Over the last several years, CBSSports.com NFL writer Ryan Wilson admits he’s been on the St. Louis Rams’ bandwagon – and it’s hard to blame him. The Rams drafted Sam Bradford, they hired Jeff Fisher and they have a lot of talented pieces in place. There’s just one problem.
They haven’t made the playoffs in nine years.
“They seem to come up short year in and year out, and they’re in the toughest division in football,” Wilson said on Ferrall on the Bench. “I just don’t think it really matters what the storyline is going into the season. They’re going to struggle, especially against Seattle and the 49ers and the Cardinals. If they win eight games, I think it’s a moral victory of sorts for this team. But the reality is, history says that they haven’t been very good. Bradford hasn’t been able to stay healthy.”
No, he hasn’t. Bradford, who is returning from ACL surgery, has missed 15 games in the last three seasons. He sat out of the Rams’ 26-24 loss to the Saints last Friday but plans to play against Green Bay on Saturday.
Bradford, however, has taken a backseat this preseason to Michael Sam, who continues his quest to make the Rams’ roster and become the first openly gay player to play in an NFL game.
“This is the story we’re going to hear about – second only to probably Johnny Manziel – until (Sam) almost certainly doesn’t make the team,” Wilson said. “He’s the ninth-rated defensive lineman on that team right now (and is) listed as a third-stringer. He’s going to have to do something crazy to make that team. I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Wilson doesn’t think Sam would make the roster solely for publicity, either.
“Listen, Jeff Fisher said shortly after they drafted him, ‘If he’s not good enough, we’re going to cut him,’” Wilson said. “I think Fisher is a straight-shooter in that sense. He’s not going to draft a guy for a PR stunt and then, just to be politically correct, keep him around. There are guys ahead of him on the depth chart. He doesn’t play special teams, which a lot of defensive linemen don’t do, and Fisher pointed that out. So that makes him even less dimensional in terms of guys on the bubble who needs to be able to do a lot of different things. So unless she plays like he played at Missouri when he was SEC Defensive Player of the Year, he’s gong to have a tough road (ahead) – and that’s not just Michael Sam. That’s any seventh rounder.”
But how is it possible that the SEC Defensive Player of the Year isn’t good enough to play in the NFL?
“It’s crazy, but it also reinforces the argument we hear every year when the Jaguars win two games that Alabama would beat them,” Wilson said. “It just goes to show you how good these NFL players are. Alabama puts first-rounders in the NFL every year, but they wouldn’t have a chance on the same field as Jacksonville.”
Teddy Bridgewater, meanwhile, looked solid in his preseason debut Friday against Oakland, finishing 6-of-13 for 49 yards in Minnesota’s 10-6 win. Bridgewater has faced doubts about his arm strength and accuracy, but neither held true against the Raiders.
“I thought he looked like one of the best rookie quarterbacks we’ve seen so far in the preseason,” Wilson said. “Bridgewater was impressive.”
Elsewhere in the NFC, the Cowboys’ defense, as usual, looked atrocious in a 27-7 loss to San Diego last Thursday.
“It must be so demoralizing to watch if you’re Jason Garrett because what you’re basically watching is your job go right down the toilet,” Wilson said. “There’s no way he’s going to make it through this season – much less the end of the year – if that defense plays like that on a regular basis. I don’t know what you do. You have a crazy owner. You have a crazy front office. Your starting quarterback’s hurt. There’s so many things going wrong with this team that you really think Jason Garrett doesn’t have a chance. He’s behind so many 8-balls.”
The Cowboys have finished 8-8 each of the last three seasons.
“If they win eight games this year, they should be (given) some kind of an award,” Wilson said. “That’s a miracle. This team’s in a bad way, and we’re only a week into August.”