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  1. #1
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    Rams set to rival, relive Greatest Show on Turf days

    By Steve Reynolds on March 19, 2007

    The Greatest Show on Turf era's St. Louis Rams boasted a cast of characters whose collection of offensive talent was unlike anything the NFL has ever enjoyed. Unfortunately, age, defections and coaching controversy eventually eroded the greatness of that team.

    But, for a too brief three-year period, it was sublime for NFL fans.

    The Rams of today have made some compelling offensive acquisitions thus far this offseason. Already among the top offenses in the league, St. Louis has acquired the services of proven veterans Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael. Adding these weapons to the already impressive offensive toy box means the Rams could now potentially possess an offense that, in terms of talent, rivals the Greatest Show on Turf era (1999-2001).

    Let's compare the Rams' offense of that glorious era gone by to the 2007 incarnation to see if today's team can truly stack up:

    Quarterback: Kurt Warner vs. Marc Bulger

    Now get this straight, Rams fans: For the basis of our comparison we are using the Warner of yesteryear with the uncanny accuracy. Remember him? We're using the QB who would stand resolute in the pocket, take a Jevon Kearse clothesline to the larynx just to get the ball off, magical late '90s Warner. We are not using the backward-bent-thumbs, my-spiky-shorn-wife-wears-the-jockstrap-in-the-family, God-got-me-benched quarterback who is a shell of his former self as a backup with the Arizona Cardinals .

    Bulger seems to finally be receiving the accolades he so richly deserves and is one of the elite QBs in the game. However, Warner was a touchdown-throwing machine, and Bulger, despite his impressive play, can't stack up to the otherworldly numbers amassed by Warner during that three-year span (12,612 yards, 67.2 average completion percentage, 98 TDs). Advantage: Greatest Show.

    Number one receiver: Isaac Bruce vs. Torry Holt

    If nothing else, Rams fans, you can't complain about the quality of starting wideouts over the last 20 years. From Henry Ellard and Flipper Anderson to Holt and Bruce, the Rams have enjoyed some of the best receivers the game has ever known. It's a difficult proposition at best choosing one Hall of Famer over another in this case, and during the era in question it can be argued that Holt assumed the title of "number one" at some point. Therefore, in light of these facts and as the Bruce of that era and the Holt of today are/were nothing short of incredible, we'll take the coward's way out. Advantage: Wash.

    Second receiver: Torry Holt vs. Isaac Bruce

    Holt began his career relatively slow by his standards (788 yards and 6 touchdowns in his rookie season), then proceeded to go on a tear unlike anything the NFL had ever seen, posting 1,300-plus yards for six straight seasons until injuries last year limited him to a "mere" 1,188 yards and 10 touchdowns. However, for the basis of this comparison, we are looking at Holt as the number two during the Greatest Show era and Bruce as the number two of today.

    Make no mistake: Bruce could be a number one on countless NFL squads even today. He is still among the better route runners in the league and added yet another 1,000-yard season to his collection last year. However, Holt was putting up best-receiver-in-the-league-type numbers when he was a number two, and while still potent, the Bruce of today can't compare. Advantage: Greatest Show.

    Running Back: Marshall Faulk vs. Steven Jackson

    Jackson is a rare combination of strength and speed. Like a bull sporting "Predator" dreadlocks, he is equally adept at running around or over an opponent. Faulk was a smaller package, not as strong but quicker with uncanny intelligence and agility. Faulk averaged well over 5 yards per carry in the Greatest Show days and was constantly finding the endzone.

    Jackson has proven himself to be more than a capable receiver, but Faulk could have just as easily been a wideout in the league. Jackson may get there yet, but Faulk was deservedly the league's MVP. In short, Jackson is spectacular, but Faulk was unreal. Advantage: Greatest Show.

    Third receiver: Az-Zahir Hakim vs. Drew Bennett

    Hakim was exciting in his time with the Rams and made his share of big plays. Bennett is a much larger target but nowhere near as fast as the nimble Hakim. Bennett proved he could be a number one receiver in his time in Tennessee and should be a nightmare to cover when matched against an opponent's third cornerback or linebacker. The difference maker is that Bennett has one turnover in his entire career and Hakim never met a ball he didn't fumble. Advantage: 2007 Rams.

    Tight end: Ernie Conwell/Roland Williams vs. Randy McMichael

    Conwell was a willing blocker and Williams was a capable receiver, but neither had a truly significant impact in the Greatest Show years. While only an average blocker, McMichael is an adept receiver who is already proven due to his production in Miami. He could further flourish with the Pro Bowl-caliber Bulger throwing to him. McMichael is the real deal and has the quality role players from the Greatest Show beat. Advantage: 2007 Rams.

    Offensive Line:

    Let's see, there's the young, hungry, best tackle in the league in Orlando Pace against the still-talented, oft-injured, money-hungry Pace of today. Back then, it was a young veteran line consisting of players like Tom Nutten and Pro Bowler Adam Timmerman against the wet-nosed pups of today. And don't forget the right tackle brothers from different false-starting mothers in Alex Barron and Fred Miller.

