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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    02/20/2008

    For all the giddiness that the Rams' brain trust is feeling over their very active offseason of front-office and coaching-staff moving and shaking, allow me to be the official voice of mandatory restraint and constant skepticism.

    Unless I'm mistaken, the Rams did finish with the second-worst record in the NFL last year. Unless I'm mistaken, only four teams generated fewer points (16.4 points per game), and only six produced fewer yards than their anemic 24th-ranked offense.

    So somebody had to do something. I'm not quite ready to celebrate this as the dawning of a Rams renaissance movement just yet. When you're as bad as they were last season, heads are supposed to roll. When your franchise has been in a five- or six-year decline, like the Rams, the only thing that's alarming is how long it took to make these changes and how many bodies are still left standing.

    But let's start off by giving coach Scott Linehan tons of credit for reshaping his offensive staff with a sledgehammer and coming up with so many strong additions, beginning with offensive coordinator Al Saunders. This is the sort of move that could be Linehan's head-coaching lifeline. Pro football players want to believe that the people who are standing in front of the room know what they're doing. They want to believe that the men who are creating their game plans and calling their plays and coaching them on a daily basis have proven credentials and championships on their résumés. Advertisement

    Saunders is that kind of guy. He has a proven and successful offensive system that veteran stars like Steven Jackson, Marc Bulger, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce will believe in. Unlike Linehan, who now admits how disconnected he was with his players, Saunders will have a rapport with them and he has a sense of how to utilize this sort of explosive talent. That is an important change from the dysfunctional relationship that sent so many of these veterans grumbling privately about how messed up last season was.

    But the collapse of this football team last year went well beyond the flaws of the offensive coaching staff. And that is why I am so reluctant to leap on the bandwagon just yet. You don't descend to the depths that the Rams have traveled unless there are major structural flaws that run from the top of the organization and spread like so many spider cracks in the foundation.

    The Rams got this bad because the people who run this franchise allowed it to get this bad with bad moves on hiring, rotten decisions on draft picks and head-scratching choices on the free-agent market. They have taken a franchise that at the beginning of the decade was supposed to be on the way to becoming a 21st-century dynasty and created a soap opera of dysfunction and dispute.

    So now the man who has had his hands involved in all of the dysfunction, general manager Jay Zygmunt, has inexplicably risen higher up the organizational chart and gained even more power. He says he has handed over the reins of player personnel to the newly hired executive vice president, Billy Devaney. But he has said things like this before and somehow has always found a way to inflict his misguided and unqualified opinions into the draft and the free-agent shopping sprees.

    So as the Rams' coaching and personnel staffs pack their bags and head off to Indianapolis in a few days to the NFL scouting combine, we're moving into one of the most critical stages of the so-called remaking of this franchise. But whose eyes and instincts will be trusted over the course of the next few months as the Rams prepare for the draft and the free-agent season? Whose opinions will matter most when it comes to acquiring the talent that must be found to turn around this team quickly?

    One of the greatest mysteries of this franchise is how all the right people who should be trusted as the Rams' talent evaluators keep vanishing (Charley Armey and, apparently, Tony Softli), yet the one person who doesn't have any expertise in that field (Zygmunt) is the Teflon king who somehow keeps finding a way to overrule and outlast all the good pro football people.
    Yet now Zygmunt promises that it's going to be different this time. He says the power has shifted, yet all I see is how he just keeps gaining more power, not less, which is why I'm in no mood to get excited about anything just yet.


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    RamOfDenmark is offline Registered User
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    Re: It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    Good read. I've always been highly critical of Zygmunt (and Shaw but he seems on his way out). It is clear to me that they are delusional lawyers who think they are football experts. Zygmunt said as much in an interview a few weeks ago - he thinks he knows a heck of a lot about football just because he has been there for many years. I don't trust him whenever he pledges to stay out of football decisions and leave that to the experts, he always seems to be there pulling the strings. Strong ownership would have sent Zygmunt and Shaw packing when their feud with Martz got so serious that something had to give. Lawyers like Zygmunt and Shaw are a dime a dozen, while coaches like Martz are much more rare, that's just a fact. Hopefully Devaney will be a strong presence who will not be easily pressured into decisions, it looks like Devaney could be that type of guy when you look at his history, but then again last year I was hoping Softli would be that guy and that never happened. I believe that we have some talent, both coaching and player evaluation, and I hope they will be allowed to do their job while the lawyers do their job and don't interfere with the football part of the business. Maybe Zygmunt is finally starting to realize the seriousness of our situation with the abysmal record, but I'm not going to hold my breath waiting for him to do his job and stay 100% out of football operations.

