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Thread: Nick's Pre-Season Questions

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    Nick's Pre-Season Questions

    Pre-Season Questions
    By Nick
    8/12/12

    The Ramsí first pre-season contest of the 2012 season is only hours away, prompting fans across the world to feel a tingling inside that arrives every year around this time as professional football returns to their televisions. Itís like that feeling you used to get as a child on Christmas morning, when you anxiously ran down the stairs to see that, yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

    Yes, ClanRam nation, the Rams are back.

    But what kind of Rams product should we expect to see in 2012? Practices and organized team activities aside, todayís exhibition will be our first true glance into the world of the Jeff Fisher-led Rams, and I think it goes without saying that many fans are looking forward to seeing the kind of product that an experienced, veteran coach will put on the field.

    As I woke up this morning and thought about this inaugural game, even though itís one in which starters will be rested and depth will be primarily on display, there were some general questions about each unit that came to mind, questions that I hope Fisher and his Rams answer over the course of this exhibition and regular season.

    Quarterback: Can Sam Bradford rebound?
    This might be the million dollar question of the season. Rams fans hope that Bradfordís sophomore campaign in 2011 is the abnormality of what will otherwise be a great career, but Samís going to have to show thatís the case in 2012. Though he can still feel something amiss in the ankle he sprained last season, itís not affecting his play thus far. With better talent around him and a coaching staff playing to his strengths, Sam should be able to capitalize on his immense talent and have a bounce-back season.

    Running Back: Will Steven Jackson ever share the load?
    When asked in an interview about splitting time with rookie Isaiah Pead, Jackson seemed to balk at the idea. But Rams fans know that the tread is probably getting a bit worn on the tires, and itís in Jacksonís best interests to surrender some carries to the young up and comer. Heís a competitor though, so count on Jeff Fisherís experience to know how to show Jackson the benefits of staying on the sideline a time or two more.

    Wide Receiver: Do the Rams finally have weapons?
    Early camp reports suggest Brandon Gibson was one of the Ramsí best at the position so far, which has some Rams fans groaning at their keyboards. Gibson has been a decent but hardly dangerous weapon in the Ramsí passing game over the years, and fans are ready to see an improvement in the starting line-up. With Danny Amendola back, Steve Smith added, and two rookies whom the coaching staff believes in, will the receivers be able to step up and help their quarterback? Tonightís debut will give us our first idea.

    Offensive Line: Whereís the protection?
    The Rams made one offseason improvement to their line with the addition of Scott Wells, but Wells hasnít been able to practice with the team due to a prolonged recovery from knee surgery. The other change is at left guard, where Quinn Ojinnaka seems to be winning the battle to fill the vacated spot of Jacob Bell. The Rams are also counting on Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith to rebound from poor performances in 2011; neither are off to a great start so far, as Saffold has been sidelined a bit in camp and Jason Smith is losing reps to journeyman Barry Richardson.

    Defensive Line: Will they live up to the hype?
    Rams fans were thrilled with the efficiency and production of defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn, the latter serving in a reserve specialists role last year. In 2012, Quinn will be in the starting line-up, and the Rams have improved their interior with the additions of Kendall Langford and first round rookie Michael Brockers. Improvements on paper are nice, but this is a much heralded unit based on fan and media expectations. Will they live up to the hype and become one of the better lines in the league?

    Linebackers: Stop gaps or true players?
    The outside linebacker spots yielded to other positions in terms of priority this offseason, and because of that, the Rams are fielding some journeymen at the position. Jo-Lonn Dunbar and Mario Haggan are the starters now, with Rocky McIntosh pushing for time behind them. But the Rams have tried the veteran stop-gap outside linebacker strategy before, with mediocre results. Will this group break the mold and finally give middle linebacker James Laurinaitis the help he needs?

    Secondary: Can they on the field?
    Last year, the Ramsí secondary was depleted due to injuries, to the point where they were playing defensive backs that theyíd signed only days earlier. This made-over unit looks like it has better depth than previous years, but some of that depth has some off the field concerns that fans hope do not become issues during the year. Will these players manage to avoid injury, avoid trouble, and stay on the field? If so, they could be a formidable group.

