The throwback unis looked awesome as always as the St. Louis Rams took the field on Sunday for a battle with the recently hot Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Although the outcome of the game itself had very little impact on either team as far as this season is concerned, there were still plenty of feats left to accomplish for the young Rams in their second season of an ongoing rebuild.
This first task for this particular game that I outlined in an earlier article was to answer some questions along the offensive line in regards to the youth on the depth chart. Though the young guys saw the field and looked alright on the afternoon, the real headline from the trenches on Sunday was the knee injury of left tackle Jake Long.
Perhaps the only pillar on the line this year has been Long protecting the blindside, but unfortunately this injury brings even his future into question. Many were skeptical of the Rams signing him to franchise left tackle money this past offseason due to a history of injury issues, and this recent incident only further clouds an already shaky line. Rodger Saffold returned to the left side after starting the year at right tackle due to Long’s addition and kicking inside to guard when injuries ravaged the depth chart. He will be a free agent at season’s end, however, so the long-term future of the team at such an important position is yet another question mark this team didn’t need.
There were some positive takeaways from the afternoon as Zac Stacy continued to run hard and add to his impressive resume as a rookie this season. Even though he tallied the first fumble of his NFL career in the game, Stacy has still proven to be exactly what this offense needed. His style of turning back the clock conjured memories of the past in those throwback uniforms of yesteryear. After his 104 yards on 33 carries in Week 16, Stacy needs just 42 yards in the final game of the season to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark on the season. Considering the fact that the majority of that production has come in just 11 games this season, it seems safe to say that St. Louis has found themselves a fifth round gem in Stacy.
On the outside for the offense, it now seems official that third rounder Stedman Bailey has overtaken Brian Quick on the depth chart. Bailey was the leading receiver for the team on the day with three catches for 44 yards, but he also got involved on a double reverse that saw him scamper 27 yards to paydirt. It appears the Rams have found a weapon out of West Virginia not named Tavon Austin in addition to the multidimensional top 10 selection.
This win may not help the Rams’ draft position during the offseason, but at least the Dallas Cowboys’ ridiculous comeback win over the Washington Redskins kept the pick the team will receive from the Robert Griffin III trade at No. 2 overall for the time being. Plus there’s no doubt the experience these young guys are gaining late in the year will really pay off when the breakout year of 2014 arrives. Look for big things from these young Rams next season.