St. Louis Rams; 2012 Offseason Breakdown

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St. Louis Rams; 2012 Offseason Breakdown

By, Eric Hartvigson

 

Stadium: Edward Jones Stadium (dome)

Schedule Strength: 25th

Postseason Weather issues: @ Buf Week 14

Offensive Line Ranking: 32nd

 

Head Coach – Jeff Fischer;    As a player Fischer was a cornerback for the USC Trojans playing alongside some of the games legends including; Ronnie Lott, Joey Browner, and Bruce Matthews. Drafted by the Chicago Bears in 1981, Fischer would play a multitude of positions in the NFL including cornerback and kick returner. In 1985, the year the Bears won the Super Bowl, Fischer entered the season on injured reserve, becoming a pseudo-assistant coach to the legendary Chicago defensive coordinator Buddy Ryan.  Following Ryan to the Eagles, Fischer began as the defensive backs coach eventually moving to defensive coordinator.  Spending several seasons as a defensive coach around the league Fisher’s offensive influence can be tied to a West Coast system utilized during his time in San Francisco under then head coach George Seifert.  Eventually hired as the Oilers/Titans head coach in 1994 he would spend 14 seasons with the team compiling a 142-120 record including a Super Bowl appearance.  Jeff Fisher is arguably the most well respected of all the NFL’s coaches and highly sought-after this past offseason finally accepting a position with the Rams this past offseason.  As with most coaches having a defensive background, Fischer prefers a balanced run / pass Offensive System, typically relying on a 3-down-runningback (Eddie George leading to Chris Johnson).

Offensive Coordinator – Brian Schottenheimer;    A former quarterback in high school Schottenheimer won the Kansas 5A state football championship.  Schottenheimer is perhaps most famous for being the son of the legendary Marty Shottenheimer, a tough defensive minded head coach who believed in a power running game.  Not surprisingly, the younger Schottenheimer began his NFL coaching career as an assistant for his father.  His journey would eventually lead him to the offensive coordinator position for the New York Jets under then head coach Eric Mangini.  As one of the few holdovers from the old Jets regime Schottenheimer adopted the “ground-and-pound” mentality of both his father and current Jets head coach Rex Ryan.  Many rumors surface that Schottenheimer was trying to push the Ryan into a more pass oriented system, which ultimately led to his demise. Now coaching under another defensive minded head coach we should expect a balanced run / pass offensive system coming from the Rams 2012.

QB – Sam Bradford;    Oh what a difference a year makes. Exiting his rookie campaign in 2010 Bradford had produced 3500 yards and 18 touchdowns while being touted as one of the league’s most talented young quarterbacks.  During that rookie season Bradford displayed excellent mobility, big-time arm strength, tremendous accuracy, progression through his reads and excellent team management.  In 2011 Bradford fell from grace playing behind a terrible offensive line made even worse after the loss of left tackle Roger Saffold.  Bradford will also suffer a high ankle sprain causing him to miss 6 games, while losing safety blanket Danny Amondola on a team with no true #1 wide receiver (he was injured during much of Lloyd’s tenure).  In a current quarterback poll conducted by ESPN of the best young quarterbacks, Bradford failed to make the list.  In a roundabout way the Rams have stated they believe in Bradford after trading the #2 overall selection to the Redskins instead of selecting quarterback Robert Griffin III.  It was also rumored the Browns had inquired about the trading of Bradford, in which the Rams declined.  Working against Bradford, the Rams did nothing to fix their offensive line, hence 32nd ranking as seen above.  Although the wide receiver position was addressed with the drafting of Brian Quick, a rookie is only a mild upgrade.  Playing for a defensive minded head coach, the Rams are expected to lean heavily on the running game. It is my belief that Bradford will eventually become a solid fantasy quarterback in the future.  However, having to learn his third system in three years, 2012 is not looking good as Bradford should have a player rating of 7.3

 

RB-Steven Jackson;    One of the premier fantasy running backs over the past 7 seasons, Jackson meets 85% of the criteria to becoming a top tier fantasy star (lone ball carrier, goal line power, size, speed and on a team that will run it regardless of the situation).  Jackson has a number of drawbacks.  First, he plays on a team that lacks “team talent” meaning he constantly facing an “8-man-box” for most of the game.  Second, Jackson is a Yellow Flag injury prone player after numerous soft tissue injuries always finding himself in the Questionable status on the injury report (the silent killer).  Third, he continues to play behind the league’s worst offensive line.  Given his status as the 3-Down-back, and high degree of talent, the risk is worth the reward at a player rating of 8.4. Just make sure to handcuff fellow Rams running back Isaiah Peed.

WR – Brian Quick;    The first pick in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft, Quick is being asked to fill the role of the Rams number one wide receiver. Having played out of Appalachian State I can’t say as though I know much about this young man.  What I do know is he’s 6’ 4”, 220 pounds showing the prototypical body type of a #1 wide receiver.  We also have recent reports coming out of St. Louis indicating Quick will be the teams go to guy.   Simply based on projected targets alone, coupled with the perceived talent and a stong armed quarterback, Quick warrant serious consideration as a player rating of 7.7, currently offering sleeper value (although that is expected to change dependent on the preseason)

WR2 – Danny Amendola;    Many around the media are comparing Amendola to Wes Welker.  So why not take a look? Upon comparison we find almost the nearly the exact height and weight.  We also find similar NFL combine numbers in the 40 yard dash, short shuttle and 3 cone drill. Ironically, they both attended Texas Tech during their college days.  Last season the comparisons between Amendola and Welker also carried merit because of then offense of coordinator, and Bill Belichick protégé, Josh McDaniels. However, this is not the New England Patriots offensive system, and Sam Bradford, although highly talented, is not Tom Brady.  Amendola is not without value but should be viewed with a player rating of 7.3

TE – Lance Kendricks;    Kendricks is another player who showed tremendous athleticism during year 2010, sharing the same rookie season as Sam Bradford.  At 6’ 3”, 247 pounds running a 4.57 40 yard dash Kendricks displays the skill set to be a productive fantasy tight end.  Furthermore, the coaching staff has openly stated during the offseason they intend to get the tight end more involved. Let us not forget that Dustin Keller led the Schottenheimer New York Jets in targets.  However, Kendricks did miss a large part of OTA’s due to an undisclosed injury. Let us not forget that the Rams have one of the league’s worst offensive lines, which typically equates to a tight end being asked to block more frequently. Gathering all our information Kendricks does warrant some fantasy consideration as a last round flyer warranting a player rating of 7.1

Def – St. Louis Rams;    The third worst fantasy defense in 2011 the Rams have made a few changes.  The signing of Cortland Finnegan along with the first round selection of defensive tackle Michael Brockers will aid this unit. Also increasing the value of the Rams defense the hiring of strong defensive minded head coach Jeff Fisher. This is still a young Rams defenses and not yet a fantasy option with a player rating of 6.7

K – Josh Brown;    The Rams offense does nothing to excite us as Brown will likely finish middle of the pack at best  warranting a player rating of 6.6

 

About Eric Hartvigson