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  • FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

    SCOUT'S HONOR: Rams pre-camp preview
    Brian DeLucia / Special to FOXSports.com
    Posted: 8 hours ago


    Last season, Marc Bulger proved he was a great regular-season quarterback. In 2004, Rams fans need him to prove he can be a great playoff quarterback. (Otto Greule Jr / GettyImages)


    St. Louis Rams
    CAMP SITE: Western Illinois University
    LOCATION: Macomb, Ill.
    ROOKIES REPORT: July 27
    VETERANS REPORT: July 28

    TEAM ATMOSPHERE
    The Rams remain a playoff contender that can put plenty of points on the board, but there are more questions heading into this season than any other time during Mike Martz's tenure as head coach. Last year's devastating playoff exit against Carolina was followed by some key free-agent losses that could linger into the season.

    POSITION OF STRENGTH
    The offense has the ability to score on short notice due to the depth at wide receiver. Torry Holt took his game to another level last season. He matured and became a lot more focused on the little things that make a difference on the field. Isaac Bruce remains a fixture of stability who still maintains his quickness to separate from coverage. Dane Looker became a clutch performer on third downs out of the slot. And Mike Furrey emerged as a solid reserve who runs good routes and has enough quickness to get open. Keep an eye on Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis. Both have intriguing skills to bolster the depth in the passing game.

    POSITION OF WEAKNESS
    Under Mike Martz, the Rams have struggled to find productive return specialists. Arlen Harris (kickoffs) and Mike Furrey (punts) did an adequate job last season, but neither is a gamebreaker. Harris might have outgrown his role further by putting on more weight during his transition to fullback. Furrey was reliable and has good toughness on punt returns. The Rams expected more from DeJuan Groce last season, but had trouble hanging on to the ball. Shaun McDonald could be worth keeping an eye on.

    BIGGEST QUESTION MARK
    Will Marc Bulger bounce back after a tough finish last season? Bulger's struggles down the stretch and in the playoff loss were disturbing. He forced a lot of balls into coverage and was sloppy about pushing the ball downfield. With Kurt Warner out of the picture, Bulger must relax and play loose. I believe Bulger displayed enough of a track record to suggest he'll bounce back and have a productive season.

    KEY POSITION BATTLE(S)
    The Rams are looking at several options to replace Grant Wistrom at right defensive end. Bryce Fisher in many ways is the most like Wistrom. He has a quick first step off the ball and plays with a lot of tenacity and effort. The coaches are also very intrigued by the raw tools displayed by rookie Tony Hargrove. They feel he's responding very well to pro coaching, but must now prove himself during training camp. Veteran Tyoka Jackson is quick and relentless. He's effective in spot duty. Former Bills first-rounder Erik Flowers is also competing for a spot here. Flowers has the kind of quickness that intrigues a lot of people as a pass rusher, but isn't very instinctive and fails to play with enough leverage. If anyone can work out the rough edges with Flowers, it's defensive line coach Bill Kollar.

    IMPACT NEWCOMER
    Although Stephen Jackson was drafted with the long term in mind after Marshall Faulk's days are over, expect him to play a key role immediately. Jackson's strength between the tackles can take a lot of wear and tear off Faulk and allow Martz to design more creative ways to utilize his versatility.

    CRITICAL LOSS
    Although the Rams have Leonard Little and three former first-round picks at defensive tackle, losing Grant Wistrom and Brian Young leaves the front four with a lot of uncertainty. Both were blue-collar performers who brought an attitude along the line of scrimmage. Young, in particular, could be missed because he was their most productive interior player in 2003.

  • #2
    Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

    there are more questions heading into this season than any other time during Mike Martz's tenure as head coach.
    severelly overstated
    some key free-agent losses that could linger into the season
    losses, yes...key, no
    With Kurt Warner out of the picture, Bulger must relax and play loose
    I know I got butchered for making this same statement, but I still think it's accurate.
    The Rams are looking at several options to replace Grant Wistrom at right defensive end. Bryce Fisher in many ways is the most like Wistrom. He has a quick first step off the ball and plays with a lot of tenacity and effort. The coaches are also very intrigued by the raw tools displayed by rookie Tony Hargrove. They feel he's responding very well to pro coaching, but must now prove himself during training camp. Veteran Tyoka Jackson is quick and relentless. He's effective in spot duty. Former Bills first-rounder Erik Flowers is also competing for a spot here. Flowers has the kind of quickness that intrigues a lot of people as a pass rusher, but isn't very instinctive and fails to play with enough leverage. If anyone can work out the rough edges with Flowers, it's defensive line coach Bill Kollar.
    Finally, a sportswriter bright enough to not add Moran to the list of potential answers at RDE. Thank you Brian DeLucia.
    Young, in particular, could be missed because he was their most productive interior player in 2003.
    I wish we could have signed him, but by the end of the season Kennedy & Pickett (barring the proverbial injury) will make us forget about Young '03.
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

      Originally posted by HUbison
      severelly overstated
      I'm not sure here. From my perspective, sMartz' honeymoon has extended too long. He inherited a SB power. He did not have to rebuild. He had to accentuate. And his MO seems to be improvement via subtraction. I'm not sure if he has a vision any longer. He has found himself to be reactive.

