It's called the calm before the storm.
This week, many St. Louis Rams personnel and staff members are on vacation. They're getting away to places where rich people go for the next two weeks before coming back to STL and preparing to open training camp on July 24th. The heavy lifting of installing a new coaching staff and system has been done. The roster will be what it will be with some cuts and minor additions to be made as other teams form their final rosters. The off-season is coming to a close very soon and the insanity of another NFL season begins.
Football is getting closer, people. Just hold on a couple more weeks.
In the meantime, let's do some wild speculation on the most important player on the Rams, Samuel Bradford. The former overall top pick is entering his third season in the NFL, and so far his win rate is 4.5 out of 16. A return on investment for 50+ million dollars that Bernie Madoff could gurantee, even now, and still be taken seriously. (Deep breaths. Yes, we know the Rams honked dong all around Sam and that he was injured for several games, etc. It's not all his fault.) But year 3 is where the elite QBs make the ‘leap'.
ESPN analyst (and Dick Vermeil's lover if Dick ever wanted another partner) Ron Jaworski ranked Mr. Bradford No. 20 on his list of the best QBs in the league for 2012. Not terrible, but not necessarily something Rams fans can win many bar aguments with, either.
Bradford Positives: (These might have some merit)
1) Better WRs: There isn't a Megatron to be found on the Rams roster, but that doesn't mean this isn't an area of improvement in 2012. (Hell, how could they get worse?) Danny Amendola will be back after a gruesome injury washed out his 2011. Free agent Steve Smith is out to prove he ins't done in the NFL.
Rookies Brian Quick and Chris Givens give an infuion of talent while RB Isiah Pead loves to catch from the backfield. And if any of the other draft picks the Rams have used in recent seasons show any improvement (Pettis, Salas) then at least you've got a corps and not corpses out there.
2) Better Heatlh: Mr. Bradford missed 6 games in 2011 with various injuries and was finally shut down for good after a beating in Seattle, Week 14. Many have indicated that Bradford wasn't really healthy basically from Week 6 on, and that the games he played afterward were a matter of him gutting it out. So this is pretty much a no-brainer. If he's actually feeling healthy, chances are he'll probably play better.
We should really start charging for this insight.
3) Better Coaching: Coach Spags was a flop. A big belly flop from the high dive, in fact. He left a team in shambles and a wake of lawsuits in his aftermath. Pretty much everything he touched turned to shit. Now I don't know if Jeff Fisher is going to be the Jeff Fisher from 1999. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. But I'm confident that Jeff Fisher doing the exact opposite of everything Steve Spagnuolo did 100% of the time will lead to at least 2 more wins in 2012.
Bradford Negatives: All totally unfair and baseless. Probably.
1) Supermodels: Karlie Kloss was in her first Victoria's Secret fashion show this past winter. She's from St. Louis. So it only makes sense that the starting QB on the local football team dates her, right? (Look! Real life IS just like high school!) More power to Sam. I wish them well, if they're still talking.
However, I'm just thinking about me. And if I was dating a Victoria's Secret model. I don't think I'd let my life go to hell in a handbasket, per se. But I am pretty confident that she could talk me out of a workout or two if they weren't mandatory.
"Come on baby, just lay in bed for 10 more minutes..."
You're saying no? Maybe NFL stars are wired differently.
2) Donations: Sam sent 500K to the University of Oklahoma to build a new dorm. (Sam is really tying to stay in that teen demo, eh? Karlie is 19, BTW.) But does giving that much money to his alma mater mean anything other than graciousness? Entitlement perhaps? Or maybe a longing to be back in college and not a look ahead to the future in the NFL.
I'm too lazy to think of another detriment to make 3 here, so I'm going to keep this one in here, even though the Boston media thinks it's a stretch. Leave it to bloggers to make a donation to a university a bad thing.
3) The Rams Funk: Let's go to the long list of the QBs the Rams have drafted and/or signed who have turned out awesome.
The Rams are one of those cherished teams in sports where luck doesn't just go bad, it gets real rotten and then stinks up your entire kitchen before you get home from work. Sam saw how a team comes unglued and checks out on a season in 2011. Everyone believes that he was trying to rise above the disaster, but sometimes bad habits and attitudes can seep in without notice. Let's hope that the Rams Funk that was put on Bradford in 2011 is washed off in 2012.
It's going to be the Year of the Bradford. It's going to be the season where we see just what we've got with our 50 million dollar man.
Who's ready to watch?