Chat follow: Setting expectations for Rams

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jerry from Sacramento asked: As a diehard Rams fan (I wore a watermelon on my head during the Superbowl win), I am excited about the direction the team is taking. However, the rest of the division seems to be improving a great deal as well so my question is: how do you measure success for the Rams in 2009?

If you believed they underachieved as a 6-10 team [that went 2-14] last year, would simply playing with heart be a success? Would a scrappy 4-12 team be a success? Do we really need to go 8-8 (or better) to be considered a success? We've got WAY too many holes to fill so I'm thinking the record for 2009 is irrelevant as long as fundamentals and passion improve (at least for this season). Adding more talent will take a couple of years.

Mike Sando: I think you're on the right track. Last year, I thought the 49ers needed to feel good about their quarterback situation by season's end. That was one of my standards in determining whether the 49ers would have a successful season, the assumption being that the 49ers were not yet ready to become a playoff team.

Let's assume the Rams are not a playoff-caliber team from a talent standpoint. Most of us would agree with the premise. In short, my criteria for success would include:

  • Win at least five games

  • Show dramatic improvement on the offensive line

  • Become competitive on defense

  • Reestablish Marc Bulger as a quality NFL quarterback

I think the Rams will have a successful season if they meet or exceed their victory total for the two previous seasons combined. That would mean getting to 6-10. Anything better than that would be terrific. I don't think 4-12 would be something for the Rams to feel good about even though they were 2-14 the year before.

I think it's a successful season if the Rams improve significantly in their offensive line and if they are merely competitive on defense. The defense was not competitive for long stretches last season. There were catastrophic lapses in coverage. Those things demoralize a team. The season becomes wildly successful if those things happen and Bulger also reestablishes himself.