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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Will the offense measure up to the 'Greatest Show?'

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Jun. 10 2007

    Barring unexpected developments, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger will line up
    under center Sept. 10 for the first snap of the regular season surrounded by
    teammates who have produced 35,742 yards and 217 touchdowns in the National
    Football League.

    Those are eye-popping numbers, perhaps unsurpassed throughout the 32-team
    league. It breaks down like this:

    Wide receiver Isaac Bruce: 887 receptions, 13,376 yards and 80 touchdowns in
    13 seasons.

    Wide receiver Torry Holt: 712 receptions, 10,675 yards and 64 touchdowns in
    eight seasons.

    Wide receiver Drew Bennett: 273 receptions, 4,033 yards and 25 touchdowns in
    six seasons.

    Tight end Randy McMichael: 283 receptions, 3,096 yards and 18 touchdowns in
    five seasons.

    Running back Steven Jackson: 4,562 total yards and 30 touchdowns in three
    seasons.

    Bulger is no slouch himself, with 16,233 passing yards and 95 touchdown passes
    in six seasons.

    It adds up to this: The Rams could be headed for their most explosive season
    offensively since the "Greatest Show on Turf" tore up the league.

    "I'm real excited about the things we're going to be able to hopefully do,"
    coach Scott Linehan said during preparations for this week's full-squad
    minicamp. "But the bottom line is, we've got to go out and do it."

    The Rams led the NFL in total offense and scoring in 1999, 2000 and 2001. With
    "mad scientist" Mike Martz whipping up an innovative recipe, Kurt Warner at the
    controls, supplemented by wideouts Bruce, Holt and Az-Zahir Hakim, plus
    Marshall Faulk at running back, the Rams became the first team in league
    history to roll up at least 500 points in three consecutive seasons.

    Two Super Bowl trips, and one league championship were the results.

    The luster began to fade in 2002, when the first in a succession of injuries
    began to diminish Warner's effectiveness. Bulger started the last seven games
    that season, and became the full-time starter in '03. Warner was released in
    June 2004.

    Still, the Rams never dipped lower than ninth in the league in total offense in
    the five seasons (2002-06) that followed their Super Bowl loss to New England.
    They wound up sixth last year, Linehan's first season after succeeding Martz as
    head coach.

    But over those five years, the team posted just one winning record. It was
    plagued by feeble special-teams play and a defense that, after ranking third
    (1999) and seventh (2001) in the Super Bowl seasons, dipped dramatically.

    The Rams tumbled to 13th in total defense in 2002, 17th in '03, 19th in '04 and
    30th in '05. Under new coordinator Jim Haslett, they moved up to 23rd last year.

    Despite that improvement, the rebuilding of the defense is in its infancy. So
    the team set out in the offseason to beef up the offense even further.

    "I don't think we were too shabby a year ago," said Linehan, a former
    quarterback and offensive coordinator. "But I think we've made a lot of
    strides."

    During free agency, the Rams signed Bennett and McMichael. Wide
    receiver/returner Dante Hall was obtained from Kansas City for a fifth-round
    draft pick. In the draft, they selected Rutgers running back Brian Leonard in
    the second round.

    Lost from the unit were free-agent wideouts Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald,
    who combined for 242 catches, 2,929 yards and 18 touchdowns over four seasons
    with the Rams. But Linehan wanted taller targets, especially for red-zone
    situations. The 6-5 Bennett and the 6-3 McMichael fill that bill.

    McMichael not only averaged nearly 60 catches at Miami, he plugs another hole:
    a veteran tight end who can block effectively on passing and running plays.

    "We've added good production in Drew and Randy, guys that have experience in
    the league and also success with the teams they were with before," offensive
    coordinator Greg Olson said. "We've got a lot of guys that are going to want
    the ball. And that's a good problem to have."

    All the parts

    The new faces aren't the only reason for optimism. These carry-over components
    also are key:

    Linehan no longer being a rookie head coach.

    "Guys are going to be that much more comfortable with the offense and with the
    coaching staff," tackle Orlando Pace said. "That's going to make everybody's
    job a lot easier."

    Olson calling the plays for the second season (he took over for Linehan for
    the final six games last year).

    "I've got a good feel now for what Scott wants to see and wants from me," Olson
    said. "There's just an overall comfort feeling."

    Bulger's steady improvement. He posted career bests last year in completions
    (370), passing yards (4,301), touchdown passes (24) and interceptions (eight).

    "Obviously, he's a huge part of it," Olson said. "If he could match those
    numbers, or even have bigger numbers, that would be a plus."

    Jackson's ascension into the upper echelon of running backs after piling up a
    league-leading 2,334 yards from scrimmage last season, the fifth-highest total
    in NFL history.

    "Steven can pretty much do all the roles," Linehan said. "He's our feature
    back, but he became a very effective short-yardage player."

    A young offensive line that showed strong signs of promise late last season
    and will be bolstered by the return from injury of veterans Pace and Andy
    McCollum.

    "I think this is the best offensive line we've had since I've been here,"
    Jackson said. "They definitely came on, and they're hungry. You can see that."

    So, the parts appear to be in place. Still, before talk of a "Greatest Show on
    Turf II" gets too heated, Bulger provided some perspective.

    "You hate to put the expectations too high or just assume things," he said.
    "That group before was pretty good."

    Then, with a smile spreading, he added: "But the potential's there."


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
    laram0 is offline Superbowl MVP
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    Re: Will the offense measure up to the 'Greatest Show?'

    Grate question but only time will tell. Did the regular season start yet??:x

  3. #3
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
    r8rh8rmike is online now Superbowl MVP
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    Re: Will the offense measure up to the 'Greatest Show?'

    The pieces just might be there, but to become the trademark touchdown machine that was the GSOT, the offensive line will have to make huge strides and step it up big time.

  4. #4
    Bar-bq's Avatar
    Bar-bq is offline Pro Bowl Ram
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    Re: Will the offense measure up to the 'Greatest Show?'

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Grate question but only time will tell. Did the regular season start yet??:x
    You missed it?????

    We're three games in. They wear kilts on the field now in honour of an old-time #57.

    Get with the program. Seriously.

  5. #5
    live4ramin's Avatar
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    Re: Will the offense measure up to the 'Greatest Show?'

    If the football gods should make it so let's be ready with another name for it.
    Let the hype begin.

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