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    Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    Don't know if this has already been posted...

    Mike Carlson takes aim at the St Louis Rams – the team that holds the second pick in this year’s draft.

    In many ways, you could argue the Rams had a season even more frustrating than the Dolphins. Scott Linehan, in the space of two years, transformed the greatest show on turf into a sputtering machine averaging barely 17 points per game, which is fine if you're the Super Bowl Bucs or Bears, but not if you're Jim Haslett channeling his hapless Saints on defense. They do have one alibi; they were crippled by injuries, probably the worst hit team in the NFL. Not only in terms of starters lost and games missed, but a number of their guys played hurt most of the year, because there was no one better available.


    Marc Bulger missed four games and played hurt much of the rest of the time (although hurt and Bulger are not strangers), Stephen Jackson missed five games, and the offensive line looked like a scene from the trenches in the Western front, perhaps the NFC Western front.


    Without Orlando Pace you might as well paint a giant bullseye on Bulger's back; Pace is unlikely to come back at 100% again; he's missed most of the past two seasons. It's odd when you think that the three best left tackles of the era: Pace, Jonathan Ogden, and Walter Jones, all appear to have hit a wall at the same time. Center/guard Richie Incognito has played about 1/3 of the games in his three pro years, and guard Mark Setterstrom seems to think this is a Ram tradition. Veteran backup Todd Steusie broke his foot in preseason, and played only the last four games, younger backup Adam Goldberg, whom they recently re-upped, missed most of the year too.

    It makes it a little hard to preview the Rams, because there are still a number of players who may or may not be back: Steussie (who wants to return), 37 year old center Andy McCollum (whom I expect to retire) and TE Aaron Walker (whom the recent signing of Anthony Becht would indicate won't be back.) It's tough when your MVP was your punter. Just joking, but they signed Donnie Jones as an RFA from Miami, and he was second in the NFC in net average. Perhaps they hope lightning will strike twice, as they reacted to Jeff Wilkins' retirement by signing Seattle's Josh Brown to the biggest kicker contract yet: of course they hurt the Seahawks by doing so, but it was one of only two signings they made in the first stampede of free agency. The other, Jacob Bell, addresses their offensive line, but Bell isn't really a difference maker. But if you think of the mobility of the guards under Al Saunders in KC and Washington, you can see where Bell might fit.

    One would expect them to make more changes: they have the look of a patchwork quilt, where some of the patches don't fit, and others are so worn that they don't even cover the spaces they were supposed to. The offense doesn't know whether it's coming or going, not helped by those injuries, but a lot of that has to also be down to the coaching. The Rams lost four of the five games they played decided by close scores, and were outscored 258-96 in second halves, and those signs point to an inability to adjust on the fly.

    Off the field, some changes were made. Of course the biggest was unplanned, as owner Georgia Frontiere passed away. Frontiere, who booted her stepson out of control of the team when Carroll Rosenbloom died, moved the Rams from LA for a stadium deal, and divorced Dominic Frontiere after he went to prison for scalping their Super Bowl allocation, had her favourites, but left the front office alone, which isn't always a good thing. That thin line between Wellington Mara and Dan Snyder is a tough one to walk. GM Jay Zygmunt saw Billy Devaney brought in from mega-successful Atlanta to oversee personnel. Since the Rams have the second pick in the draft, Devaney will have the chance to make an instant impact. Meanwhile, Linehan's offensive woes saw Saunders escape Saddan Snyder and return to St. Louis as offensive coordinator, bringing his son with him, and hiring old KC QB coach Terry Shea to do the same job here. Former Cardinal coach Steve Loney takes over the offensive line, and Art Valero, from the Bucs, the running backs. Ecologically, all this recycling probably makes the Ed Jones Dome carbon neutral.

