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Rams' long list of faults stretches past the obvious
By Bernie Miklasz
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
The Rams have so many roster problems to solve, it makes your head hurt to even think about it.
We already know about the carnage on the offensive line and how it must be cleaned up. But here is a rundown of other major concerns:
— Is Marc Bulger showing signs of the Battered Quarterback Syndrome? Absolutely. Bulger has been sacked 153 times since the start of the 2004 season, the most by a regular NFL starter. And it's clearly getting to him. Bulger's performance was off form this season. His completion rate dropped, and according to STATS, 17.5 percent of his incompletions were the result of poor throws. He's throwing off the wrong foot, he's wobbly in the pocket, and even Bulger acknowledged that he tried to protect himself from taking hits this season. Uh-oh. That's disturbing. Seriously. And imagine this: His new $65 million contract kicks in next season. Great timing.
— The Rams lack speed at wide receiver, and it's glaring. They were 28th in the NFL in yards after the catch this season. Drew Bennett ranked 56th in average yards after the catch (3.3), Isaac Bruce 58th (3.2) and Torry Holt 77th (2.3). Kevin Curtis, allowed to walk as a free agent, was 15th in the NFL in YAC this season, and 22nd in YAC average. Advertisement
— In general, this offense has deteriorated badly over the past two seasons. Over the seven-year period from 1999 through 2005, the Rams were No. 1 in the league in yards, and No. 2 in points. (They were virtually tied with New England for most points.) But in 2006-07, the Rams were 10th in yards and 21st in points.
— The base pass rush is dull. Rams defensive ends combined for only 15 quarterback hurries this season, and that's why defensive coordinator Jim Haslett had to go crazy with the blitzes. And don't tell me about Leonard Little being injured; he had one sack in six games. Little has slowed down.
— Cornerback Tye Hill is a better player than he's given credit for here; in a season short-circuited by injuries, he still managed to give up completions on only 50 percent of the throws against him. (That's a very good rate.) And Fakhir Brown was solid, successfully defending 46.7 percent of the passes against him. But when the Rams use their nickel and dime, it's ugly. Jonathan Wade was burned 76.2 percent of the time teams threw at him, and Ron Bartell's burn rate was 67 percent. Bad.
— Another problem in the secondary: Strong safety Corey Chavous allows too many broken tackles; he has one of the worst tackling rates in the NFL. The Rams need more playmakers in the secondary.
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