ckbaker84: Jeff, what do you think the Rams will do this year. Will they make the playoffs? Superbowl?
Jeff Gordon: I like what they did in the draft, adding size, depth and aggressiveness to both lines. Adam Carriker makes them better against the run. Brian Leonard is Scott Linehan's type of running back -- big, with good blocking skills -- and he provides a different element as a third-down receiver. Randy McMichael and Drew Bennett give Marc Bulger bigger red-zone targets. This is big, since Linehan's offense doesn't rely on speed and tricks.
Bulger finally got a handle on Linehan's offense during the latter stages of last season. Dante Hall may not be the game-breaker he was a few years back, but he fills an enormous void. The Rams could also benefit from a soft early schedule; this should allow them to gather some steam. For a team still looking to create an identity, this is huge. All this should add up to a 9-7/10-6 season and a playoff berth. Jim Haslett would have to work miracles with the defense to make this team a real Super Bowl threat again.
sean: Who do you think starts at center, Andy McCollum or Brett Romberg?
Jeff Gordon: How about Dustin Fry? This coaching staff loves big centers. Romberg isn't big and ol' Andy may be on his last legs. Fry is a mauler, like Incognito, and the staff likes maulers.
How does the Ram secondary look as for as the Corners?
How did Darius Vinnett an undrafted rookie from Arkansas look?
Jeff Gordon: The Rams love Vinnett's coverage skills, but he is tiny. And the Rams are deep at cornerback; draft pick Jonathan Wade will have to fight for time behind Fakhir Brown, Tye Hill and newcomes Mike Rumph and Lenny Walls. Ron Bartell has value a combo corner/safety and special teams guy.
Josh: Is it possible that we upgrade at #2 QB and get rid of Frerotte?
Jeff Gordon: Gus is Linehan's guy. Gus did a nice job filling in the last time he got an extending run in the NFL. Gus knows the offense and accepts his role. He appears set. And Fitzpatrick is currently looking secure in the No. 3 slot.
Jeff Gordon: Tate is awfully short, which will make it tough for him. Fitzpatrick has brains, mobility and some live-game experience -- although he did get exposed the last time he was really needed.
Jesse Cody: Jeff,
Could you give us an update on Butler, Terrell, and Byrd. Do the Rams plan on keeping these guys. Also who will make the roster as the fourth reciever. I know that Looker and Hall will play. Will the Rams bring another receiver on game day.
Jeff Gordon: Jerametrius Butler wasn't in the doghouse last season -- he was out there way past the doghouse, out of sight of the coaching staff. Claude Terrell is a potential road grader in the run game, but the Rams moved on without him last season. Byrd finally showed some potential at the end of last season, but the McMichael signing makes him the odd man out, barring injuries or a miraculous camp by 'Nique.
Hall and Looker have special teams roles, so they will back up the big three. Adding anothe receiver isn't a big priority right now. Linehan seldom goes to the four-WR set -- and now he has the ability to use more two-TE and two-RB sets.
Do you feel that James Hall, if healthy, will be a formidable DE on the other side of Leonard Little this year? Do you think this will allow the Rams to get more pressure on the QB? Also, do you think the moves the Rams made on Defense (Depth, Starters, Draft, etc.) this year were under-rated?
Jeff Gordon: The coaches talk up Hall and Draft a LOT, but we'll see. I believe Victor Adeyanju could grow this season and Adam Carriker will make the Rams more stout at the point of attack. As for outside pass pressure opposite of Little, that may have to come via blitzes. All the depth at cornerback and safety has to help, but the team doesn't appear to have a big-hitting safety for run support.
Do you see any potential June 1st cap casualties who could help the Rams defensively on the line?
Jeff Gordon: Jim Thomas and Howard Balzer say not to expect much from the second-wave free agents, since all the guys the Rams liked got new or restructured deals from their team. But as Linehan noted, Miami's decision to whack McMichael before the draft came as a surprise. So you never know.
THOMAS JORDAN: I was just looking in the ESPN the magazine I received today, and they have the Rams at the bottom of the division, saying they are headed in the right direction. What do you think of their assesment?
Jeff Gordon: There are reasons to like Arizona, which lucked into Matt Leinhart, and the *****, who keep getting better. And Seattle must be admired for plowing through all those injuries a year ago. In the end, I would expect the Rams to outdistance Arizona and San Francisco because of Bulger's experience. If Marc got hurt, though, the Rams would lose their one edge.