The preseason is officially over and we are getting into the regular season. This is the last of our 2013 Season previews and this week we ask Nathan Kearns from Ramblin’ Fan 5 Questions about the St. Louis Rams.
Sep 23, 2012; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler (6) greets St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford after the game at Soldier Field. The Bears won 23-6. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
What did you like and/or dislike about what the Rams did in free agency and the draft?
Aug 17, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) is unable to catch a pass in the red zone during the first half against the Green Bay Packers at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Well, there was plenty to like about the St. Louis Rams offseason, starting from the first couple of weeks of free agency. The new front office immediately sought out the biggest free agent names at areas of need (i.e. offensive tackle, safety, and offensive skills players). Although this missed out on Louis Delmis, they won the battle for both Jared Cook and Jake Long, giving the Rams arguably the best available offensive tackle and receiving-tight end in the class. Even the loss of Steven Jackson had a silver lining, with the Rams’ now shifting towards the pass-oriented, spread offense that Sam Bradford dominated with at Oklahoma.
The departure of Steven Jackson and Danny Amedola also likely led to the ferocity in which the St. Louis Rams pursued Tavon Austin the 2013 NFL Draft. For the first time in nearly a decade, the Rams took a chance and “went after” the player they wanted on the board. They were also luck enough to replace cap-casualty safety, Quintin Mikell, with T.J. McDonald, as well as replacing departed swiss-army, interior lineman, Rob Turner, with Barrett Jones. The only thing not to love about the Rams’ draft was the amount of pick they gave to the Bills to move up to 8th overall. However, the fact that St. Louis also grabbed the top outside linebacker prospect, Alec Ogletree, and the most productive receiver in college football last season, Stedman Bailey, on top of all those other selections quickly made everyone forget about what they gave up!
Which rookie are you most looking forward to seeing this season?
The St. Louis Rams have not had a truly “explosive” playmaker at receiver since Torry Holt left the team half a decade ago. All of Rams Camp, including the players and coaching staff, have been truly amazed at what Tavon Austin can do with the ball in his hands. So far, they have played him out wide, out of the backfield, in the slot, and had him back returning punts. Tavon Austin has an opportunity to follow in the foot-steps of Randall Cobb and Percy Harvin, and the potential to be one of the best playmakers in the league… starting this season.
I know I can’t wait to see Howie wearing a half Bears, half Rams jersey. Are you looking forward to Long vs. Long?
Aug 23, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; TV analyst and former NFL player and father of Chicago Bears offensive guard Kyle Long (not pictured), Howie Long, on the field before the game against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
On draft day, there was definitely some sadness when the commissioner announced that the Chicago Bears had taken Kyle Long in the first round. There is no doubt that defensive coordinator, Tim Walton, will be getting creative with his defensive line stunts against the Bears. Hopefully, we will get to see at least a handful of brotherly battles!
I personally think that Jeff Fisher is one of the best coaches in the NFL. What do Rams fans feel about him after year 1?
I highly doubt that you would be able to find a single fan, player, or coach that would utter a single negative word about Coach Fisher. He has undoubtedly changed the entire mentality at Rams Park, and the results showed on the field last season. The St. Louis Rams have been searching for a leader that can provide experience and, more importantly, stability within the organization. Everyone is exciting to have Coach Fisher, as well as GM Les Snead, on staff into the foreseeable future.
Will the Rams miss Steven Jackson this season?
Steven Jackson has been the face of the St .Louis Rams for nearly a decade, exemplifying what is means to be a true professional in a league filled with me-first, egocentric young players. Not once did you hear Jackson complain about the team, demand to be traded, or make himself out to greater than the team itself. Anytime you lose a player of that caliber, that has meant so much to the organization, they will be missed.
However, the departure of Jackson starts a new era in St. Louis, one led by Sam Bradford and his band of young offensive weapons. The Rams will finally transition into the modern age of football, one that is pass-oriented, with the offense’s success laid primarily on the arm of the man under center. With Jackson gone, Brian Schottenheimer will be forced to open up the playbook, get creative, and allow Bradford to command the game. The standard “stack the box” defensive gameplan will no longer send the St .Louis Rams into “shutdown mode.” Teams will actually have to worry about Sam Bradford… or, more likely, worry about stopping Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, and Chris Givens.
I want to thank Nathan Kearns for taking the time out to answer our 5 Questions. Make sure you check out Ramblin’ Fan for all of your news and info on 2013 Bears Opponent St. Louis Rams.