The AK, After Kurt, era begins on Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals take on another team all too familiar with the pain losing Kurt can cause, the St. Louis Rams. The Rams were lucky enough to have a capable quarterback to keep the team competitive for a brief time, Marc Bulger, after Warner left there. Sunday will be the first chance that Derek Anderson has to prove he can do the same for the Cardinals.
While the Rams have been anything but formidable over the last three seasons, things are looking up. Number one pick, quarterback Sam Bradford, has given fans reason for optimism while second year head coach Steve Spagnuolo has given the team a new attitude.
While talking about the game with other Cardinals fans is fun, it doesn't provide us with any insight we don't already have. (We can only tell each other the Cards are amazing so many times before it gets old. Oh, who am I kidding, it never gets old.)
That's why we caught up with Ryan from over at Turf Show Times to break down the Rams and give his prediction for the game (Hint: he likes his hometown team).
1. From what you've seen, is Sam Bradford truly ready to start or are the Rams rushing him?
Bradford looks ready to start, and made a very convincing case for that during the preseason. In addition to his impressive accuracy, Bradford made quick decisions, executed plays well and had a veteran-like command of the huddle. Yes, he'll look like a rookie at times, making rookie mistakes, but the bottom line is that he gives the Rams their best chance to win games.
2. The Rams have won six games total in the last three seasons, what, if anything, did you see in preseason that leads you to believe that things will be different this season?
A multi-dimensional offense that can score points. Having a QB to pair with RB Steven Jackson instantly improves the Rams offense. Questions remain, such as will they have enough pass rush or can the wide receivers provide an effective passing game, but it's obvious that the Rams are headed in the right direction.
3. Is the Rams secondary improved enough to compete with the Cardinals talented wideouts?
That's a tough assignment, healthy or not, for any secondary. Ron Bartell will be the guy most closely shadowing Larry Fitzgerald on Sunday. He's healthy after playing through a hip injury last season and is a pretty good corner. On the other side is Bradley Fletcher who is a physical, press corner who does well in man coverage. The Rams have seen Oshiomogho Atogwe, the playmaker of the bunch, become a much stronger coverage guy recently. It's a challenge to be sure, but I think there's more questions about the guys not named Kurt Warner who'll be throwing passes their way.
4. What is one guy that Cardinals fans may not know about but will surprise them on Sunday?
WR Laurent Robinson is a talented player, that the Cardinals didn't see last year because he was on IR by the time these two teams met. He gives Bradford a good route runner with solid hands who can pickup yards after the catch. He's not the flashy wide receiver you think of when you think #1, but he's an important weapon for this offense.
5. Prediction, who will win, why and by how much?
I'm still running on preseason optimism so I'll say the Rams win by 3, if the offensive line can keep the blitz out of the backfield.