Although the St. Louis Rams’ current stadium situation is still very much unsettled, the club has built itself predicated on one element this offseason: Speed.
It remains to be seen just how long the Rams will be playing on turf, but what isn’t up for debate is the fact that they have built the ideal roster for playing indoors. The past two offseasons under head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead have seen an influx of speed at many key positions on offense and defense alike. Opponents will have a difficult time trying to keep up with the Rams this season in terms of raw speed and on the scoreboard.
Rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree certainly brings a speed element to the defensive side of the ball where the Rams have some quickness off the edges in Robert Quinn and Chris Long already to go along with a speedy Janoris Jenkins at corner. This defense really is built as the perfect group to defend the speed and athleticism the team will offer on offense.
Quarterback Sam Bradford’s three years in St. Louis have seen the team score a woeful 18.1, 12.1 and 18.7 points a game while he made a ridiculous 105 trips to the turf in just 42 starts. With weapons all over the field now in receivers that according to ESPN’s John Clayton all run between a 4.28 and 4.59 40-time, Bradford should have some space to make things happen.
Jared Cook at tight end brings a 6-foot-5 target at 248 pounds that still offers 4.5 speed. Chris Givens proved himself as a vertical threat a year ago while the Rams are still waiting on Brian Quick to emerge as a true target in the receiving corps. He may be stuck on the depth chart for a while with Austin Pettis impressing in camp and newcomer Tavon Austin with his 4.28 speed expected to see plenty of the football this season. Even rookie Stedman Bailey has been showing his stuff in camp and could see some significant work when the regular season arrives.
Speed is clearly an advantage for a team playing indoors on a fast track of artificial turf, but perhaps the biggest positive for the Rams heading into 2013 is continuity. The team did not have a defensive coordinator last season due to the Gregg Williams scandal, but this year Tim Walton will lead the young D to greater heights. Bradford finally has the same offensive coordinator for a second year in a row for the first time in his career with the Rams as Brian Schottenheimer returns to call the shots for the St. Louis offense.
Things are stacking up in favor of the Rams for the first time in more than a decade as the team rolls toward the 2013 season. Optimism is clearly contagious as attendance for practices is up 70 percent according to ESPN year-over-year. Look for this team to find success in the upcoming season in a very quick fashion.