By Jeff Gordon
Monday, August 27, 2007 01:00 PM CDT

Buzz: Gordo,
Who do you think the Rams should keep as the last DE: Trevor Johnson or Eric Moore? Thanks.

Jeff Gordon: Moore, because he is the better pass rusher. What if Hall or Little gets hurt? In that case, the team will need a rush end. Adeyanju is a solid run stopper and Carriker can move outside as a run stopper, if need be. But what would happen if the team lose an edge rusher?
George Stamulis: I like what I'm seeing this year with the Rams defense, but do you think the Offensive line will get the job done, you know, will they give Bulger the protection he needs.

Jeff Gordon: I expect a lot of this group, especially in rush blocking. Can't say that I've been impressed so far. There is a lot of competition at guard and center, but it's not like this unit has dominated the other side during preseason games.
Hang Time: Considering the obvious lack of talent on defense and aging stars on offense(Pace-Bruce-Holt), might the Rams be a team ready to take a sharp nosedive this season and next? Also, how do you account for the FO's reluctance to sign free agents to help the defense and don't tell me that none are or were available that coupld upgrade our less than mediocre defensive unit. The FO doesn't seem committed to building a championship team and Martz'report that someone in the FO told him that being a wild card is better than being a Champ seems legit and disturbing.

Jeff Gordon: Believe me, the front office wants to win. Don't trust anything Martz might or might not have said. Although I am unimpressed by their preseason, as you no doubt are, I do believe the team can make a step forward. Jackson is driving the offense now and he has lots of miles on him. Bulger is in his prime and kids like Leonard and Klopfenstein have futures. The O-Line has interesting young players. The Rams will need to address WR soon,true, but the end of the world is not upon them. Defensively, there is still much to prove. The Rams have focused on the "D" with their drafts and added some nice athletes. We still have to see what Haslett will do with them this season.
bash-on: Has our camp kicker, Kevin Lovell, been cut? He's the first player I've ever seen from my old high school to get a shot at the NFL. (Mira Costa H.S., Manhattan Beach, CA. - green & gold, go Mustangs). Are you aware of any other teams showing an interest in him?

Bash-on Regardless
`Powder River Let 'er buck'
Jeff Gordon: Lovell ought to be on the short list for a lot of NFL teams, given his preseason showing. The club hung onto him for insurance, but he certainly reaffirmed his status as a real prospect. He just has to stick with it.
Loren: Holt's knee has me nervous. What is the feel is it something that will be with him all year or is this normal for this type of injury.

Jeff Gordon: You always have to worry about a WR's knee injury. He may have to scale back his practice work all season to be safe. Fortunately the Rams don't play on that old surface at the Dome; that stuff was an accident waiting to happen. The field turf has more give.
Mr. Baseball: Gordo:

As a huge fan of all things baseball, it always disturbs me that the months of August and September, the two most exciting of the season, are brushed aside by the media in favor of the marketing GIANT that is football. Local TV and radio stations can't do enough reporting from Rams Park, and Steven Jackson gets twice as much ink as Albert Pujols. It's almost as if baseball is just something to do until the real sport begins. If this happens in baseball heaven, what is it like everywhere else? Heck, the BND over the weekend devoted much more space to high school football than to the Cardinals. What's up?

Jeff Gordon: Come on, football is still football. The Rams are a playoff contender and Mizzou is headed for a bowl game. With some luck, Illinois could reach a bowl game too. Gearing up for football is one of our rites of late summer.
BigBearGrill2007: Gordo,

I'll make this short and sweet. Brandon Chillar has not looked very strong in this preseason and I keep hearing about how all the coaches love him so here is my question....why?

Jeff Gordon: Haslett and Co. insist he made strides last season. But the team did bring in Draft, a somewhat proven commodity, so all the starting linebackers will have to step it up this season. He is just one of several players clearly on the spot this season.
Jon: Jeff,
With all the negativity in and around the stltoday message boards, I have started to wonder if there isn't something to this worry about preseason. What do you think? Is Linehan simply not showing his hand? Has the lack of SJ and Torry limited our offense to dink and dunk? Should we be pulling the "time to worry" ripcord, or are we in for a long season?

