(Nick Foles & Aaron Donald photos courtesy of the St. Louis Rams)
Talk of Fame Network
Since 2000, there have been 18 teams that have vaulted from worst-to-first in a division in the span of one season.
Our Talk of Fame listeners and readers believe the St. Louis Rams can become the 19th team in that fraternity in 2015.
In last week’s poll, we gave our followers a choice of five 2014 cellar-dwellers — the Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets, Rams and Washington Redskins — and asked them which team had the best chance of going from worst-to-first in 2015.
The Rams were the runaway winner with 38.5 percent of the vote. Ironically, the four the other candidates each polled 15.4 percent of the vote.
The Rams finished 6-10 last season despite losing their starting quarterback in August and playing a pair of backups throughout the regular season.
Still, the Rams defeated the NFC West champion Seattle Seahawks and AFC West champion Denver Broncos and had the NFC East champion Dallas Cowboys down by 21 points before falling. The St. Louis defense also posted shutout wins over Oakland and Washington and held playoff-bound Arizona without a touchdown in a 12-6 loss.
The Rams stabilized their quarterbacking in the offseason by trading for 2013 NFL passing champion Nick Foles, then drafted the best running back in college football (Todd Gurley) in the first round last April.
Coach Jeff Fisher has been building an imposing defensive front through the draft for years and will start four first-rounders along the line this season in his 4-3 alignment. Ends Chris Long (2008) and Robert Quinn (2011) and tackles Michael Brockers (2912) and Aaron Donald (2014) will provide the Rams a pass rush.
For the Rams to vault from worst to first this season, they will have to climb over the San Francisco 49ers, a wild card team (Arizona) and the NFC champions (Seattle) in the NFC West. But the Rams have followed this script before. In 1999, the Rams went from worst to first in the division and wound up winning their only Lombardi Trophy that season.
So keep your eyes on the Rams in 2015.