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Thread: TSN Rams Team Report
TSN Rams Team Report
By Jim Thomas
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
The Rams signed LB Dexter Coakley to a five-year, $14.2 million free-agent contract in the hopes he would upgrade their linebacker play and provide veteran leadership on defense. To some extent that was the case, but Coakley's overall play was a disappointment. But to a large degree, that was because Coakley was on the field for only about half the snaps prior to suffering a season-ending ankle and leg injuries against Washington. Strangely, the Rams chose to remove Coakley from their nickel and dime packages with rare exception, even though Coakley came to St. Louis with a reputation as a good coverage linebacker. That basically reduced Coakley to the role of a two-down linebacker. LB Brandon Chillar replaced Coakley in the nickel, even though Chillar's play there has been less than stellar. Chillar now replaces Coakley in the starting lineup. Chillar has good range, but missed too many tackles and lacks coverage instincts. . . .
For three straight weeks, opposing defenses have bamboozled the Rams - and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild -- with the combination of eight-man fronts and aggressive blitzing. The Rams need to re-commit themselves to running the football, and concentrate on short to intermediate passes to loosen up the defense. Under Fairchild, who has been calling plays in place of the ailing Mike Martz, the Rams don't seem to be using the middle of the field as much in the passing game and are throwing a lot of deep balls. Steven Jackson can be a dominating combination of speed and power at running back, but the Rams aren't fully utilizing his skills. . . .
Sloppy tackle in the secondary continues to turn five- and 10-yard gains into 20 -- and 30-yard gains on both running plays and passes. Rookie S Jerome Carter, rookie CB Ron Bartell, and third-year CB DeJuan Groce spend too much time lunging at opposing ballcarriers, and too little time wrapping up.
SCOUTING REPORT: Despite missing two games with a knee injury that bothered him in several others, Torry Holt continues to be the most productive wide receiver in the NFL this decade. Even with that lost time, he already has topped 1,000 yards -- no mean feat on an offense that is on its third starting quarterback with five games still to play. Although not known as a burner, Holt has deceptive speed and good acceleration. He always has had good moves, but is running crisper routes than ever. His drops are down, and for the second year in a row, he is doing an impressive job in traffic going after 50-50 balls. Holt has matured as a person, and that shows in his professionalism and approach to the game. He will throw his share of blocks. True, he frequently hits the turf quickly to avoid contact, but when the team needs the extra yards for a first down, he willingly puts his body on the line.
THIRD QUARTER GRADES: Offense: B-minus. Despite many injuries, Rams are still moving the ball. Why don't they run more? Defense: D. Whether it's the scheme, or the personnel -- or both -- this unit has been a major disappointment. Special teams: C-minus. K Jeff Wilkins remains one of the best; coverage units are spotty; return game non-existent. Coaching: B-minus. All things considered, Joe Vitt has done an admirable job filling in for Mike Martz.
Re: TSN Rams Team ReportStrangely, the Rams chose to remove Coakley from their nickel and dime packages with rare exception, even though Coakley came to St. Louis with a reputation as a good coverage linebacker. That basically reduced Coakley to the role of a two-down linebacker. LB Brandon Chillar replaced Coakley in the nickel, even though Chillar's play there has been less than stellar. Chillar now replaces Coakley in the starting lineup. Chillar has good range, but missed too many tackles and lacks coverage instincts