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Thread: Bernie Bytes: How Will The Rams Get Better?

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    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Bernie Bytes: How Will The Rams Get Better?

    Bernie Bytes: How will Rams get better?

    3 hours ago ē BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist

    The Rams are in a tough position as the free-agent market opens on Tuesday. The team went 7-8-1 in 2012, showing immediate improvement in Jeff Fisherís first season as head coach. The roster was infused with promising young talent. The Ramsí 2-1-1 record against NFC West enemies San Francisco and Seattle offered proof of progress. Obviously, expectations will be elevated for 2013, with anticipation building for a winning record and a wild card playoff spot.

    That puts more pressure on Fisher, GM Les Snead and chief operating officer Kevin Demoff to enhance the roster for 2013. Going into last offseason I think itís fair to say that Fisher, Snead and Demoff were at a much different stage. Fisher and Snead were new; the three-man management team was working together for the first time.

    The Rams were coming off a five-year run of brutally unacceptable football, and no one expected an instant miracle from the new regime at Rams Park. The 2012 season was viewed as a transition year, a rebuilding year, a chance for Fisher and Snead to evaluate what they had, and what they needed to do.

    But when the Rams went 4-3-1 over the final eight games to finish with their best record since 2006, the psychology was altered. Fans and media will (and should) be looking for another leap forward in 2013. A step back would be simply unacceptable.

    And thatís why the Rams are in such a tight squeeze as they rush in ó or stay to the side ó when the free-agent scrum gets underway.

    Based on reporting done by Post-Dispatch football writers (and others), the mix of conventional wisdom and updated facts goes something like this:

    ē RB Steven Jackson is leaving.

    ē Box safety Quintin Mikell has been released to save $3 million in cap space.

    ē The Rams have determined that the cost of resigning WR Danny Amendola is too high, and heíll be leaving.

    ē WR Brandon Gibson is drawing considerable interest from NFL teams, which drives his price out of the Ramsí range, so heíll be leaving.

    ē Defensive end William Hayes played very well in 2012, and the performance got him noticed by teams that need to punch up their defensive line. So heíll likely be gone, too.

    Remember after last season, when Fisher said that his desire was to re-sign all of the teamís free agents to keep them here? It was a nice but unrealistic sentiment, easily dismissed. Obviously, the Rams wonít be retaining many of their free agents.

    Now, we can examine each player, case by case, and see the logic in what the Rams are thinking. Owner Stan Kroenke wants to build the team through the draft, and heís right to insist on that approach; thatís what smart organizations do. And if other teams want to wildly overspend to lure the Ramsí free agents, good luck to them. ESPNís John Clayton recently published an interesting piece that showed the alarming frequency rate of free-agent contracts that go bust.

    But hereís the Rams predicament: itís a good thing to maintain a common-sense assessment of each playerís value in making the decision to let them walk as free agents Ö but where and how do the Rams improve in 2013? Sure, let your guys leave ó as long as you can replace them with cheaper but effective talent.

    Crossing Jackson, Amendola, Gibson, Hayes, Mikell (and others) off the list wonít make the Rams a more formidable team. It doesnít figure to move them forward, at least not in the short term.

    Losing Amendola and Gibson from the passing game will be a minus unless young receivers Brian Quick and Chris Givens each make a dramatic improvement in 2013. It isnít that Amendola and Gibson are All-Pro level guys that can change games in a snap. But if you subtract them from the current group, and canít come up with something better, then your offense will take a hit.

    As weíve all noted about a million times now: unless this offense adds an explosive, big-play element for 2012, weíll see more of the same slow, methodical drives that donít generate enough points to make a significant difference.

    Losing SJ39 will be a blow if Isaiah Pead and Daryl Richardson donít come through. There are a lot of FA safeties on the market, but Mikell was among the leagueís highest-rated box safeties in 2012. You donít find many third defensive ends as productive as Hayes for the Rams in í12.

    So how will the Rams get better?

    ē An impactful signing or two in free agency.

    ē Another very good, or great, draft. The Rams, of course, have two first-round picks in April.

    ē Using the draft picks to acquire veteran talent, or to barter for additional (extra) draft picks.

    ē Receiving the anticipated, considerable improvement from current players that will be entering their second, or third, NFL seasons. And there are some upperclassmen (veterans) that can do more than they have.

    ē There should be some potential of natural improvement just by matriculating into season No. 2 under Fisher. Returning Rams players wonít need to learn systems, or walk around gently until they get comfortable around the coaches. The familiarity may not make a difference, but it canít hurt.

    Itís also true that the Rams are in a challenging salary-cap position. Theyíll likely have more flexibility to spend (if desired) in preparation for 2014. But 2013 matters now. Itís crucial for the Rams to have a good follow-up season on the advancement made in 2012.

    This is a precarious offseason for the Rams. The 7-8-1 record left the people clamoring for more in 2013. Not less. And thatís true of the roster. Subtractions are OK as long as the additions put your team on the positive side of the ledger. But it will be a big minus to lose players without procuring more appealing alternatives.

    Check back later for some quick-hits on other topics. Until then, thanks for reading.

    ó Bernie


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    Re: Bernie Bytes: How Will The Rams Get Better?

    I see the Chicken Little version of Bernie has returned.

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: How Will The Rams Get Better?

    I'm glad he writes articles that will be informative to someone who has never watched a football game in their life, but I'm confident when I say that 99.99% of ClanRam already knows this stuff, because it is common sense after all. Oh really? We lost players so we need to add some in free agency and some in the draft to get better? Are you sure thats the only way Bernie? Are you sure!? Or maybe trade draft picks for veterans. Oh I'm glad you brought that up because I don't think anyone knew you can trade draft picks.

    Dont get me wrong Bernie, I'm not mad at you, I'm mad at whoever hired you in the first place.
    Nick and Agrajag like this.

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: How Will The Rams Get Better?

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    I see the Chicken Little version of Bernie has returned.
    I'm waiting for BernieM's response to this rag!

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: How Will The Rams Get Better?

    I hate to lose Hays the most.
    Let the hype begin.

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