    Trent Green, a St Louis native, has been reunited with Saunders and Shea, and offer the Rams the choice of two, count 'em two, fragile quarterbacks for the price of one. It's an upgrade on Gus Frerotte, who was released. Otherwise, their number two is Brock Berlin, yet another NFL Europe guy who was assigned to the wrong team (in his case Hamburg, instead of Berlin). The interesting question is to whom whoever the QB actually is will throw (check out that grammar!). Torry Holt, at 32, appears to be slowing down with knee injuries, and Issac Bruce, at 36, is gone to the Niners, and ironically, Mike Martz. That means Holt, who could use someone else to distract a few of the other team's defensive backs, will hope that Drew Bennett, as fragile as Bulger, or Dane Looker, or Dante Hall, or Brandon Williams can fill that role: Looker, Hall, and Williams were all all-NFLE players at one point, or three points, but two of those points were a long time ago. Tight end looks stronger, with Joe Klopenstein, Linehan fave Randy McMichael, and Dominique Byrd all available, and Becht signed, which says to me 'two tight end' offense. That would fit Linehan's pattern, though whether they can run the ball the way you'd expect is another question.


    If Jackson is fully healthy he's a fine back, an ideal fit for Al Saunders' 1,432 page playbook, which did feature two tight ends with Joe Gibbs, but more in the tradition of Marshall Faulk and Priest Holmes. Some pundits have suggested Jackson might be trade bait, but he's too good a fit for Saunders. Behind him, though, they drafted Brian Leonard last year, and Leonard is not a good fit. He's a tweener, and could fit some systems as a tailback, and others as a fullback, but he's not quick enough for this one. They could work him in as a west-coast style fullback, a la Tony Richardson. Antonio Pittman and Travis Minor aren't major as the backups

    Assuming reasonable health, right now their line would be Pace and perennial disappointment Alex Barron at the tackles, Bell at one guard, and two of either Incognito, Milford Brown (who played for Loney at Arizona), or Dustin Fry at the other two spots. Goldberg is a useful reserve, but no more; Steussie is a better option than Rob Pettite as a backup tackle. Ex-Pat Brandon Gorin is just a guy. So using that number two pick on Jake Long might be awfully tempting when you consider that even if Pace comes back, he's not a long-term fix, and a season at right tackle might break Long in to take over the LT job in 2009.

    Tweeners are as much the bane of the defense as the offense, and rumour has the Rams trying some sort of hybrid system. They had built for a Tampa-2 style, which isn't really Haslett's choice, but last year used their first-round pick on Adam Carriker, who is a fine football player, and a natural-born 3-4 DE, but whom they moved to the nose tackle slot, where his biggest skills are wasted. Someone with a creative streak (and huge brass ones) might consider offering him to a 3-4 team who need an end, in return for a player and a second rounder or something similar. The Jets, before they let go of Dwayne Robertson, would've been a good match. Carriker could play 4-3 end, but he's not an explosive rusher, and since last year's fifth round pick, Clifton Ryan, is a more natural NT, and was surprisingly effective, there isn't much point of keeping him inside. At the other DT spot, LaRoi Glover, a Haslett favorite from New Orleans (and really everyone's favorite in terms of effort and getting the most from your skills) is in the decline phase now, and really is only a situational guy, but Claude Wroten has been a disappointment as the other up tackle. At end, Leonard Little returns, but he's a one-dimensional rusher at this stage. He might be a guy they could shop around if they're serious about changing to a 3-4 (which Haslett coached at Pittsburgh). They signed James Hall last year, but he played most of the season on an injured ankle, and he wasn't resigned. Victor Adeyanju needs to play up to his potential, while Eric Moore plays over his limited natural abilities. A 3-4 line of Adeyanju, Ryan, and Carriker might work, but isn't going to happen.

    You can see the problem, there's a flaw in each piece of the puzzle, they don't quite fit together. Call it the curse of Jimmy Kennedy, one of Zygmunt's classic first round picks (remember Trung 'the people's choice' Canidate?). I actually don't pay much mind to the 3-4 rumours; what do they do with Little? He might be tradeable for a usable part or a first-day draft pick, unless they think he can play outside linebacker or rotate in on passing downs, and now you're like Jason Taylor in Miami last year - good player but not being used to best advantage in the system, and Little is no Taylor. Wil Witherspoon was outstanding in 2006 before he wore out, but had even more to try to do last season. He's still better outside than in the middle, and they have no one who looks anything like a 3-4 inside backer, as even Quinton Culbertson is undersized. Chris Draft is a versatile backup, and Tim McGarrigle a useful reserve for a Tampa style team. The playmaker is supposed to be Pisa Tinoisamoa, but he was hurt most of the year, and it's tough for undersized linebackers who depend on speed to play hurt.