Jeff Gordon: This offense will throw a lot of passes underneath. It just will. We've seen the occasional downfield strike and we'll certainly see more of that this season. Let's see how teams play the Rams. If they sit back in coverage, the Rams will attack with ball control running and passing. If they move up to stop the run, then Linehan has plenty of deep stuff in his playbook.
You scale back you preseason offense for a lot of reasons, including the safety of the
Terry Forte: Hey Gordo......What's the chances that the Rams make the decision to consider Jerimiah Trotter, who was let go by the Eagles, to help solidify the Rams LB corps? We could really use his experience and leadership. And his run-stopping is unquestioned. I know he's a little older....but, He's the type of player who can command respect and hold others accountable. What do you think?

Jeff Gordon: Trotter is fairly immobile these days, so he can only shine on plays right at him. When the Eagles suggested he retire, that is a giveaway.
Glenn: Hey Gordo, I don't understand why the Rams always try to get bargain players on defense. Do you think there's a chance they could pick up somebody like Simeon Rice or Jeremiah Trotter? Trotter would help with the run. Don't get me wrong, I like our linebacker's I just not to sure about Chiller as a starter. Tell me something good?

Jeff Gordon: Don't forget, the Rams spent top dollar to keep Little. Other teams that sign pricey free agents are losing key players, too. Give the Rams credit for locking up their cornerstone players and staying good with the salary cap.
Jeff: Hey Gordo, love the format. I feel for defensive backs in the NFL. Those guys have the toughest jobs in the league and it almost always seems like everyone is against them. Pass interference calls frequently have huge impacts on the outcome of games but yet from week to week and official to official, there never seems to be any consistency in how it is called. When somebody jumps offsides or when there is holding in the O-line, it's almost always obvious. Pass interference seems like the one penalty that gets called a lot when it shouldn't be...as a result, a lot of wr's beg for it after almost every incompletion. As much as the NFL office tries to micro-manage games these days, I would think this would be a major emphasis...have you heard anything about whether or not they plan to address it? I know this suggestion is a can of worms but making it the one penalty that can challenged and reviewed almost makes sense.
- Jeff

Jeff Gordon: These are very hard calls to make, especially with middle-aged men chasing around after 4.3 sprinters. That will never change. How often are they in great position to make a call or not make a call? Tye Hill got rung up repeatedly in Oakland, but at least he was on the ball. I'd rather see a guy in there trying to make plays than a CB nowhere near the receiver or the ball.
Tom: Gordo, Linehan said that he wanted to give the tailback load to Leonard to see if he could step in if needed. What is his take and yours after the first three preseason games? Thanks.

Jeff Gordon: He's OK -- a big improvement from Stephen Davis, Arlen Harris and some of the other back-ups over the years. I doubt he will ever gain 2,500 yards from scrimmage, but he could have a nice career as a combo back.
Brian W.: Has anyone considered that the Rams offense might be easier to stop this year? The Rams really don't have any deep speed anymore, especially with an injured and slowly declining Holt, and all their weapons are short-medium range. That would seem to make it easier for the defense to be more aggressive in attacking the line of scrimmage and stopping Jackson.

Jeff Gordon: As we've seen in the preseason, Bruce can still stretch a D. Bennett has decent speed and Hagans could become an explosive player -- assuming he gets that last WR spot. Dante Hall can still run a bit. I'd put the top seven Rams targets (three WR, two TE, two RB) up against anybody. Defending those seven will be a challenge.
Brian W.: The Rams defense clearly suffers from a lack of talent at most positions, but the one that bothers me the most is Witherspoon at middle linebacker. There seems to be a stubborness to force him to stay there in the middle. In the Minnesota game, he whiffed on at least two plays, one of which was a run up the middle where he put his head down and whiffed completely. There were no blockers to take on. It was very embarrassing. He might be able to run sideline to sideline, but what is a middle linebacker if he can't stuff a run up the middle?

Jeff Gordon: The Rams need more from him at MLB for sure. If Carriker and Glover/Wroten do their job, then Witherspoon must do it too. Teams will attack the middle of the Rams' D until this unit proves it can hold up.
Mike Muszak: Hi Gordo,

What is your take on Witherspoon and Atogwe, why are they playing with no passion or fire, preaseason kinks perhaps?

