There weren't many "experts" back in Week 1 who went against touting the Denver Broncos, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings as the premier teams in the NFL for the 1999 season. But one who did, seemed a little bit more sage-like than most when he predicted St. Louis as his "team to watch."
CBS Sports' Brent Jones, who along with play-by-play partner Gus Johnson, will be in the booth on Sunday when the undefeated Rams host the Cleveland Browns (1:00 PM, ET) on the CBS Television Network had this to say about his pre-season prediction heading into Week 7.
I spent two days at the Rams' practice before their first game of the season. And, I wasn't sure I was believing what I was seeing, especially on the offensive side of the ball. They have so many weapons. Marshall Faulk and Isaac Bruce, who was going to be the next Jerry Rice before he was injured, proved he's back. Wide receiver Torry Holt, a first round draft pick who his coaches were convinced would be a future pro bowler, could be on that track. I knew it would translate to a huge season.
Kurt Warner has had success at every level -- college, Arena Football and NFL Europe. His first shot in the NFL was with the Green Bay Packers in 1994 with Brett Farve, Mark Brunell and Ty Detmer -- not much chance of starting there! Warner had to have a lot of talent to throw 183 touchdown passes in Arena Football. These days in the NFL the game moves too fast for some quarterbacks, but no game moves faster than Arena football where Warner thrived.
However, the Rams did put Warner out for the expansion draft - Cleveland passed him up -- so even they were not absolutely convinced. But after watching him in the preseason, offensive coordinator Mike Martz decided not to change the offense at all. He thought Warner could step right in because he was so relaxed and confident of his own abilities.
Dick Vermeil is exactly the kind of man a player wants to play for. He is a real guy. He's taken a lot of criticism for showing his emotions, but that is what the players like. Whereas the NFL can be a business without any attachments for a lot of coaches, Vermeil really cares about his players. And, the Rams' players really want to play for Dick Vermeil.
If St. Louis stays healthy their chances are as good as anybody's. Who else is out there right now?
Written by CBS Sports play-by-play announcer Brent Jones