Jim Thomas Live

Rams writer Jim Thomas goes one-on-one with readers at 1 p.m. Tuesday in a live chat.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

comments & answers

Rick Montano: Hey Jim, thanks for doing these chats. Okay lets get down to business.

1. I can't be the only one thats staring to question B.D.s abillity to eveluate players. 2. When do you think Spags has to start worrying about his job ? 3. With all the money spent to put this O line together, they look like a joke. When is someone going to step up ? And the droped passses, I've never seen anything like it.

Thanks for your time

Jim Thomas: 1.) So you're saying, then, that Jason Smith doesn't look like such a great pick now, eh?
2.) At 0-3, a lot of people have to start worrying about their jobs.
3.) There's no doubt their play was very disappointing Sunday, but Bradford's got to get rid of the ball a little earlier as well.
4.) The drops are astounding.


Sid: Thanks again for these chats, a couple weeks ago I stated that they should cut Justin King for his poor play, and after watching the game Sunday, he needs to be cut to show that poor play will not be tolorated. I know they are very low, almost no, cornerbacks but his jogging on the post route by Torrey Smith, not once but twice is inexcusable. Even though it looked like a zone coverage, he didn't cover either zone, Boldin was wide open going over the middle to King's zone. Sorry but I had to vent about this one. I guess there is one good thing to look at about this game, we were only 2 points worse than what the Ravens did to the Steelers.

Jim Thomas: I don't think King was jogging; I think Torrey Smith's just the fast.


RAMBLE: Why do the Rams do so poorly getting UDFA's? You need them to have a talented team. Check out the best teams rosters.

Rams originally signed 24 UDFA's this year. Then signed a few more. Only Jake McQuaide made the team. Last year Darian Stewart was their "best" (see him Sunday?), not counting DX who was a special case. Devaney's group hasn't gotten one top quality UDFA starter in all his time.

And in the NFL, there have been many Pro Bowl UDFA's: Arian Foster, Jeff Saturday, Tony Romo, LeGarrette Blount, Wes Welker, Cullen Jenkins, Miles Austin. To name a few.

Dick Vermeil got Kurt Warner (actually a Packer), London Fletcher, Tony Horne and Billy Jenkins Jr. Super Bowl starters along with D'Marco Farr another UDFA.

Why does our front office do so poorly? Scouting, bonus $$$, loser team, or St. Louis the city?

Jim Thomas: In the last year or two of the Zygmunt regime,the Rams didn't pay any bonus money to undrafted rookies. Like most things in life, you usually get what you pay for. The Rams had five undrafted rookies on their opening day roster in 2010. On their current roster they have the following players who entered the league as an undrafted rookie: WR Danario Alexander, Danny Amendola (signed off Philly's practice squad), WR/special teams Dominique Curry, RB Quinn Porter (signed of Cleveland's practice squad), DT Jermelle Cudjo (on IR), CB Dionte Dinkins (on IR), as well as Stewart and McQuaide.


rickk: jim: what's wrong with at least making ass't coach changes right now? Cromwell to d backfield coach(even considering the talent level, these guys are consistently out of position and play "lost")--Loney out and maybe Jackie Slater in--Ike Bruce for the receivers. it can only be an improvement--it makes a statement that status quo won't do--it brings back some good history and times for the franchise. what say you?

Jim Thomas: I don't think changing assistant coaches in the middle of the season will solve anything.


ifilrxz: Let's change the subject from all the bashing that must be going on...How's your son doing at West Point?

Jim Thomas: Fantastic. Majoring in something called geospatial studies (which is like high-tech, space age mapmaking), is a platoon sergeant in company E-1, was one of 30 West Pointers chosen to do military training over the summer in Great Britain at the Royal Military Academy.
His older brother is a second lieutentant (West Point, Class of 2010), at Fort Sill, Okla., hoping to be deployed.


Mike: I know the sky is falling and everything but didn't the Ravens beat the Steelers 35-7? A Steelers team that killed the Seahawks? A Seahawks team that just beat Arizona? The Rams have lost to the Eagles, the Giants and the Ravens, arguably three playoff teams and those teams all had in tact coaching staffs coming out of the lockout? I hope Stan doesn't go crazy and fire Spags and BIlly D. This is officially only the second year of rebuilding; year one they were handcuffed by a 2-14 team with no talent what so ever. I think the FO needs another draft, to become a legitimate playoff contender, would you agree?

