The halfway point is often a chance to reflect on where you’ve been while looking ahead to where you’re going.
It’s also a chance to evaluate the first halves of many of the impact players on the St. Louis Rams. Some have made steady progress over the first eight games, while some have gone in the wrong direction since the start of the season. Let’s take a look at some of the players who are coming on and some who need to turn it around heading into the second half.
Chris Givens - I wrote about Givens yesterday. The rookie wide receiver heads into the bye week riding a streak of five straight games with a catch of at least 50 yards. He has three catches in each of his last three games and is becoming a larger part of the offense with each passing week.
Robert Quinn - Quinn started the season red hot, registering six sacks in the first five games. He’s cooled off in recent weeks but still heads into the break tied for seventh in the NFL in sacks. Chris Long enjoyed a breakout season in 2011; Quinn is having his this year.
Daryl Richardson - Despite being the second-to-last selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, Richardson has been one of the biggest surprises for the Rams this season. Of players with at least 50 rushing attempts this year, Richardson’s 5.4 yards per attempt ranks fifth in the league. If Steven Jackson gets traded before Thursday’s deadline – and at this point, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Jackson is a Ram come Friday – Richardson’s emergence will be a large reason why.
Greg Zuerlein - I don’t have to actually write anything here, right?
James Laurinaitis - Laurinaitis is on pace to best his career-high 142 tackles he registered in 2011, but he’s not making as many plays as he has in years past. Laurinaitis has just half a sack and has yet to force a turnover. Laurinaitis is a sure tackler, but in Jeff Fisher’s defense that’s predicated on forcing turnovers his season has been a disappointment thus far.
Lance Kendricks - Kendricks’ struggles in 2011 were chalked up to the fact that he was a rookie. There’s less willingness to forgive his disappearance for much of the first half of this season. Kendricks has just 20 catches for 165 yards and one touchdown through eight games and hasn’t had more than 40 receiving yards in any game. In an offense desperate for playmakers, Kendricks has again fallen short of his second-round pedigree.
Michael Brockers - Brockers gets an incomplete due to his missing the first three games of the season, but much was expected of the 2012 first-round pick. Getting up to speed, Brockers enjoyed a fruitful game against the Green Bay Packers two weeks ago but has otherwise been a non-factor. More will be asked of Brockers – and all the fallers – in the second half of the year.
The Rams have plenty from the first half to be excited about. Now it’s up to the players to continue their upward trajectory or reverse their downward trends going forward.