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Thread: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

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    Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Bernie: Rams need much more than they will admit

    11 hours ago • Bernie Miklasz bjmiklasz@post-dispatch.com

    At season’s end, Rams coach Jeff Fisher declared that his team was closing the gap in the NFC West. I suppose that’s a matter of interpretation.

    If Fisher means that the Rams are no longer a disgrace and an abject failure — why, yes, they’re closing in on Seattle, San Francisco and Arizona.

    If Fisher would have us believe that the Rams are nearing parity status with their division rivals, especially Seattle and San Francisco … well, I hope they keep the Kool-Aid tap flowing out there at Rams Park.

    Watching the ***** and Seahawks slug it out for the NFC championship served as a helpful reminder. First, the Rams’ rivals are the NFL’s two best teams. Second, the Rams’ season ended Dec. 29. And being on the couch at home is a long way from being in the NFC title bout.

    I realize that it’s a general manager’s job to run misdirection plays and create subterfuge heading into free agency and the draft. But Les Snead has been taking this strategy to another level in his postseason media tour.

    We all know that the Rams need to score more points and strike more frequently for big plays. One would assume that the Rams would feel some urgency to spruce up the offense again; over the past two regular seasons combined the St. Louis offense scored 182 fewer points than Seattle, and 156 points fewer than San Francisco.

    Progress was made in 2013, but the Rams can’t be content to stay with what they have. They have to get some recruits to make their offense more dangerous.

    Except that during his interview rounds, Snead says …

    Sam Bradford is still the Rams’ dream quarterback, the Rams do not need to upgrade at wide receiver, and the offensive line will be fine.

    Even though Bradford has been healthy for only 45 of his teams’ (Oklahoma and Rams) last 77 games. ...

    Even though Chris Givens led their wideouts with only 569 receiving yards in 2013. ...

    Even though the Rams are looking at the potential loss off free-agent guard and tackle Roger Saffold, may not have left tackle Jake Long (knee) ready for the start of the season and will probably have to revamp the interior line.



    They have no major needs on offense?

    Really?

    Or as Ryan Van Bibber joked over at the Turf Show Times blog: “Rams not planning to draft anyone.”

    Obviously the Rams require more explosiveness on offense and a plan to fill openings on the O-line. On defense the STL secondary needs restocking, and there’s a space for a starting outside linebacker opposite Alec Ogletree.

    But the primary challenge still remains the same as it ever was: getting the offense up to speed.

    “All three (NFC West) teams play really good defense, and we’ve got to play better offense and score more points to compete with them,” Fisher said at the end of the season.

    Fisher gets it. I just don’t know what he plans to do about it.

    Here are a few fun facts from the 2013 regular season ...

    1. The average NFL offense scored 346 points. (This does not include points scored by the defense or via special teams.) The 12 playoff teams averaged 401 points. The Rams scored 304. Yes, Bradford missed the final nine games with a knee injury, but let’s not get carried away. The Rams dragged near the bottom of points-scored tallies when Bradford was healthy in 2012.

    2. NFL teams averaged 62 big plays from scrimmage — namely, plays that gained 20-plus yards. The playoff teams averaged 67 big plays. And the Rams had 52, ranking 27th in the league.

    3. NFL teams averaged 51 pass plays of 20+ yards. Playoff teams averaged 56. The Rams had 41, which ranked 29th.

    4. NFL teams averaged eight big-play touchdown passes. The playoff teams averaged 10. The Rams had four.

    An obvious factor was the switch to Kellen Clemens at quarterback after Bradford went down, and I do believe Tavon Austin will provide more impact as second-year wideout in 2014.

    The Rams’ top need is a physically imposing wide receiver.

    You know, the profile that Brian Quick was supposed to fill but hasn’t.

    This is an extremely physical division, with punishing hitters roaming at linebacker and safety. The Rams need that tough third-down presence to muscle defenders and win the physical confrontations. (Think of Anquan Boldin and the *****.) The Rams’ current receivers are easily shoved out of their routes.

    If the Rams can establish a stronger wideout to go with tight end Jared Cook in the middle of the field, it would open things up outside for the deep speed of Givens, Austin and perhaps Stedman Bailey.

    Snead says the Rams don’t need a No. 1 receiver.

    “I think our receivers right now, I truly believe as they progress … we cannot have another receiver around here,” he said. “And we’re going to be a good football team.”

    Now there’s some optimism for you.

    Another humongous Rams problem is the payroll — specifically the major disparity in quarterback salaries.