Also, what do you feel on the play of Corey Chavous lately @ SS; he looks lost to me- does not impress- and feeds my ulcer when I watch him play.

Regards, Mike

Jeff Gordon: Chavous has been caught chasing a few times, for sure. He bears watching when the real games start. Witherspoon and Atogwe have made some plays and missed some plays, but I don't think anybody can question their "fire" based on a few preseason games.
Jay: In your opinion, what is the Rams' biggest problem in red zone? Is it the play calling or the execution? My hope is that they run a lot more plays with the TE as option #1, even out of a double-tight set.

Jeff Gordon: We can't say a word about the red zone this year until we see Steven Jackson run. It all starts with him. If the Rams can force opponents to play the run, then freeing up McMichael or Bennett against smaller defenders will be much easier.
Colorado Springs: The Rams o-line still looks shaky to me. In the Raiders game it seemed that they didn't all get off at the snap of the ball on more than one occasion. They didn't pick up blitzes well either. Do you have confidence in this line's ability to protect Bulger? I'm not convinced yet.

Jeff Gordon: Yeah, that was disappointing. The development of the O-Line is one reason why I predict a step forward for this team. Barron, Setterstrom and Incognito (when his ankle heals) should all take big steps this year.
craig wilson: The Rams appear to have a real weakness at the MLB spot in terms of a run support player. Witherspoon continues to inspire doubt that he is the answer at that position and the 2nd and 3rd stringers are marginal talents to make any NFL roster.

Could the Rams make a decent trade to acquire a starter at MLB. And is Alston going to get a chance to unseat Chiller at strongside OLB? Will the Rams have the courage to make these two moves or other changes to improve the team and make them good enough to win the division and make a threat to get to the BIG SHow? Craig(Matson) Wilson , Pasadena , Ca.

Jeff Gordon: Trading for a big run-stopping middle linebacker is pretty much impossible now. And the guys sitting around are like our old friend Chris Claiborne, who just got back in the league. Changes must some from within, with, say, Draft stepping into one of the starting spots or a guy like Jon Alston assuming a bigger role outside.
David Jones: Hey Gordo,

From an insider's perspective, who would you say are the biggest "comedians" in the Cardinals and Rams locker rooms? Also, what have been your thoughts so far on the USA Basketball team in the FIBA Tournament?

Jeff Gordon: Percival is one of the guys keeping the Cards loose. Draft could have the same sort of impact for the Rams. It's great to add those guys to the mix. As for hoops, I'm thrilled to see the US take the "Dream Team" seriously. It's time to reclaim our hoops superiority.
owen: I know its pre-season but the play of the defense not holding containment and allowng the running back cut back lanes two weeks in a row really hurt.Is it a flaw in the defensive scheme or is it blown assignments.

Jeff Gordon: It's blown assignments or guys getting handled at the point of attack. There is nothing wrong with the scheme.
Justyn Tyme: I read in one of the football emags that in the rams scheme the strong side linebacker only has to be a 'try hard' guy.While it might be the least critical of the lb spots, its still kind of a ridiculous statement.Barring a trade or a free agent departure, my opinion is that next year the rams should draft a linebacker in the first round.Then a guard in the 2nd round. My question is this: Barring trades or possible free agent departures, at this point in time, with respect to how you think the younger players will develope, what do you see as the most critical areas that the rams need to draft for?

Jeff Gordon: I believe the young Rams guards will bear up fine. In addition to LB, I'd also like to see the Rams get a home-run hitter at safety. They will need to add talent at WE and DE as well.
Sonny: I understand the notion to keep key players safe. But do you think the Lack of exposure in the pre-season can still make Steven Jackson rusty the first game?

Jeff Gordon: I wonder if he needs to get a few bumps to get in true game shape. There is shape, then there is football shape.
Rich Saferite: Gordo---Most of us are very perplexed as to why Haslett has stuck with Chillar. Will we look at either of Alston or Draft as a starter there? He just doesn't hold up well on the outside. Thanks!

