In a series that dates back to 1970, the St. Louis Rams will host the New York Jets this Sunday. This season has been tough on both teams. The Rams are the youngest team in the NFL, and growing pains in the form of penalty miscues, curfew violations, and other things those darn kids do. While the Rams prepared to play the San Francisco 49ers, rookies Janoris Jenkins and Chris Givens were made to run stadium stairways in Candlestick Park. The NFL version of a parental "time out"?
I'm an editor over at Turf Show Times, the SBNation site for all things St. Louis Rams. One of the things I do for TST each week is visit with sites like Gang Green Nation prior to a game. I do my best to research a bit about a team before I drop in, and I'm constantly amazed at how each team is its own individual story that never ends. People from outside major cities like New York really can't fathom the stage their teams are on each week.
All the media turmoil hasn't convinced me the Jets are anywhere near as bad as portrayed. While I've never been a fan of coaches who love the limelight, there's no denying Rex Ryan is a talented coach. But life in the Big Apple is different, and the Jets aren't just under a microscope every day, they're being "M.R.I.- ed". How any team can excel under this kind of scrutiny amazes me. To dial up the pressure - like it wasn't enough already - the Jets acquired Tim Tebow from the Denver Broncos. The Jets dusted off an old rule: "If you don't have a quarterback controversy, find one dammit!" Great rule, eh? It's worked reeeally well for the Arizona Cardinals so far...
Mark Sanchez has been sliced and diced by everyone. There's no denying he's struggle this year, but... I got nothin'... What I can say though is the Rams and their fans have patiently awaited the first overall draft pick in 2010 to show signs of value. Sam Bradford is slowly becoming the quarterback fans thought he'd be. In the tie with the 49ers, Bradford showed how much he's grown as a player. After having three different offensive coordinators in his first 3 years, Sam seems to have found a comfort zone in Brian Schottenheimer's offense. "Schotty" was run out of New York on a rail, only to be snagged by the new head coach of the Rams, Jeff Fisher.
During the build up to the 2012 season, the Rams became a refuge for former Jets players like tight end Matthew Mulligan and guard Robert Turner. The Rams grabbed rookie Terence Ganaway when the Jets waived him. In a trade that sent Jason Smith - the second overall pick in 2009 NFL Draft - to the Jets for maligned tackle Wayne Hunter, both players and teams fared well. Hunter seemed to come alive when the Rams began to play him at left offensive tackle.
Visiting sites at this time of year - as a team's immediate destiny begins to resolve - it gets awkward at times. This week, the Rams and Jets sport similar win/loss records: The Jets - 3 wins and 6 losses, while the Rams record is 3 wins, 5 losses and 1 tie. After studying your roster, I see the my preconception that the Jets are an "older" team was wrong. In fact, the Jets could be considered young with the seven rookies on their current roster. The 53 man roster for the Jets has an average age of 26.32. In my experience of tracking NFL teams, this is right in the zone where the team begins to hit its stride. The mix of veterans and youth bodes well for the Jets in my opinion.
I thought the Jets had a great - though limited - 2012 NFL Draft. What can you tell me about Quinton Coples, your fist round pick? More than a few Rams fans were shocked when they took Brian Quick in the second round with Stephen Hill still on the board. Quick has been slow to see action for the Rams, while Hill has become an immediate contributor. How's he progressing? How have your third rounder - Demario Davis and sixth rounder Josh Bush developed? What areas do you see the Jets hitting in the 2013 NFL draft
Statistically, the Jets offense has had a rough time of it in 2012. Mark Sanchez has been sacked 113 times so far in his career, and he's on track to match his 2011 total of 39 this year. Is it an offensive line issue, play calling, or Sanchez himself ( or a combination of factors) causing the high sack numbers? FYI - Sam Bradford has been sacked 95 times between 2010 and now.
Fans from the outside looking in are rarely right when it comes to evaluating another team. My cursory look at the Jets doesn't touch the surface of what's right or wrong about the team. That said, with the talent I see on the roster, I can't for the life of me see why this team is struggling? My initial thought is the team seems distracted, but given the market they play in I'd be shocked if this was a valid reason for their stumbles of late. I do think the Jets hit a run of bad luck in the schedule though. With the seeming rise of defenses in the NFC West this year, having to play all four teams can't be helping. Thoughts?
I'll be stopping in from time to time during the week to answer questions you have about the St. Louis Rams. I'd like to ask a favor if I might? I have a short story in a contest at America's Next Author. If you could drop in and give it a quick review, I'd be beyond grateful.
Series record between the two teams:
N.Y. JETS vs. *ST. LOUIS
RS: Rams lead series, 9-3
1970—Jets, 31-20 (LA)
1974—Rams, 20-13 (NY)
1980—Rams, 38-13 (LA)
1983—Jets, 27-24 (NY) OT
1986—Rams, 17-3 (NY)
1989—Rams, 38-14 (LA)
1992—Rams, 18-10 (LA)
1995—Rams, 23-20 (NY)
1998—Rams, 30-10 (StL)
2001—Rams, 34-14 (NY)
2004—Rams, 32-29 (StL) OT
2008—Jets, 47-3 (NY)
(RS Pts.—Rams 297, Jets 231)
*Franchise in Los Angeles prior to 1995
By the way, I wrote a novel...