      Regardless, questions arising from the loss of Hodgins, Proehl, Conwell, Hakim have still not been addressed convincingly. Still no effective 3rd WR speed merchant, no effective special teams returners (don't even go into field position with Landeta).

      Add less continuity at DL with FA losses, no proven acquisitions that buttress run D, weakened depth at QB and I think there are still more questions this year with only glossly "hail-mary and art-father" answers.

      I'm not convinced the questions are over-stated. sMartz needs to show a vision that is matched by the ability to acquire the parts that make the system a powerhouse it has been.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

        There is more than just one side of the ball adarian. Martz DID have to rebuild the defense. After the Super Bowl win, that D was shot. The 2000 D had to be imploded and the Rams and Martz have done a pretty good job with little room to wiggle in the cap due to the offense taking up so much cap space.

        And he had a hand in building the offense. He didn't just "inherit" it.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

          Originally posted by adarian_too
          I'm not sure here. From my perspective, sMartz' honeymoon has extended too long. He inherited a SB power. He did not have to rebuild. He had to accentuate. And his MO seems to be improvement via subtraction. I'm not sure if he has a vision any longer. He has found himself to be reactive.

          Regardless, questions arising from the loss of Hodgins, Proehl, Conwell, Hakim have still not been addressed convincingly. Still no effective 3rd WR speed merchant, no effective special teams returners (don't even go into field position with Landeta).

          Add less continuity at DL with FA losses, no proven acquisitions that buttress run D, weakened depth at QB and I think there are still more questions this year with only glossly "hail-mary and art-father" answers.

          I'm not convinced the questions are over-stated. sMartz needs to show a vision that is matched by the ability to acquire the parts that make the system a powerhouse it has been.
          But these were all questions he had last year as well + RT + OLB + ILB + CB + QB. Which he has answered with Turley, Tino, Thomas (ie. oust Duncan), Butler, & Bulger. Whether or not these are the right answers is debatable (which I choose not to do in this post), but the point is they are answered. Therefore, when the article says that...
          there are more questions heading into this season than any other time during Mike Martz's tenure as head coach.
          ...I would have to say that is...
          severelly overstated
          The more things change, the more they stay the same.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

            Originally posted by txramsfan
            There is more than just one side of the ball adarian. Martz DID have to rebuild the defense. After the Super Bowl win, that D was shot. The 2000 D had to be imploded and the Rams and Martz have done a pretty good job with little room to wiggle in the cap due to the offense taking up so much cap space.

            And he had a hand in building the offense. He didn't just "inherit" it.
            I'm curious. Does anyone happen to know what % of the cap is taken by the offense as compared to the defense. Tx, qualitatively, I bet you're right. It would seem that the offense would take a bigger piece of the pie.

            Anybody know the breakdown on this one?
            The more things change, the more they stay the same.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

              very good point TX about him having to rebuild the defense. he definitely deserves some credit for that. i just hope the D takes their game to the next level this year. if they do, then watch out. :ramlogo:

              also, i think TX said that the offense has about 66% of the team's salary cap.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

                Originally posted by HUbison
                But these were all questions he had last year as well + RT + OLB + ILB + CB + QB. Which he has answered with Turley, Tino, Thomas (ie. oust Duncan), Butler, & Bulger. Whether or not these are the right answers is debatable (which I choose not to do in this post), but the point is they are answered.
                Well, therein lies the issue. I agree that one's perspective on "the answer" frames whether one thinks the question has been answered. I don't agree that just giving an answer makes the question go away though. Just one example ... Turley was an answer to RT, BUT not to overall O-line play ... especially in the interior ... too much pressure up the gut kept Bulger on his heels. O-line play arguably became a bigger issue even with the addition of Turley. But I won't beat the horse ... I will repeat that winning the SB again will depend on not buying into lip service when listening to whether acquiring journeymen is the answer to D-line questions.



                Originally posted by txramsfan
                Martz DID have to rebuild the defense. After the Super Bowl win, that D was shot. The 2000 D had to be imploded and the Rams and Martz have done a pretty good job with little room to wiggle in the cap due to the offense taking up so much cap space.