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    Re: It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    Were we 8-8 the year before one win from making the playoffs? Did we not have a record setting amount of injuries? We are much better then a 3-13 team. Funny how the injuries have all but been removed from our issues.

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    Re: It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    8-8 a year ago is somewhat skewed. We played a Cowboys team that had already made the playoffs and played their bench the last game of the season against the Rams. So in essence, we won a late preseason game.

    This team is far from just injuries hampering it from being successful.

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    Re: It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Burwell
    One of the greatest mysteries of this franchise is how all the right people who should be trusted as the Rams' talent evaluators keep vanishing (Charley Armey and, apparently, Tony Softli), yet the one person who doesn't have any expertise in that field (Zygmunt) is the Teflon king who somehow keeps finding a way to overrule and outlast all the good pro football people.
    Solve that mystery, and we got something.
    "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: It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Were we 8-8 the year before one win from making the playoffs? Did we not have a record setting amount of injuries? We are much better then a 3-13 team. Funny how the injuries have all but been removed from our issues.
    Wisely said. We were pretty much screwed out of this season because of our injuries. We're not a 3-13 team, exactly how you said it.

    You try to play with no offensive line, a weak defensive line, old/injured receivers, injured QB and RB for a few weeks. Let's see your progress with that...

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    Re: It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    Keep the Kool Aid flowing here. I wish all this could be explained away by injuries. Erase the injuries and what do you have? On offense, an aging all pro at LT on the decline, with untested or mediocre offensive linemen, aging WRs that can't stretch the field and no YAC's. No lead blocker for SJ; under-utilized or terrible TE's. On defense, no pass rush on the edges; LB's below average (Spoon excepted). And no SS.

    Special teams? Need I say more.

    There are so many holes to fill that if the Rams approach .500 next year I will call it a success. I agree with Burwell. The FO has allowed this team to be run into the ground and there will be no quick fixes.

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    Re: It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    It's Rams football. I'll get excited about ANY changes that are positive. Sending Olsen down the river and hiring Saunders was one of the best things I have heard for our team this year. Will it count next season? I say YES. Obviously, it's way to early to make a prediction for the '08 season, but letting an untrained monkey call the plays will be an improvement over Linecant.
    I will be VERY surprised if Saunders, who knows our offensive weapons, can't get at least a 23 PPG average, and an 8-8 or better record out of the players.

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    Re: It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    Erase the injuries and what do you have? On offense, an aging all pro at LT on the decline
    Pace may play a bit longer, after missing the games he has missed. If he comes back and has a pro bowl year, all is well.

    ging WRs that can't stretch the field and no YAC's.
    Spend a 2nd round pick on a fast young gun fixed. YAC, has already be fixed with Al's playbook, no more come back routes called by Linehan.

    with untested or mediocre offensive linemen,
    I will give you take, but they are untested so we just don't know. Sign a vet in FA, would go alonge way.

    No lead blocker for SJ
    FB draft a bigger FB, BL is small.

    under-utilized or terrible TE's
    Due to O-line, last year no issue here.

    no pass rush on the edges
    Chris Long nuff said

    LB's below average (Spoon excepted). And no SS.
    I disagree look at Sponn numbers should have been a pro bowler. Hard to say that with Spoon,Tino and Draft.

    SS
    I agree but a better pass rush wil go along way.

    there will be no quick fixes.
    Is not that bad, we will make the playoffs and win the west!!!

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    Re: It's too early to get excited ovet shake-up by the Rams ..

    Rambos, I think you mis-understood my point on Spoon. I meant that the LB were bad except for Spoon. I agree, he had a pro-bowler type year. He's is something to build off of.

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