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Thread: SI Team Preview: St. Louis Rams
SI Team Preview: St. Louis Rams
Sports Illustrated Team Preview: St. Louis Rams
2nd in NFC West
Issue date: September 4, 2006
The Greatest Show on Turf is sticking closer to earth as a new coach puts a renewed emphasis on rushing and defense
While the Rams retain much of the arsenal from the pass-crazy offense of former coach Mike Martz, rookie head man Scott Linehan will balance the attack, clearing the lanes for talented tailback Steven Jackson. The bigger change, however, will come on defense, where St. Louis hired former Saints coach Jim Haslett as coordinator and spent most of its $100 million in off-season acquisitions. It is potentially the Rams' best defense since the 2001 season -- the last time they reached the Super Bowl.
Though Linehan doesn't have an alliterative moniker like Mad Mike Martz -- "I'm too boring a guy to have a nickname," he says -- he has overseen explosive, pass-oriented systems in Miami and Minnesota as an offensive coordinator. Guiding the attack for the fifth season is the NFL's most underappreciated quarterback, Marc Bulger, whose career passer rating of 90.6 is sixth best in NFL history. Problem is, he has injured his throwing shoulder three times since 2004 -- an occupational hazard when you throw as many as 62 times in a game, as Bulger did against the Giants last year.
Now Bulger will lean heavily on Jackson, who has a dazzling blend of speed and power. Plus, Linehan's emphasis on short, quick passes should help. And for a backup, St. Louis acquired 13-year vet Gus Frerotte, who won nine of 15 starts last season in Miami and also played for Linehan in Minnesota. The No. 1 wideout is still Torry Holt, who last year became the first player in NFL history to have six straight seasons of 1,300 or more receiving yards.
Breakout Player: Steven Jackson
He was the giddiest player in training camp. With coach Mike Martz and running back Marshall Faulk gone, the third-year veteran will finally have an expanded role. Last year Jackson rushed for 1,046 yards and eight touchdowns, but his 254 carries were the fewest among the NFL's top 15 rushers, and he groused about his lack of touches. He's capable of sprinting outside, but he really flourishes between the tackles. Now -- coming off rib and hip injuries last season -- he must prove that he's durable enough to handle the extra work.
Defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, who went to his sixth Pro Bowl last season, with the Cowboys, will bolster the run defense and complement Leonard Little (91Ú2 sacks) on the pass rush. The secondary, which yielded the third-most passing touchdowns in the league, also has to tighten the screws. Free-agent signee Corey Chavous, a cerebral safety with the Vikings, should be better on pass coverage than heavy-hitting Adam Archuleta, who left for the Redskins.
Says Witherspoon, "We're not going to be guys who say, 'Hey, we know the offense is going to score 50, so as long as we hold [the other side] to 48, we're good.'"
The attack under Linehan won't get close to 50 as often as it used to, which perhaps makes him Martz Lite. It's not much of a moniker, but that doesn't matter. It's the defense that must make a name for itself if the Rams are to return to the playoffs.
Country Roads, Take Them To St. Louis!
Re: SI Team Preview: St. Louis RamsBefore the Rams challenge for a wild-card berth
I say let go for the gusto and TAKE THE DIVISION OUTRIGHT! :l :l
Re: SI Team Preview: St. Louis Rams
All of the pundit have all but given the division to Seattly. Hopefully, we'll have something to say about that.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
SJax, a developing quarterbacks best friend...
Re: SI Team Preview: St. Louis Rams
Re: SI Team Preview: St. Louis RamsAll of the pundit have all but given the division to Seattly. Hopefully, we'll have something to say about that.Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster