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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Transcribed from PFW-the Magazine Preview for 2007 season-no link

    Seahawks: 10-6
    *****: 8-8
    Rams:7-9
    Cardinals: 5-11

    St.Louis Rams

    Not only do the Rams feel confident they can put together their first winning season since the 2003 team coached by Mike Martz, but after ending the 06 season with a three-game winning streak, second-year head coach Scott Linehan believes his team has a legitimate shot at a division title in 07.

    There's no denying that the Rams' offense has playoff potential, with Pro Bowl RB Steven Jackson, Pro Bowl QB Marc Bulger and five players who caught at least 45 passes last season, including newcomers Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael. But Jim Haslett's defense needs to be a lot better; especially against the run, after underachieving last season.

    Offense

    In Scott Linehan's safety-first system, RB Steven Jackson's considerable all-around talent was maximized both rushing and receiving. A turning point came when Linehan turned over the play-calling duties to OC Greg Olson after the Ram's worst loss of the season-a 15-0 week 11 shutout in Carolina. With Olson calling the shots, the team averaged 27.5 points per game over the last six games.

    Quarterbacks

    Marc Bulger gradually became quite comfortable in the team's toned-down offense setting team records for pass attempts and lowest percentage of passes intercepted and also reaching career highs in completions, passing yards and TD passes.

    Playing in all 16 games for the first time, Bulger earned his second Pro Bowl berth and also became more of a team leader, uncharacteristically lashing out at unspecified players after a particularly disturbing loss to the Cardinals last December. His even temperament helped create a nice consistency in his performance. Bulger's decision-making was excellent, with more freedom to change plays if necessary, and his accuracy was among the best in the league.

    With previous experience in Scott Linehan's system in Minnesota and Miami, Gus Frerotte remains a solid, willing backup. Harvard graduate Ryan Fitzpatrick is a smart, tough third-stringer.

    Running Backs

    Steven Jackson's 2,334 total yards last season was the fifth-highest in league history. Missing only part of one game the entire season [his legs cramped up in the Monday night loss to the Bears], Jackson improved his running between the tackles, learning to be more decisive instead of dancing and juking in search of the big play. Jackson had more first downs in 3d-and-1 situations than any back in the league. He also thrived as a receiver out of the backfield, benefiting on the emphasis on check-downs in the team's new offense. He also became a more willing blocker in pass protection and blitz pickups but still needs to improve in that area.

    Behind Jackson, second-round pickup Brian Leonard shapes up as an ideal complement with good size, speed and versatility. Leonard is also considered a good receiver with excellent character both on and off the field. Ex-Dolphin Travis Minor, who has a history with Scott Linehan, can be expected to share the third-down role with Leonard. Third-year pro Madison Hedgecock is a serviceable blocking fullback.

    Receivers

    It still takes two quality CB's to handle Torry Holt, 31, and Isaac Bruce, who turns 35 in November. After undergoing knee surgery in early February, Holt hopes to be free of the pain that has hindered him the last couple of seasons. After Holt's 3-TD performance vs. Seattle in mid-October, including what might have been the catch of the year, he got more attention from opposing DB's than ever, and his numbers dipped.

    However, Holt who racked up more receiving yards than any player in league history in his first eight seasons, remains adept at setting up defenders and adjusting the speed of his routes.

    Bruce, the Ram's career leader in receptions and receiving yards, rebounded impressively in 2006 after missing five games the previous season with a dislocated toe. His 14.8-yard average per catch showed he can still get seperation against any CB, and his value as a mentor to the team's younger players is considerable.

    Ex-Titan Drew Bennett--at 6 foot-5 the tallest receiver ever to play for the Rams in St. Louis--should be an inviting target in the red-zone and over the middle. Bennett also offers versatility, having played flanker, split end and in the slot in Tennessee.

    Ex-Dolphin Randy McMichael is a durable, every-down tight end with the ability to stretch the field but is best at running intermediate routes. McMichael is also good on third down coming out of the backfield, filling an H-back type role.

    Second-year TE Joe Klopfenstein should see plenty of action in two-TE sets and should benefit at not being overly relied upon in blocking situations.

