For the Rams the 2013 NFL season was full of “what if’s”. What if the Rams would have started Zac Stacy at the beginning of the season? What if Sam Bradford wouldn’t have gotten hurt? What if? What if? What if?
The Rams had a lot of “what ifs” in 2013, but none greater than, what if Sam Bradford hadn’t gotten hurt week seven against the Panthers.
Yesterday writer Troy Vandenbark gave his projections of where the Bradford’s stats would have ended up had he finished the season. Now we will project where the Rams would have finished if Bradford had finished the season.
Using those projections, Bradford would have finished with 3,856 yards, 32 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and had Bradford if you use the pace that Bradford was going just with Zac Stacy, Bradford would have had 3,469 yards, 35 touchdowns, and seven interceptions.
Taking those stats and matching them up with current quarterbacks that had similar stats in their career which have only been accomplished by Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, those teams went 10-6, 12-4, 16-0, 14-2, and 12-4.
It’s doubtful the Rams would have gone 16-0 or 14-2, but somewhere in the 9-12 win range would have been a good possibility. Let’s take a look at the schedule.
The Rams were 3-3 when Bradford got hurt, and had hopes of still having a chance of making the playoffs after a disastrous 1-3 start which included losing winnable games to the Falcons and Cowboys.
The Rams once again found themselves in a hold deep in the fourth quarter against the Panthers when Sam Bradford ran out of pocket to his right and toward the sideline. Bradford got hit in the knee by a Panther defender which left Bradford grimacing in pain, leaving Rams fans sick to their stomach that their franchise quarterback would be out the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
The team would be forced to rally around Kellen Clemens for the rest of the season, leaving many disappointed that the 2013 season would in fact go to waste, and they would have to wait until 2014 to make the postseason.
In Clemens’ first start against the Seahawks, the Rams lost 14-9 losing the game on the one yard line on the last play. In the game Clemens threw two interception, one of which lead to a Seahawks touchdown.
In Bradford’s career he is 2-1 at home against the Seahawks and 2-0 when the Rams rush for 70+ yards. Against the Seahawks the Rams rushed for 175 yards between running backs Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson making it probable that the Rams would have came out with a victory.
With the help of the run game, Bradford would have been able to make the necessary throws through the air, and given the fact that Bradford had been taking good care of the football, it makes it hard to believe that Bradford would have thrown two interceptions.
The Rams also made it to the red zone on four separate occasions and only came out with nine points. Even with the Seahawks’ great defense you have to believe Bradford punches the ball in the end zone at least once, which is all the Rams needed.
The last reason I believe the Rams would have won this game is that when the Rams defense holds the opposing offense to less than 20 points, Bradford is 14-7, and when his defense holds opposing offenses to 14 points or less Bradford is 10-0.
With that win the Rams would have reached the halfway mark with a 4-4 record putting them in perfect position to make a playoff run.
Against the Titans, the Rams once again ran the ball successfully, but with the score tied at 21 Clemens fumbled in Titan territory which lead to Chris Johnson running in for the game winning touchdown.
The Rams still had a chance to win it at the end, but the last pass it Austin Pettis fell incomplete giving the Rams their third straight loss.
There is no telling if Bradford would have fumbled or not, but if I had to guess Bradford would have taken the Rams down the field to set up a Greg Zuerlein game winning field goal giving the Rams a 5-4 record.
The Rams then won against the Colts and Bears which the Rams would have still pulled out with Bradford giving them a 7-4 record.
The Rams then go destroyed by division rivals San Francisco and Arizona. It’s hard to determine if the Rams would have won either of those games with Bradford. To be fair we’ll say the Rams still lose as their really is no telling what would have happened.
The Rams then beat New Orleans and Tampa Bay moving the Rams record to 9-6 and then once again it’s hard to determine of the Rams would have beat Seahawks giving the Rams a 9-7 record and their first winning record since 2004.
Now if you look at the first three four games when the Rams had no run game and you plug in Zac Stacy instead you have to think that the Rams at the very least defeat the Falcons. The Rams did up with 60 yards rushing, but failed to get any run game going in the first half which lead to offensive struggle.
With Zac Stacy running the ball I believe the Rams come out with this one, making their record 10-6. Rams still miss the playoffs, but would have been right in contention in the final week.
The Rams still lose to the Cowboys as that game was just simply disastrous offensively and defensively. With Zac Stacy against the 49ers it’s hard to say what would have happened, but I would expect that the game would have been a lot closer.
The Rams dealt with a lot of “what if’s” in 2013, but going into 2014, the Rams hopefully will have all “what if’s” figured out so they don’t fall behind early in the season and set themselves up for a playoff run.