    Special Teams: What can we expect from Greg the Leg?
    Greg Zuerlein has been given a big opportunity, and he certainly has the production to back it up. He set NCAA Division II records for consecutive field goals and had the highest field goal percentage of any NCAA player in any division with 12 or more attempts in 2011. He replaces Josh Brown, a high priced (by positional standards) kicker who was shown the door this offseason. Will his insane accuracy and kick power translate to the pressures of professional football?

    Coaches: Will they live up to expectations?
    The Rams have tried the talent coordinator route before in Mike Martz, Scott Linehan, and Steve Spagnuolo. Martz ran himself out of town, Linehan was a large failure, and Spagnuolo just couldnít get the pieces together. Now, the Rams have turned to veteran head coach Jeff Fisher, who has put together a very competent group of coaches. What will the results be? This franchise is starving for some success, and fans have placed a tremendous amount of faith in Fisherís vision. Will he pull through and reawaken a winner in the St. Louis Rams?

    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Four
    Rams Discussion Right at Your Fingertips!



  2. #2
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    Re: Nick's Pre-Season Questions

    I was getting ready to post a "things to watch for" thread...but, since you already posted this, I will just add my two cents.

    1. Watch Sam Bradford: Camp reports and the few minutes of video I watched indicate that Sam has his accuracy back - but the field won't be stretched. I would wager that today, we will see Sam throw a few short- to medium-length passes, most likely to his "solid" targets - Amendola, Salas, and possibly Quick. However, since Sam does have a talent for reading the field, IF the offensive line holds long enough, don't be surprised to see him send one or two passes downfield. The real battle is for the #2 spot.

    2. Watch the O-line: In recent years, since the departure of the Donut Brothers, it seems that our O-line has been suspect, at best. We bring in "potential" talent. However, the talent never seems to live up to the potential. with Jeff Fisher, we know the emphasis is on QB protection - he is experienced enough to know that as talented as Sam is, he still has to have time to get the ball down the field. If the blind side can hold long enough for a few three- or five-step drops, then Sam can light up the field.

    3. Watch Pead: I would say to watch the RB's, but everyone knows Jackson will plow through everyone. Pead should, at his size, be the "slippery" RB, bringing back some memories of watching Faulk in action. However, there are reports that he needs to work on his hands a bit - don't look for him to act as a receiver much today.

    4. Watch the WR's: Everyone is saying we don't have any #1 WR talent. I say bullhockey. We do - it just has not been developed. Brian Quick could be the next potential #1 for the Rams. Just don't expect to see that today. Do expect to see lots of short, crossing routes, some slot action, and some quick reads that result in short- to- medium gains. I expect to see some 8-15 yard plays on first and second downs.

    5. Watch the pass rush: Expect to see Quinn and Long get to the QB at least once each today. There's no way the Colts can double team both of them.

    6. Watch the run stuffing: Brockers has a chance to make a name for himself today - and I have a feeling he will be a major player when it comes to stopping the run.

    7. Watch the LB's: With the front four in place, Laurainitis now has the freedom to play the middle even better than before. Expect the LB's to play their positions quite well - keeping the Colts in check.

    8. Watch the backfield: Jenkins and Finnegan will make a HUGE difference to the Rams. Don't expect the Colts to be successful with the pass - the lack of an experienced QB, as well as the glue these guys seem to have when covering receivers, will be all we need to keep the Colts from gaining yardage.

    The "experts" are saying the Rams will win by 1-1/2. Remember, the score doesn't really matter in this game. What does matter is for the Rams to gain a little confidence, a little experience, and for the rookies to show their stuff. If I had to place a spread - I would say Rams by 6.

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    Re: Nick's Pre-Season Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Pre-Season Questions
    By Nick
    8/12/12


    Running Back: Will Steven Jackson ever share the load?
    When asked in an interview about splitting time with rookie Isaiah Pead, Jackson seemed to balk at the idea. But Rams fans know that the tread is probably getting a bit worn on the tires, and it’s in Jackson’s best interests to surrender some carries to the young up and comer. He’s a competitor though, so count on Jeff Fisher’s experience to know how to show Jackson the benefits of staying on the sideline a time or two more.
    This is a great question Nick. During the season will we see SJ taken out on third downs? Will we see Pead get a series or two a game? If so how will SJ handle that? I have read the Pead will get 30% of the snaps depending on how he plays. I'm curious to see how the coaches will get Pead on the field during the games. How will it effect SJ good or bad. I'm also a Lakers fan so I know what it's like to watch guys with egos. SJ is closer to the end then the beginning, it's going to be interesting to see how this goes down.

