I took a lot of time after Sunday's game to unwind, collect my thoughts and gain perspective on this season.
The season that we had is definitely gratifying. Improving from 1-15 to 7-9 and competing all the way down to that very last game for an NFC West division title, it says a lot about what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time.
We were one game away from participating in the playoffs and the ultimate goal is to win the Super Bowl. But each and every step brings you closer to your goals.
All that we accomplished especially speaks to the young guys we have on our team. It's definitely an adjustment coming into the NFL. But they were able to fully digest an NFL playbook, endure a long grueling season and toward the end of the season, they were still able to play at high level. I'm pretty sure their bodies are worn out and they're mentally fried. But to keep working through it shows that they're totally committed to getting the Rams back to their winning ways.
Being one game out definitely is going to be fuel for the fire in the offseason for training. Hopefully it also adds allure for some free agents and they see what we're trying to do in St. Louis.
Within our team, we've established leadership that's going to take us a long way. Besides myself, you have OJ Atogwe, another long time Ram, who has been around the organization for six seasons now. He does a great job of being the voice of reason. He's a very tough durable athlete, but he's also very heady and knows how to react under duress.
Then we have other guys, young up and coming leaders like James Laurinaitis and Sam Bradford as well as the combination of James Hall and Fred Robbins. So we have a good mixture of youth and veterans in leadership roles.
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
This season was very good for us, but I think we can improve in all three phases: offense, defense and special teams.
We will continue to build with continuity amongst the team. We're headed in the right direction. But we can continue to get better because we are extremely youthful. As we get more games under our belts and more practice together, those things won't be a problem for us in the future.
We lost some veteran receivers and even some rookies this season due to injuries and other guys were able to come in and play at a high level. That added depth for us at that position and allowed others to get some playing time and experience. That's going to make for a very competitive training camp. Any time you have that much depth at a position it makes for good competition and breeds results.
The thing I'm most proud of is that every time we were faced with a challenge, we answered, throughout the season. The first couple of weeks it was just getting in the win column. Then once we established ourselves in the win column at home, the next challenge midway through the season was getting our first victory on the road.
Each and every time we were challenged to step up, we were able to do so. No one broke stride, no one lost confidence and when we did have a one or two game losing streak, guys remained calm and felt confident in what we were doing. We knew that eventually things were going to start clicking for us.
But right now, for all of us, it's about letting the offseason take over for a little while. When I talked to guys afterward, I just told them to get away from football. I think that's true for everyone, even coaches. Sometimes you just need to get away. Recoup, think about some of the things we accomplished over the year, but go enjoy yourself and enjoy your family. That's what is really important. During the season, we're so consumed with the game that we're unable to enjoy life.
What coach Spagnuolo said was along the same lines. He shared with us how he was proud of the team and he's really excited. He has big plans and big dreams for the team going into next season.
For me, this is the best I've felt going into the offseason since 2006.
A lot of it comes down to my day-to-day preparation. You saw some of what I do to prepare in my documentary series "A Week In the Life" and that's really what helps my body bounce back so quickly the way it has.
I make sure I get in the ice tub, I get massages twice a week and I'm seeking out alternative medicine from acupuncture to taking vitamin supplements. Through all those things combined, I have really come to understand my body and know how to gauge it well.
This was a great season for me and I feel that I accomplished a lot. It's quite amazing when I look back on it, just to be able to battle through injuries and play at a high level. But the thing that I'm mainly proud of is that, after going through offseason surgery on my back, I played in all 16 games. That is a huge feat that I'm very very proud of.
I think there were a lot of people that were scared off and wanted to write me off, saying that the tread on the tires as a running back was starting to wear down and it may take a toll on me. But to finish games and finish the season as strong as I did, that does a lot for my confidence. That's going to propel me into the offseason as I get ready to train again.
I'm excited to get an opportunity to play in the Pro Bowl again this season. It's very a fulfilling way to cap off a great season for me personally.
I'm a fan of football as well as a participant in the sport so after being elected by my peers, coaches and fans, I want to give them the chance to see me play with some of the best in the game.
It will be my first time playing in the game since after the 2006 season. I was also picked last year but I had to skip it to have surgery on my back so I would be ready in time for the season.
I have a lot of great memories from my 2006 trip. Since it was my first trip, I remember just being in awe at some of the guys that I was looking at in the huddle. It was a lot of fun getting to enjoy some time with other players and their family members.
There are quite a few guys that I get a chance to catch up with. I usually hang out with Andre Johnson and Adrian Peterson among others, and I enjoy meeting up with the other running backs. We get the chance to sit down and talk to one another and enjoy it, without having to compete against one another.
This year, I look forward to meeting Michael Vick for the first time, if possible and I'm also a huge fan of Brian Urlacher so it's fun to have him on my side.
I'm also looking forward to ringing up a first year pro bowler's tab and get a little payback for what happened to me in my first year.
Hawaii is one of many places I hope to go this offseason.
I might catch some of the playoffs if there's a game on that interests me. I'm looking forward to watching the Bears. They revamped their defense and their coaches on both sides, Lovie Smith and Mike Martz, are former Rams coaches. I definitely want to see them because I haven't had the chance to watch them during the season.
I'm hoping to travel abroad and I think my first trip overseas is going to be to Australia. I've never been there and I'm looking forward to the experience. I want to go to at least three different countries this offseason, but I haven't decided when and where. Australia is definitely on the list though.
Lastly, I want to thank all my fans for their support and I'm anxious to continue to build a Rams team you can all be proud of.