    Fellow second-year TE Dominique Byrd's raw talent is offset by his immaturity and off-the-field baggage. TE Aaron Walker is primarily a blocker.

    Offensive Linemen

    OLT Orlando Pace, who missed one game with a concussion and seven games with a torn left triceps muscle last season, is still considered an elite, all-around tackle when healthy. Pace is still an imposing presence who has always been extremely light on his feet despite his massive frame.

    ORT Alex Barron, who played the last third of the 06 season with a knee problem that required offseason surgery, remains a promising talent, but he still needs to improve both his upper and lower body strength in the weight room. Barron has good quickness and a huge wingspan, but he gets pushed back too frequently by bull-rushers and had a serious problem with false-start penalties in 06.

    The projected starter at RG is Richie Incognito, who started all 16 games last season at three different positions. He's a big, physical Conrad Dobler-type throwback with plenty of power, but he needs to do a much better job of controlling his temper and avoiding ill-timed penalties.

    Mark Setterstrom, a seventh-round draft pick last season, looks like a keeper at LG following six strong late-season starts. He improved his strength thanks to extra time in the training room, but he still needs work on his pass blocking, which was considered a weakness coming out of college.

    Brett Romberg, plucked off the Jaguars practice squad last September, proved to be a late-season surprise at center. Tenacious but undersized, Romberg provides good leverage, hand use and savvy. Heady veteran Andy McCollum, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on opening day in 06, will vie for the center spot with Romberg.

    Todd Steussie, another seasoned pro, figures to be the third OT while also providing depth at guard. Adam Goldberg, who has experience at both tackle and guard, and OG Claude Terrell provide further depth.

    Defense

    The Rams allowed an NFC-high 145.4 yards per game rushing last season, as teams particularly picked on the right side of the defense. Their outside pass rush also left a great deal to be desired. Other than Leonard Little, the team got only two sacks from the end position.

    Breakthrough Player

    FS O.J Atogwe--

    Atogwe steadily improved in his first year as a starter and made a ton of plays. Entering his third season, he has star potential.

    Defensive Linemen

    Pro Bowl alternate Leonard Little had 13 sacks and six forced fumbles operating on the left edge despite having to fight through double-teams due to a lack of support. The Rams moved Little around frequently to keep offenses guessing from where he might attack. Little was in a much better frame of mind in 06 than he was the previous season, when the murder of one brother and the stress of another brother serving in Iraq took it's toll.

    The Rams hope James Hall, obtained in a trade with the Lions, can be a productive every-down end opposite Little on the right side. Hall registered a career-high 11 and-a-half sacks in 04, but he is a spurty performer know for disappearing for games at a time. He has a good nose for the ball but lacks great speed off the edge.

    Second-year pro Victor Adeyanju, a solid run-stopper who isn't much of a pass rusher, and Eric Moore provide depth outside. La'Roi Glover made some plays and provided veteran leadership at one starting tackle spot last season. But he is better equipped as a change-of-pace rotational player good for 25 to 30 snaps-per-game at this stage of his career.

    Second-year pro Claude Wroten, a promising talent who was just so-so his rookie season, can be expected to share time with Glover. With former first-round pick Jimmy Kennedy woefully miscast as the starting NT last season, 07 first-round pick Adam Carriker figures to have a good shot as the starter this season, even though his primary position was end in college. The Rams think the disruptive Carriker, whos speciality is his ability to defend the run, has enough size and power to excel in the interior.

    Linebackers

    The Rams believe 2006 free agent addition Will Witherspoon's assets in pursuit, sideline-to-sideline speed, coverage and instincts far outweigh his size limitations at MLB. He had some noteable breakdowns in coverage against LaDainian Tomlinson and Tony Gonzalez, but he also made some game-saving plays early in the season and always seems to be where the action is.

    WLB Pisa Tinoisamoa, who signed a five-year contract extension last October, was plagued by injuries last season after never missing a game and leading the team in tackles the previous three seasons. He had a career low 36 tackles after breaking both hands and suffering a dislocated elbow and was limited to tackling with only one healthy arm befored being placed on injured reserve.

    SLB Brandon Chillar has a good combination of size and speed and improved noticeably last season, but he still struggles in open space against quicker players.

