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Thread: Wagoners Mailbag
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Max James, London: Do you believe that what Ryan Fitzpatrick did against the Texans was a fluke and that it is now obvious that we need to draft a solid back up in case Bulger gets injured. Or do you see any potential in Fitzpatrick?
NW: Was it a fluke? No, I don't know if it's fair to call that 310-yard, three-touchdown performance a fluke. Was it unlikely? Absolutely. I know it's easy to be frustrated with Fitzpatrick after the five interceptions against Minnesota, but he's still a rookie. Remember that and remember that he was a seventh-round pick from Harvard. That's quite a leap to go from there to playing at the game's highest level. Sure, he has struggled now that he is playing against better teams and defenses, but that doesn't mean his future is any less bright. He has all of the physical tools and obviously the mental acumen to be a success in this league. I say wait it out, let's see how he does the rest of the way before passing judgment. I said this after the Houston game and I'll stick by it: all you are hoping for right now is for Fitzpatrick to prove that he should be the backup next year. This is Marc Bulger's team. It should be for as long as he's capable. The playing time he is getting now and the rest of this year will be so valuable to Fitzpatrick. I really believe he still has a good future in this league. Maybe nobody expected five interceptions, but all rookies have days like this. Heck, Peyton Manning had a whole year like this. Obviously, Fitzpatrick isn't Manning, but the point is that all young quarterbacks in the NFL struggle. It's a part of the process.
Aaron Lorton, Greenville, Ill.: Is it just me, or does it seem Steven Jackson isn't producing? It just looks to me like he does too much dancing in the backfield and is not hitting the hole with any authority.
NW: I had lots of questions about Steven this week and I find it interesting the way things change when a guy goes from not getting the ball enough to getting the ball more. So many emails about why isn't he getting the ball more and then a bunch about how Jackson isn't good enough. It's an interesting conundrum. Anyway, to answer your question, there are obviously some things Jackson needs to do better. Namely, his run reads aren't where they need to be. It is important to remember, though, that he is still young and like Fitzpatrick, needs time to find his way. It's funny that everyone wants him to lower his shoulder and stay between the tackles, but the play that most emailed about this week (the fourth-and-2 in the first quarter) failed because he did just that instead of bouncing out to the left. Steven Jackson is far from the problem on this team. In fact, if not for a holding call on rookie Claude Terrell, he finishes with 20 carries for 79 yards, almost 4 yards a pop. Jackson will be just fine. It wouldn't hurt his cause much if the offensive line opened a few more holes.
Kevin Johnston, Waterloo, Iowa: Considering I'm already looking forward to the offseason, do the Rams have anything else to play for except pride and position battles?
NW: Well, the playoffs are no longer a possibility so you have to look ahead to the future. The future could be now, though, and I believe that is the biggest reason to pay attention. There are plenty of players on this roster that are fighting for jobs and young players fighting to prove their worth. Sure, pride is a factor and I would hope that the effort continues. I didn't think the effort was bad at all against the Vikings. In fact, I thought the Rams played as hard as ever, but it's difficult to overcome six turnovers. Also, the defense was much more aggressive against Minnesota, a welcome sight for a group that has been fairly passive for most of the year as far as blitzing and attacking. Keep an eye on the schemes both on defense and offense. There is nothing to lose now and some experimentation isn't out of the question. Also, it might not mean much for the Rams, but they might get a shot to play spoiler for the Cowboys in the season's final game.
David Martin, Los Angeles: This season has been one of growing pains, more than it has been playing for playoff postion. It's hard to be upset with the rams, they lost key players every week of the season, which doesn't help team chemistry. In my opinion this has given younger players chances to shine (ex. Kevin Curtis most notably). Would you agree?
NW: There's no doubt that this is the time for the youth movement and that has been one of the positive that has come out of the season. It's always nice to know what you have, especially this early from a draft class even if the circumstances for those auditions aren't the best. You are seeing plenty of young guys making names for themselves and improving every day. Guys like Curtis, Ron Bartell, Jerome Carter, Claude Terrell and Madison Hedgecock are only going to get better by playing. Some have improved more than others, but there are three games left to learn and develop. In the near future, these games don't mean much, but in the big picture, they could be important for the future of the team.