Jim Thomas: Wow, a voice of reason in the wilderness. But the Rams need to start winning against some of these playoff contenders, plain and simple. I really don't think Kroenke will make any in-season moves, no matter how bad it gets. But we all know where this is headed if the team doesn't start winning some games.


patrick miller: Hello, I thought the Rams were doing the smart thing by spreading there money out during free agency and signing 12 or 13 guys. Particulary the run stopping lineman and linebackers. Were are these guys at? I thought the Rams would be very solid up front on both sides. What has gone wrong?

Jim Thomas: Well, the ended up keeping only one of the two "run-stopping" d-tackles, Justin Bannan, and believe it or not he actually played pretty well against Baltimore. The two linebackers that they kept _ Poppinga and Leber (remember, Diles was cut) _ haven't had much impact. To me the biggest disappointment so far this season has been the play of the defense.


JJG: I did not realize how far the Rams have to go as far as upgrading the talent level on the defensive backfieild and the underachieving offensive line...I really thought they would be better than last year but I could see all the way from Los Angeles that the team did not upgrade the subpar talent(at WR) around Bradford....it was just shockingly obvious. Yes Kendrick will be an above average weapon but how in the world did the team not get a vertical threat? ...Why did they not get one proven guy at least while you have this window with a possible franchise QB? No even a proven possesion WR much less a speed guy...It will hurt Jackson too because you dont need to play the safteys deep..Can you address the elephant in the room. Thanks JJG

Jim Thomas: It takes 3 years to pass judgment on a draft class not 3 games. And Kendricks, Pettis and Salas may all turn out to be good players. But go back and read what I wrote about this draft when it happened. The Kendricks pick puzzled me, because the Rams already were at least decent at tight end. Pettis and Salas were possession WRs, who in some ways seemed like the same guy. The Rams didn't address the glaring need for a vertical threat _ both Torrey Smith and Randall Cobb were available in the second round
So far, Daniel Fells has six catches for 83 yards for Denver. (He signed with the Broncos for basically the minimum.) Kendricks has 4 catches for 69 yards so far for St. Louis, with 3 drops and 2 other balls he had his hands on but didn't catch. Sure, Kendricks looked great in the preseason, but he and the other rookie pass-catchers aren't off to great starts. Torrey Smith had five catches for 152 yards and 3 TDs Sunday; Kendricks, Salas and Pettis combined have 11 catches for 117 yards and 0 TDs so far. Again, it's way too early to pass judgment. Who knows what Smith will do from here on out? And Kendricks may turn out to be a fine tight end. But I think we all saw what elite speed can do for an offense on Sunday.


pvannoy: when can we exspect m. clayton on the field

Jim Thomas: Clayton isn't eligible to return to practice until the week of the Oct. 23 Dallas game.


ramfanbak: jim, the rams should have gone for it on fourth down twice in the red zone. if we don't make it at least the ravens start deep in there own territory. our offense is too conserative. again our oline lets us down we need them to step up and play better sam is taking too many hits. goldberg is not the answer at rt. thanks

Jim Thomas: I think you're missing something here. The Rams ran only one play in the red zone Sunday, and it resulted in a 34-yard TD pass to Gibson (following a penalty against Jacob Bell).


imadino: Hi Jim,
The Rams let Atogwe go in favor of having who? How do you think that decision turned out?

Jim Thomas: Quintin Mikell. And he's playing well for the Rams. So as many plays as Atogwe made over the years for the Rams, I don't think that's an issue here.


TJRubley: Jim,

I did not see the game, for which I am grateful. But I have read all the press coverage and one thing I read (not sure if it was you) bugs me more than anything else. That is the apparent failure by the coaches to react to what was obviously (after just one series) a glaring mismatch ... King isolated in man coverage against Smith. What exactly did and did not happen as far as you could tell? Did the coaches make no adjustments whatsoever? Were we caught in DB blitzes on those big plays? Did safety help fail to materialize as it should have? What did Spags have to say about this after the game and today? This seems crucial because those three TD passes effectively won the game for the Ravens before the first half was even over.

And, do you think it's fair to say that this team lacks a nasty edge that might help it come through adversity a little better than it has to date?

Jim Thomas: On the first one, the Ravens were in max protect. They kept eight guys in to block. On the second one, the safety help (Stewart) didn't get over in time. You know, the same Stewart who some fans had been clamoring for instead of Dahl. I'll have more on the defense in Wednesday's Post-Dispatch (and on-line of course as well). And the Rams did change up somewhat and had Fletcher on Smith at least part of the time as the game progressed. So I don't know where you read that the coaches didn't adjust, but it's not exactly true.


imadino: Hi Jim,
In the Monday night football game there was flag thrown against Dallas for a DB hitting a Washington receiver after he caught a pass and the ref said it was unnecessary roughness on a defenseless receiver. The hit looked routine to me, nothing but a tackle. The commentator said there is a new rule that the DB must allow the receiver, after catching the ball, to turn up field before hitting him. Is that true? If so that is STUPID.