    While today's line shows promise and was instrumental in assisting Steven Jackson to his 1,500-yard breakout season, Bulger still ends up on the turf in a crumpled heap with alarming consistency. The Super Bowl era Rams line was a model of teamwork and usually kept Warner upright despite not getting a lot of help because of their coach's penchant for running four-wide sets and using Faulk so often as a receiver. Advantage: Greatest Show.

    Fourth receiver: Ricky Proehl vs. ?

    If not for Proehl's famous acrobatic touchdown grab in the 1999 season's NFC Championship against Tampa Bay, we may never have heard of the Greatest Show at all. It is uncertain whether Dane Looker will assume the number four role or if the Rams will fulfill that need in the draft. Proehl's tangible, quality contributions versus a player to be named later is a no-brainer. Advantage: Greatest Show.

    Head Coach: Mike Martz vs. Scott Linehan

    The brazen, near-omnipotent machinations of Mike Martz' "Max Q" offense, or the toned down, methodical approach employed by Scott Linehan? While most fans are happy that Martz was tossed out of Rams Nation on his ear, one thing is certain concerning his time with the club: The former coach's offense is directly responsible for two Super Bowl appearances and one world championship. Even the most ardent Martz detractors must admit to this fact.

    While the comparison to Linehan may be unfair (considering his body of work consists of only a single season), of the Rams' current head coach we can at least say one thing: that, despite his reputation for offense, he is much more conservative when compared to Mad Mike (although, truth be told, Martz makes Don Coryell look like Chuck Knox).

    Linehan hasn't exactly been a model of consistency either. Errant coaching decisions must take at least a portion of the blame for both Seattle losses last season. However, Linehan's game management skills show signs of improvement, and unlike Martz, he doesn't burn timeouts because his shoe is untied.

    When it comes down to it, Martz was the brain behind the golden age of Rams football, and you just can't argue with the Lombardi Trophy (people would think you were crazy). Advantage: Martz Madness.

    It appears as if the 2007 Rams offense doesn't quite stack up to that of the Greatest Show on Turf, being outclassed 6-2 according to the given criteria. But that doesn't mean they don't belong in the conversation; and while this comparison doesn't take defense in to account, it seems as if the Rams are one or two competent defensive tackles away from being a contender next year.

    Perhaps the offense won't be revisiting the glory days of the Greatest Show on Turf, and perhaps there will instead be a need for an entirely new moniker. If the new pieces can jell, though, it's certainly possible.

    We'll find out in September.

  2. #2
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Rams set to rival, relive Greatest Show on Turf days

    Oh come on, what is up with the Warner dissin'? Doesn't matter who the QB is in AZ until they get that O-line fixed. Anyway, The Greatest Show is beyond a doubt the BEST OFFENSE IN NFL HISTORY (no, it is NOT the Colts of recent), so no matter what happens it will be near impossible to reproduce it. It was as if all of the stars fell in place at just the right time for the GSoT, especially for that 1999 run when not only was the offense great, but the D was good, too!

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams set to rival, relive Greatest Show on Turf days

    Hilarious but extremely accurate description of the two teams. Let's face it, GSOT was like a comet. That type of offense just doesn't come around very often. It was so potent, that it forced teams in the NFC West to draft specifically to beat the Rams not to improve their team necessarily.

    This offense will be fun to watch, but Barron has to learn the snap count. It's much easier to get 15 yards on 3rd and 2 with this offense than it is to convert 3rd and 7.

  4. #4
    Guam rammer's Avatar
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    Re: Rams set to rival, relive Greatest Show on Turf days

    The GSOT days are still fresh in peoples minds. The 2007 team doesnt even have to put up the exact numbers or come close to what was done in those days. They just have to produce above decent statistics and more important, garner W's in the win column. Sports writers and football fans will start to compare all over again and talks of GSOT II will be heard.

    The last few years werent very good offensive scoring years for us but we are still billed as a leathal, dangerous, explosive, and can score at will type of team. Thats what GSOT did. People are waiting for it, looking for it to happen. Don't be surprised if it does....I WON'T !!!

  5. #5
    Ducksauce Guest

    Re: Rams set to rival, relive Greatest Show on Turf days

    Definitely dont be criticizing Kurt.

  6. #6
    majorram's Avatar
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    Re: Rams set to rival, relive Greatest Show on Turf days

    I'm just proud to have seen that GSOT times.........just so exciting times guys wowww

    "The breakfast Club"

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams set to rival, relive Greatest Show on Turf days

    The Rams of yester year were great, thats for sure. But I'm not a guy who likes to live in the past. Give me a team that will consistently be in the playoffs year in and year out and that will keep the smile on my face. GO RAMS!

  8. #8
    81~BIG-GAME's Avatar
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    Re: Rams set to rival, relive Greatest Show on Turf days

    Fun article,good debate about the two squads..:l


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