With the Seahawks heading to St. Louis for their season opener, we reached out to Myles Simmons, who covers the Rams for stlouisrams.com to find out a little more about Seattle's opponent. Here are his answers to three questions about the Rams, who are hoping a new (and healthy) quarterback will help them get over the hump in 2015.
Q: How will the Rams offense be better/different with Nick Foles under center? Or is it even possible to tell what the offense will be able to do with so much uncertainty about the offensive line?
A: Really, just having a starting quarterback for the first time in 25 regular-season games should make a significant difference for the Rams' offense. Foles has spent a lot of time in the offseason cultivating relationships with his teammates, and so far that chemistry has seemed to translate to the field. Like most teams do in the preseason, St. Louis stayed pretty vanilla with the offensive scheme so as to not give too much away. But it looked like Tavon Austin could be a good focal point based on his ability to make plays in space.
As for the offensive line, there's been a lot of shifting there — somewhat like what's been going on in Seattle. There are two drafted rookies starting on the line (Jamon Brown at LG, Rob Havenstein at RT) and then Tim Barnes is another new starter at center. Barnes, however, has been with the Rams for the last few years and started four games at the end of the 2013 season, so he does have some experience.
Q: It seems like the Rams defensive front has won its share of battles with Seattle's offense in recent years? How is that unit looking this season and will it again be one of the team's strengths?
A: The Rams front seven is definitely a strength of this team, and players expect it to be one of the top units in the league. With four former first-round picks as starters on the line — and then another as a backup who will rotate in — that's probably a fair expectation. Last season's AP Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald was in midseason form in the third preseason contest against Indianapolis, when he stuffed three straight run plays near the Colts' goal line to force a punt from their 1. Those are the types of plays St. Louis has come to expect from those players up front.
Q: After 7-, 7-, and 6-win seasons, is this the year the young talent finally produces a playoff seasons and why/why not?
A: Whether it's members of the front office, coaches, or players, this team has consistently said it expects to contend for the NFC West crown this season. There's a lot going into that expectation, but a significant part of it is how much experience the club has gained since head coach Jeff Fisher arrived in 2012. It's still the youngest team in the league, but many of the Rams' players have been heavily contributing since they arrived. So there are a bevy of fourth-year guys who are team leaders because they've been around for so long.
But the expectations also have to do with a healthy quarterback and a healthy offensive line. It may be young, but coaches have talked about how this is the most depth the unit has had in the Fisher era. Once the team deems running back Todd Gurley ready to contribute, he should lead a strong ground game to help put the offense exactly where it wants to be.