    It’s not Bradford’s fault that he benefited from the old rookie-wage system that made him a very rich young man. By drafting Bradford No. 1 overall in 2010, the Rams had no choice but to pay up. The general terms of Bradford’s rookie deal were essentially locked in.

    That changed in 2011, when the NFL instituted a rookie salary cap that terminated the monster contracts for drafted quarterbacks. The ***** and Seahawks took advantage of the new wage scale and are funding the QB position at a considerably lower rate than the Rams.

    The 2013 salary-cap hit for ***** quarterback Colin Kaepernick was $1.4 million. Seattle’s Russell Wilson’s cap hit was $681,000. Arizona’s Carson Palmer had a cap hit of $4 million.

    And Bradford? His 2013 cap hit of $12.6 million accounted for nearly 12 percent of the Rams’ 2013 salary cap.

    Wait, it gets worse.

    Here are the scheduled cap figures for the four starting quarterbacks in 2014:

    Kaepernick, $1.6 million.

    Wilson, $817,000.

    Palmer $10 million.

    Bradford, $17.6 million.

    In case you’re wondering: In 2015, Bradford’s cap hit is set for $16.58 million.

    Payroll flexibility is a huge edge for San Francisco and Seattle, which have notable players eligible for unrestricted free agency after the season.

    In San Francisco, the list of potential free agents includes Boldin, safety Donte Whitner, center Jonathan Goodwin, cornerback Tarrell Brown.

    Seattle’s potential free-agent list includes wideout Golden Tate, defensive end Michael Bennett, defensive tackles Tony McDaniel and Clinton McDonald, offensive tackle Breno Giacomini and guard Paul McQuistan.

    Arizona’s list includes linebacker Karlos Dansby, safety Yeremiah Bell and offensive tackle Eric Winston.

    If the Seahawks and ***** were on the hook to pay their quarterbacks $17.6 million in 2014, they wouldn’t stand a chance of retaining their prime free agents — or shopping for premium free agents. But given the modest Wilson-Kaepernick salary levels, their teams have money to play with this offseason.

    Again, that puts the Rams at clear financial disadvantage. The substantial payroll gap at the quarterback position makes it that much more difficult for the the Rams to close the standings gap in the NFC West.
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Bernie: Rams need much more than they will admit


    Fisher gets it. I just don’t know what he plans to do about it.
    That's right, Bernie. YOU don't know.

    Neither do other sportswriters, bloggers, or internet message board posters (myself included). That's why guys like Fisher and Snead get paid to build NFL franchises, and we don't.

    The one thing I am certain of: Fisher and Snead are not going to reveal their plans to you, or Ryan Van Bibber, or me, or anyone else.

    Snead says the Rams don’t need a No. 1 receiver.

    “I think our receivers right now, I truly believe as they progress … we cannot have another receiver around here,” he said. “And we’re going to be a good football team.”

    Now there’s some optimism for you.
    Yes, it is optimism, which is appropriate. Its not a guarantee that the Rams won't go ahead and take another WR early in the draft.

    Another humongous Rams problem is the payroll — specifically the major disparity in quarterback salaries.
    That is true, NOW. But its only a matter of time before the Hawks and the Niners will have to pay huge $ to keep their QBs.

    Payroll flexibility is a huge edge for San Francisco and Seattle, which have notable players eligible for unrestricted free agency after the season.
    Here Bernie is just wrong. The Niners and Hawks can't sign their second tier FAs to long-term deals now without making it impossible to retain their first tier FAs in 2015 (when many of the big names are set for new deals).

    Again, that puts the Rams at clear financial disadvantage. The substantial payroll gap at the quarterback position makes it that much more difficult for the the Rams to close the standings gap in the NFC West.
    Again, this is a short-term issue that will even out in the long run.

    Seems like Bernie is feeding the anti-Bradford trolls again. I'm willing to bet that this is a prelude to a "serious" article later asserting that the Rams should draft a QB in the first round.

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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    We all know that the Rams need to score more points and strike more frequently for big plays. One would assume that the Rams would feel some urgency to spruce up the offense again; over the past two regular seasons combined the St. Louis offense scored 182 fewer points than Seattle, and 156 points fewer than San Francisco.
    I noticed that he went back two years for the scoring. Last year we did dominate the division and that is a fact. The other fact is this year our starting QB only played in two division games and we where .500.

    As far as scoring more... did anyone think either QB played well in that game? Did Kap not turn it over three times. Did Wilson fumble on the first play and look shaky for the most part. To beat either of those team you don't need to score a ton of points.

