Letters to Gordo: Fans weigh in on free agents


BY JEFF GORDON
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
03/15/2006
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Columnist Jeff Gordon
(E-mail a "Letter to Gordo")

The Rams have certainly been busy during the free-agency period, adding and losing players at a dizzying rate. What does Rams Nation think of all of this?

As always, the response has been mixed. Here is a sampling of public opinion:


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“I admit that I'm sorry to see Adam Archuleta leave the Rams for a number of reasons. He was always a solid, hard-working, and dedicated player, who often made an impact on the field (his more recent injury-hampered seasons notwithstanding). I was eagerly anticipating his renaissance under our defensive coordinator, Jim Haslett (who, apparently, really hoped to retain him as a Ram).

“Finally, his comments upon accepting the offer from the Washington Redskins revealed how poorly the defense was managed under the previous coordinator. We all knew it was bad, but didn't know how utterly confused the situation was -- and, unfortunately, Archuleta was a casualty of that system (or lack thereof). I wish him luck, but feel that we are going to miss him.”

Stephen Butera


GORDO: Archuleta was hampered by Larry Marmie’s system, which harnessed some of his natural aggression. On the other hand, Adam also seemed to be a literal casualty -– suffering injuries that robbed him of the hard-hitting style we saw when he arrived as a rookie.

Given his size and injury history, that Redskins deal seems to be quite a gamble. The Rams still wanted him, but who could blame Adam for chasing bigger dollars while gaining a fresh start elsewhere?


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“Happy with the signings so far. I love Archuleta but he has to go. Too slow and can't cover. Can't tackle anymore due to his concussions. He has always been an overachiever but his body can't handle NFL punishment anymore. Why would we sign Will Witherspoon when we need a stud MLB? Neither he or Pisa Tinoisamoa can play strong side linebacker.”

Ed Chandler, Las Vegas, Nev.


GORDO: Witherspoon has filled in as a middle linebacker, so the move there could pan out. The concern is his lack of size and power at the position, which you allude to. He has terrific lateral range, but the Rams really suffered last season at the point of attack. (And, yes, Archuleta’s inability to deliver the huge hit was a factor in that.)

It will be interesting to see what Haslett does schematically to best use the assets he is gathering. Lovie Smith had pretty good success here with smallish-yet-quick defenders in the box.


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“The combination of Scott Linehan and Jim Haslett is making some good decisions on FA signings. It also appears the FO is willing to spend some dollars for the right players. Sometimes change is good!”

Sheldon Manaster, Santa Ana, Calif.


GORDO: The independent analysts rank the Rams' additions as solid, so that is a good sign. Some turnover -– in addtion to Haslett’s arrival -– ought to make it easier to get this team back to a more aggressive defensive mindset.

As for some of the departing Rams, perhaps they can enjoy the sort of turnaround Tommy Polley had after moving to a new situation. Sometimes athletes need new challenges.


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“La’Roi Glover's playing ability has never been in question, but the flexibility it gives the Rams has to rank this signing as a ‘9’. He will make the people around him better players. The reality is the possibility of giving up on one or maybe all three of our first-round defensive linemen.

"The Rams' strategy is sound. Pay for proven talent and evaluate current players based on past performance and attitude. My opinion, a golf cart has more drive than Jimmy Kennedy. Ryan Pickett will probably become a front-line player somewhere else and who knows about Damione Lewis. Attitude is where good defense starts. You have to want it more than the other guy and be able to get nasty when nasty is what's needed. Good going Rams.”

Ed Wernle, Coconut Creek, Fla.


GORDO: Glover is the sort of player that might FINALLY inspire more consistent play from Kennedy. If I’m Linehan and Haslett, I would rather invest in three years of his veteran presence than roll the dice on a large Pickett contract.

Big Grease will be solid wherever he lands, but Glover could be an addition that makes other Rams improve. This defensive unit should have a nice mix of proven and emerging players in ’06.