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    Re: Nick's Pre-Season Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    This is a great question Nick. During the season will we see SJ taken out on third downs? Will we see Pead get a series or two a game? If so how will SJ handle that?
    Fisher will do what is best for the team. Period! How Jackson will handle Jeff's decisions in that particular area is something I'm sure most of us are wondering about. One positive thing about Steven that can be said, is that he's continued to mature throughout his career. I'd venture a guess that he'll defer to Fish's decisions regarding his "touches" if not gracefully, at least not overtly grudgingly.

    Great post Nick! Time to watch the game !!!!!!!!!!

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    Re: Nick's Pre-Season Questions

    I have formed some opinions of the game today.

    1. As far as QB's go, Sam looked adequate. It's hard to tell anything more than that with the vanilla offense that was run today. Clemens really didn't impress me much. I don't see him making it as a backup UNLESS he gets a little more solid. Davis looked really good for an "unknown". Brandstater...well, Miami might need you.

    2. Our O-line STILL needs help. I'm hoping that the issues I saw today are the result of Wells not being on the field...but I doubt it. What I see is the entire O-line losing about 50 pounds...I figure the "Fisher Diet" will cause the front five to lose about 10 pounds of backside each.

    3. Pead has the talent. After seeing the way he started out, jumping around like a chihuahua, I almost expected him to pee all over the place when he touched the ball. He finally settled in, and once that happened, he didn't look bad. He needs time and more work.

    4. I am kind of disappointed in the WR's today. I was expecting more from them - but that's not all on the receivers. After all, when you are running a vanilla offense, the entire idea is to protect the ball. However, it's nice to see Amendola looking like he didn't lose his touch, and Pettis looks like he may have earned himself a solid roster spot.

    5. Again, the vanilla flavoring came into play - the defense seemed to be a little...plain. As such, the DE's didn't get the chance to get to Luck as much as I thought they would. They did lay on the pressure, though.

    6. Do I need to say anything about the run stopping....or lack thereof?

    7. OK, I REALLY called this one wrong. Laurainitis did have to run his butt off today. I hope he smacks a few defenders around inside the locker room.

    8. Jenkins blew a BIG one today...but I still can't figure out how. We need to give this guy the nickname of "Band-aid", because he was really stuck to everyone today. He's going to be a great pick - as long as he stays out of trouble.

    Finally - the coaching eval...I can't really evaluate this. Fisher wasn't coaching, he was watching these guys, deciding who was making mistakes, who needs to work on what, who gets the boot, and who gets to play another day. I was really excited to see today's game, just to see what Fisher could do - but, he pulled the plug on himself.

    It's great to know he isn't wanting to reveal anything about what the team can really do, or reveal any of the "real" plays yet. He's wanting to check out each and every player. He wants to make sure that EACH individual player gets a look. Some will stay, some will go. Every one of them will be told what they have to work on, what they can do to improve themselves. It's been a while since I have been this calm after this kind of a loss...BUT, it IS preseason...and we have a coach that IS doing the right thing - checking out all the players, looking to see what he has to do to win during the regular season.

    After all, today is the day Fisher begins grading the players. Once the regular season starts, we, the fans, begin grading Fisher. He understands that his job is to get the team to play every game to the best of their ability and win. He also knows that if he doesn't do his job....he won't have one for long.

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    Re: Nick's Pre-Season Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Pre-Season Questions
    By Nick
    8/12/12

    The Rams’ first pre-season contest of the 2012 season is only hours away, prompting fans across the world to feel a tingling inside that arrives every year around this time as professional football returns to their televisions. It’s like that feeling you used to get as a child on Christmas morning, when you anxiously ran down the stairs to see that, yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
    Its like running to your stocking and finding a diaper full of baby poop and day old indian food.
    Rambos likes this.

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    Re: Nick's Pre-Season Questions

    PS, GO RAMS! Meeeeeeeeeeeeh

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    Re: Nick's Pre-Season Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by peramoure View Post
    Its like running to your stocking and finding a diaper full of baby poop and day old indian food.
    Isn't that the same thing?
    live4ramin and mikhal5569 like this.

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    Re: Nick's Pre-Season Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by peramoure View Post
    day old indian food.

    Such a literal reference makes me wonder if this really happened. Make the nightmare stop!
    "The horror"

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