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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Productive year awaits if Rams find leadership

    By Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Thursday, Sep. 04 2008
    As a new season begins, the Rams are the forgotten team in the NFL. There used
    to be a show here, and some called it the greatest show. Future Hall of Famers
    roamed these grounds. Defenses were overwhelmed by the strategies of the
    crazy-genius head coach and his platoon of relentless playmakers. The franchise
    had charisma, and an identity. It wasn't a football team; it was a movement.

    It's supposedly all gone now. >From madness to blandness, from good times to
    hard times. Not too long ago, the preseason hubbub at Rams Park centered around
    double-digit win totals, and Super Bowls. But little is expected from them now.
    Predictions for 2008 range from a repeat of last year's 3-13 to (at best) 8-8.
    And if anyone talks about head coach Scott Linehan, it's to assess the chances
    of him being fired during the bye week in early October.

    This is all rather gloomy, isn't it? The Rams will be at Philadelphia on
    Sunday, and the days leading up to the kickoff of a new season should be
    brimming with hope and optimism. So let me say this: I do believe if everything
    breaks just right, the Rams can have a winning season. Do I think it will
    happen? No. But is it possible? Sure.

    Here's how:

    Linehan emerges as a leader. He has yet to distinguish himself but has made a
    genuine effort to change, most notably by hiring Al Saunders to run the
    offense. The Rams were a mediocre 33-31 in the four seasons preceding Linehan's
    hiring in 2006, and not everything is his fault. But it is up to Linehan to
    show that he can pull a team up. Perhaps he'll surprise us.

    Orlando Pace stays healthy and plays well at left tackle for 16 games. Since
    Pace reached Pro Bowl form in 1999, the Rams are 72-44 when he starts and plays
    into the second half of a game. When Pace didn't play or was knocked out in the
    first half, the Rams are 9-21. Yes, he's that important. And overall improved
    health (and luck) is mandatory for this team.

    Marc Bulger must be the quarterback we saw in 2006 instead of the victimized
    rag doll we saw in 2007.

    Saunders does for Linehan and the 2008 Rams what Mike Martz did for Dick
    Vermeil and the 1999 Rams.

    Steven Jackson is a larger version, and a reasonable facsimile, of Marshall
    Faulk, circa 1999-2001. What can No. 39 accomplish if he finally puts it all
    together over 16 games?

    Defensive end Leonard Little turns back the clock and bags 10 or more sacks.
    He's healthy again, so it's possible. If Little is a pass-rushing force, he
    elevates the entire front seven.

    The rookies step forward. Contributions from the 2007 draft class were
    negligible. To win in 2008, the Rams need defensive end Chris Long and the
    wideouts (Keenan Burton, Donnie Avery) and others to be impact players. It's
    the only way to close the talent gap.

    Wide receiver Drew Bennett earns his money. Enough said.

    No secondary burns. The corners and the safeties are considered a weak area.
    But with safety O.J. Atogwe and CBs Tye Hill, Fakhir Brown and Rickey Manning
    Jr. there's talent in the house. And there is still untapped potential in
    Jonathan Wade, Brannon Condren and Ron Bartell. It's crucial for this group to
    play above the anticipated norm.

    Survive the early torrent. I'm not big on projecting schedules and results. But
    the early portion of the itinerary looks like a killer, with games against
    Philadelphia, the New York Giants, Seattle, underrated Buffalo, Washington,
    Dallas and New England. If the Rams win just two or three of these first seven,
    they'll be able to survive to take advantage of the seemingly softer portion of
    the schedule. And if the Rams are 2-5 after the first seven, it's important for
    Linehan to hold his squad together, because they'll still have a chance to turn
    things around.

    But if early adversity causes a defeatist attitude to permeate Rams Park, then
    it's over.

    That's why leadership is the key element of the Rams' 2008 season. They'll need
    it in quantity from the head coach, Bulger, Pace, wideout Torry Holt, Little,
    Saunders, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and so many others. If the
    leadership is lacking, then 2008 will liquefy into the predicted disaster.


  2. #2
    eldfan's Avatar
    eldfan is offline Registered User
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    Re: Productive year awaits if Rams find leadership

    "It's supposedly all gone now. >From madness to blandness, from good times to
    hard times. Not too long ago, the preseason hubbub at Rams Park centered around
    double-digit win totals, and Super Bowls. But little is expected from them now."

    Maybe we can go out and surprise some teams lets start with the eagles GO!!!!!!!!!Rams
    :ramlogo:

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