Rams' signings are a step in right direction
By Bernie Miklasz
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Mar. 12 2006
The Rams didn't waste any time in signing free agents to improve an
impoverished defense. Whether the Rams wasted money remains to be seen, but the
aggressive approach is encouraging.
The Rams quickly identified their targets and immediately pursued them, working
hard over the weekend to successfully recruit strong safety Corey Chavous and
middle linebacker Will Witherspoon. Last week, the Rams moved fast to sign
La'Roi Glover after the six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle was released by
After the incessant, insidious feuding in the recent past, the team's
front-office relationships seem to be functioning smoothly, at least so far.
Rams rookie head coach Scott Linehan and his staff clicked with president of
football operations Jay Zygmunt and general manager Charley Armey in analyzing
potential free agents and hatching a plan.
"We put a lot of work into it," Linehan said Sunday after the news conference
to announce Witherspoon's signing. "I credit our coaching staff for working
hours you wouldn't believe. They really did their homework. We used Charley's
scouting background, and I don't think Jay has had a day off since I got the
job. I feel sorry for him. He's got this young rookie head coach that he's
always got to be telling what we're doing next. He's done a really good job of
putting us into position to do this."
In hiring Glover, Chavous and Witherspoon, the Rams instantly raised their
talent level on defense, and they addressed three undeniable needs.
Still, I have a couple of concerns.
Even after the addition of three starting players, the Rams' defense has holes.
There's a void at strong-side linebacker, and the depth is precariously thin,
especially at defensive tackle and defensive end. It just shows how thin this
defense had become in its decline due to poor personnel decisions and
"We're always going to be doing everything we can to improve the program,"
Linehan said. "And we've still got a long way to go. There are still a lot of
unknowns with our team. Some things are pretty well documented. I think we're
strong in some areas.
"But we're still evaluating our team. We're going to have a mini-camp prior to
the draft to see if what we think about our current players is true. If that's
not true, that will have some effect possibly on what we do with our draft
picks and free agency. We're going to continue to always work to improve and
progress every day with our football team."
My other caution flag is this: I'm not sure the Rams have bulked up enough to
stop the run. That's imperative for a team in the NFC West that must face
Seattle's Shaun Alexander and Arizona's Edgerrin James four times next season.
The timing was interesting. On the day the Rams reeled in the expensive
Witherspoon at a cost of six years for $33 million, the Cardinals signed an
elite back in James.
"I told Jay we need to sign somebody today who can catch Edgerrin," Linehan
Glover's primary skill is providing an inside pass rush. Chavous is a busy and
intelligent player, but he's not a master-blaster tackler. And though
Witherspoon is a first-rate athlete and an enthusiastic pursuer of ball
carriers, he's a little on the small side for a middle 'backer.
With the swift 231-pound Witherspoon patrolling the middle, it's crucial for
the Rams to protect him from blockers and set him free to chase down runners.
To do that, they'll need to pack more muscle up front. Is Jimmy Kennedy ready
to emerge as an intimidating presence at nose tackle? That's questionable, to
put it politely.
The Rams made some good moves in the opening week of free agency.
But they'll need to do a lot more this offseason to successfully reconstruct
Re: Rams' signings are a step in right direction
like sign adre carter for an extra pass rush, maybe sign sam adams or resign big grease, maybe rocky bernard... we're a couple of pieces away... i believe the linebackers are fine now with WW, Pisa, coakley, chillar, faulk, wahlroos, and a draft pick there...