Rams fans have set high expectations on the team this year and they have a right to. The Rams went 7-8-1 last season and 4-1-1 in the division, just missing the playoffs. The Rams are on the verge of taking the next step and finally making it to the playoffs for the first time since 2004, right now it’s just a matter of execution. Here are five things the Rams must do in order to take the next step and make the playoffs.
The key to the Rams success in 2013 all depends on Sam Bradford and how he plays in 2013. Bradford had a career best 3,702 yards, 21 touchdowns, only 13 interceptions, and a passer rating of 82.6 which ranked 18th among quarterbacks. In order for the Rams to make the playoffs, Bradford must play like he did in 2012 and even better. Bradford finally has some weapons and a good offensive lines, therefore he has no more excuses. It is time to rise to the occasion and be the franchise quarterback that the Rams drafted.
Get Off To A Fast Start
Im definitely not going to say the Rams have an easy first half of the schedule, but the second half is absolutely brutal. Week one against the Cardinals could be a trap game. The Rams swept the Cardinals last season. If the Rams go into that game thinking it will be easy, the Cardinals have the ability to sneak up on you and beat you. The Rams must also win games against the Cowboys, Panthers, and their other division games that just happen to be on primetime against the 49ers and Seahawks. Only one team has ever started a season 0-4 and made the playoffs which was the 1992 San Diego Chargers. Last season 8 of the 12 playoff teams won their first game. Therefore getting off to a fast start is key.
The Big Play
For quite a while now the Rams have been missing a guy that can make the big play. Every player on the Rams offense now has the ability to make the big play and it is essential that they do so. Making a big play is huge for an offense in two ways. One, is that it’s a huge momentum shifter. Take the Baltimore Ravens for example. The big play kept them alive all throughout the playoffs last season and they executed it perfectly when they needed it most. The big play also shortens drives in the good way. The offense can go from being deep in their side of the field to being in field goal range all in one play. Instead of having a 10+ play drive, you can have a 6-10 play drive. The offense doesn’t have to work as hard to get points on the board. Last season the Rams only had 68 big plays which ranked 22nd in the NFL. A big play is categorized as a running play that goes for 10+ yards and a passing play that goes for 20+ yards. The big play is also huge on defense. The Rams lost both of their safeties in the offseason and now have two inexperienced players. The Rams already allowed the 9th most big plays last season, having two new safeties won’t help the situation. The safeties cannot be a liability. With Palmer, Kaepernick, and Wilson all in the division, the Rams must protect the deep ball. If the Rams can generate some big plays on offense and limit their opponent from getting big plays, the playoffs could be within reach.
Replacing Steven Jackson
Replacing Steven Jackson will be no easy task and the Rams don’t necessarily have to do it to be successful. However they must have a running game that the defense must respect. The whole offense cant all be put on Bradford’s shoulders. Last season 6 of the 12 playoff teams were ranked in the top 10 in rushing. It is important that Daryl Richardson, Isaiah Pead, and Zac Stacy all step up and make plays running the football. Given Fisher’s track record it is imminent that the Rams running backs will have successful seasons. Chris Johnson rushed for over 2,000 yards with Fisher as the coach and since Fisher left, Johnson has been almost non existent.
Rams Young Players
Everybody know that the Rams have a young team, however with youth comes mental errors, and in order for the Rams to be successful, their young players cannot make mental errors. Guys like Chris Givens, Janoris Jenkins, and Daryl Richardson are all going to have to step up and play like veterans this season and they are only in their second year. It is also important that the guys the Rams drafted in this year’s draft are able to come in and contribute right away. Guys like Tavon Austin, Alec Ogletree, T.J. McDonald, and Zac Stacy are all going to have to be able to play well from the get go. This is the 5th and final key to the Rams success in 2013.
The Rams have the pieces they need in order to make the playoffs, it’s just a matter of putting them together and executing. These are only five keys to the Rams making the postseason, however the Rams have a brutal final stretch where they will have to play well in order to make the playoffs. Rams fans are expecting a lot out of the team this season, and if they team were to just miss the playoffs for the third time in four years, there is no doubt that fans would be disappointed and heartbroken.