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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams will need great coaching -- and more -- to prosper

    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Friday, Sep. 10 2004

    Is the Rams' run done?

    Many NFL experts believe so. One of my favorite scribes, the Orlando Sentinel's
    Jerry Greene, has them pegged for an 8-8 finish that sends Mike Martz back to
    the offensive coordinator ranks.

    Over at ESPN, John Clayton, Len Pasquarelli, Joe Theismann, Tom Jackson, Merril
    Hoge, Sean Salisbury, Mike Golic, Randy Mueller and Mark Schlereth all pick the
    Rams to miss the playoffs.

    Peter King, the NFL guru at Sports Illustrated, expects the Rams to go 9-7 and
    miss the playoffs.

    You get the idea. If the Rams can go 11-5 and make the playoffs as I believe
    they can then the 2004 season will offer validation for many.

    Let's start with coach Mike Martz. This season offers a golden opportunity to
    prove he really does have the right stuff to prosper in this role.

    Look at all the setbacks the Rams have suffered. Grant Wistrom and Brian Young
    left holes in the defensive line by leaving as free agents. Then top cornerback
    Travis Fisher broke his arm, compromising the secondary.

    The team tried to bring safety Jason Sehorn out of retirement, but he flunked
    his physical. Former ***** safety Zack Bronson came aboard . . . and
    immediately suffered a broken ankle.

    On the offensive side, starting right tackle Kyle Turley and starting center
    Dave Wohlabaugh failed to recover from offseason operations forcing the Rams
    to jerry-rig their offensive line.

    If the Rams can overcome all of those setbacks AND successfully navigate
    through a difficult schedule, then Mad Mike will be a made coach. This is his
    opportunity to silence all his critics, because the Rams will need great
    coaching to prosper in 2004.

    Many Rams players have a chance to gain validation, including:


    Orlando Pace: He quit eating fried foods. When he finally showed up to play
    football, he was in excellent physical shape.

    Now let's see if he can become the on-field leader for an offensive line that
    badly needs one. Let's see if he can put the onus on Rams management to give
    him a lucrative long-term deal that will allow him to finish his career here.

    We all know that he wants top dollar. Let's see if he can prove that he
    deserves a record-setting contract for an offensive tackle.


    Marshall Faulk: He already has Hall of Fame credentials, so his greatness isn't
    in question. But we need to know if he can play anywhere near his established
    All-Pro level after so many knee operations.

    He feels great now, but he hasn't been exposed to real combat. The hitting
    starts Sunday. Can he hold up? And can he still shift into breakaway gear when
    he gets into the open field?


    Marc Bulger: He's a pretty good quarterback right now, better than most. But
    his play regressed during the latter stages of last season and he failed to
    deliver in the big games.

    Now he faces a daunting schedule. In '03, the Rams stole some sloppy victories
    over inferior foes by mustering late heroics.

    The offense must play at a much higher level to succeed this season, especially
    when you see all those potential holes on defense. Bulger has more weaponry
    than last season, with the addition of power runner Steven Jackson, the
    emergence of big-play receiving threat Shaun McDonald and the potential for
    more receptions at right end.

    If Bulger can become consistent overall and more effective in the red zone,
    he'll earn another Pro Bowl outing and legitimization in the eyes of his peers.


    Ryan Pickett, Damione Lewis: These former first-round draft picks are overdue
    to make a difference at defensive tackle. Now would be a good time to do that,
    with Wistrom and Young gone and fellow No. 1 pick Jimmy Kennedy shelved by a
    foot injury.

    This is their make-or-break year in the NFL. Are they going to become standouts
    or are they just a couple of guys?


    Jerametrius Butler: During his short Rams career, he has been an excellent
    prospect, then a near washout, then a solid second cornerback. It's been an
    interesting ride, one that became more treacherous when Fisher went down.

    Butler is on the island now. Can he survive? This is a wonderful opportunity,
    but a dangerous one.


    These Rams don't have much margin for error. I can see them regaining their
    high-scoring ways with a more varied offense, one that blends effective power
    running with four-receiver explosiveness.

    I can also see a defense getting gashed and strafed for many points. I can
    envision many entertaining shootouts on this schedule, some of the most
    exciting football we'll ever see.

    Of course, there is a chance this team will suffer additional injuries, buckle
    and ultimately collapse.

    Which way will it go? I'm an optimist, but it will take breakout or reaffirming
    seasons from most of the individuals above to get the Rams to postseason play.


  2. #2
    AvengerRam's Avatar
    AvengerRam is offline Moderator Emeritus
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    Re: Rams will need great coaching -- and more -- to prosper

    Only a sportswriter could reach the conclusion that players look for validation from - or even care about the opinions of - other sportswriters. I guarantee you that every player on the Rams' roster believes that the team has the ability to once again go 12-4, make the playoffs and compete for the title - regardless of what a bunch of self-aggrandizing hacks might think.
    Last edited by AvengerRam; -09-10-2004 at 08:27 PM.

  3. #3
    AugustaRamFan's Avatar
    AugustaRamFan is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams will need great coaching -- and more -- to prosper

    Agree, if MM makes it through this season and the Rams make the playoffs, he may well have turned the corner as a HC.

    I may even post a postive thread about him.

  4. #4
    LaRamsFanLongTime's Avatar
    LaRamsFanLongTime is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams will need great coaching -- and more -- to prosper

    I may even post a postive thread about him.
    I could see the passion we all feel for this team is making some people crazy.
    :redface:
    LET'S GO DODGERS

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