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    chipperjones's Avatar
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    Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

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    Last edited by RamWraith; -07-15-2007 at 10:38 AM.


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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    Rams '07 preview

    By Jim Thomas for Sporting News
    July 14, 2007

    In his rookie year as an NFL head coach, Scott Linehan had an offense that was good enough to win 10 games and a defense good enough to win six. The St. Louis Rams split the difference and finished 8-8. So entering the offseason, the team's top three needs were clear: defense, defense and defense.

    It was with much surprise, then, that the most expensive acquisitions were wide receiver Drew Bennett and tight end Randy McMichael. Apparently, Linehan's blueprint calls for winning a lot of 40-30 games.

    Though these Rams lack the quick-strike ability of Mike Martz's Greatest Show on Turf teams of 1999-2001, this attack should be almost as tough to defend. No offense in the league boasts as many proven options in the passing game. If Steven Jackson runs like he did last year – becoming a bona fide star – and a young line keeps quarterback Marc Bulger healthy, the potential is there to score many, many points.

    Alas, the Rams might need every last point unless there is dramatic improvement on defense and special teams.

    GAME PLAN

    Offense: One of the best moves Linehan made in '06 was to pass play-calling duties to coordinator Greg Olson after a shutout loss to Carolina. The offense jelled under Olson, and the Rams averaged 28 points in the final six games – four of which they won. Olson shows the patience to stick with the running game even if it starts slowly. The Rams will feature a versatile attack that can play smashmouth with Jackson or throw downfield to Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Bennett.

    Defense: Coordinator Jim Haslett likes to give opponents multiple looks and be unpredictable. He also isn't afraid to bring the blitz. The problem is this scheme requires skilled players who think and react quickly and are just plain quick. The '06 Rams were about two or three players short of making the scheme work effectively – and it doesn't look like they made many upgrades. As a result, they will be depending on several young players to make the leap from question marks to solid starters.

    SPOTLIGHT PLAYERS

    RB Steven Jackson: Jackson is coming off a breakthrough campaign. Can he do it again? Actually, Linehan would like Jackson to do a little less after he piled up 436 touches, including 90 receptions. Jackson improved as an inside runner, squaring his pads and grinding out yards after contact. He cut down on lost-yardage plays caused by drifting sideways in search of the home run. Jackson also has developed into a effective receiver, mainly on screen passes and dump-offs, which he can turn into big plays because of his elusiveness and ability to break tackles.

    WR Drew Bennett: For years, the Rams relied on smaller, quicker receivers, but the departure of Kevin Curtis and the addition of the 6-foot-5 Bennett is significant. Look for Bennett to excel at working the middle against Cover 2 schemes. He and McMichael will help productivity in the red zone, a problem in recent seasons. McMichael has averaged 65 catches the past three seasons, and his blocking ability will pay dividends. Linehan likes to use three-receiver and two-tight end sets, so Bennett and McMichael will be on the field a lot.

    DE James Hall: The weak link a year ago, the defensive line must show dramatic improvement for the Rams to compete for a playoff spot. The Rams ranked 31st in run defense last season, and the line lacked an effective inside run stuffer. Left end Leonard Little remains one of the league's top pass rushers and holds his own against the run. But the lack of a complementary pass rusher caused Little to face a heavy dose of double-teams and chip blocks. The Rams hope Hall, acquired from the Lions, will have enough pass-rush juice to ease the attention on Little. Hall must display more consistency than he did in Detroit.

    MLB Will Witherspoon and OLB Pisa Tinoisamoa: At their best, Witherspoon and Tinoisamoa fly to the ball and make plays sideline to sideline. Both, however, are undersized and prone to getting smothered by 320-pound guards. Tinoisamoa plays with passion but had enough injuries last season to fill out a medical textbook. Witherspoon has excellent coverage skills and was a difference-maker last season before wearing down.

    VINNIE IYER'S TAKE

    Bulger, Jackson and Holt form the foundation of one of the league's most prolific and exciting offenses, but the defense remains a wasteland.
    Prediction: 7-9 (third in the NFC West).

    FALL FORECAST

    There's no question the offense will be better – and it was pretty good in '06. But the same can't be said about a defense that has only one sure difference-maker in Little. It's difficult to see the Rams faring much better in Linehan's second season, particularly against a schedule that looks tougher than the '06 version. Look for the team to finish in the 8-8 neighborhood again.
    The sad thing is that it's Jim Thomas of the St Louis Post Dispatch that wrote that article. Either he's a pessimist or most of us around here are way too optimistic.

