In hindsight, the top and bottom 5 moves of last offseason.
Now that we have the ability to look back and evaluate, here are my top and bottom 5 offseason moves of 2004.
Top 5 Moves
1. Drafting Steven Jackson: While he has been underused and hindered by a minor knee injury, he has demonstrated the promise of being an extremely effective every down back. With Faulk on the decline, this was a big move for the long term.
2. Matching Jeremetrius Butler's Offer Sheet: JB may not be a first-tier shutdown corner, but he is a solid starter who has played well this year, leading the team in interceptions. By matching the Redskins offer sheet, the Rams have secured his services for a very reasonable price, and don't have to break in a new starting CB as a primary aspect of their defensive rebuilding project.
3. Drafting Anthony Hargrove: On draft day, his selection drew many cries of "what?" and "who?" but Hargrove has demonstrated some real potential as a DE, and plays with a fire that the Rams' D sorely needs. He may never be a superstar, but he should be an important contributer and potential starter for the next several years.
4. "Handling" Orlando Pace: There is a bit of speculation on my part here, but I believe that the Rams, in not giving in to the Postons' absurd contract demands and, ultimately, driving a wedge between Pace and the Postons, could produce long term dividends if Pace is signed to a long-term, cap friendly contract this offseason. Here's hoping.
5. Letting Grant Wistrom Go: I like Grant Wistrom. He was a very good player, and an even better influence, during his tenure with the Rams. He has done similar things when he's been able to play this year for the Seahawks. But he simply is not worth the money that it would have taken to keep him. If the Rams had broken the bank for him, it would have been salary cap suicide. And with the productivity of Bryce Fisher and Anthony Hargrove, the loss of Wistrom could hardly be considered the primary reason for the Rams' defensive troubles.
Bottom 5 Moves
1. Resigning Manumaleuna/Cleeland: This is a simple equation. The Rams have had trouble in the Red Zone in the past two years. The TE position is essential to Red Zone success, both from a blocking and receiving standpoint. Manumaleuna and Cleeland have been uneffective in these regards since they joined the Rams. And yet, the Rams matched on Manumaleuna (giving up a comp pick) and resigned Cleeland. Let's hope the Rams find an upgrade at TE this offseason. With the success of Antonio Gates, maybe they should start interviewing college power forwards?
2. Selecting Larry Marmie as DC: Now, I'm not going to sit here and say that I know enough about the ins and outs of NFL teams to be able to say that Marmie is definitely to blame for the Rams defensive woes. However, I do see an inherent problem with Martz hiring such a close friend to be DC. In a sense, it makes him untouchable - which translates to a lack of accountability. That's a bad formula, in my opinion.
3. Signing Chris Chandler as Backup: Perhaps there were not a ton of options here, but in hindsight, relying on Chris Chandler to backup Marc Bulger has proved to be disasterous. While I don't usually like to play the "what if" game, I can't help but think that the Rams could have pulled out at least one of the two games against Carolina and Arizona (thereby putting them in the playoffs) if they had at least a competent QB behind Bulger. Chandler's play was downright embarrassing.
4. Failing to Address Special Teams: I think we can all agree at this point that Bobby April was an undeserving scapegoat for the Rams' special teams problems. This year has been no better. While players like Trev Faulk, Aveion Cason and Kevin Stempke have shown some promise of solidifying this unit, they didn't come along until the season had already started (late season for Cason and Stempke). The Rams need to find a way to get their special teams in order by next year's opening day, rather than tinkering with it throughout the year.
5. Offensive Line Patchwork: This would probably be at the top of the list but for the fact that the main problems - the loss of Wohlabaugh and Turley - didn't arise until late in the offseason. That said, the Rams really lacked sufficient depth on the O line to deal with these injuries, as has been seen on the field. The Rams need to adjust their "don't draft O linemen in early rounds" policy, and stop relying on retreads and fringe players.
Re: In hindsight, the top and bottom 5 moves of last offseason.
I lay awake at night trying to figure out how he slipped to #24 (ok, not really, I actually sleep pretty good, but I'm still amazed he went 24th).
1. Drafting Steven Jackson
I made a mistake on this one. I hated that we matched the offer, but now I'm glad. Butler has shown he can be effective as a #2 CB, which these days is the most underrated position on the field.
2. Matching Jeremetrius Butler's Offer Sheet
Amazing upside. This kid is going to be a crusher in the very, very near future.
3. Drafting Anthony Hargrove
If we had a poll on effective DCs named Larry, our Marmie would fall behind both Larry of the 3 Stooges & Larry the upstairs neighbor in 3's Company. Marmie is a trainwreck and has to go as soon as the season ends.
2. Selecting Larry Marmie as DC