The Rams may soon have the "Greatest Defense on Turf." While this is a little bit of a stretch, head coach Mike Martz made huge strides to strengthen that side of the ball. St. Louis is primed to improve on the 8-8 record from last year and reclaim the NFC West title.
The back-to-back signings of linebackers Dexter Coakley and Chris Claiborne in early March made an emphatic statement that the team doesn't have to win 33-27 every week. Defense is the way to go. But two other significant additions were defensive end Jay Williams from Miami and cornerback Corey Ivy from Tampa Bay. Those two look to be starters on opening day. Despite some holes in the secondary, the team was 11th in the league against the pass and 29th against the run in a high-risk/high-reward system. But now Coakley and Claiborne hope to remedy that. Also, second-round pick Ronald Bartell may see significant time as a rookie cornerback. Free safety Adam Archuleta is one of the best in the game, but there is a wide-open competition for the strong-safety spot among four players. It was a spot held by Aeneas Williams, but he is 37 years old and was injured last year.
Even though there is a change at running back, there will not be a change in output. With Steven Jackson as the starter and Marshall Faulk as the change-of-pace back, the Rams offense will continue to roll over defenses. Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce give Marc Bulger possibly the best 1-2 receiving combo in the league. The team will not rely much on its three tight ends, as the running game will thrive behind All-Pro tackle Orlando Pace and rookie first-round pick Alex Barron, who could see significant playing time.
Even though St. Louis is 15-17 the last two seasons, that is about to change. Defense was the main culprit. And because the cornerbacks may be picked on, the front seven will be asked to do a lot this season. But now the team has the talent. Don't be surprised if the unit starts to tire at the end of the season, but if the Rams get out to a big enough lead in the division, they could have their first NFC West crown since 2001. :clanram:
Makes me wonder where these writers get their info. Try 2003! :tut