I do not believe the Rams season is lost, but I do believe that it just has become a bit more difficult to succeed in the brutal NFC West
Sam Bradford's injury literally - figuratively and metaphorically speaking of course - shook my world. Was I the only one that was a stubbed toe away from crying hysterically? I missed the game but had my T.V. set to record it. I was on vacation visiting friends in Niner Land [please don't judge me] when the injury took place. I freaked out immediately, but found solace hearing he’d walked off the field under his own power; with Jeff Fisher saying the belief is he only hyper-extended the knee. I went to sleep that night only wondering if Sam Bradford would miss the final preseason game, or the next month entirely, but there was hope he would play.
Approximately 3am PST I experienced my first earthquake. This should have told me something was wrong, other than mother earth catching a cramp and needing to stretch. About eight hours later I received word from my Niner loving friend - who actually sounded contrite when he said " sorry to be the bearer of bad news" - Sam Bradford had torn his ACL. I went quiet for the next two hours simply thinking. Needless to say this ruined my entire vacation; and I was in Hawaii before the Bay - but yup - ruined that too.
The only thing I could think about was Bradford and the AFROS. I didn't go crazy with worries the season was over. Fisher built this team in preparation for such a drastic blow. The Rams are built to run and play elite defense, then make the most of every opportunity we get in the passing game. What bothered me most was realizing the impact it would have on Bradford and the receivers.
I felt horrible for Sam. Love him, or hate him, but no one can deny the guy had a stellar camp, and it showed in the games he played. All the talk of how hard he’d worked - not only to rehab from last seasons ACL tear, but to be a better player and leader - were proving to be true...and then some. He had the look of a QB that had just turned the corner. I can only imagine the mental impact something like that must have had on him. You invest so much to show what you got then its all over before ever touching the field; that has to be tough. I have not read a single comment yet, my hope is that people will refrain from being too harsh. Its not what you say but how you say it.
The other concern I had was for the receivers. They had clearly been working hard themselves to all get on the same page as Sam, and build a strong rapport with him. That also was clearly paying off. While I still fully expect the receivers to continue taking a massive leap forward, it will be a headache to now have to try and build that same rapport with another quarterback right as the season starts. One thing I never thought I would say: I believe Kenny Britt will help get the other receivers' heads back on and focus and making Shaun Hill look like - minimally - Andy Dalton.
Much like the rest of the Rams’ fan-base, this injury blew me away. But my belief is the Rams will overcome it and have a good season. While I am not sure about Shaun Hill's ability to win the close games and turn it on in the final minutes, I believe the run game and defense will make games interesting. This team went 4-5 with Kellen Clemens. That translates to about a 7-9 season, using the coaching method we used to close out the season over the course of 16 games. Hill is an upgrade, and while I don't believe we will see him making the same throws we saw Bradford making this preseason, I do believe he can manage the games. He doesn't have to win the game; just not lose it. I think this team is still a 9-7 or 10-6 caliber team. The playoffs are still in sight.
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