The 2013 St Louis Rams can be summarized in a single word probably better than any other team in the NFL, to me that word is Potential. Sure there are other less friendly words that could be used to summarize the Rams roster, words like young or inexperienced come to mind. As a football fan though I am a “glass is half full” type of guy so when I look at the Rams 2013 roster all I see is potential. It has been quite a long time since the Rams could boast a roster as loaded with talent as the 2013 Rams appear to be, although perhaps never in the history of the Rams organization has such a high percentage of that talent been so young and inexperienced. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines potential as : existing in possibility: capable of development into actuality. A high level of potential does not guarantee a high level of success, but at least it is a possibility. After the deterioration of the Greatest Show on Turf the St. Louis Rams have largely been devoid of talent and/or potential playmakers. There were of course a few bright spots along the way, like Steven Jackson, who gave Rams fans hope and a reason to keep tuning in. Unfortunately for SJ39 the organizational dysfunction and instability prevented him from ever tasting success as a starter for the Rams.
The makeup of the Rams franchise changed dramatically when Stan Kroenke acquired full ownership of the Rams, Kroenke has moved swiftly to stabilize the franchise which was punctuated with the hiring of Jeff Fisher and Les Snead. The combination of veteran head coach and up and coming general manager is the cornerstone of the franchises stability and future success. Les Snead didn’t waste any time putting his stamp on the organization, swinging the blockbuster “RGIII trade” with the Washington Redskins that netted the Rams the kind of draft capital that could turn them into a perennial title contender. Jeff Fisher assembled an impressive coaching staff and quickly instilled the hard-nosed football mentality into the Rams that have always been a hallmark of Jeff Fisher teams. Even when Fisher hasn’t had the most talented teams, his teams have always been competitive which is exactly what we saw in his first year with the St. Louis Rams. The Rams finally have stable leadership that appears more than capable of converting the potential of the young talent and future draft picks into realized success.
On the Rams roster there are only a handful of guys that you can point to as legitimate, proven above average or star players. Guys like James Laurinaitis, Chris Long, and Cortland Finnegan headline the defensive side of the ball. On the offensive side there are Jake Long, Scott Wells, and Harvey Dahl as proven players but each has their own questions regarding their ability to regain “Pro-bowl” form. The offensive line is easily the most experienced group on the entire Rams roster led by the two elder statesmen of the Rams (Wells and Dahl). Even with all the experience and history of success potential is a good way to describe the O-line, while the addition of All-Pro Jake Long significantly improves both tackle spots, recent injuries to nearly every projected started leaves questions. The Rams O-line has potential to be one of the leagues best in 2013 if it can avoid the injury bug. Take away the offensive lineman and the most experienced projected starter on offense will be Jared Cook who is entering his 5th year in the NFL. The Rams projected offensive starters will include 1 rookie and 2 second year players while the Rams projected defensive starters include 2 rookies and 2 second year players. Of the 22 projected offensive and defensive starters 13 of them have 4 or fewer years of experience in the NFL, that is a staggering 59% of the Rams starters and of those 13 players 9 of them are either 1st or 2nd round draft picks.
There are still some pretty big question marks surrounding this Rams team, but unlike in recent seasons where the question marks aren’t about talent or athletic ability but about experience and “proven performance”. The Rams are going to be counting on big contributions from first and second year players, guys like Michael Brockers, Janoris Jenkins, Alec Ogletree, TJ McDonald, Tavon Austin, Chris Givens, Daryl Richardson, Isiaih Pead, and Brian Quick. Each of these guys has the potential to be a “Playmaker” in the NFL, there are bound to be hiccups along the way as each of them learns the ropes, but there are going to be plenty of highlights too. The 2013 Rams have the potential to be the surprise team of the NFL with a roster brimming full of young athletic talent and a veteran head coach, dont’ be surprised to see them playing in January 2014, they certainly have the potential. Thanks for reading and as always Go Rams!!!