Experience and Consistency key for the 2013 St. Louis Rams

The NFC West has been dominated of late by the San Francisco 49ers, but this season the team that will surprise many is the St. Louis Rams.

Last season, the Rams had one of the NFL’s youngest teams. This season the Rams have added a few players, but are still a very young team. Last season, the Rams had 16 rookies on their active roster.

Jeff Fisher the head coach of St. Louis is hoping to find consistency on the team and a group of players that will remain with the Rams over the long run.

This will be Fisher’s second season with the Rams, which will be devoted more to making the system he runs more consistent than learning it.

The Rams finished last season with a record of 7-8-1, which was five games better than in 2011 in the last year of coach Steve Spagnuolo.

Rookies Chris Givens led St. Louis in receiving yards, Michael Brockers was a mainstay at defensive tackle and Janoris Jenkins grabbed four interceptions to lead the team at cornerback.

Eight of the 11 starters from last season on defense will return this year. The team added Will Witherspoon at linebacker. This will be the 33-year olds second stint with the Rams. In addition, the Rams drafted T.J. McDonald at safety and Alec Olgetree at linebacker.

Offensively, the team will have a different look, but will still be centered round Sam Bradford the young and talented quarterback. Most likely, the biggest loss the Rams suffered in the off season was Steven Jackson. The veteran tailback is now with the Atlanta Falcons. That means Daryl Richardson, if he stays healthy, will get the bulk of the load running the ball this season.

St. Louis added some big players to the fold through free agency. Jake Long was signed to play the ever important left tackle. Jared Cook signed to play tight end giving Bradford extra blocking and a good target to throw to.

Tavon Austin is a talented rookie wide receiver who might not be the starter in September, but will be on the field often as the season wears on.

Austin was drafted with the pick the Rams received when they made a trade last season of their second pick, which Washington used to draft Robert Griffin III.

Bradford is starting his fourth season with the Rams and has improved each year. Fisher believes the help on the offensive line and the new targets at wide receiver and tight end will make Bradford a better player.

Another thing that will help Bradford is the return of Brian Schottenheimer, the team’s offensive coordinator. Bradford has had three OC’s in his four years as Rams quarterback and Schottenheimer’s return will give more consistency to the offense.

However, the big question is will the additions to the roster and a year’s experience for the rookies help the Rams to the postseason. St. Louis has not played in the postseason since 2004.

Verdict: The Rams will finish 8-8 and fall short of the playoffs again.

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