Much has been made about the St Louis Rams’ attempt to rebuild their roster position by position, but little noise has been made about it actually resulting in a real change on the field. The NFC West was dominated by the San Francisco 49ers a season ago, but there is no clear cut favorite in the division considering each team’s quarterback situation and that makes the Rams as viable as anyone to win the division in 2012.
Although this team has been the division’s perennial cellar dweller over the past half-decade, there is plenty of hope for the year ahead. Starting with the trend that began last year when the 49ers hired a new head coach in Jim Harbaugh and saw immediate dividends. The Rams hiring of Jeff Fisher could have a similar result on a team with some solid pieces in place at key positions.
To revisit the quarterback topic, one could argue that the Rams have the best (or at least potentially the best) signal caller in the division in Sam Bradford. Alex Smith had a nice year with the Niners in 2011, but his track record suggests that may have been an aberration. Both Tarvaris Jackson with the Seattle Seahawks and Kevin Kolb with the Arizona Cardinals have a ways to go before they even get considered with Bradford and Smith in terms of quarterbacking skills. While this is certainly debatable, it’s easy to make a case for Bradford as the best in the west.
Another area of excellence on the team is the defensive line where it’s hard to imagine any NFC West team topping them. The Rams signed Kendall Langford to add to a group with Chris Long, Robert Quinn, and rookie Michael Brockers who will likely see some serious playing time. Really no other team comes close to the Rams’ group in terms of talent and potential which features three top 15 draft choices from the past five years.
The Rams may not yet be the odds-on favorites to win the division, but they do have a realistic chance to make some headlines and really compete the crown in the year ahead. If Fisher can coach this club up and influence a true culture change as Harbaugh did in San Francisco during just one offseason, there could be much surprise during the 2012 campaign in the NFC West.