Jeff Gordon: This is bash Brandon Chillar day . . . but after watching the Raiders move the Rams around with such ease, he is certainly one of the players on the spot right now.
The Blue Jackets will be interesting now that Hitchcock has them from training camp on. The Capitals will take a big step. The Kings will be a lot better, too.
Hollis Bethea: The Rams seem to have a lot of receivers in camp. What are the chances of Fred Gibson and Derek Stanley making the team?

Jeff Gordon: Stanley would be great for the practice squad. Dominique Thompson will get his turn Thursday, health permitting, but it would seem Hagans has the upper hand in the race for the No. 6 receiver slot.
Ken: What do you think will happen with the corneback situation? We had a lot of penilties in the secondary on Friday night and we must correct this before the opener.

Jeff Gordon: I'd rather see Hill getting flagged than Hill chasing two strides behind a WR. He is aggresive, which is good. Bartell and Wade are willing, but they have a ways to go. Applying good pass pressure will be paramount this season.
Mike Valendy: I got transfered to Kansas City 3 years ago and I'm still (and always will be a Rams fan). Who did the Rams cut this past weekend? What are your thoughts on these cuts? I don't hear too much about the Rams, only Chiefs here. Thanks.

Jeff Gordon: The cuts were: Rasheed Marshall, Nate Morton, Markee White, Brad Lau, Kay-Jay Harris, Fred Capshaw, Alton Pettway, Larry Edwards, Harrison Smith and Jeffrey Dukes.

doug lacina: Gordo

Being a good Ram fan I try to give Ram players the benefit of the doubt, but one player this year has me incredibly nervous, and it's strong saftey Cory Chavous. I know he is one of the team "mentors" which is probably pretty important with a young team, but I think it is probably is even more important that you be able to show how you do it as well as talk about it.

Every time I see Cory involved with a play he is either getting run over, or chasing somebody who just caught a pass. He seems small for the position, and to this point I don't see the speed you would think is there to make up for that.

We have been weak through the middle of our defense for a few years now and I can't help but feel strong saftey has been a big part of that. Am I just an untrained fan who can't recognize Cory's skills or am I on the money that we are fatally flawed at the strong saftey spot?

Jeff Gordon: As I noted earlier, he has done more chasing that playmaking in the preseason. So we'll need to keep an eye on this . . .
Steve: I'm a new Ram fan. I have never seen a more hostile group of fans on the various Rams message boards...and its only preseason. There must be some very ugly history that haunts the organization...or the local clinics are out of Zoloft!

Which is it!

Jeff Gordon: I've been a bit negative this preseason, but this team has the capability to do good things this year. Nothing really bad has happened yet. Fans got excited about the offensive additions, but they still feel great angst aboout the defense. And rightfully so, until the real games start and we see what the unit can really do.
Cedrick Mallory: Hey Jeff,
How do you feel about the free agent running back Rich Alexis? I heard a lot of talk about him being a hard runner. I even read a quote from a former teammate (Paul Spicer DE Jacksonville Jags) that he was the best player on the team no one knew about. Do think someone is going to find out about him on the Rams roster?

Jeff Gordon: He's run pretty well during the preseason, but Travis Minor also looked good. Given Leonard's ability to be the third-down back, the team could keep Alexis for its special teams. Some that depends on what happens with other positions, like fullback and tight end.
John: Rams special teams' performance so far really, really bothers me. The old adage, "It's a bunch af new guys - wait till the season starts," doesen't cut it. The opposition's "new guys" are shreading us! Do you agree?

Jeff Gordon: I'd be concerned. There was a lot of focus on the kick coverage before the Raiders game, then the kick coverage stunk.
clyde: No question here because I am probably too late anyway. I just have to disagree with your statement about the No Fun League a few weeks ago. I loved when Brian Leonard handed the ball to the ref as he ran by after scoring his 1st TD in the NFL. Call me too old school if you like. Comment??? Thanks, Clyde

Jeff Gordon: There is some merit to the old "act like you've scored before" approach. But this IS an emotional game. It is not chess. Let the guys have more fun. The fans either like it or hate it, but they pay attention to it.

And with that, I bid a fond farewell until next week!