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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Who Are These St. Louis Rams

    Virtual Library of Sport
    Written by Patti LaRue


    August 13, 2007
    If you were to believe what all the professional sports writers say from all over, (i.e. NFL.com, ESPN, CBSsportsline, etc.) you would think that this is a team that simply didn't do anything during the 2007 off season to merit anything to take notice of.

    The Rams are flying so low under the NFL radar that even in a special NFL FFB draft with actual NFL players participating, actually bypassed the great Torry Holt in their draft until the 7th round. The 7th round?! Excuse me?! Although it might be noted that one player did make one smart and quick move in their first round....by picking Steven Jackson as his teams running back.

    The Rams are being overlooked by everyone in the NFL including their opponents. For the Rams though, this could be a good thing. The last time they flew so low under the radar was back in 1999 when they had 200 - 1 odds of winning the Super Bowl that year. And if you know your history.....you know what happened in that season....not only did a lot of people get rich off the Rams if they took the Vegas odds, the Rams also went onto to become World Champs.

    But I digress here.

    Let's take a look at exactly what the Rams did in the off season that others just don't seem to be taking any notice of so far this year. Let's look at some glaring problems the Rams faced in the 2006 season and see how they have been addressed in the 2007 off season.


    Special Teams Woes - The Rams have not seen any action from special teams since the days of Tony Horne back in 1999 thru 2001. Simply pathetic is the only word that could possibly describe this unit over the past 5 years. You need to understand; it puts a lot of strain on an offense if their field position is hampered by the lack of good special teams play. You can't expect an offense to continually try and go nearly the length of the entire field almost every possession and be highly successful. Experiment after experiment failed throughout the years. Always ending up with players that simply did not like playing special teams or didn't have a clue on how to play special teams.

    The first thing the Rams did was to hire yet another Special Teams coach, but this time one with 17 years of Special Teams coaching in the NFL. Al Roberts who brings to the team a fire and toughness that has been lacking in previous Special Teams coaches. One with a no nonsense attitude and expects the same back from his players. A coach who takes Special Teams serious and truly understands the importance it plays and instills in his players that same importance.

    The second thing they did to improve this unit was to trade for Dante Hall from the Kansas City Chiefs. Dante Hall has consistently been one of the leading return men in the NFL. Despite the fact that many say at the "ripe old age" of 28 he's lost a step, coach Linehan simple shrugs off the negative feedback on Hall and doesn't see where he's lost anything. In Kansas City, Hall was expected to do a lot more than the Rams will be expecting him to do. During his stay with the Chiefs, added to his punt returns and kick off returns he also was fit into their offense quite often as a wide receiver. This will more than likely not be the case in Linehans offense. What the Rams want him to do is concentrate on what he does best and that's Special Teams. This seems to be something that appears to make Hall a very happy man. He knows his niche in the game and that niche is Special Teams and making something happen. Definitely something that's not happened for a long time in St. Louis. Hall needed a change of scenery and the Rams hope that the change will bring them lots of happy returns.


    Defensive Woes - Anyone who watched the Rams in 2006 simply cringed whenever a runner from the opposing team took the football in their hands. With the Rams defense allowing on an average of at least 100 yards rushing per game. Week in and week out fans would moan and groan in pain watching the dreadful run defense. Only one other team was worse than the Rams in this area last year. And that would be the World Champion Colts…if you can believe that one.


    During the off season the Rams appear to have addressed their defensive woes by picking up James Hall a bruising RDE who will help Leonard Little out on the corners. If Hall can stay healthy, there’s no doubt that the double-teaming that Leonard Little received in 2006 will end. With this acquisition the Rams should have bookend threats on each end of the defensive line.

    Along with picking up James Hall, they also picked up veteran WLB Chris Draft who will be backing up Pisa Tinoisamoa who could have used some help last year with all the injuries he suffered during the entire season.

    But the biggest acquisition on defense for the Rams was their first round draft pick from Nebraska, Adam Carriker who has graciously and with ease moved from his customary position of DE to NT where they hope that he will be able to use his size, skill, fierceness to stuff the run up the middle. The Rams biggest weakness of 2006.

    Many critics of the game are having a hard time believing that a rookie who has been asked to switch positions and being expected to start from day one, could possibly make any kind of impact on the field. But don’t let any of the Rams veterans like Little, Tinoisamoa or Witherspoon hear you say that. Carriker’s skill and attitude have impressed the veterans to the hilt.

    Some say there have been whispers at Rams Park from the veterans that perhaps the “draft gurus” have finally gotten it right.


    Offensive Improvement – It’s not like the Rams really needed to improve their offense, but Linehan wasn’t about to let it go without a couple of tweaks. Besides how could it hurt to add the likes of huge wide receiver Drew Bennett and the outstanding talent of TE Randy McMichael. Both players will be huge targets for Marc Bulger who is not accustomed to having targets that tower over their defenders.

    The only weakness the Rams seemed to have had during the 2006 season would have been their red zone struggles. So Linehan made a point to get Bulger some large and talented targets to help solve that problem.

    So adding McMichael, Bennett along with multi-talented rookie RB Brian Leonard to the already extremely talented crew of Steven Jackson, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, should prove to be one of the wisest things Linehan may have done all off season.


    The critics can say all they want that the Rams haven’t done much to improve their position in the NFL, but if everything they’ve done fits together smoothly and everyone gels quickly, this low flying, under the radar team, just might come out of the gates flying high.

    So who are these St. Louis Rams? Probably a far better team than they are being given credit for. They think they are, their fans think they are. If you want to find out more about the team many are dismissing there are plenty of original articles on the St. Louis Rams you can read, and you can check here to learn more history and facts about the St. Louis Rams.

    __


  2. #2
    suhpr3me Guest

    Re: Who Are These St. Louis Rams

    Good post. I agree, just because we didn't sign any big named players. But we had smart off season moves to fill in our holes.

  3. #3
    prof22693's Avatar
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    Post Re: Who Are These St. Louis Rams

    Yeah, I think we did a good job. Most of the other big-name defensive players were holding out because they wanted huuuge deals, not to mention we need money for #39 next year. Better fill up the stands.

    On a side note, I think its a little ridiculous to have James Hall as an 84!?!?!?!? in Madden 08, thats crazy even with all of Hall's injuries.

    http://www.nfl.com/players/playerpage/192229

    He's had great numbers, should be at least an upper 80, maybe 86.

    EDIT- considering the fact that Little is a 95 (these are their overall DE rankings)
    Last edited by prof22693; -08-14-2007 at 02:34 PM.

  4. #4
    mde8352gorams's Avatar
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    Re: Who Are These St. Louis Rams

    Good post Wraith. I would add to the Special Teams in your discussion that we added people like Todd Johnson and others who will help the COVERAGE part of Special Teams. That hurt as much if not more than the return angle because it put extra pressure on our vulnerability - defense. By shortening the field for opponents we put the strain on our defense which as you very capably describe has been strengthened. One "Diamond-in-the-Rough" we may have uncovered in preseason is Quniton Culberson. If he went to Miss. State he should be familiar with Patrick Willis, whom we'll be seeing 2 x each year and be able to impart some of his weaknesses.

    My one concern that I've read about is our secondary. We have Ty Hill who will be better than his rookie year, and Corey Chavous is a seasoned veteran. After that we need OJ Otogwe to step it up this year and Ron Bartell to fill-in for Fakhir Brown for the first 4 games. I'm still hoping the suspension will get reversed after reading the circumstances. Our Division is loaded with good receivers and we'll need to have a great secondary ready to cover them when our front seven aren't able to get to the QB.

    Go Rams!

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