Jim Thomas: The rules change, passed last March at the owners' meetings, extended the protection for a receiver who has completed a catch so that he is considered a "defenseless" player until he has had time to protect himself or has clearly become a runner. I know they play you're talking about from the Cowboys-Redskins game. To me, albeit without seeing the replay multiple times, it seemed like a marginal call.


Jared: Is it just me or are a lot of Bradford's passes being knocked or tipped at the line? I know the o-line isn't giving him much time, but he needs to step up his game and will this team to victories. I like everyone else want to see Bradford lead some comeback victories.

Jim Thomas: Despite all the criticism of the o-line, and don't get me wrong, much of it is deserved. Bradford seems to be fighting it a little bit. He's not handling the blitz very well, there are some plays where he's holding onto the ball too long, I think there were a couple of checkdowns he could've hit instead of going deep. But he'll get there. Remember, this offense is trying to throw the ball downfield more, which means it takes longer for routes to develop. But as a compare and contrast, Joe Flacco handled the Rams' pressure beautifully. Sometimes by just taking a couple of slide steps, sometimes by running, and sometimes by knowing exactly when to get rid of the ball (that so-called internal clock).


iscian: Here's one thing (of many) that drives me crazy about Spags. When a player screws up (Williams on lateral for example) he just pats him on back and (apparently) let's MISTAKE slide. Just once get in the players face (see Tom Coughlin) let him know you're not pleased.

If player knows his coach will give him a pass.......well put the fear of God into them.

Jim Thomas: I'll just say this. Spags can be a little different behind closed doors. And also, when did you ever see Dick Vermeil scream at a player on the sideline.


Scott: Afternoon Jim, I'm surprised how bad the Rams are playing , but being realistic the record doesn't surprise me. My thoughts on first 4 games was 1-3 possible 2-2. ( guess we better beat Washington this week )How is Mark Clayton progressing ? ( 3 more weeks ) Thoughts on D-Line play , I'm truly disappointed in this group. Have a good day

Jim Thomas: Chris Long and Robert Quinn did a good job rushing the passer Sunday. Michael Oher (Blindside) couldn't handle Long, who was in the backfield a lot _ and held a lot. Quinn had four QB hits. The current problem is, the Rams are getting next to no inside push. And that's just no all on the DTs, because the Rams have begauin using a 4 DE front in passing situations with two ends playing inside.


Tackleberry: Jim,

There was a point during Sunday's game where I literally thought "maybe they should move this team." It wasn't because I was an angry fan, but an exasperated one. How many times/how often can one organization hit the "reset" button in a 16 year period, only to end up with the same pile of problems? Maybe the team needs a "fotball guy" president like Dierdorf, or maybe like Kroenke's Nuggets, the team needs a proven coach like George Karl? It would appear that another unproven coordinator with a player-friendly reputation isn't the answer. Let's not even get started on the GM.

Jim Thomas: I feel your pain. Already I'm hearing fans say "let's clean house." Isn't that what just happened _ at just about every level of the organization. During the first half I couldn't help thinking about the fans. They probably showed up at 11 a.m. to start tailgating. Maybe they paid 80 bucks for a ticket, $8 or whatever it is for a beer, and then they're subjected to watching this? Just not fair, especially with no winning seasons since 2003 and 6-42 between 2007 and '09.


londondave: Two questions on the offensive line. Can we now officially call the stupid, timid and fragile Smith a bust? Why did they resign Jacob Bell when they could have let him go without a cap hit?

Jim Thomas: It may be trending that way on Smith, but I think you've got to wait until this year is out. Bell was re-signed for less money.


imadino: Jim,
Where is our first round draft pick? Is he still on the team?

Jim Thomas: He had four QB hits on Sunday. He was in the backfield a lot. Imagine what he might have done had the Rams led 27-0 at halftime instead of trailed by that score.


steve: why is it that every sunday i can watch games with former rams making plays or starting for other teams. karriker starting for redskins and causing havoc, laurent robinson catching some balls, d. lewis, l. fletcher, r. fitzpatrick, r. incognito (couldn't we use this guy?), etc. this is a losing franchise. players do well elsewhere. either they aren't getting the coaching they need to succeed, or the losing aura is just too much. yet, when we get successful players from successful teams...brown, bell, sims-walker, they don't "pan out" here in the lou. WHY? is it coaching? or is it losing has become acceptable?

