When Jeff Fisher took the head coaching job with the St. Louis Rams, the experienced sideline leader said that quarterback Sam Bradford was one of the main reasons he signed on with the team. After general manager Les Snead chose to stockpile picks rather than select quarterback Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL Draft, that confidence in the former first overall pick was only reaffirmed.
Now, with a bevy of weapons the likes of which Bradford has never seen and protection better than he has ever known during his three-year tenure to date, the Rams seem fully equipped for a serious push in the NFC. Signing Jared Cook and Jake Long in free agency filled two glaring needs for the squad while drafting Tavon Austin replenished the playmaking void left by Danny Amendola’s departure. It’s easy to argue that this team took bigger strides than most this offseason without much fanfare at all.
“We’ve had talented teams in the past and tried to maximize it,” Bradford told USA TODAY Sports. “But with the speed we’ve brought in, it really allows us to open things up and put other teams in a bind. That’s good for this football team.
“I’ve been waiting for this, just wanting to see this offense succeed and maybe do some things we haven’t been able to in the past.”
The addition of Long at left tackle will allow incumbent blindside protector Rodger Saffold to slide over the right side, only further insulating a quarterback who has been thoroughly abused during his first three NFL seasons. Despite continuing to hit the turf at an alarming frequency a year ago, the Rams still managed to really improve on the field and go 4-1-1 in a cutthroat NFC West.
Last season was their best in six years and the most success that Bradford has known since being drafted. Teams like the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks continue to get more ink despite the fact that the Rams are closing the talent gap quickly atop the division.
“We know what we’re capable of and what we did in our division last year,” Bradford said. “If we play at our true potential, we’re not worried about those other teams getting the attention now.”
There’s a real element of “show me” for the Rams in 2013 which is fitting given their residence in the Show-Me state of Missouri. Even though the team saw its most success in years during coach Fisher’s first season in St. Louis, prognosticators aren’t giving them the respect they deserve heading into the upcoming season. Bradford’s attitude along with Fisher’s gritty coaching style won’t allow those outside influences to be a problem, though.
This Rams team is a confident bunch; even if the media doesn’t want to jump on their bandwagon just yet, they will soon enough.