ramsstaches

Last year: 7-8-1, third place in NFC West

Acquisitions: Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Jake Long, Alec Ogletree, Will Witherspoon

Departures: Steven Jackson, Danny Amendola, Quintin Mikell, Rocky McIntosh, Craig Dahl

Vegas win total over/under: 7 1/2 wins

Verdict: OVER

pkfisher

Five perks Peter King gets for a cozy relationship with the Rams front office:

- Getting to watch old white guys high-five in the Rams war room in draft day!

- Mustache rides.

- Endless supply of Bernie Kosar dartboards.

- The use of Cortland Finnegan’s scary momma as personal shusher.

- Free tickets to the Edward Jones Dome for he and up to 20,000 of his friends.

Fan forecast, by SB Nation’s NFL editor, Ryan Van Bibber:

I was supposed to send this to Mr. Ape, like, last week. It’s now Monday night, and I probably won’t send it until Tuesday morning. But it’s content, decent content, not some filler crap about Sam Bradford’s make or break year, Tavon Austin’s cousins or just how impressed I was by how well everyone practiced when I parked my RV there for three hours.

And so I’ve lured you in with an apt metaphor for the St. Louis Rams’ fortunes since the wheels fell off of the Greatest Show on Turf.

The Rams have been so bad for so long, I’m not quite sure what to think now that they’re mediocre and approaching good. It’s like getting out of prison and being depressed because the outside is foreign and uncomfortable to you.

With Georgia Frontiere gone and her kids cashed out, minority owner Stan Kroenke exercised his right to buy 100 percent of the team … after he let Shad Khan think he was going to buy it (Khan settled for Jacksonville, hahahaha). Front office in-fighting disappeared. Incompetent, neutered coaches were shown the door. In came Jeff Fisher. With his mustache and Oakley blades lending the whole thing instant credit with a small, but passionate Midwestern fan base, needing something to fill the space between baseball seasons.

But enough with the histrionics. GM Les Snead didn’t trade away the rights to RGIII so we could live in the past.

Bradford, Austin, etc.

Except for that one six-year, $76 million link to the past, quarterback Sam Bradford. A talented player, he’s been lost in the shuffle since landing in St. Louis. Pat Shurmur made him frightened of the scary places six yards down the field. Billy Devaney made sure he had Jason Smith protecting his blind side and talented receivers like Donnie Avery to catch his passes. And Scott McDaniels kept whispering a bunch of shit about the Patriots to him.

Two years in the same offense and being surrounded by real offensive tackles bode well for the young man. He’s throwing the ball downfield more, as he should be, and now, the receivers actually catch it. This should be the year that Sam Bradford starts to look like a real quarterback.

How far Bradford can take things this year depends in part on a group of wide receivers with a grand total of 1,371 career receiving yards. Chris Givens owns the lion’s share of those after leading the Rams in that category last season with 698 yards. The player everyone’s most excited about is Tavon Austin. He’s fast and quick, or so an army of draft experts told me on Twitter in April. But NFL defenses tend to be a little tougher than those in the Big 12; some adjustment time may be in order.

Front army

The defensive line is the only unit in the league that can go toe-to-toe with San Francisco’s offensive line and win as many battles as it loses. The starting front four summed up in football-writing tropes:

Chris Long: Tenacious
Robert Quinn: Fast
Michael Brockers: Powerful
Kendall Langford: Guy that’s good enough, but not so good your spouse has heard of him.

Add in an athletic group of linebackers and a viable rotation of ends and tackles, and the Rams have a potent front seven that can carry the team on its own from time to time. A cornerback duo of Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan makes it that much better. Now, if only someone could teach them how to defend the play action.

Jeff Fisher’s home for wayward youth

Sure, the Rams have had a few player suspensions, some offseason DUIs and draftees that had trouble with the SEC’s character standards. Only in the world of Mike Florio is any of it a real concern.

Nobody can sincerely be worked about any of those things when the NFL is bullying news networks, the Vikings owners are getting caught up in racketeering and Jimmy Haslam could be facing a Federal indictment.

It’s like Janoris Jenkins said, they didn’t shoot up some strip club.

Prediction

8-8. I’ll get accused of lowballing. Fine. This is young team, still lacking quality depth throughout the lineup. Snead still has an extra first-round pick next year. Fans have waited a long time for a quality product. They’ll be expecting something by then.