St. Louis Rams Scouting Report


The Rams. Those damn St. Louis Rams. Always struggling to find a good enough (or healthy enough) QB to put them over the top, always falling short of expectations….. but seemingly always giving the Seahawks fits at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams have taken 3 of the last 5 games in St. Louis, and by all rights should have won in 2012 too.

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When the schedule first dropped this year I thought “Damnit, THAT is where we have to start the season?” But the reality is there may not be a better time to face the Rams this season, at least in their building. Let’s take a look at why that is:


Nov 23, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; St. Louis Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (55) looks across the line during the third quarter against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

This is clearly where the Rams excel. Their front 7 has been one of the better ones in the league for a few years, but it’s become potentially dominant now because they keep adding to it. They drafted Aaron Donald in the first round last year when it appeared they had bigger needs, and this offseason they signed former Lion first-rounder DT Nick Fairley to add to the rotation. Robert Quinn is a terror at DE, with 40 sacks over the last 3 seasons. He’s currently ranked as the 2nd most dangerous edge rusher in the league according to Pro Football Focus. On the other end, Chris Long is healthy again after missing 10 games last year. Their linebackers are young, fast and versatile as well. MLB James Laurinaitis is the quarterback, with Alec Ogletree and Akeem Ayers flanking him. Ayers was a sneaky-good free agent signing. The former 2nd round pick of the Titans has shown flashes of being able to get to the QB when turned loose.

Behind them is a young (an obvious theme with this team) secondary that, while talented, has had some issues. Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson both have outstanding man-to-man coverage skills but can be caught peeking in the backfield and beat deep. Johnson is the only CB on the teams two-deep who’s over 6′ tall. They can struggle to match up against bigger receivers in the red zone.


Once again the Rams are a team in transition on offense. They have a new Coordinator, Brian Cignetti, and new QB in Nick Foles. Foles was acquired in an offseason trade that sent oft-injured former #1 overall pick Sam Bradford to Philadelphia. I’ve never been a huge Foles believer. He had a huge 2013 in his first full season as a starter, throwing 27 TD’s against only 2 INT’s, but that fell to 13/10 last year before he suffered a broken collarbone in week 9, ending his season.

August 14, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; St. Louis Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin (11) runs with the football against the Oakland Raiders during the first quarter in a preseason NFL football game at Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Rams did absolutely nothing to alter the look of their wide receiver room this offseason, and that may not be a good thing. Their top 5 are still Tavon Austin, Brian Quick, Kenny Britt, Chris Givins and Steadman Bailey. It’s a nice mix of size, speed and depth, but none is the kind of game-breaker that forces opposing defensive coordinators to game plan around.

Where the Rams want to excel is in the running game. They spent the 10th overall pick in the 2015 draft on Georgia RB Todd Gurley, and then used 4 picks this year and another in 2016 to draft offensive linemen. Two of those rookies will start, Rob Havenstein at right tackle and Jamon Brown at right guard. Furthermore, 3 of the linemen listed as second-teamers are rookies as well. Greg Robinson, the 2nd overall choice in 2014, starts at left tackle. He struggled as a rookie. Left guard Roger Saffold was once the starting left tackle, and once signed a lucrative free agent deal with Oakland only to have it rejected when he failed his physical. He’s the Rams most experience lineman by a long shot, and he’s only 27 years old.

Gurley was drafted with the knowledge that he won’t be 100% to start the season, coming off a torn ACL. Tre Mason ran for nearly 800 yards in a time-share as a rookie last year, but he’s questionable for Sunday’s game with a hamstring issue, that leaves Benny Cunningham as the primary running threat. Cunningham is a solid backup who only ran for 246 yards in 2014, but did catch 45 passes as the teams primary 3rd down back.


Jeff Fisher teams usually excel in special teams, and special teams trick plays played key roles in the Rams beating the Seahawks last year and in 2012. Redmond, WA born punter Johnny Hekker has one of the strongest legs in the league, as does kicker Greg Zuerlein. Tavon Austin is the primary punt return man and can be dangerous, averaging 11.2 yards per return which included a 78 yard TD last year.


Seems like we’ve been saying for years that the Rams were the “next big thing.” They always seem to have splashy drafts and a respected head coach in Jeff Fisher. But for the third straight season they begin the year as the NFL’s youngest roster. At some point, shouldn’t that change? To me, it speaks to the fact they’ve failed to fortify certain position groups. The front seven is one of the most feared in the league, and the defense as a whole could be on the verge of being considered the NFL’s best. But how much of the load can they shoulder until the offense figures out who and what they are?

And that’s why I say there may not be a better time for the Seahawks to face St. Louis on the road. Without Gurley and Mason, the Rams running game lacks explosiveness, and for all the well-documented struggles of the Seahawks in trying to put their offensive line together this preseason, St. Louis is putting all their eggs up front into the questionable baskets of a number of rookies. The Rams will struggle to run the ball, putting even more pressure on Foles to get it done. He’s got some receivers capable of turning in big plays, but how much time will he have to scan the field? And even when he does have time, how accurate will he be? Even playing in Chip Kelly’s QB-friendly system last year in Philly he only completed 59.8% of his passes.

Until that offensive line grows up and Gurley returns, the Rams defense will have to be good enough to keep games extremely low scoring, perhaps in the teens, to give St. Louis a chance to win.

Can they do that to the Seahawks? Well….since this is a St. Louis Rams scouting report, that’s a question for another post.

Next: Keith's Week 1 NFL Power Rankings

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