  3. #3
    Goldenfleece's Avatar
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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    Well, even if we did improve significantly this off-season, we certainly could have a worse record next year if (a) some of our key contributors from 2006 get injured or (b) the teams we play against improved even more than we did. Sounds like he isn't sold on Hall and doesn't really think we've done enough to improve the defense.

  4. #4
    RamsFanSam's Avatar
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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    Quote Originally Posted by RamFan_Til_I_Die View Post
    The sad thing is that it's Jim Thomas of the St Louis Post Dispatch that wrote that article. Either he's a pessimist or most of us around here are way too optimistic.
    The PD....a VERY respectable publication. After all, doesn't Bernie M work for them?

    (NOTE: Sarcasm intended)

    Any sportswriter can predict the season. It doesn't mean he'll be right. How many sportswriters had the Rams going all the way in '99, how many had 'Zona winning the west in '05 and '06, how many had the pats winning the SB last year....

    Ignore it. The guy is apparently sipping from Bernie's cup of Idiot Juice.

  5. #5
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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    The Rams have two major sins going against them. They finished right out of the playoffs and so they are forgotten in the middle. Then they didn't sign any 70 million dollar contracts either, and so are forgotten.

    The truth of the matter is, we're hedging our bets that rookie and second year DTs can shore up the run and that a secondary devoid of any superstars can defend a pass happy league. Can they? We'll have to see, but it is a gamble and one that could certainly lead to a losing record. Also against us is that the media is in love with the Cards and the Whiners. They'll get the props and the guessed records above us, which only puts pressure on them and a chip on our shoulders. Let them pick against us, it'll be all the sweeter when we show them all up!

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    chipperjones's Avatar
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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    Here is what I think...Our offense alone can win us 7 or 8 games. I think with key contributions on D, we can reach 9-11 wins.

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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    Quote Originally Posted by RamFan_Til_I_Die View Post
    The sad thing is that it's Jim Thomas of the St Louis Post Dispatch that wrote that article. Either he's a pessimist or most of us around here are way too optimistic.
    I think I know the answer.

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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    Quote Originally Posted by RamFan_Til_I_Die View Post
    The sad thing is that it's Jim Thomas of the St Louis Post Dispatch that wrote that article. Either he's a pessimist or most of us around here are way too optimistic.
    THE WEAK LINK A YEAR AGO: " The defensive line must show a vast improvement for the RAMS to compete for a playoff spot" ?

    That piece set me off a bit!

    Didn't we compete for a playoff spot last season? Pessimist or optimist? How about REALIST?

    The defense was bad last season, we all know that. As has been said many times before this will be the 2nd season under Haslett. I believe that means alot. Our defense really has no where to go but up. So in my opinion we will definitely make a run at the playoffs in 2007. As a matter of fact I'm expecting us to not only make the playoffs but win the NFC West.

    In a nutshell:

    The 2007 Offense will be outstanding, period. (2nd season under Linehan plus the key additions)

    The 2007 Defense will be better than the 2006 version, period. (2nd season under Haslett plus the key additions and 1 subtraction) Unless we feel trading Jimmy Kennedy was a mistake?

    The 2007 Special teams will be better than in 2006. (Dante Hall)

    I'm just being realistic.

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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    I hope so, but let's say Leonard Little gets injured in the pre-season. Then is the defense guaranteed to be better? Long-term Carriker should be an upgrade, but short-term he's another first round pick trying to adjust to playing nose tackle. Granted word out of camp seems to be that Carriker is taking to instruction better, but it may take him time to adjust to how fast things happen at the line of scrimmage in the NFL. Also, Glover might be old enough that his play declines from year to year. I think we've got better personnel on the defense, but if teams are able to run on us the way they have for the last five years, I really don't know how much improvement to expect.

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    GameTime is offline Registered User
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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    I like the suggestion that we havent signed any 70 million dollar contracts and thats why our predictions are such.

    Wouldnt it be funny if after we resign Bulger to a big contract, the predictions suddenly improve?

  11. #11
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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    Mark it down. We're going 12-4 this year. I have the same feeling about this team that I had in 99. Don't know what it is, but I feel it. I felt that team made the moves to be dominant. The same as I feel about this team. One thing you have to understand, is that no one roots for the Rams, and I've never understood that.

    Like I said 12-4

  12. #12
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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    That whole Bulger thing is scary. linny's got Gus already there and Dante' on the market(probably get him at the league Minimum)he could say " I think we will be alright if Mark wants to play hardball." If that does happen, I boycott the season!!!!!!!!!
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    If anyone, our hopes this season are on Carriker's shoulders

  14. #14
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    Re: Yahoo Sports-Rams predictions

    I think any significant improvement should help. We were basically at the bottom, last year. THERE IS NO WAY to go but up. We Will Improve. How much?? That remains to be seen.

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