Since the arrival of coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead in 2012, the St. Louis Rams have been headed in an obvious direction. The goal is to build a physical, aggressive team capable of winning games with a power running attack and a stout defense.
While that approach can win championships in the NFL, there's no denying that predicting the long-term success of a franchise is most tied to what that team has at quarterback. For the Rams, what happens at the game's most important position beyond this season is still up in the air. Predicting what happens over the next three seasons is a task made much harder without knowing who will be playing quarterback.
The Rams have committed to Sam Bradford as the starting quarterback for 2014 and he will get his fifth chance to stake his claim to the spot.
In the team's ideal world, Bradford will take what could be a true make-or-break season and excel to the point that he earns himself a lucrative contract extension. St. Louis had interest in signing him to an extension before his 2013 knee injury, but those plans have been put on hold. Bradford has also preferred to wait on any possible extension, choosing to bet on himself as Joe Flacco once did.
If Bradford struggles or suffers another serious injury this season, the Rams will have to begin considering alternatives. They chose to pass on the top quarterbacks in the 2014 draft despite having two first-round picks. Given Fisher's track record of pushing his teams to at least a mediocre record, they may not be in position to choose a replacement.
If that happens, the Rams could find themselves on the other end of a major trade like the one they made with Washington, forced to give up a big package of picks to move up for a franchise quarterback.