St. Louis Rams: Contenders In The NFC West?


The Greatest Show on Turf took the NFL by storm in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. Led by quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk, and receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, the St. Louis Rams went to two Super Bowls in three years, winning Super Bowl XXXIV.

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Ever since that run from 1999-2001, the Rams have been average at best. Their last playoff appearance was in 2004, with Marc Bulger at the helm.

History lesson time with Uncle Dusty: the Rams were bad, even in a division that was historically terrible in the late 2000’s. A 7-9 record was good enough to get the Seattle Seahawks to the playoffs in 2010. Mike Singletary coached the San Francisco 49ers (we all know how that went), Pete Carroll was practically out the door in Seattle until they drafted some short guy in the third round, and Warner spent his last ten minutes in the league taking Arizona to the Super Bowl before he retired, and then the Cardinals once again became the team you ran the score up on in Madden.

You get the point, it’s been awhile since the Rams played in January. And five years and just a single Harbaugh makes a big difference in a division.

In that span since their last playoff appearance, the Rams drafted Sam Bradford in 2010 with high hopes. Bradford was very talented, but he suffered with the injury bug, tearing his left ACL in back-to-back seasons. Also, the Rams have stockpiled on the defensive side of the ball. I believe the Rams have one of the best front sevens in football.

But now their problems lie on the offense. It was clear that in the 2015 offseason that the Rams needed to fix the offensive problems. Bradford didn’t pan out like the Rams were expecting him to, so they traded him for Nick Foles of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Foles may or may not be the answer to the Rams’ quarterback woes, but he’s a hell of a lot better than Austin Davis, whoever that is.

The Rams tried to trade up in the 2015 NFL Draft to pick up Marcus Mariota, but with no success.

So Foles it is then.

In the draft, the Rams picked up Todd Gurley. They didn’t necessarily need a running back, but Gurley, despite injury, was the best player available. He can come in and provide an instant spark on the Rams’ stagnant offense, and give Foles and new offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti another option.

Mar 13, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles is introduced to the media at Rams Park. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

To further enhance Gurley and the run game, the Rams drafted offensive tackles Rob Havenstein and Jamon Brown to help open up holes for the former Georgia standout.

St. Louis also drafted quarterback Sean Mannion out of Oregon State. So in case Foles gets injured or doesn’t meet the standards, Mannion can step in.

Looking around the NFC West, it is still one of the toughest divisions in the league. Maybe not as tough as two years ago, but a stingy division nonetheless.

The Seahawks will still be tough this year as always, and the Cardinals will be even better with Carson Palmer returning from injury.

The 49ers will have a year to forget in 2015, because thaey have had the worst offseason of any team in the league. San Francisco lost leadership in Patrick Willis on the field and Jim Harbaugh off the field, with the latter having the biggest impact in my opinion.

Ranking the NFC West:

1.Seattle Seahawks

What can I say? Russell Wilson, and a Richard Sherman-led defense return for another season with Super Bowl winning hopes. They have added a weapon for the short, medium, and long passing game in Jimmy Graham. The Wilson-Graham connection will work very well from the beginning. Sherman will be Sherman, and Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas will do what they do: be the best secondary in football.

2. Arizona Cardinals

Head coach Bruce Arians and the Cardinals are only looking to improve from their 11-5 season in 2014. The defense has good depth, and playmakers like Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu returning for another year. Palmer is coming back from an ACL tear, and the veteran is looking to lead the Cardinals to the promised land. Palmer is a decent quarterback, and as long as he’s healthy, I think the Cardinals are dark horses for deep playoff runs.

3. St. Louis Rams

It will be a bounce-back year for the Rams. Foles comes in as the new quarterback after a decent run in Philadelphia. I don’t think he’ll be anything special, but I believe he can provide stability at the quarterback position, which is what the Rams need. Gurley will be fun to watch, and the defense is very underrated. The number two spot will be a toss up between the Rams and Cardinals.

4. San Francisco 49ers

Harbaugh bolted for Ann Arbor. This is a huge deal for the Niners moving ahead. I like Colin Kaepernick, a lot, but with Harbaugh not constantly being in his ear anymore, my stock on Kaepernick has heavily dropped. He has all the physical tools to be a great quarterback, and he’s not a bad kid, but he doesn’t make the best decisions on the field. Retirement seems to be the trend for defense in San Francisco. Patrick Willis and Chris Borland have called it quits, and now Justin Smith is on the brink of retirement. I just think the 49ers are going to have an ugly year in 2015.

December 28, 2014; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) passes the football against the Arizona Cardinals during the first quarter at Levi

The NFC West will not be as dominant as it has been the past three years. The fall off of the 49ers has opened up the race for the number two spot in the division. The question used to be whether who would win the division, the Seahawks or 49ers?

Now we know it’s Seattle’s division to lose, but who can secure second place and possibly clinch a Wild Card spot? The reality of the NFC West is, with Harbaugh leaving the 49ers, this completely opened up the division for the Rams and Cardinals.

The Rams are on track to coming back to prominence. Whether if it’s the right track or not is to-be-determined. However if you’re a Rams fan, keep your head high, because things are on the up-and-up.

With the addition of Foles and Gurley, the Rams’ offense will look to put more points on the board and be more exciting. I truly believe that St. Louis could now make runs for the Wild Card position in the NFC.

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