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  1. #1
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    Rams-Change is the theme- 2008-09 Preview

    The St. Louis Rams hit rock bottom at the close of the 2007-08 season, leaving many wondering what it might take for them to rise again.

    Coach Linehan admits that last season was a horrible situation (with injuries) for this NFL team. Injuries are part of the game in the NFL. The Rams were the not so fortunate team and ended in a last place finish in the NFC West.

    Coach Linehan has stated that changes is the motto for the upcoming season. Having posted a 3-13 record, the Rams must rebound quickly. The changes hopefully will bring the crowds back to the Dome. So in 2008-09 Training Camp starts with changes, a new training site ( Mequon,Wisconsin) and no media distractions like at the Rams Park facility.

    The passing of owner Georgia Frontiere and the incoming new owner in son Chip Rosenbloom taking the helm, brings the Rams new changes. The recruiting of Bill Devaney and Al Saunders is a key start. Devaney has already proven his worth with the overall draft going very well. Al Saunders gets another shot at creating another offensive show in the Gateway City. Devaney has also taken a load off the front office duties and has shown he can acquire key players to improve the team. And Al Saunders from the Vermeil and Martz show, should improve scoring and offensive schemes.

    Even if it isn't the turnaround season that almost everyone is expecting. The Rams have made necessary changes to improve now. A 9-7 record would be welcomed.

    On Offense, at least, the Rams appear to have the perfect arrangement in Al Saunders at the helm. Having a veteran offensive coordinator with previous interaction with players will allow Coach Linehan more time to address the overall team schemes and priorities during the season. A healthy Marc Bulger is a key. This will allow Marc to cut back on hurry throws and prevent the interceptions. And hopefully keep him off the ground. The addition of veteran quarterback Trent Green is just insurance for a probable disaster again. Trent is more of liability in my view but Berlin is not ready to take the lead role. The offensive unit is being shuffled as camps starts. But it does have the potential to be very good. If Barron, Incognito, Ramberg, J Bell , and Orlando Pace stay healthy, then Marc Bulger is going to be able to get rid of the ball quickly. This group with the rookie additions could be a top ten line.

    The Rams were confident that Steven Jackson would evolve into a top back. Steven Jackson has provided the void at running back since the Marshall Plan was destroyed. But his hold out and consistent changes in agents is something to be desired. He has good stats for a running back. But he still has lots to prove to measure up to the great backs of this franchise. And his hold out is a distraction to the overall direction the scheme of the offensive unit . Jackson needs to be in camp to show leadership and stability. So for now it leaves us Brian Leonard and Travis Minor to carry the load in case Jackson does not return.

    The Rams receiver unit is strong, led by the downfield threat of Torry Holt and Randy McMichael. Torry Holt is recovering from knee concerns. But still a productive threat in the Al Saunders offense. A great leader. Losing Isaac Bruce hurts but it allows others to step up to number two. McMichael needs to prove his worth just like in Miami in huge third and short schemes. With Dane Looker being a possible deep threat and add Caldwell to the mix. Drew Bennett needs to become a redzone target. Add the rookies and we have a good group for the season.

    Defensively is one area the Rams were able to upgrade with a dismal performance against the run last year finishing 25th in the league. Jim Haslett has some work to do to make this team top ten caliber. In free agency and the draft the Rams improved by selecting Chris Long. A very good player and pro football genes. But that is all we know. Once the real games begin we will be the judge. In free agency, the Rams acquired James Hall. He should bring more pressure and allow Leonard Little and L. Glover to pressure. How this line defends on first downs could set up the tone for the entire defense. The main concern is to keep Leonard Little healthy. His sacks were missed and knowone made up for that more than Will Witherspoon. Witherspoon had 7 sacks and was the leader in tackles and assists plus creating fumble opportunities. Along with Oj Atogwe's 66 tackles. Only Brandon Chillar had more fumbles and sacks. Witherspoon was phenomenal in several games and was the only bright spot once Little was gone. Pisa Tinoisamoa has proven to be a solid contributor, and especially is strong against the inside run.

    The secondary, the Rams weakest link last year. Chavous struggled early and for a veteran has lost some speed. OJ Atogwe is clearly a free safety.His persistence to the ball is great. Fakhir Brown has the kind of speed that will make up for coverage mistakes, at left corner R Bartell, Hill and or Macklin can be assets as long as they keep gambling to a minimum.

    The loss of Jeff Wilkins is monumental, Wilkins was MONEY! He will be missed. Josh Brown will have to fill huge shoes and lots of pressure to overcome to have the fans respect him like Wilkins. Wilkins was the professional and he was clutch. He will be in the ring of honor soon.

    For Rams fans, it may look like the changes are not enough, but there's no need to panic.The Rams have weathered the injury storm. And are planning for a great year. New owner, new offensive coordinator, new free agents, and new VP of player personel. These are the changes for 2008-09. These are the new and improved St. Louis Rams.
    Last edited by THEFIELDGOAL; -07-30-2008 at 06:29 PM.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Rams-Change is the theme- 2008-09 Preview

    You did a very nice job with this article. Good Read.

    If you don't mind, I have a question for you.

    You stated that you felt Steven Jackson still has lots to prove to measure up to the great backs of this franchise. You used the word "lots". That would mean a very large amount to me.

    I'm curious as to what "large amount" more that you feel he needs to prove to measure up to the great backs of this franchise?

    Faulk, Bettis, Dickerson, McCutcheon, to name a few of the more productive great Rams RB's going back to the early 70's. The only RB that stands far above Jackson, from that group, in production, at this point in their respective careers, is Dickerson. Although, Dickerson played in a run oriented scheme and ran behind a far better offensive line than Jackson has to this date. Dickerson's production fell way down after leaving the Rams.

    Dickerson has a huge lead in rushing yardage after his first 4 years, about 2700 more, and a lead of roughly 2000 in yards from scrimage. Jackson has more receptions than Dickerson did at this point and he has better pass catching ability than Dickerson had. Dickerson had a huge lead in fumbles compared to Jackson 49-13 yet Dickerson had over 400 more touches than Jackson at this point.

    Considering Dickerson's first 4 years to be an anomaly for NFL RB's - I fail to agree that Jackson still has "lots" to prove to measure up to the great RB's of this franchise.

    Thank you for your time.

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    Re: Rams-Change is the theme- 2008-09 Preview

    I meant to say that he has a lots to prove in terms of taking a team to the playoffs. As a RB he is durable and has quick speed just like Dickerson did. But he seems to not be the traditional Rams back in my view. Traditionally a Rams RB has taken the team on his back and made it his mission to excel. I know he has put out yards. But maybe i am not a huge fan of his. We will see what he can do with a healthy offensive line, a new coordinator and a healthy QB. It's wait and see on Jackson for me still.
    I hope i answered your question.
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    Re: Rams-Change is the theme- 2008-09 Preview

    Thank you for responding. Now I feel I understand your view better.

    The transition from Faulk to Jackson was not an easy mindset for me, although, I have always thought of Jackson as a great RB. Unfortunately he has not had an exceptional surrounding cast for his first 4 years. I think he is right there - very close to that amazing season. He just needs a stronger offensive line in front of him. I was thinking this could have been the year, yet now, with the holdout......well we will have to wait and see.

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