. For the Bucs it was Keyshawn Johnson and the Ravens had Shannon Sharpe and Jamal Lewis. For the St. Louis Rams, they have a whole lot of potential, but no proven playmaker. It wasn’t until midway through last season the Rams found their guy and in rookie Zac Stacy.

In 12 games as a starter, Stacy nearly surpassed the 1,000-yard mark on the ground and scored seven touchdowns. He plays like running backs of old, finding an opening up the middle and keeps his feet moving. However, with a frame of just 5-foot-8, Stacy does not have the body of an every down back and will need some help.

The Rams’ front office has already said they will not spend another high draft pick on a receiver so the Rams need to do one of two things: trade for a receiver or put in the time and develop their players.

Both Brian Quick and Tavon Austin put up monster numbers in college, but they soon realized during their transition to the NFL that it is a completely different ball game at the pro level. Next season Austin will have two training camps under his belt and Quick three. It is still a little early to give up on the two, especially when they posses attributes you cannot teach. Quick has the size and Austin has the speed.

(Photo courtesy of Associated Press)

(Photo courtesy of Associated Press)

The coaching staff needs to spend the offseason getting the two familiar with the playbook and schemes and hope they have the right work ethic to come out and ball. If these two young receivers put in the time, they will sneak up on everyone come next season. If the Rams want to even dream about making the playoffs they need to be a balanced team on offense.

The Rams are still a season or two away from being a playoff contender, but they have begun to build through the draft. The front office seems to make the right picks on defense; it’s the offense picks that have not panned out. If the Rams front office can turn that trend around we may see the Rams in the playoffs sooner rather then later.

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