Let me get this straight.
The St. Louis Rams are going to have a more dangerous offense in 2013 as compared to a season ago?
That's all I've been hearing lately when it comes to the Rams. You'd think The Greatest Show on Turf is making a comeback.
I'm not believing the hype.
Let's take a look:
• The Rams finished 25th in the NFL last season by averaging 18.7 points per game. Shouldn't be too hard to improve upon that, right?
• The Rams lost star running back Steven Jackson to the Atlanta Falcons during the offseason. Jackson is coming off his eighth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season. He also accounted for four of the Rams' whopping five rushing touchdowns in 2012. During his nine seasons with the Rams, Jackson led the NFL in both rushing yards and total yards. Sure, he's getting older (he turned 30 in July), but he's still a very productive back that a team with Super Bowl aspirations badly wanted.
• The plan is to have second-year back Daryl Richardson replace Jackson as the No. 1 guy. He averaged a very respectable 4.8 yards per carry in 2012, but in a small sample size of 98 carries as a backup. He fumbled twice and failed to find the end zone. And the Rams are trusting him to provide a full season rushing the ball. Consider me a skeptic.
• The Rams lost arguably their top two wide receivers in Danny Amendola (New England) and Brandon Gibson (Miami). Amendola, while certainly an injury liability, is about as productive as they come when healthy. In 11 games a season ago, Amendola amassed 63 catches for 666 yards and three touchdowns. Gibson led the Rams with five touchdowns last year and added 691 yards on 51 grabs. Chris Givens, the Rams' leading receiver yards-wise with 698, does return, as does four-touchdown guy Austin Pettis. So there's that.
• St. Louis plans to replace Amendola and Gibson with a pair of talented yet unproven rookies out of West Virginia in the No. 8 overall pick Tavon Austin and third-round pick Stedman Bailey. The Rams are certainly faster and more explosive with the pair, but relying on rookies as your top producers is always risky business. Remember, the Rams selected a wide receiver in the first round in 2012 (Brian Quick). His numbers? Eleven catches for 156 yards and two scores. Yamma-hamma. Givens was a fourth-round selection, also in the 2012 draft, and while he had a solid season, the two didn't exactly help the Rams light up the scoreboard, as witnessed by their lackluster 18.7 points per game.
• But wait! The Rams added free-agent tight end Jared Cook. He's being touted as the next Tony Gonzalez apparently, what with the amount of hype being spewed from Rams camp this summer. Cook finished 20th last season among NFL tight ends with 523 receiving yards and 17th with four touchdowns. St. Louis' incumbent starter, Lance Kendricks, put up similar numbers in 2012, with 519 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Doesn't seem like much of an upgrade to me. Sure, the two could form a nice combo, but I'm not going to get too jazzed about a pair of mediocre tight ends.
But the Rams are going to be soooooo much better on offense this season, right? Why? I don't know!
I'm excited to see the Rams take the field in 2013. I'm just not believing that a reincarnation of TGSOT has arrived.
Maybe Sam Bradford will finally live up to his potential. Entering his fourth season, it's about time the former No. 1 overall pick starts to put up some gaudy numbers. While he's nowhere close to being labeled a bust, he's also nowhere close to what a top pick should be.
I'm looking for the Rams to go 7-9 this year. They have a solid defense and big-play ability on offense. I just don't see an offense capable of moving the chains on a regular basis.