At times, it felt like the St. Louis Rams couldn't have had a worse 2011 season. The 2-14 record was bad enough, but the league-worst negative 214 point-differential left no room for hope. However, the franchise cleared the decks in the offseason -- adding Jeff Fisher as the head coach and Les Snead as the general manager -- and added a ton of young talent through the 2012 NFL Draft, so perhaps things will improve quickly in 2012. After all, Sam Bradford is healing up nicely and the team is only two years removed from a playoff berth.
With that in mind, Joel Thorman of SB Nation took a look at downtrodden teams around the NFL to find reasons for early optimism going into the upcoming year.
Related: Rams Offseason Report
Here's part of why Thorman thinks the Rams could see a quick turnaround:
First of all, the NFC West is a close division. The 49ers won 13 games last year and finished the year as the clear cut best team in the division. That may not change next year but the 49ers aren't a perennial power where we can dub them divisional champs before the year even starts. They need to do it again to prove that they're for real. The Rams have Sam Bradford at quarterback, and despite some of his struggles last year, he's still a young quarterback who should get a lot better. Offensively, one of the Rams best weapons is Steven Jackson, who received some help in the draft with the selection of Isaiah Pead.
Thorman also tosses some happy thoughts in the direction of the Kansas City Chiefs and the Washington Redskins, citing the potentially low bar in the AFC West for KC and Robert Griffin III fever for D.C.
In a gladiator sport where injury often reshape the course of the season for many teams, it would be crazy to count the Rams before the season begins. If you look closely enough there are plenty of reasons for optimism.
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