Jim Thomas: I for one, didn't see Carriker causing havoc. Robinson had three catches for 49 yards, not a bad game, but I don't think he's ready for Canton just yet. He was cut by the Cowboys and re-signed only because of injuries. Has Damione Lewis every played like a No. 12 overall pick anywhere? He's been a decent third DT. London Fletcher is the worst mistake ever made by the St. Louis Rams in free agency (letting him sign elsewhere). Martz and Zygmunt even conceded that several years after the fact. But that was 2002. From everything I heard, put Fitzpatick on Linehan. (Martz liked him a lot.) And lastly, do you really want Mr. Personal Foul, Incognito, back. Have you forgotten what that was like?


Larry: Jim...looking back on several drafts, we passed on DeSean Jackson and then Torrey Smith this past year. Both of these receivers could have made the Rams an offensive jugglenaut, when, outside of Alexander, we have no WRs who can get separation. Why did the Rams pass on both of these offensive weapons? Do you think this could be one of the nails on Devaney's coffin?

Jim Thomas: There were some character concerns with Jackson; with Smith, I think it was concerns about drops.


ramsfaninmd: Jim,

I have to ask a question you might not want to answer; do you think the Rams really, really care deep down? I think they are not mentally or physically tough, and to get embarrassed every week and seemingly take it like it is nothing, I wonder if most of these guys are playing for a paycheck.


Guys like Jason Smith. I see a guy with $33M guaranteed, and very little effort or results.

Again, I know that is a tough question, but do these guys care that they are a complete joke and unprofessional? That other teams laugh at them?

Thank you for your time.

Jim Thomas: Please. I can't speak for all 53. But they care. They work hard. And I guess that's what makes 0-3 and 96-36 even more shocking.


virginiatom: Jim, you have been around Spags and Devany for a long time now. From what you have seen of the team, their styles and abilties, the drafts, where we are and where we need to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender, are they the ones to get it done? If not as a team, would you keep one and make a change in another?

Jim Thomas: Not ready to make that call yet. Not three games into the season. Even three terrible games. Let's see some more season play out.


Ramalicious: Hi Jim,

Thanks for the chat.

How do you think Kroenke is assessing Spags and the performance of this team? How much wiggle room do Spags and Devaney have before their jobs are on the hotseat?

Jim Thomas: He couldn't have been pleased with Sunday. As for these hotseat questions, we all know what's going to happen if things don't start getting better. A lot better.


Dave: The Rams appear to lack focus, fire and intensity. What gives?

Jim Thomas: I didn't sense a lot of energy in the early going Sunday. Sure, three TD passes will take it out of you, but teams have been known to come back from big deficits in this league. See Detroit. See Buffalo.


arnezzi: What options does the team have at CB? Is there a trade out there to be made, even at a premium? Or is the problem more than just CB?

Jim Thomas: The Rams have looked at a lot of guys. There's not much out there.


Kevin Pruitt: Rams 2006 and 2007 Draft


1 15 Tye Hill CB Clemson
2 46 Joe Klopfenstein TE Colorado
3 68 Claude Wroten DT Louisiana State
3 77 Jon Alston LB Stanford
3 93 Dominique Byrd TE USC
4 113 Victor Adeyanju DE Indiana
5 144 Marques Hagans WR Virginia
7 221 Tim McGarigle LB Northwestern
7 242 Mark Setterstrom G Minnesota
7 243 Tony Palmer G Missouri


1 13 Adam Carriker NT Nebraska
2 52 Brian Leonard RB Rutgers
3 84 Jonathan Wade CB Tennessee
5 139 Dustin Fry C Clemson
5 154 Clifton Ryan DT Michigan State
6 190 Ken Shackleford T Georgia
7 248 Keith Jackson DT Arkansas
7 249 Derek Stanley WR Wis.-Whitewater

Looking back at the Ram's drafts of 2006 and 2007. Has a team ever had a worse two year draft record? The 2006 draft had 5 picks in the first 3 rounds and I don't believe any of the picks are even in the NFL right now. The 2007 draft only has Adam Carriker as a starter in the NFL. Nobody else has done anything to distinguish themselves. Only looking back do you realize what terrible drafts these were. Jim what are your thoughts on the above drafts?



Jim Thomas: A couple of the worst drafts ever. Even in an average draft there should be four or five starters (combined) from that group.


