Quick Summary: This was the first year SPF covered the Rams, and it wasn't an auspicious beginning. It shouldn't have been so considering the Rams finished the previous season at 8-8 and signed their franchise QB Marc Bulger (a West Virginia alum) to a long term deal. Many thought the Rams were ready to make a playoff push, including SPF.
Instead, the Rams suffered through an 0-8 start and ended the season with a 3-13 record. Coach Scott Linehan lost his veteran-led offense early in the season and struggled to regain their trust. The announcement weeks before season's end that Linehan would return drew groans from the Rams' fans. The sad news of owner Georgia Frontiere's death less than a month ago also raised questions about the future of the franchise.
Signs of Hope: The hiring of OC Al Saunders was a critically important move by Linehan and the Rams brass that supports him. Saunders becomes a connection to the Rams recent Super Bowl-level teams. The team's current offensive leaders learned the old Don Coryell system that both former coach Mike Martz and current OC Al Saunders know.
The NFC West remains one of the NFL's most tenuous divisions. Seattle seems to win it every year by default because San Fran, Arizona, and St. Louis can't seem to get out of their own way. If the Saunders can get the Rams offense clicking again, then the team could make a significant jump back to being a playoff contender.
Reality Check: John Shaw has been running the Rams with almost no interference from Frontiere for decades. He has also run the team from offices in Los Angeles. This is a bad PR move sending a horrible message to local fans.
Shaw no longer enjoys this same comfortable position provided by the late Ms. Frontiere and knows this based on some recent actions to curry favor with fans. Signs likely point to an overhaul within the next year or so, mainly because most people expect Chip Rosenbloom, Frontiere's son and now team owner, to sell the team since his life and business interests remain in the Rams former home of Los Angeles.
If Linehan, Shaw's hand picked guy, can't make it work next season, it is likely that a new owner will come in and broom the entire front office. This could also lead to a complete overhaul of the roster. Saunders' hiring is clearly the right move, but there are still holes to fill to make a Rams "revival" a reality. At the very least, the Rams need to find a way to protect their multi-million dollar QB who has developed concussion issues from the regular beatings he has taken (see photo above).
SPF hopes that the next year is spent finding a way for Stan Kroenke to become majority owner of the Rams. Kroenke is a St. Louis guy with deep pockets who already has a winning experience as owner of the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche. Current NFL rules prohibit ownership of teams in different cities which is the impediment here.
St. Louis is a fantastic sports town. Missouri is starting to show a football revival after the fine season that the Tigers had making them a likely top 5 team in next season's early polls.
The Rams need to tap into this burgeoning football frenzy. If they can't recapture the former glory of the Vermeil/Martz years, then they need to move forward in a direction that is led by people from their city, not Los Angeles.