After taking a few days to focus on the 2013 NFL scouting combine, “Shutdown Corner” resumes our TPS reports (Office Space), where we take a look back at each team’s 2012 season and a look at what lies ahead for the 2013 offseason. We continue in the NFC West with the St. Louis Rams. 2012 record : 7-8-1 What went wrong : When the Rams beat the Cardinals 17-3 to improve to 3-2 on Oct. 4, it marked the first time the club was over .500 since 2006. Unfortunately, the Rams would not win another game until their rematch with the Cardinals on Nov. 25, a stretch of four losses and a tie. The Rams improved on both sides of the ball in 2012, but one area that needs to be addressed this offseason is their return game. Rams kick returners averaged 21 yards per return, which was tied for 26th in the NFL. On punt returns, the Rams averaged 6.6 yards per return, which ranked 31st in the league. What went right : For a sub .500 team, quite a lot went right for the Rams in the first season of the Les Snead/Jeff Fisher era. The Rams’ defense ranked 14th in total yards allowed per game and were tied for 14th in points allowed per game. According to Football Outsiders’ opponent-adjusted metrics, the Rams were seventh in defensive DVOA, finishing in the Top 10 against the run and pass last season. Though no Rams players would appear in the 2013 Pro Bowl, the defense received solid seasons from defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, who combined for 22 of the Rams’ league-leading 52 sacks in 2012. Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis led the Rams with 142 tackles, adding two interceptions, while second-round cornerback Janoris Jenkins led the Rams with four interceptions. Another key contributor on defense was outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who had 113 tackles, 4.5 sacks and led the squad with 16 tackles for a loss. With a third coordinator (Brian Schottenheimer) in as many seasons, the offense remains a work in progress, improving from 32nd in FO’s offensive DVOA in 2011 to 21st in 2012 , but still finishing towards the bottom of the league (25th) in points scored. The Rams also struck gold with sixth-round kicker Greg “The Leg” (or Legatron, depending on your inclination towards sci-fi cartoons) Zuerlein, who was 23-of-31 on field goal attempts on the season with six of his eight misses coming from beyond 50 yards. Zuerlein nailed a 60-yard field goal in a Week 4 win over the Seattle Seahawks and became the first kicker in NFL history to hit a 60-yard field goal and a 50-yard field goal in the same game. Rookie punter Johnny Hekker also had a solid season, finishing with a net average of 39.9 yards and completing all three of his passing attempts on fakes for 42 yards and a two-yard touchdown in the Week 4 win over Seattle. Coaching/front office changes : The Rams went without a defensive coordinator after Gregg Williams was suspended indefinitely over his role in the New Orleans Saints’ bounty program. Fisher says he made the decision late in the season to move on from Williams, but took his time this offseason before naming a full-time replacement. The Rams named Detroit Lions secondary coach Tim Walton their defensive coordinator in mid-February. Estimated 2013 cap space : $750,000 over their estimated 2013 adjusted cap number.
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