After a better than expected first season with Sam Bradford, Al Dannity expects more progress from the Rams in 2011.
The players Stephen Jackson has notably not participated in off-season workouts with the rest of the Rams but if there’s one running back you can trust to stay in shape it’s him. With Jackson finally getting the support of a Sam Bradford led passing game, St. Louis can make the most of their star in the backfield.
Bradford wanted weapons out of this draft and he got three of them. Tight end Lance Kendricks will provide a big target for Bradford while receivers Austin Pettis and Greg Salas could both provide solid outlets for the second year quarterback. Keep an eye on the development of second year receiver Danario Alexander, who showed flashes of potential in his rookie season.
Mark your calendar If the Rams are going to make the playoffs, they’ll have to survive a brutal start to the season. Games against the Eagles, Giants, and Ravens fill up the opening three dates on the slate and it’s difficult to the see St. Louis winning any of these match-ups. A 1-2 start would be fantastic.
It doesn’t get much easier after the bye in Week 5 with trips to Green Bay and Dallas followed by a visit from the Saints. The upside for St. Louis is that it gets a lot easier from there on out. All six divisional games in the NFC West come after Week 8 with a trip to Pittsburgh the only daunting date on the schedule.
The verdict This season we’ll see just how mentally tough these Rams are. If they can get through the first seven games with a 3-4 record, I fully expect them to make the post-season. Even if they slip to 2-5, they will still be in good health for a charge down the stretch. It’s not going to be easy, it never is in this league, but the potential for a big year is definitely there. The only games down the stretch where I won’t favor St. Louis will be their road games at San Francisco and Pittsburgh. That should be good enough for at least a 9-7 record and possibly even 10-6. It’s not world-beating but it’s definitely good enough to get the job done in the NFC West. It’s going to some courage early on and big, big charge through the second half of the season but I like the Rams to win the division in 2011.