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Thread: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

  1. #1
    Barry Waller is offline Registered User
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    STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    There were lot of ups and downs, but in the end, the Rams, with the 2nd toughest schedule in the NFL, finsihed about where most objective analysts had them finishing, considering that two of the very best NFL teams, and the best defenses, reside in the NFC West.

    Most fans who got behind Jeff Fisher and Les Snead and Kevin Demoff's plan to rebuild from the ground up with mostly homegrown talent see this year as an improvement, especially considering they beat three pretty good teams with their backup QB.

    So if we look objectively at the roster, as GMs do, assigning a designation of Star, solid starter, ascending player, descending player, or fringe player, what does it tell us about what to expect in 2014 and beyond?

    I think it looks very very promising, if most everyone stays healthy, of course, especially with a softer 2014 schedule and a load of high draft picks, perhaps even one solid free agsnt (safety?).

    Quarterbacks: Grade B
    Sam Bradford - I'll go by what Jeff Fisher thinks, because that's all that matters here, but I share that opinion, based on what I saw. If he comes back healthy, his best is yet to come - Ascending player
    Kellen Clemens - he's not old, and earned the backup job by wiinning 4 games against good teams. Even TB was playing well and has real talent. Solid backup player
    THIRD QB - Will come from the draft, and I really like a lot of the second tier QBs this year, who could fall to round three.

    Running Backs: Grade B
    Zac Stacy - The guy led the SEC in rushing, so should be be that surprised? - Ascending Player
    Bennie Cunningham - Shows flashes of real brilliance - AP
    Daryl Richardson - Got hurt, got replaced, got buried, but still very very young - AP
    Isaiah Pead - A disappointment, but never really got a long look, still a talent at a low cost and the 4th RB- Rating - incomplete.
    Chase Reynolds -reliable special teamer - AP

    Wide Receivers: Grade B
    Tavon Austin - Will be a big time weapon for years to come, could have great value in tight playoff games. AP
    Stedman Bailey - Looks like a young Ike Bruce, and Torry Holt says he reminds him of himself - AP
    Brian Quick - Everyone said he might take awhile, and he was better this year, especially toward the end, even without bradford to get the ball deep. Next year will be telling for him-AP
    Chris Givens - Got off to a slow start, then suffered with no Bradford to throw deep more, gotta ignore 2nd year a bit due to soph slump. Agagin 2014 is a big year for him -AP
    Austin Pettis - Proved to be the most reliable catching in a crowd. Not a great #1 or #2, but a valuble guy who provides veteran leadership, and he still has some upside after big improvement this year. -SP

    Tight Ends Grade A
    Jared Cook - Some seem disappointed, but he had the best year of ANY ST Louis Rams TE, and free agents usually do better after a year of settling in. -AP
    Lance Kendricks - As long as he is healthy, he is a real weapon as #2 TE - AP
    Corey Harkey - A real surprise, and valuable player - AP

    Offensive Tackles: Grade C
    Jake Long - Had a pretty good 1st year till injury, and hopefully the rehab goes well, as he and Bredford can help each other through it. -SP
    Rodger Saffold - Rams seem set to draft OT and move Saffold to guard, if he wants to be here and they can afford a big deal.
    Joe Barksdale - Looks like a solid long term backup, who can start if called on - AP

    Guards: Grade D
    Chris Williams - He's a free agent they hope to retain. -S
    Harvey Dahl - The injury bug, age, and his cap number could see him let go -DP
    Brandon Washington: Hasn't played much at all, so he's a question mark.
    Shelly Smith - Also a free agent, who they might keep if the price is right.

    Centers: Garde C
    Scott Wells - Played well till another injury felled him. Not sure if they have a guy to replace him, so he might be here another year at least. -S
    Tim Barnes - Too early to judge him one way or the other -?
    Barrett Jones - Now they say he may be a guard - Big ?

    Long Snapper: Grade A
    Jake McQuaide - SP
    Kickers: Grade A+
    Johnnie Hekker - best in the NFL -AP
    Greg Zuerlein - Had a fine year, and no returns -AP

    Defensive Ends: Grade A+
    Chris Long - Just a very solid player, and great leader -SP
    Robert Quinn - The sky is the limit for this stud - SP
    Will Hayes - He'd start anywhere else - SP
    Eugene SIms - Quietly has matured into a very good player - AP

    Defensive Tackles: Grade B
    Michael Brockers - Very solid second season, now providing pass pressure consistently-AP
    Kendall Langford - Finally getting the feel for DT - AP
    Jermale Cudjo - Decent backup
    Matt Conrath - Ok prospect

    Linebackers: Grade B
    Alec Ogletree - Clearly a real stud talent with Pro Bowl future -AP
    James Laurinaitis - Leader of the young defense, holds it all together - SP
    JoLonn Dunbar - Solid season when he came back, but he's a free agent.
    Ray Ray Armstrong - ST killer and has some upside at LB -AP
    Daren Bates - another part of the gr eat coverage teams -AP

    Cornerbacks: Grade C
    Janoris Jenkins - Wasn't ready to be the #1, still has huge talents - AP
    Trumaine Johnson - Clearly has starting CB tools - AP
    Brandon McGee - Jury is still out for youngster - AP