    Free agent addition Chris Draft, who started 16 games for the Panthers last season, provides quality depth at all three LB positions and could challenge Chillar for a starting role. John Alston is a tweener with some talent who might be considered as a "box" safety because of his strength, speed and ball skills. Raonall Smith is another tweener who adds versatility with his pass-rushing ability in the "buck-end" role.

    Defensive Backs

    In 10 starts, first-round pick CB Tye Hill grew up before the team's eyes, steadily improving his ball skills and coverage as the 06 season progressed. Hill doesn't back down beside his smallish stature, but he still needs to work on his tackling.

    Fakhir Brown did a solid job as the other starting corner, providing a badly needed physical presence and enough strength to disrupt most routes.

    The Rams believe FS O.J. Atogwe was perhaps the team's most improved player from start to finish last season. He displayed good range and blitzing potential and impressive playmaking skills with three interceptions and six forced fumbles.

    SS Corey Chavous, who finished second in tackles behind Will Witherspoon, has good athleticism and provides a steadying influence with his experience and study habits.. Rangy Ron Bartell emerged as a very productive nickel-back down the stretch last season. Vying for the No. 3 safety spot are ex-Bear free agent addition Todd Johnson and third-year pro Jerome Carter. Two other free agents, former 49er first-round pick Mike Rumph and Lenny Walls, and speedy third-round pick Jonathan Wade will compete for the No. 4 CB spot.

    Special Teams

    Al Roberts, the team's fifth different special-teams coach this decade, will be entrusted with shoring up what has become a consistently weak unit in recent times. PK Jeff Wilkins shared the league lead in field goals made last season, and left-footed P Donnie Jones, who is twelve years younger than the departed Matt Turk, did a nice job for the Dolphins the last two seasons.

    But the team's coverage units continued to struggle, allowing three returns for TD's while scoring none themselves. The Rams hope the addition of veteran kick returner Dante Hall from the Chiefs will provide an upgrade. Travis Minor and Todd Johnson figure to spearhead the coverage units.

    Summary

    More consistency will be the key for a Rams team that started and finished the 2006 campaign with a flourish, but struggled mightily from mid-October through mid-December, when it lost seven of eight games. The lackluster mid-season slump triggered a blackout for the home finale-the first one since the team moved to St.Louis in 1995.


  2. #2
    Roy G. Biv's Avatar
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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Breakthrough Player

    FS O.J Atogwe--

    Atogwe steadily improved in his first year as a starter and made a ton of plays. Entering his third season, he has star potential.
    The Rams believe FS O.J. Atogwe was perhaps the team's most improved player from start to finish last season. He displayed good range and blitzing potential and impressive playmaking skills with three interceptions and six forced fumbles.
    But how is any of that possible, he takes wrong angles!
    "I'm not going to hide my opinions. They're coming to you between 7000-4000 Angstroms for all the world to see. Oh yes, you will be enlightened."

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    To some degree, he must be taking right angles (I guess that would be 90 degrees!)

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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    I don't understand what how our record could go from 8-8 to 7-9 when we've only added playmarkers and didn't lose anyone of any real importance to the team.

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    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    7-9? I DON'T THINK SOOOOOO! Also, seachicks at 9-7 is more likely.

    These people just want to stir things up. That's okay. It's our turn in 2007. :bash:


    There's no denying that the Rams' offense has playoff potential...

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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy G. Biv View Post
    But how is any of that possible, he takes wrong angles!
    Heh!! Prisco is obviously not a member of the I.D.I.O.T.S club, eh Roy?

    WHAT SAY YE?

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    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Saints were the surprise team last season. After reading more and more how the Rams are going to be 8-8 or 7-9...???:x

    Our RAMS are going to surprise alot of so called experts this season!!!!

    11-5, 10-6.....9-7 at the worst.:imho:

    :seasux::arisux::sfosux:

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    Zero Cool is offline Registered User
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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    vs Panthers=L
    vs *****=L
    @Bucs=W
    @Cowboys=L
    vs Cards=W
    @Ravens=L
    @Seahawks=L
    vs Browns=W
    bye
    @Saints=L
    @*****=L
    Seahawks=L
    Falcons=W
    @Bengals= L
    Packers=W
    Steelers=W
    @Cards=W

    Maybe thats where they get 7=9 from.