    In the secondary, Ty Hill holds down one corner, and they made a keeper of safety OJ Atogwe, who may have been their real MVP last weekend. Haslett favorite Fakhir Brown was the other corner, and sometimes seems aptly named. Rookie Jonathan Wade showed some upside as the third option. Corey Chavous is slowing down at the other safety spot; Todd Johnson is the alternative. There are safeties out there in the free agent market; the Pats' Eugene Wilson might be a good fit here.

    Brown is an upgrade over Wilkins; according to Carlson's Original Calibration for Kickers, Unified Program per Attempt, or Cock-uppa, Brown's .94 was third in the NFC behind Longwell and Nedney. His 32 points tied him for first in raw Cock-up with Jason Hanson. Rob Bironas led the NFL with 43 Cockup points, but Kris Brown's 1.14 and Jay Feeley's 1.13 were ahead of Bironas's 1.10 per attempt in the AFC. Dante Hall didn't energise the return game like they'd expected.

    It's hard to call this a make or break year for the Rams, though it certainly is for Linehan. This is a team whose offensive glory days are behind them, and who need to be thinking of rebuilding on both sides of the line. Yes, in a weak division, they could have been better than 3-13 had they stayed healthier. But how much better? The real challenge, in the draft and in the rest of free agency, will be between building for the future, which may be Al Saunders, or trying to turn things around this year, while Linehan and Haslett are still running things. If I were Linehan, I might be looking over my shoulder.


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    desune! is offline Registered User
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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    Carlson is a legend.

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    Aye, in his own small mind ........................


  4. #4
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    I will admit that only recently have I become aware of Mike Carlson (thank you, wikipedia). But after reading this article, I believe my thoughts can best be summed up by a big ol' fat.......HUH?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    "The offense doesn't know whether it's coming or going, not helped by those injuries, but a lot of that has to also be down to the coaching. The Rams lost four of the five games they played decided by close scores, and were outscored 258-96 in second halves, and those signs point to an inability to adjust on the fly."

    Just when I was trying to see the glass half full I had to be reminded of those facts.
    :ramlogo:

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    article sounded spot on to me.

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    Someone with a creative streak (and huge brass ones) might consider offering him to a 3-4 team who need an end, in return for a player and a second rounder or something similar.
    Sure thats sounds like a good move...Ryan NT, AC DT, Little DE, DE? Not sure how AC does not fit.

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBritishRam View Post
    The offense doesn't know whether it's coming or going, not helped by those injuries, but a lot of that has to also be down to the coaching. The Rams lost four of the five games they played decided by close scores, and were outscored 258-96 in second halves, and those signs point to an inability to adjust on the fly.
    This goes for both the offense and the defense.