    Safeties: Grade C
    Rodney McLeod: Clearly not ready to start, but has some ability
    Matt Daniels - Got hurt . but showed some ability
    Cody Davis - Special teams guy
    Darian Stewart - Fre agent who probably won't be back
    TJ McDonald - Showed enough to be secure about future at SS - AP
    Quinton Pointer - Restricted free agent may not return

    Barry Waller

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    Re: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    Nice recap Barry. Agree with you on all player assessments, especially Jared Cook whom I believe will have an even better year next season as he will have the adjustment period of a new system under his belt. I question calling Joe Barksdale a back-up as he's developed into a reliable starting RT. Of course a draft of OT in round 1 could alter that designation.

    Interestingly you chose to exclude Will Witherspoon among the LB's and Cortland Finnegan among the CB's. Perhaps the message is they won't be back. Withspoon yes will be gone, but Finnegan is a Jeff Fisher guy whom he may want back there as a nickel CB.

    I'm curious if you think Armstrong can be a starting OLB or whether we draft an OLB in rounds 1-2, as I firmly believe Dunbar will be dropped. I'm alone on this but I really would like to see CJ Mosely on the Rams next year. Talent, versatility and smarts, good things to have in a LB. Unless they go for a OL, the Giants who draft ahead of us at #12 will snatch him.

    Last point, I'm not sure our schedule will be so easy next year. We will have 8 games against playoff teams, plus 2 against AZ who had the record of a playoff team. That more than 1/2 the schedule, ouch. The only relief may be 3 games against teams with new coaches.

    Good job. Enjoyed reading.

    Go Rams!
    Last edited by mde8352gorams; -01-01-2014 at 02:16 PM.

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    Barry Waller is offline Registered User
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    Re: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    If teams like the Bucs, Lions, or Bills all take Wr before pick 13, it would probably mean a guy like Mosely drops, and he could well be BPA at 13. Rams could go there, or look to trade down for a team needing OLB badly.

    I see Armstrong as a physical, emotional player who will be great at ST until his body starts to break.

    I see him as no more than a situational LB though, not as any kind of long term starter due to a lack of great instincts
    But you never know
    Barry Waller

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    Re: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    Joe Barksdale is definitely a solid starting RT. That right side with Saffold and Barksdale was incredible. PFF had Barksdale at one point in the season the top rated RT.

    I like the assessment great analysis!

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    Re: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    I think with regards to the secondary, we could use another safety with deep coverage skills to replace McLeod, who would be a solid backup. I like TJ McDonald at SS. His game against the Saints is exactly what you would want from a safety, as I'm certain he pretty much shut down Jimmy Graham on his own. McDonald was great especially considering the injury he suffered.

    At corner, I think our biggest problem is scheme and not players. Jenkins and Tru are fine players, when used in the right way. Jenkins matched up really well with bigger WRs like Brandon Marshall and Vincent Jackson, especially in the end zone. The problem obviously is the huge cushions given to WRs, letting them pick up the easy slants and comebacks underneath which ultimately reflect badly on the corners, even though there was little they could do. I feel if we let Tru and JJ play up close and press the WRs, the corners will have more success.

    Also, we may need an upgrade at slot corner. Finnegan was poor last year and then injured, McGee was a rookie who got tested whenever he was on the field. They got killed whenever a top WR lined up in the slot (Fitzgerald, Boldin, Marshall). The Rams would be better off having someone like Jenkins come inside and play the slot when a top WR comes inside.

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    Re: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    Quote Originally Posted by waller
    Defensive Ends: Grade A+
    Chris Long - Just a very solid player, and great leader -SP
    Robert Quinn - The sky is the limit for this stud - SP
    Will Hayes - He'd start anywhere else - SP
    Eugene SIms - Quietly has matured into a very good player - AP
    For the Clowney advocates.....does THIS sound like a unit which will require the #2 pick in the draft?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    For the Clowney advocates.....does THIS sound like a unit which will require the #2 pick in the draft?
    I have never believed in the asinine philosophy that you "draft value over need". You either A) draft someone in your slot that will help you or B) trade down if someone is willing to give you enough for your draft slot. I can't in a million years imagine drafting a guy (Clowney) for a unit which is already very good when we have glaring needs elsewhere.
    ram3057, HUbison, laram0 and 2 others like this.

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    Re: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    Fact is, there is no point having pass rushers if the team can't score points, and you end up playing behind. Then the opposition will just be running the ball all the time!!
    ram3057 likes this.

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    Re: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    Wait.

    I'm sorry.

    I stopped reading at Chase Reynolds as an ascending player. It also didn't help that OP listed Pead as incomplete when that wasn't one of the listed categories. Reynolds is fringe player, and given his 2nd round contract status, I would label Pead as descending player.

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    Re: STATE of THE TEAM 01/01/2014

    Well lots of pieces are already in place...so how do the Rams use them? Considering the tough defenses in the NFC West, it better be something bold and innovative, because both the Seagulls and 49whinners have high marks in all areas of the game and are not likely to fall off even when the check arrives to pay their players

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