We are at the midway point of the 2014 NFL season and we know this about the St. Louis Rams…..absolutely nothing. The Rams are 3-5 on the year, just like they have been at the midway point of each of the last two years. Those years finished with a 7-8-1 record in 2012 and a 7-9 record in 2013. So will the end of the 2014 season end in a similar fashion? Another flirtation with a .500 record?
The NFL changes each week. For the most part only a handful of teams are consistent. Just this year we have seen the Patriots blown out by Kansas City and a month later run up the board against Denver. Same goes for San Diego who was considered an AFC challenger and then gets shutout by the Dolphins. But is there a team in the NFL more up and down than the Rams?
Yes they started the season without their number one quarterback and quickly moved onto their number three signal caller. But with Jeff Fisher and Les Snead in charge this team was never built around that position. They wanted to win with defense and a power run game. Coming into this season the Rams were deemed to have the second coming of the Fearsome Foursome. That comparison has been greatly underachieved until recently. The Rams failed to get a sack in their first five games but now seem to have figured it out as they registered eight sacks on Sunday against the 49ers.
The offense continues to roll through running backs like the St. Louis Cardinals do second basemen. The last two free agent wide receivers signed by the Rams (Kenny Britt and Jared Cook) are on the fast track to join Drew Bennett as WR busts. Tavon Austin can’t find his place in Brian Schottenheimer’s offense, has anyone really though? Actually Brian Quick was the biggest and most pleasant surprise, appearing as though he was reaching his potential until he got hurt and was lost for the year.
Tre Mason looks like he has the explosiveness to be a contributor in the backfield but it took him until week 5 to get into the lineup. Same goes for the Rams 2014 first-round pick Greg Robinson. Who has surprised me and looks more capable than I thought he would be at this point in his career. But there is a similar thread to this late addition to the lineup by high Rams picks. Last year it was Zac Stacy relegated to the bench until week 5 when he was an obvious choice to bolster the Rams weak running game. This year both Robinson and Mason were held back while Aaron Donald, another first-rounder in 2014, was in the rotation but did not start until week 6 despite being the most consistent defensive lineman for the Rams all season long.
As it has been shown the Rams have the talent to win. And better yet they typically can compete with anyone on any Sunday. But what do we make of a team that beats Seattle, is blown out by the Chiefs, and beats the 49ers in San Francisco in consecutive weeks? What about a coaching staff that keeps talented players they recently drafted on the bench until they are seemingly out of choices? If this team was one full of talented depth that is one thing. But why keep a player on the bench “to learn” when the talent level between them and the current starter is minimal?
The Fisher-Snead regime has done a great job of making the Rams competitive. But it appears as though they are once again headed towards at best a .500 record. Eventually the team needs to put wins together. The organization needs to develop these high draft choices into playmakers. The coaches need to learn how to best utilize their roster.
I have no idea what to expect from the Rams the rest of the season. But isn’t that what we are used to here in St. Louis as Rams fans? Bradford ready to break out, gets hurt. Draft the best playmaker in 2013 in Austin, he has one 100 yard game in his career. The Rams assemble a devastating defensive line that goes without a sack for five straight games.
We think one thing and then get the other, it is the unexpected that we are used to. Heck we don’t even know if the Rams will be in St. Louis beyond this year. The Rams, the unexpected.