Rollie Fingers: Jim, at this point the Rams look to be a disorganized mess. How long is Spags and Billy Devaney's rope before Stan Kroenke throws the rope over the branch of a tree and strings them up. Do you think a 3 or 4 win season would doom the coach and GM.

Jim Thomas: 3 or 4 wins? Almost certainly.


NJRamsFan: Jim, Thanks for taking my question. Do you think when SJ finally comes back at full power (lets pray for this week) it will make the difference that the Rams need? Lets be honest Cadillac has done ok, but thats it just ok. He is not Jackson. When Jackson is on the field teams are forced to respect his ability, and not just go after brqadford and the so so WR corps. Any news on when Clayton is coming back? What about a return of Avery this team needs speed.

Jim Thomas: Obviously, having Jackson back can only help. Williams isn't Jackson, but I think he's performed even better than expected. With 202 yards he's currently fifth in the NFC in rushing. Clayton is still 3 weeks away from being able to practice with the team. Don't think Avery's coming back; remember, he asked to be traded.


keith: Jim, I'm still trying to figure out why a 7 dollar a game ticket price increase after a 7-9 season. Have you heard any reasoning for this price increase? Also, ticket sells can't be great for the rest of the season. Will Redskins game "sell-out"?

Jim Thomas: Nothing official, but I think the Rams are in good shape for Washington in terms of local TV.


Football Genius: J.T. Two questions.Is having Curry on the roster and active every game more valuable to the team than having a speedster like Avery? I always wanted to see him as a punt returner. That move still bothers me.

Should the Rams lower the bar on the 4 pillars and sign Perrish Cox? I know he's had some off the field problems, but we have a big problem at CB.
We have no chance with King, who not only can't cover but gets flagged a lot. Cox is the only starter quality CB out there.

Jim Thomas: I was surprised to see Avery cut. And three games in, Curry hasn't done a whole lot on special teams. But Avery was never a punt return type. You need wiggle and elusiveness as a punt returner; Avery was always more of a straightline guy.
Never my the pillars, do you think Cox really would help. Danario scorched him mulitiple times last year in Denver.


Earl Dotzauer: Do you think we would be better off if we had keept Jim Haslett?

Jim Thomas: Interesting question. Let's see what Mr. Haslett and the Washington defense have in store for the Rams this week.


BSpann: Jim,
I love the Rams and it kills me to see them struggle. Do you recall Billy Devaney saying that they needed to add playmakers to this team. "Guys that can put the ball in the endzone and take it away from the opponent or sack the quarterback". Do you believe he succeeded in that this offseason and we just need to be patient or do you believe not enough has been done.

Jim Thomas: So far, I'd say no.


RAMphetamine: Start of the season I said 1-3 at the bye week. I'm sticking to it. Your thoughts?

Jim Thomas: I thought they'd be 2-2 at the bye. I know that ain't going to happen.


SacramentoMike: It is difficult to watch the relatively quick turn arounds going on in Buffalo and Detroit and not wonder why the Rams seem to have such a difficult time doing the same thing. Is it simply a question of poor draft picks like Jason Smith & Donnie Avery? Is it the continual failure to shore up the offensive line despite the fact that we have devoted mulitiple high draft picks and lots of free agency money to it? Why is it that Devaney and Spags cannot forge a competitive unit after all this time?

Jim Thomas: I'm not sure how you define relatively quick turnarounds, but Detroit hasn't had a winning season in 11 years and hasn't made the playoffs in 12. Buffalo hasn't had a winning season in 7 years and hasn't made the playoffs in 12.


ROBERT: The reunion tour continues this week two of coach spags's former players ATOWGE & COFIELD not retaining ATOGWE nor signing COFIELD was a mistake I don't believe this was the coach's decision- The schedule this year exposes the poor selections in the draft and lack of ability to cope with signing the above players-KROENKE consider replacing the VP & GM with a person like JEFF FISHER-What are your thoughts?

Jim Thomas: Rams couldn't afford Cofield; he cost $6 million a year. Atogwe is a little different, however. I know Mikell is more Spags' style of safety, but Atogwe got a lot of takeaways and it would've cost less to re-sign him than it did to sign Mikell. But Mikell is playing well; he's not the problem.
I'm not ready to play the let's pick Spags' successor game.


Chu Suzuki: why do the Rams always suck ??

Jim Thomas: That seems to be the eternal question, doesn't it. Thanks for all your questions, I realize this has been very tough to watch. Talk to you all next week.