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  1. #1
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    Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    BY JEFF GORDON
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    01/02/2007


    So what are we to make of the Rams season?

    Scott Linehan sized up the 8-8 finish during his Tuesday news conference and figured the campaign was average. In this corner of cyberspace, we agree.

    Was it a good season or a bad season? Neither, really, so we’ll slap a “C” on the whole thing and start looking forward.


    Here are the five things we like most about the state of the Rams:




    1. The offensive line got young.

    This had to happen sooner or later, so the injuries suffered by center Andy McCollum and guard Adam Timmerman just sped things along. The Doughnut Brothers are done.

    Guards Richie Incognito and Mark Setterstrom and center Brett Romberg appear to have bright futures, which is a LARGE development. Those three, plus tackles Alex Barron and Orlando Pace, should give the Rams offense a nice foundation for next season.


    2. Steven Jackson broke out, growing from “very good” to “elite” during the 2006 season.

    If you asked NFL general managers to name the players they would most like to build around, Jackson would have to make the Top 20.

    “This guy basically said, ‘Hey, jump on my back. I’m going to try to carry you as far as I can,' ” Linehan said. “If this year is any indication, I’d say we have a pretty bright future.”


    3. QB Marc Bulger settled into the new offense.

    Through the middle of the season, he struggled to make downfield connections with Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Kevin Curtis.

    During the last three victories, that was NOT an issue. The offense appears to be in excellent shape heading forward. We’d like to see the Rams commit to Curtis and give him a bigger offensive role -– although Bruce really looked fresh at the end of the season.


    4. Young defensive backs Tye Hill, O.J. Atogwe and Ron Bartell grew this season, giving the beleaguered “D” something to look build upon.

    Jerametrius Butler will move on. The forever-injured Travis Fisher will be out as well.


    5. All is not lost on the front seven.

    Will Witherspoon, Pisa Tinoisamoa and Leonard Little are impact players. Defensive end/tackle Claude Wroten showed something. So did ends Victor Adeyanju and Brandon Green.


    And here are the five things we worry the most about:


    1. The middle of the Rams defense is soft!

    Witherspoon was miscast as a middle linebacker and Jimmy Kennedy was miscast at nose tackle.

    Defensive tackle La’ Roi Glover made some plays, but he may be a change-of-pace player at this point in his career. The Rams need to hoard stout rookies and free agents for the middle of the D.


    2. Linehan and his staff still have much to prove.

    How did they NOT get into the playoffs this season? Linehan made adjustments on the fly, such as surrendering his play-calling responsibilities.

    But until this staff gets the Rams into postseason play, it can’t measure up to the Dick Vermeil and Mike Martz regimes.


    3. Although punter Matt Turk and kicker Jeff Wilkins did a fine job booting the ball, the Rams mustered nothing with their kick returns. And their coverage suffered enough breakdowns to keep them out of the playoffs.

    How does this happen year after year?


    4. Tight end was still an under-productive part of the offense.


    Joe Klopfenstein showed a bit of promise, but Dominique Byrd did nothing until the very end of the season. Are these guys good enough for the future?


    5. The Rams didn’t generate enough pass pressure, despite Little’s outstanding season.

    Adeyanju is a solid run-stopping end and Green brings lots of energy to his job, but they didn’t generate much pressure from the right side of the D.

    And the Rams need to wreak more havoc up the middle without having to rely so heavily on blitzing.


    On balance, the Rams don’t need a whole lot for next season. Their areas of need are well-defined. The football staff should be able to focus on those needs and strengthen this team.

    “We’re a pretty hungry team,” Linehan said. “We’d like to pick up where we left off as soon as we can.”


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    BY JEFF GORDON
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    01/02/2007

    On balance, the Rams don’t need a whole lot for next season. Their areas of need are well-defined. The football staff should be able to focus on those needs and strengthen this team.

    “We’re a pretty hungry team,” Linehan said. “We’d like to pick up where we left off as soon as we can.”
    I don't know about the rest of you but I can hardly wait til next season.:r

  3. #3
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    Offensively we look pretty well set...We MUST sort out the run D because if you can't stop the run you won't win consistently no matter how much talent you have on the other side of the ball,because they won't get on the field for long stretches...Look at Indy this year,they have Manning and co. yet their run D has imploded recently and I don't like their chances in the play-off's for that reason..I would like us to get a bit nastier on defense and stop getting handled..But all in all I think we have a lot to look forward to especially with the emergence of young talent on the O' line(something we have lacked) and in the secondary which is something we wouldn't have been sure about a year ago.So the foundations are set,now we have to build on them..:l

  4. #4
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    To judge this team compared to last years just look at our draft needs. The board has gotten significantly smaller. Atogwe has shown he can be an effective starter, Adeyanju has shown he can be a good run stuffer at defensive end, Bartell and Hill really looked good at the end of the season, the O-Line looks like it should be in great shape next season, two young stars at TE, and all that is needed is to shore up the middle of that defense.

