Posted: 12:00 p.m. Saturday, July 6, 2013
Veteran Additions: TE Jared Cook, OT Jake Long.
Strengths: I feel like evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of the Rams team might be the hardest task for any team in the NFC West for 49ers fans. Last season, when they played the 49ers, they looked really solid. They were deceptive on Offense and especially on Special Teams (lol fake punts) and hard-nosed on Defense. And while they shouldn't play at that level during every game this season, this does speak to their strengths.
The Rams' greatest strength (except for, maybe, their Head Coach, Jeff Fisher) has got to be their D. The Des, Chris Long and Robert Quinn, had 11.5 and 10.5 sacks respectively. Heck, even DT Michael Brockers had four sacks and was a pretty good run-stopper. Along with Kendall Langford, this unit is packed up by some solid LBs that include rookie Alec Ogletree and James Laurinaitis. The strong D is rounded out by CBs Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins.
Weaknesses: Where the Rams are weak on Defense, however, is at the Safety position. Both starters left in Free Agency, and Darian Stewart and Rodney McLeod are in a competition with rookie T.J. McDonald. This is probably not the most awe-inspiring group of Safeties.
Much of the offense is suspect too, though probably not as bad as people think. While I'm a believer in Sam Bradford, this will be a big year for him. The Front Office went out to get weapons for him, most notably (the likely over-paid, but bursting with potential) TE Jared Cook and WR Tavon Austin. In addition, the team attempted to shore up its o-line with the (unfortunately injury-prone) OT Jake Long. His presence kicks Rodger Saffold to the right side of the line, thus giving a greater degree of stability to the o-line. Determining how much of a weakness (or an asset) this Offense will be for the Rams is going to come down to how well Bradford responds to his new o-line and receiving targets.
Ultimately, I think it will be the lack of a running game that might hurt the Rams the most. With RB Steven Jackson leaving, the Rams will be running Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead out. They could also turn to rookie Zac Stacy. Pro Football Focus rated Richardson as a -1.8 rusher (-6.8 overall), and Pead barely played enough last season such that we can have a clear idea of what type of rusher he is.