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Stick a fork in 'em: 2012 St. Louis Rams

Very little was expected of the 2012 St. Louis Rams. After three consecutive home wins to start the season, St. Louis was over .500 for the first time since 2006. They haven't won since.

Better days are ahead, but this Rams team won't be going to the playoffs.

What went wrong

The Rams are the 10th team we've forked, and this is the toughest time we've had in this section so far. That's a compliment to the Rams.

The Rams are improved across the board and not that terrible in any one area. They just aren't great in most places, either.

There is a foundation for a good defense, but the outside linebacker positions are lacking. A team with this much pass rushing talent should have more than nine turnovers on the season -- only 30th in the NFL.

The offensive line was poor enough that trading for the New York Jets' Wayne Hunter actually upgraded the group. The passing game has made modest strides, but it remains below average in all areas. Sam Bradford has enjoyed some strong moments (like his performance during a tie against the San Francisco 49ers), but he doesn't always seem as heady or natural as some other young starters around the NFL.

Danny Amendola is a great player, but would look better as a No. 2 receiver rather than a No. 1. Starter Brandon Gibson would look better as a No. 3 or No. 4 and so on. Rookie wide receiver Brian Quick hasn't made an impact, and tight end Lance Kendricks hasn't come along.

What went right

The defense is vastly improved overall. Teams like the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots lit up the Rams, but there are pieces to build around. Chris Long and Robert Quinn are a great pass rushing duo. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan has been worth all the money as a free agent pickup. Rookies Michael Brockers and Janoris Jenkins both look like keepers. James Laurinaitis is a rock solid middle linebacker.

On offense, Amendola has earned a nice contract. They need to keep him. Rookie Chris Givens might be a one trick pony with his penchant for big plays, but it's a very valuable trick. Seventh-round draft pick running back Daryl Richardson has made a timeshare with Steven Jackson make sense. It's been a very good draft class for general manager Les Snead. That's huge.

This team fights. It's feisty. The Rams take some dumb penalties because they are too aggressive, but their effort bodes well for future years.

What still matters

The new Rams regime essentially chose keeping Sam Bradford over Robert Griffin III. The team picked up a lot of assets in the process, but Bradford still has to show he's a guy worth building around. His development remains paramount; Bradford is 24th in the NFL in yards-per-attempt. A strong end to the season would go a long way for Bradford.

The Rams might not be the favorite in any of their games the rest of the season, but there are plenty of winnable games left. As long the Rams don't completely collapse, Jeff Fisher's first season will feel like a success.


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What changes are coming

It's hard to imagine Steven Jackson coming back. The Rams should get a nice compensatory pick for him when he leaves via free agency. Fisher could welcome "back" his buddy Gregg Williams as defensive coordinator if the NFL allows Williams back into the league. The Rams will look to fill the holes we mentioned above, with the offensive line taking precedence.

If Snead can have another draft like the one he had in 2012, this team will be hard to handle next year in a vastly improved NFC West.

Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.

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