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  1. #1
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    Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Give Rams credit for plugging gaps
    By Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, May. 18 2005

    Because there are so few games in the NFL calendar year, fans and media have
    too much time to agonize and overanalyze. It's one of the reasons I've cooled
    on the NFL draft and related offseason hokum. Given a choice, I'd rather be
    held at gunpoint and forced to watch the new reality-trash TV show featuring
    Britney Spears than listen to hours of pre-NFL draft talk radio.

    I used to be addicted to the NFL draft, but I've reformed. I do more meaningful
    and serious things with my free time now, such as playing Strat-O-Matic
    baseball on my laptop computer.

    I'm a big-picture guy. When evaluating an NFL team's offseason, diving into all
    of the minutiae can leave you blind. It's best to keep it short and simple by
    looking at two key questions:

    What were the team's primary weaknesses at the end of the previous season?

    Did the team make an aggressive attempt to address those
    needs?


    And in St. Louis, of course, we must assess a third issue: Where is Mike
    Martz's head? Is our town's controversial, unconventional head coach behaving
    himself?

    From what I can tell, the Rams are a better team as they emerge from this
    offseason.

    The Rams reinforced their weak spots by stabilizing the offensive line, hiring
    free-agent linebackers to police the run and by flooding the roster with
    safeties and other defensive backs. They also dismissed the annual
    training-camp imbroglio by signing Hall of Fame-caliber offensive tackle
    Orlando Pace to a long-term deal.

    The Rams' fatal defensive flaw was exploited throughout 2004. They ranked 29th
    against the run and were 25th in average yards allowed per rush. That weakness
    was exposed to embarrassing proportions in the NFC playoffs when Atlanta ran
    the Rams out of the Georgia Dome with 327 yards rushing.

    Martz, defensive coordinator Larry Marmie and assistant head coach Joe Vitt
    didn't hesitate when the free-agent market opened, quickly reaching agreements
    with middle linebacker Chris Claiborne and outside linebacker Dexter Coakley.
    The Rams also wisely scuttled a silly plan to move OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa to
    safety. For the first time in many years, the Rams will line up with three
    tough, physical linebackers. I'm not saying the Rams are now made of steel on
    defense, but this is a major upgrade over the wimpy collection of starting Rams
    linebackers that littered the field in 2004.

    Last season, the Rams had a useless bunch of safeties. Aeneas Williams flamed
    out (age) and Adam Archuleta played most of the season with a painful back
    injury. Their safeties were double bad; they couldn't stop the run, and they
    didn't hawk many footballs. The Rams finished last in the NFL in interceptions.

    The 2005 Rams at least will have strength in numbers. They signed free-agent
    safeties Michael Stone, Michael Hawthorne and Corey Ivey. (Hawthorne and Ivey
    also can play cornerback.) They drafted safeties O.J. Atogwe and Jerome Carter.
    They moved wideout Mike Furrey to safety. And No. 2 draft pick Ron Bartell, who
    enters as a cornerback, might audition at safety.

    The moves give Marmie more with which to work. He can now install the kind of
    defense he wants. But this also increases the pressure on Marmie to show that
    he wasn't a bad hire; Martz won't be able to make excuses for him now.

    Presuming that the Rams can instill some toughness in abundantly talented No. 1
    draft choice Alex Barron, who was often indifferent at Florida State, the
    offensive line will be set at the tackle position for a long time. The Rams
    also improved their depth at guard by bringing in Rex Tucker, who played at a
    high level in Chicago when healthy. No more patchwork on the line; the Rams
    finally have a foundation up front.

    As for Martz, he belatedly discovered the value of having quality special
    teams. In a series of candid confessionals, Martz admitted to past negligence
    in his commitment to special teams. But he backed up his apologies with
    actions.

    Virtually all free-agent signings and draft picks were made with special teams
    in mind. Martz hired not one, but two, special teams coaches (Bob Ligashesky
    and Charles Bankins). For the first time since he became head coach and
    football CEO in 2000, Martz made the special teams a priority.

    Before last season, I wrote that the Rams would be around .500 because of their
    porous, soft defense and an overall talent drain. For that I was maligned by
    fans and the team's media cheerleaders. Well, the Rams finished 8-8 and
    finished 25th in points allowed during the regular season, then were humiliated
    by Atlanta.

    My pessimism was accurate. But after the Rams' productive offseason of clearing
    out dead wood and replacing it with fresh talent, I'm optimistic that we'll see
    a dramatically improved team in 2005.



  2. #2
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Bernie, I was prepared to give you a little credit for writing a decent (though painfully obvious & nearly a month late) article...more of an olive branch for my own soul than anything. But then, you have to make a "look at how smart I am" comment
    Quote Originally Posted by BM
    Before last season, I wrote that the Rams would be around .500 because of their porous, soft defense and an overall talent drain. For that I was maligned by fans and the team's media cheerleaders.
    Why, BM? Why?
    "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

  3. #3
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    If only there was still someone on Bernie's Pressbox willing to take him to task for his defensiveness and back-patting article...

  4. #4
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    I SAID.... if only....

  5. #5
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps



    Tap, tap...

    Is this thing on?

    I SAID....

  6. #6
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Dude, you're going to blow your cover.
    "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

  7. #7
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Cover? Whatever do you mean by that?


    On an entirely unrelated note, I really like the things that this guy NakamAyil is posting on Bernie's site.

    Interesting name...

    Nakam Ayil.

    Almost sounds... Hebrew.

    I wonder if those words have any meaning in Hebrew?

    Hmmmm...........

  8. #8
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Why I don't know AVENGER RAM, I wonder what it means?
    "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

  9. #9
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps



    Ain't I a stinker!

  10. #10
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Holy masquerade, Batman!

  11. #11
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Quote Originally Posted by ZigZagRam

    "That's hot."

  12. #12
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Thanks. I got the basic conceptual idea from some college team banners I saw on another website. I'm working on a couple others for some other players and I'll be rotating them in every so often.

  13. #13
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    When does the season start? :confused:
    I'm ready to see the new D tear the opposition apart. :ramlogo:
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  14. #14
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Quote Originally Posted by Evil Disco Man
    "That's hot."
    Jake, please refrain from posting photos of the Stupid Spoiled ***** on this board. Some of our readers may not have had all their shots.

  15. #15
    ZigZagRam's Avatar
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    Re: Give Rams credit for plugging gaps

    Despise much?

    BTW, Aviator. GO PISTONS!

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