This Sunday the St. Louis Rams will take the field and for the first time in nearly four years, St. Louis will be privy to actual NFL caliber games. You know, the kind where you go in not totally confident that, however high Vegas set the line against the Rams, the other team was going to cover.
Or double it.
High aspirations, Rams fans have not. But the excitement is palpable. People are jacked to see Sam Bradford. I actually had someone ask me about tailgating. Unironically. Pro Football Talk and their rankings can go straight to hell... these guys are the scrappy underdogs that everyone is going to want to kiss and hug and love on and cuddle with while Chris Berman asks rhetorically to Tom Jackson, "The Rams?"
Chances are you didn't watch a second of the preseason. You're not alone. Sans the 30K or so that braved the dark, dank world of the EJD, you didn't see a Rams home game. And considering you have a life, you probably missed the road games as well.
You also might be considering going to the game this Sunday or watching it with some friends and family. After all, every TV outlet is shoving the NFL down your throat this week, so you're primed. But you also used to be a way bigger fan of the Rams. And now you're worried.
Let's talk turkey here. Unless you're a masochist, you haven't watched a whole lot of St. Louis professional football since way back in 2004-05, right? You knew all the ins and outs and what have you's of this team. But after six wins over three years, you've pretty much checked yourself out. You've got kids now. Or a raging alcohol problem.
You couldn't even see most home games last year.
So now all these old bandwagoners are coming back on board. And they are remembering you as the "Rams Guy." Only trouble is that you don't know squat about the Rams anymore and it's scary. You don't want to look stupid, right? They're counting on you, RIGHT?
Here's all you need to know to make yourself look smart:
1. Sam Bradford
He's the real deal. He's torn up the preseason and holds himself with supreme confidence. This Rams team looks like they're sure he's the best QB on the field at any given time, and Bradford doesn't do things to make them feel otherwise. He's the franchise. You should buy his jersey now. You love him. Unconditionally.
2. Steven Jackson
You're not sure about SJ39. You trust that he's healthy and ready to go this week against Arizona, but then again, he had like 10 carries all preseason and is coming off major back surgery. Be sure to talk about how the Rams knew this was an issue in the offseason, but didn't move to get a good backup at running back. Say something to the effect that for the Rams to take it to The Next Level, they have to have depth at RB.
3. The D
You like Bradley Fletcher's upside. You want to see how Ron Bartell responds to his contract. You want proof that Chris Long is finally turning the corner. You aren't really confident in this defense... but you weren't sure in 1999 either. Bringing up 1999 gets you off this subject really quickly and makes you roughly 11 percent happier.
4. Special Teams
The Bobby April days are long gone, friends. This special teams unit is primed for a breakout year. Even if they're average, the average bandwagon jumper doesn't care to argue with you about punt coverage—so they'll agree just because you said it. And you'll look smart unless they give up a TD. But that's not THAT likely.
5. Spags is on the Hot Seat
He wasn't Stan Kroenke's pick for head coach. So if he doesn't show big improvement over last year, he might be shown the door by the new owner. People love to blame the coach for everything. So you'll be lobbing a softball up to your buddies they can hit out of the park. Maybe a "I could call a more aggressive game than Spags" line or something would really put you over the top.
6. The Dome
Improvements haven't helped all that much. You're sick of this city not having the NFL facility it deserves. If it's really nice outside on Sunday, bitch about how stupid it is to have a dome here in St. Louis. You will always get tacit compliance on this point.
If you need to get any deeper than this, then run. You're in trouble.
All you need to do is get through Week 1, and you can then make your own observations. Feel free to write these on your hand or make hard copies to give to others that have abandoned the Rams in the past three years.