There are bound to be conflicting opinions about just what direction any given franchise is headed in that failed to make the NFL postseason. Clearly the St. Louis Rams are no exception from this scrutiny, and the lack of a consensus on their general trend as an organization is just as cloudy.
2013 was billed as another building year with plenty of growing pains left to suffer through, but the Rams couldn’t have anticipated losing their starting quarterback in Sam Bradford during Week 7 and having to do the bulk of that growth without their presumed franchise leader for the foreseeable future. The team was 3-4 at that point and managed to finish the year with a similarly unimpressive 7-9 mark, but progress is sometimes a difficult thing to detect.
Mixed in with plenty of disappointment down the stretch – such as the penalty-fest of Week 17 – were some very promising outings like the two-week stretch of destroying the Indianapolis Colts on the road and Chicago Bears at home while putting up 38 and 42 points in those two respective games. A dominating home victory over Drew Brees and the playoff-bound New Orleans Saints also hinted at some serious progress on the defensive side of the ball against one of the NFL’s most dynamic offenses.
Clearly what this team still lacks is consistency given the ridiculous shifts in momentum that took place on a week-to-week basis. A complete trouncing of the Houston Texans on the road in Week 6 was followed by the aforementioned loss of Bradford in a Week 7 lopsided loss to the Carolina Panthers. Though these things happen to the best of teams at times, the Rams seem to have a propensity for up and down play that exceeds the general anomaly that takes place for every franchise now and then.
Call it New Year’s resolution if you must, but what the Rams really need to establish in 2014 is a baseline level of performance. If they can have a general expectation from week-to-week instead of taking the field and winging it they will have much more success in terms of wins and losses. Having a running game with Zac Stacy settled coming into training camp will certainly aid that cause next season, but now uncertainty at quarterback concerning Bradford’s rehab and just how ready he will be to start 2014 will linger.
Finding a true answer to just which way the arrow is pointing for the Rams is difficult to do, but there’s no question this team has loads of untapped talent as the league’s youngest roster. From keeping the coaching staff intact to building upon that already stocked cupboard of young talent, this Rams team must find some consistency this offseason. If all of these rookies and second-year players grow into veterans with a reliable level of performance and the coaching staff remains dedicated to its goals, this squad could be a real force in the years ahead.