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    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    article sounded spot on to me.
    Spot on? Really?
    Ecologically, all this recycling probably makes the Ed Jones Dome carbon neutral.
    Saunders is the only coach who would be "recycled", and even at that he has never been the Rams OC.
    Torry Holt, at 32, appears to be slowing down with knee injuries, and Issac Bruce, at 36
    Holt is 31, Bruce is 35.
    Drew Bennett, as fragile as Bulger, or Dane Looker, or Dante Hall, or Brandon Williams can fill that role
    No mention of Hagans, Stanley, or Caldwell?
    Leonard is not a good fit. He's a tweener, and could fit some systems as a tailback, and others as a fullback, but he's not quick enough for this one. They could work him in as a west-coast style fullback, a la Tony Richardson.
    You mean the same Tony Richardson that filled that role in the offense of.......A.L. S.A.U.N.D.E.R.S?
    two of either Incognito, Milford Brown (who played for Loney at Arizona), or Dustin Fry at the other two spots.
    Setterstrom? Romberg?
    rumour has the Rams trying some sort of hybrid system
    Rumor?!?! Did he not see any game in 2007?
    They had built for a Tampa-2 style
    Not since Lovie left town 5 years ago.
    Adam Carriker, who is a fine football player, and a natural-born 3-4 DE, but whom they moved to the nose tackle slot, where his biggest skills are wasted
    Again, did this guy stop watching after the first few weeks?
    there isn't much point of keeping him inside. At the other DT spot, LaRoi Glover, a Haslett favorite from New Orleans (and really everyone's favorite in terms of effort and getting the most from your skills) is in the decline phase now, and really is only a situational guy, but Claude Wroten has been a disappointment as the other up tackle.
    There's no point in keeping Carriker inside because we already have a "declining" player, and a "disappointment" to man the DT spot???? What the flip?
    Victor Adeyanju needs to play up to his potential, while Eric Moore plays over his limited natural abilities. A 3-4 line of Adeyanju, Ryan, and Carriker might work, but isn't going to happen.
    Vic was a 4th round run stopper.....what potential is this guy looking for? And explain to me how it is a 3-4 line of Vic, Ryan, Carriker "might work", but "isn't going to happen".
    Wil Witherspoon was outstanding in 2006 before he wore out, but had even more to try to do last season. He's still better outside than in the middle, and they have no one who looks anything like a 3-4 inside backer, as even Quinton Culbertson is undersized. Chris Draft is a versatile backup, and Tim McGarrigle a useful reserve for a Tampa style team.
    When did Spoon wear out in 2006? Spoon looks EXACTLY like a top 3-4 inside backer. Tim McGariagle looks NOTHING like a Tampa style LB.
    Ty Hill holds down one corner
    You still think this guy is spot on, tx?
    Rookie Jonathan Wade showed some upside as the third option.
    --- sigh --- Bartell is the #3 corner, Wade is #4.
    It's hard to call this a make or break year for the Rams, though it certainly is for Linehan. This is a team whose offensive glory days are behind them, and who need to be thinking of rebuilding on both sides of the line. Yes, in a weak division, they could have been better than 3-13 had they stayed healthier. But how much better? The real challenge, in the draft and in the rest of free agency, will be between building for the future, which may be Al Saunders, or trying to turn things around this year, while Linehan and Haslett are still running things. If I were Linehan, I might be looking over my shoulder.
    This quote brought to you by the American Society for Obvious Pointmakers. In other breaking news, the sky is blue and grass is green.


    Seriously, tx.........any of us could have written this piece of crap.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    You know, I just don't know anymore.



    Just win. Just win and shut me up.

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    --- sigh --- Bartell is the #3 corner, Wade is #4.

    Well, if the rumors about Brown are true, Bartell probably moves to #2 and Wade #3.

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    This is an older article. You can tell when they said Atogwe was "last week' MVP". The last time I checked, we didn't do anything last week. haha.

    Some of this article I could agree with, most of it, nah. I dont think moving Carriker to DE would help us out too much. I don't think a 3-4 is our thing either. We could use that system every once in a while...but not all the time.

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    I got a secret...i wrote this article. i drank a little to much and started writing, i wanted to stir the pot a little bit.

    Who am i kidding, i cant even write that crappy and cliched.

    -"the offensive line looked like a scene from the trenches in the Western front, perhaps the NFC Western front."

    ????????As soon as i read that i just started laughing. Who the heck is this guy?

    This article to me was kinda just a cluster f*** of nonsense babble to keep people occupied. It did its job.

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    This is an older article. You can tell when they said Atogwe was "last week' MVP". The last time I checked, we didn't do anything last week. haha.
    But the article also mentions all the offseason signings. This Carlson guy must have control of the time-space continuum.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Coast to Coast - St Louis Rams

    "But the article also mentions all the offseason signings. This Carlson guy must have control of the time-space continuum."

    LoL now thats funny.
    :ramlogo:

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