    I like how simplified things are this season
    The Roman and The Prince. Playmakers until the end.


  5. #5
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    Here's my F/A wish list, players that I believe will help solidify the defense:


    Adalius Thomas, or Kawika Mitchell in the middle LB spot.
    Out side looking in or if we went to a 3-4 : Chase Blackburn, James Darling, Randall Godfrey,Chad Brown

    Cory Redding, Michael Myers, Vonnie Holliday, or Robaire Smith, for DT
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  6. #6
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    F/A DE's that would help take pressure off Little:

    Dwight Freeney, Jared Allen, Bryan Thomas, Justin Smith
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  7. #7
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    I know it sounds like a silly answer to just spout out freeney, but honestly I think he should be our target FA if there is anyway we could pay him it would be an amasing boos for the D. We do need to get in the middle but I really think he would be the best defensive move we could make.

  8. #8
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    Quote Originally Posted by bigtiger737 View Post
    I know it sounds like a silly answer to just spout out freeney, but honestly I think he should be our target FA if there is anyway we could pay him it would be an amasing boos for the D. We do need to get in the middle but I really think he would be the best defensive move we could make.
    Yes but......... the run D would still suck.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  9. #9
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    Quote Originally Posted by bigtiger737 View Post
    I know it sounds like a silly answer to just spout out freeney, but honestly I think he should be our target FA if there is anyway we could pay him it would be an amasing boos for the D. We do need to get in the middle but I really think he would be the best defensive move we could make.
    Signing Dwight Freeney might be the one free agent acquisition that would make our run defense worse.
    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Four
    Rams Discussion Right at Your Fingertips!



  10. #10
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Signing Dwight Freeney might be the one free agent acquisition that would make our run defense worse.
    I would rather they focus on plugging the middle than going after high priced pass rushers. I think that VA and Green can be adequate DE's next season.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  11. #11
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMMAN68 View Post
    I would rather they focus on plugging the middle than going after high priced pass rushers. I think that VA and Green can be adequate DE's next season.
    I agree that we need to plug the middle,but I also believe we need a pass- rush from the RE and VA and Green don't really bring this..They are adequate players to have in a rotation but we need help to free up Little,so he doesn't get so many teams and can make even more plays..:l

  12. #12
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    Quote Originally Posted by 81~BIG-GAME View Post
    I agree that we need to plug the middle,but I also believe we need a pass- rush from the RE and VA and Green don't really bring this..They are adequate players to have in a rotation but we need help to free up Little,so he doesn't get so many teams and can make even more plays..:l
    Aggressive blitzing should fix that, plus I'm sure there are a few DE's on the Rams draft board. I just wouldn't want them to spend too much on a F/A that isn't going to fix their run D troubles.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

  13. #13
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    I don't think we should waste all our money on an end but what I was pointing out is that we need an upgrade over VA and Green either thru FA or the draft..:l

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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    I like our offense and the fact that we can look at this year as a transition year in which we changed the look of our O-line and made it younger.As much as I've enjoyed watching Timmerman and McCollum you could see in the last couple years that they were in decline.I like Romberg at center,Cog and Setterstrom at Guard, Pace and Barron at tackle,I just am really excited about not just this year but the years to come with this group.
    Think about it,Pace is the Elder statesman of this group!!!
    Our entire O-line was re-made in 1 season.
    On the flipside our D-line needs alot of work.With the exception of Little we need help.The middle is awful.Maybe Adeyanjue and Green are players and we will be OK but I think we really need to address this position through FA and not a guy on the decline but a guy inthe prime of his career like Myers or Redding.
    The other thing that needs to happen is to address the problems with our return teams.I dont' know if this is all on the quality of our return men or our blockers,or the whole scheme but our return game espescially the punt return is horrendous.
    I pine for the days of Tony Horne and Az Hakim.

  15. #15
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    Re: Take Five: What we like about the Rams, and what needs fixing

    Here's the thing fellas, the problem is not our Linebacker core, infact we have one of the best cores in the league. The problem is the middle, and the right side. They're not getting pressure on the QB. What made guys like Ray Lewis good is that the O line wasn't getting a chance to T off on him. Trust me we sure up our defensive line, and Dubspoon, and 50 will have probowl years. We really need to just focus on our D line. Now if we have the chance to land Fletcher back then yes get him. But we need some Hogs in the middle of our D line, and one more cover DB like Hill. On the offensive side I would add depth to our O line, and bring in a good back up for Stevie Wonder Jackson. One or two big playmakers and we have a SuperBowl contending team.

    Why we let Wistrom go I'll never know.

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