John Hermann, San Antonio, Texas: I still believe that Isaac Bruce has at least a few good years as an elite receiver in the NFL. Do you echo those sentiments?
NW: There's no doubt in my mind about that. All of the talk in the offseason of him retiring or being released was absolutely ridiculous. Isaac is playing in incredible pain right now and still making plays when given the opportunity. Maybe he has missed some catches he'd normally make, but it's important to remember that he is in pain and he is still developing his timing with the rookie quarterback. Isaac is actually the same age as Marvin Harrison and you don't hear anyone writing Harrison off. Isaac is such an important part of this team, the locker room and, really, this city. There's no doubt in my mind that he'll come back completely healthy and have a big year next year.
Todd Fleming, St. Peters, Mo.:Why are people concerned or obsessed on picking a D-lineman in the draft? We obvisously need offensive linemen.
NW: I agree with half of what you said, Todd. Obviously, the offensive line is going to have to get younger sometime in the near future. But I think the reason people want help on the defensive line is because it's clear that there hasn't been a ton of production there this year, aside from tackle Ryan Pickett and the best efforts of injured end Leonard Little. Also, the offensive line has a number of young players that the Rams believe are the future. Guys like Terrell and Richie Incognito will one day be important pieces of the interior line. Obviously, the defense needs the most help and that includes the line.
Jonathan Gibson, Marrero, Louis.: Who do you think the Rams should go after in free agency and who do you draft first Jimmy Williams, A.J. Hawk or the best defensive end availible? Who do you think is the best playmaker defensivley?
NW: I have said it before and I will say it again, it's all about defense in this offseason. First, there are some key pieces that need to be brought back that are already on the defense. It starts with re-signing Pickett and Adam Archuleta. I believe both need to be brought back. Archuleta was excellent against the Vikings, proving that he can be the player everyone knows he can be when he is used correctly. My thoughts on Pickett have been made clear many times and I stand by it, he's the best player on this defense right now and if the unit as a whole was playing better, he'd probably be going to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl this year. Then, you go in with a shopping list that would probably include an end, some linebacker help and a shutdown corner. There will be some good names out there, but it's too early to tell who could be available because of franchise and transition tags as well as June 1st cap cuts. As for the draft, I think A.J. Hawk would be a great fit. In my mind, he's the best defensive player in the college game right now. I'm just not sure he'll be there when the Rams pick. I think he's the best playmaker, too. I'll say it again, I think the best defensive player available should be the choice.
Until next week, hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season.
-12-14-2005 #2Do you believe that what Ryan Fitzpatrick did against the Texans was a fluke and that it is now obvious that we need to draft a solid back up in case Bulger gets injured. Or do you see any potential in Fitzpatrick?
THIS is the exact thing I begged fans to not do three weeks ago. The kid pulled off a miracle in Houston. That was not normal. And I was afraid that just as quickly as some would praise him as the next big thing, they would toss him after better defenses treated him like a rookie.
It would have been better if he had been pedestrian against the Texans.......at least then, fans would allow him to be a rookie and learn like a rookie."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
Re: Wagoners MailbagOriginally Posted by HUbison
Last edited by OldRamsfan; -12-14-2005 at 03:07 PM.
Re: Wagoners Mailbag
Drew Bledsoe's first year was tough, but the talent was visable.
Heck I even remember a certain Green Bay Packer QB throwing FIVE ints, and in the playoffs against some hotshot offense with a rebuilt, but not stellar defense in 2001. Now ... who was that team?
Re: Wagoners MailbagHeck I even remember a certain Green Bay Packer QB throwing FIVE ints, and in the playoffs against some hotshot offense with a rebuilt, but not stellar defense in 2001. Now ... who was that team?
Fitz will be the #2 next season unless the Rams decide to bring in a vet QB.JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS
"HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"Adm. William "Bull" Halsey
Re: Wagoners Mailbag
The guys a keeper. Of the 5 int's, two weren't on him. Big deal.
He's started TWO flippin' games, and that after being third on the depth chart.
He'll be fine."the Heart Lies and the Head Plays Tricks with us, but the Eyes See True".
-12-15-2005 #7RamsFan16 Guest
Re: Wagoners MailbagOriginally Posted by HUbison