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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Quote Originally Posted by Zero Cool View Post
    vs Panthers=L
    vs *****=L
    @Bucs=W
    @Cowboys=L
    vs Cards=W
    @Ravens=L
    @Seahawks=L
    vs Browns=W
    bye
    @Saints=L
    @*****=L
    Seahawks=L
    Falcons=W
    @Bengals= L
    Packers=W
    Steelers=W
    @Cards=W

    Maybe thats where they get 7=9 from.
    You just automatically chalked up a loss next to every team who last year was any good... thats kind of a brainless move. L's next to the seahawks aren't gonna happen.
    Whiners have too many newcomers to really be any good this year. I think they are gonna go 7-9 at best, losing twice to us.

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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Quote Originally Posted by Zero Cool View Post
    vs Panthers=L
    vs *****=L
    @Bucs=W
    @Cowboys=L
    vs Cards=W
    @Ravens=L
    @Seahawks=L
    vs Browns=W
    bye
    @Saints=L
    @*****=L
    Seahawks=L
    Falcons=W
    @Bengals= L
    Packers=W
    Steelers=W
    @Cards=W

    Maybe thats where they get 7=9 from.
    So are you a ***** fan or a shehawk fan? Also I think we have the edge in both the Panther and the cowgirl game.

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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Quote Originally Posted by smizzhfx View Post
    I don't understand what how our record could go from 8-8 to 7-9 when we've only added playmarkers and didn't lose anyone of any real importance to the team.
    The Redskins went 10-6 in '05 and then in the offseason added Andre Carter, Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle El, Adam Archuleta, etc. with their only major loss being Ryan Clark. This would make you think they would only go up from their 10-6 record would it not? But of course they ended up finishing 5-11. Anything can happen no matter how many pieces you add compared to the ones you lose. By no means am I saying the Rams are going to have a record worse than this past season because I do not want that to happen at all, however anything can happen to a team that causes them to fall short of expectations.

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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Quote Originally Posted by Bald_81 View Post
    Anything can happen no matter how many pieces you add compared to the ones you lose. By no means am I saying the Rams are going to have a record worse than this past season because I do not want that to happen at all, however anything can happen to a team that causes them to fall short of expectations.
    You're absolutely right that anything can happen, but let's face it, the odds of the Rams being worse this year are pretty slim and for PFW to make the assumption that they'll drop to 7-9 is rediculous IMO. Last year was full of adversity and we still managed to go 8-8 without the likes of James Hall, Adam Carriker, Chris Draft, Drew Bennett, Randy McMichael or Brian Leonard.

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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    You're absolutely right that anything can happen, but let's face it, the odds of the Rams being worse this year are pretty slim and for PFW to make the assumption that they'll drop to 7-9 is rediculous IMO. Last year was full of adversity and we still managed to go 8-8 without the likes of James Hall, Adam Carriker, Chris Draft, Drew Bennett, Randy McMichael or Brian Leonard.
    Yes, and Pace is back too. Sure -- anything can happen -- but I like our chances this year alot better than last as we were implementing a new system without a proven head coach. This year we have a head coach (one who had the guts to fire himself and delegate playicalling to the OC), who appears to be progressing nicely. The veteran players all have a year under their belts, and will be able to react more rather than having to think about it first. I am very excited about our chances this year ...

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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    I was just pointing out a situation where the fans in Washington were very optimistic only to watch their whole season crumble infront of their eyes. I was using it as an example of what can happen no matter how many people you add compared to the amount you lose. Once again, I reiterate the point of hoping everything works out for the Rams and our defense can play middle-of-the-pack at the very least.

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    Re: ProFootballWeekly Magazine Preview

    Quote Originally Posted by Bald_81 View Post
    I was just pointing out a situation where the fans in Washington were very optimistic only to watch their whole season crumble infront of their eyes. I was using it as an example of what can happen no matter how many people you add compared to the amount you lose. Once again, I reiterate the point of hoping everything works out for the Rams and our defense can play middle-of-the-pack at the very least.
    Ummm didn't Clinton Portis go down with an injury????

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