In recent years, the St. Louis Rams finishing anywhere close to the .500 mark would have been seen as an aberration and a difficult level to repeat the next year. Following the team’s 7-8-1 showing in 2012 that is far from the case. This version of the Rams is confident, well-coached, and ready to take the next step as a franchise in 2013.
Now that the New Year is upon us, the Rams organization and its players are looking forward to building on the success that the franchise enjoyed in 2012. Linebacker James Laurinaitis is one of the leaders on this team and he recalled two years ago when the team went 7-9 which was their best record in the past decade up until this season. He said: “I was on a team that was 7-9, came back and didn’t do well. That’s not this group. The postseason, that’s on everyone’s mind, and it’s not just a far-fetched hope, it’s an expectation.”
That expectation is actually a realistic one as well given the club’s success against some of the tougher teams in the entire league throughout this season. The Rams tied and defeated the San Francisco 49ers in their two meetings this season and beat the Seattle Seahawks in their first matchup before losing by a narrow margin in Seattle in week 17. It should be mentioned however that the Seahawks are undefeated at home this season and they had won their previous three games by a 150-30 margin.
What has been most responsible for the Rams new-found belief? Head coach Jeff Fisher has to be considered the main cause for the team’s confidence and his hard-nosed defensive mentality has led to a real transformation on this club. Defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn had 11.5 and 10.5 sacks respectively in 2012 and were the team’s first double-digit sack duo since 2000. The defensive success that this team had was without a true defensive coordinator as well this year with Gregg Williams getting suspended for the entire year due to the Bounty Gate scandal.
There is a real energy about this team that can’t be faked. When a coach who has been around the NFL for the bulk of his adult life in Fisher says: “I had a blast, and I can’t wait to get started again. I really enjoy it. It was a great group.” You know there has to be something positive going on with the Rams. Look for the league’s youngest team to really get a boost in the off-season and come back better than ever when 2013 gets underway.
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