Todd Gurley, Rams
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Rams won’t make playoffs because of offense

The St. Louis Rams have been a trendy pick over the years to come out of nowhere and make the playoffs. Unfortunately for the fine folks who follow the franchise, the Rams have been unable to come through on that promise. Many believed last year would be that season, only to watch quarterback Sam Bradford tear his ACL for the second consecutive year, this time in the preseason. St. Louis would go through two more quarterbacks and finish 6-10.

During this offseason, general manager Les Snead got very aggressive. Snead pulled off a stunning trade with the Philadelphia Eagles before the free agency period opened, dealing the aforementioned Bradford (who is in a contract year) for quarterback Nick Foles (also was in a contract year until he got a two-year, $22 million extension with St. Louis) and a second-round pick in 2016.

Snead then doubled down with another gamble, this time in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. Instead of taking an offensive lineman, cornerback or wide receiver, Snead selected running back Todd Gurley, an incredible talent but a man who is still recovering from a torn ACL. Snead failed to add anybody of note for Foles to throw at throughout the offseason, leaving ample question marks.

All of this is why the Rams are stuck in neutral. Sure, they may improve by a game or even two with a healthy quarterback who can play and an elite front seven on defense. The problem is teams can focus on stuffing the run and pressuring Foles, because St. Louis does not possess a receiver who can create problems on the outside.

In 2013, the Rams selected Tavon Austin, a lightning-fast receiver out of West Virginia to become a threat both in the slot and on the outside. Through the first two years of his career, Austin has flashed but lacks quality numbers. Last year, Austin caught only 31 passes for 242 yards. On the perimeter, the Rams are starting veteran Kenny Britt and fourth-year man Brian Quick, who has been a bust to this point. Quick has 833 career receiving yards.

It is hard to see the Rams being able to compete with the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West. Arizona is loaded with offensive weapons and a revamped offensive line, while Seattle still has the core of a team that is looking for its third consecutive NFC title.

If the Rams are to prove this column foolish and make the playoffs, Foles will need to be borderline sublime. He must make Britt an elite receiver again and find the key to production for both Austin and Quick. Finally, Gurley needs to get back on the field and become a force out of the backfield.

If those things don’t all happen, the Rams are staring at a long offseason again.

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