It seems like the NFC West of the NFL has officially become the AL East of Major League Baseball. In news that we would typically see out of the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, the one-upsmanship of the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks has to have the rest of the division a bit scared. So just what can the St. Louis Rams do to keep pace with these two franchises clearly in win-now mode?
The Rams rebuild a year ago began with a trade that seemed geared toward sustained success rather than the instant variety. Their deal to acquire multiple first round picks in exchange for the right to draft Robert Griffin III with the Washington Redskins has positioned them perfectly to feed their roster with talent for the next two years.
As we pointed out here just a couple of days ago, the Rams, not the 49ers or the Seahawks, ruled the NFC West last year going 4-1-1 in the division. Clearly that isn’t the be all, end all of success, but it is a good barometer for where a team stands within its own division. Especially when that particular division has the Niners and Seahawks making acquisitions like the Anquan Boldin trade and the Percy Harvin trades from Monday.
For the Rams, clearly the best way to counter moves that are offensively focused is to build up the opposite side of the ball to prevent those weapons from scoring. In 2012, the Rams gave up just 33 points in two meetings with the Seahawks for an average of just 16.5 per game while they surrendered 37 to the Niners in their two showdowns for just 18.5 a game. Both of those offenses were primarily run-oriented a year ago however, so the Rams will really need to improve their pass defense to be as successful in 2013.
Let’s not completely rule out the option of fighting fire with fire though. Both Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson are said to be looking elsewhere in free agency which means that the Rams will have a couple of voids to fill at the receiver position. A free agent acquisition of Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings would really add to a receiving corps that has been lackluster to be kind in recent years.
The more logical route is to go defense though and both safeties Dashon Goldson and Louis Delmas make the most sense. They are both big hitters who would make those newly acquired pass catchers in San Fran and Seattle think twice about coming over the middle of the field.
It will be interesting to see which avenue the Rams take when it comes to keeping up with the Jones’ in the NFC West. Fighting fire with fire would be the way of today’s NFL, but something tells me that Head Coach Jeff Fisher would rather dig in and build up his defense to combat these prolific offensive threats.