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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    The main point he's making is the Rams are at home watching those 2 teams playing for a chance to go to the Super Bowl. The Rams were last in their division, less than .500 and 0-4 against those 2 teams. I get that some fans believe that if not for the injury to Bradford or the youth of the Rams they would be there but scoreboard is scoreboard. SF and Kap were sloppy in the 4th quarter but were 2 inches(if the final throw was 2 inches higher Sherman doesn't tip it) from the SB. Did everybody forget how the Rams looked week 17 in Seattle? No, the Rams aren't close yet and they do need to get better.
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    I noticed that he went back two years for the scoring. Last year we did dominate the division and that is a fact. The other fact is this year our starting QB only played in two division games and we where .500.

    As far as scoring more... did anyone think either QB played well in that game? Did Kap not turn it over three times. Did Wilson fumble on the first play and look shaky for the most part. To beat either of those team you don't need to score a ton of points.
    It's a fact we need to score more, that can't be denied no matter what happens with the Hawks, Whiners and even the Cards. We play 6 division games, and 10 outside the division, so just beating our division opponents isn't going to get us close to the playoffs.

    We haven't been in the top 20 in offensive points scored since 2006. That isn't going to cut it, no matter what our division opponents do. There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that we need to score more, period.
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    I don't know of anyone who thinks that the Rams would have been in the NFC Championship this year had Bradford stayed healthy.

    As for whether the Rams are "close"... I'd say that, apart from a few train wreck franchises (i.e. Jacksonville, Cleveland, maybe a few others), every team is a good offseason, a year with minimal injuries, and a few lucky bounces away from the playoffs and, once in the tournament... anything can happen.

    So, yes... the Rams need to improve, but, contrary to BM's suggestion, Sam's contract is not such a monumental road block as to make it impossible for them to catch SF and Seattle next year.
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Quote Originally Posted by ramsbruce View Post
    It's a fact we need to score more, that can't be denied no matter what happens with the Hawks, Whiners and even the Cards. We play 6 division games, and 10 outside the division, so just beating our division opponents isn't going to get us close to the playoffs.

    We haven't been in the top 20 in offensive points scored since 2006. That isn't going to cut it, no matter what our division opponents do. There is no way to sugarcoat the fact that we need to score more, period.
    You can score 35 points a game and still lose right? The Hawks scored on average only 4 points a game more then we did and as you point out we need to improve. They gave up only 14.5 per game, we gave up 22.75 per game. That's more of an issue then scoring more IMO. To my point the Hawks are gong to the SB and they did not score a ton of points.

    The question is do we try and add players to score more points against the top defenses in the league that reside in the West or do we add players to a very good defense and join them as one of the best defenses in the NFL.
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    I don't know of anyone who thinks that the Rams would have been in the NFC Championship this year had Bradford stayed healthy.

    As for whether the Rams are "close"... I'd say that, apart from a few train wreck franchises (i.e. Jacksonville, Cleveland, maybe a few others), every team is a good offseason, a year with minimal injuries, and a few lucky bounces away from the playoffs and, once in the tournament... anything can happen.

    So, yes... the Rams need to improve, but, contrary to BM's suggestion, Sam's contract is not such a monumental road block as to make it impossible for them to catch SF and Seattle next year.
    Sam Bradford's contract is indefensible, so why even try?

    And it certainly has been a roadblock. To what degree is in the eyes of the beholder, but anyone suggesting it hasn't been, hasn't been paying close attention, or needs to take off the rose colored glasses.

    Why is it that several players need to be restructured every year?

    Why is it that we are 2nd to or dead last in cap space?

    It's because a few players on the team are taking up too much cap space. And last I checked, Sam Bradford is at the top of the heap, whether it's his fault or not.

    So while his contract may not render us totally defeated, it certainly is and has been a monumental roadblock, IMO.
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    You can score 35 points a game and still lose right?
    Of course, BUT odds are it's much less likely to lose scoring 35.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    The Hawks scored on average only 4 points a game more then we did and as you point out we need to improve. They gave up only 14.5 per game, we gave up 22.75 per game. That's more of an issue then scoring more IMO. To my point the Hawks are gong to the SB and they did not score a ton of points.
    Denver is going to the Super Bowl, and they scored the most points ever.

    Our defense is much less of an issue, than our offensive scoring IMO. People can't expect our defense to carry us the majority of the time. There needs to be more of a balance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    The question is do we try and add players to score more points against the top defenses in the league that reside in the West or do we add players to a very good defense and join them as one of the best defenses in the NFL.
    Like I said, I think our defense is much less of an issue. I think Sam needs more help to reach his full potential. I'm afraid that if we don't get Sam some more help, people calling for his head will get worse. There is enough of that already. It's really a shame that he got injured when he was playing well, because if he didn't get injured, we would know a lot more about what we need to do to help build the team now. Maybe Quick would have come around or Tavon might have broken out bigger than he already did, with Sam at the helm.
    Last edited by ramsbruce; -01-20-2014 at 07:52 PM.
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    I actually agree somewhat with what Bernie says; Sam needs to restructure his contract to give the Rams more flexibility and stay healthy, we need to draft, trade, or sign a physical #1 receiver, and we need better depth on the OL. Our team might have been good enough to go undefeated in the division in 2012, but this past year we were 1-5 and unless we improve offensively we'll continue to lose within our division.
    Last edited by Vinnie25; -01-21-2014 at 01:24 AM.
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Bradford is costing the Rams a fortune. He's not going anywhere. Time to stop making excuses about how the 'cupboard is bare' for this guy. This team needs a guy like Mike Evans. Huge target with good hands, not afraid of contact after the catch and most importantly, he FIGHTS to get every ball that comes his way. You can't watch his reel and not believe the Ram's need a kid like this on the offensive side of the ball...and have for some time. We have our speedsters, now the big (6'5"), go-to, possession receiver. Dream scenario, Matthews at #2 and Evans at #13. Offensive problems fully addressed...imo. I seriously doubt he (Evans) falls that far.
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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Quote Originally Posted by Fargo Ram Fan View Post
    Bradford is costing the Rams a fortune. He's not going anywhere. Time to stop making excuses about how the 'cupboard is bare' for this guy. This team needs a guy like Mike Evans. Huge target with good hands, not afraid of contact after the catch and most importantly, he FIGHTS to get every ball that comes his way. You can't watch his reel and not believe the Ram's need a kid like this on the offensive side of the ball...and have for some time. We have our speedsters, now the big (6'5"), go-to, possession receiver. Dream scenario, Matthews at #2 and Evans at #13. Offensive problems fully addressed...imo. I seriously doubt he (Evans) falls that far.


    I have not looked into Evans that much. How does he compare to Quick currently? Speed, size, strength etc? Does he already know how to fight off a DB and get open?

    I just don't want another project that we hope 'gets it.'




    Also, any chances that Wilson and Kaep go for lower contracts than believed?

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    Year after year its the same damn thing.

    Once and for all would you please fix the offensive line.

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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Its not just what has happened with in the NFC West that one need to compare the Rams too, but other playoff teams.

    What the AZ Cards did this season was impressive. They ended 10-6 with what, a new QB in Palmer and a rock solid Fritz. They had much of the defense already but after 2012 their offense was a disaster. And in less then then an off season under their belt, they best the Rams' 9-7 with a 10-6 record--that's some food for thought.

    The Saints in 2012 had the worst defense in the NFL...oddly in 2013, again in less then a season, turned that ship around and found themselves in the playoffs. Granted, the Saints had the help of the Falcons, a team the Rams lost too, but somehow almost every other team could beat.

    As mentioned there are true train wreck teams out there (Jags/Browns...etc.). And somehow the Lions with all their weapons, their defense just can't seem to appear in a playoff game, except in the in the bleachers watching others play--kind of like the Rams.

    So what really is the Rams solution? Wait to be viable when the Seagulls/49whinners have cash problems? What that's 2 season or so away? I see that the Rams are finally stable with having a non-meddling ownership, that's a plus; Rams could have an owner like the Cowboys/Redskins. Rams acquire good players in the draft, its hard to find a resent draft-disaster, yet another plus. Rams actually got some talent from FA, still another plus. So again what is the solution for the Rams?

    The general consensus seems to give it another season with the Fisher experiment. But really is there a plan "B", just encase?

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    Re: Bernie: Rams Need Much More Than They Will Admit

    Quote Originally Posted by Ram Dragoon View Post

    What the AZ Cards did this season was impressive. They ended 10-6 with what, a new QB in Palmer and a rock solid Fritz. They had much of the defense already but after 2012 their offense was a disaster. And in less then then an off season under their belt, they best the Rams' 9-7 with a 10-6 record--that's some food for thought.
    Actually that's 7-9 to 10-6.

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