                I give you that the D needed drastic help after 2000. And I won't take credit away from sMartz for at least tackling the issue when he did. But he can't stand prosperity and sustain it. The fact that the Run D got so trounced at the end of last year despite all the 1st rounders and all the emphasis and when it counted most says enough about how sMartz hasn't figured out which building blocks will withstand the tests ... just a question of personnel management to me ...

                And ... well you know where I stand relative to cap management ... it is in part a matter of will ... take KW and eating his bonuses now ... could have traded him last year I bet if sMartz had just bitten the bullet when he made the change at QB ... but sMartz's indecision let the other FOs just wait him out and force the Rams to eat the pro-rated signing bonus.

                And that is my story and I'm sticking to it until I change my mind ...

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

                  Originally posted by adarian_too
                  I will repeat that winning the SB again will depend on not buying into lip service when listening to whether acquiring journeymen is the answer to D-line questions
                  If you're saying that Bernard Holsey and Sean Moran are not keys to winning the SB, then I will 100% agree with you.....but I don't think anybody has said they are keys, have they?
                  The more things change, the more they stay the same.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

                    Originally posted by HUbison
                    If you're saying that Bernard Holsey and Sean Moran are not keys to winning the SB, then I will 100% agree with you.....but I don't think anybody has said they are keys, have they?
                    No. But it seems as if the play of the D-Line is a legitimate question that was added to other questions and if someone is satisfied that the question has been "answered" merely because someone can cite to the FO having "acquired" someone, then I think the satisfaction threshold is too low and the management team is getting a pass too soon. Wistrom is gone. Young is gone. Little is questionable. And they were there when the R-Defense stunk. I just point to them as recent questions that have been added to previous ones - that to me remain unanswered - leading me to the conclusion that there are in fact more questions this year than any other year in sMartz' past.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

                      Well then adarian, this is where Armey makes it or breaks it with the DLew/Archuleta/Pickett first round draft isn't it?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

                        Originally posted by adarian_too
                        No. But it seems as if the play of the D-Line is a legitimate question that was added to other questions and if someone is satisfied that the question has been "answered" merely because someone can cite to the FO having "acquired" someone, then I think the satisfaction threshold is too low and the management team is getting a pass too soon. Wistrom is gone. Young is gone. Little is questionable. And they were there when the R-Defense stunk. I just point to them as recent questions that have been added to previous ones - that to me remain unanswered - leading me to the conclusion that there are in fact more questions this year than any other year in sMartz' past.
                        By that train of thought one would have to say that no question is answered until the end of the season. I disagree. I think there are fewer open questions this year than last year. With the exception of FB, RDE and the interior O-line, what questions have not been answered. I reiterate, not necessarily the right answer or for that matter the wrong answer, but an answer none the less. We may not have the answer that we think is correct, but it is a question that has been addressed and answered. For instance, let take an example from the top....QB. Last year this was very much up in the air - can Warner recover, can Bulger take over. Last year, QB was very much an unanswered question. This year, not so. Bulger is the QB. Last year we had absolutely no idea, who was going to take Wilkins place as the #3 or for that matter #4. This season, we know. Our current answer is Looker and Furrey. By the end of camp, Curtis and/or McDonald may supplant one or both of them. Again, one less question to answer. Last year, who was going to play MLB - do we stick with Duncan, is Thomas ready. This year MLB = Thomas. Last year our secondary was a question - FS, Herring or Aeneas or Sehorn - CB Do we move Aeneas, is Fisher ready. This year - FS = Aeneas, CB = Fisher & Butler. So on and so forth.
                        The more things change, the more they stay the same.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

                          adarian, you do realize that if we would have traded warner we would have had to eat his prorated signing bonus still right?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

                            Originally posted by adarian_too
                            And ... well you know where I stand relative to cap management ... it is in part a matter of will ... take KW and eating his bonuses now ... could have traded him last year I bet if sMartz had just bitten the bullet when he made the change at QB ... but sMartz's indecision let the other FOs just wait him out and force the Rams to eat the pro-rated signing bonus.
                            I believe the cap hit would have been larger last season had we done that. We'd have been banking on a QB that had played in six full regular season games. And I'd love to see the list of teams lining up to trade for Warner after 2002. Somehow I figure it looked about the same as the list willing to trade for him after 2003 -- short.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: FoxSports.com's Pre-Camp Rams Preview

                              Originally posted by tanus
                              adarian, you do realize that if we would have traded warner we would have had to eat his prorated signing bonus still right?

                              Fair question. Would need to dig into the minutae of Bargaining Agreement. A trade implies to me an exchange of rights. How much of KW's contract would have moved to a new team would have been part of the package I imagine. I'm not sure that the FO might not have been able to negotiate with willing parties the movement of the entire contract except for the previously renegotiated terms of KW's previous contract. I won't stand on ceremony. I don't know for sure.


                              Originally posted by NickSeiler
                              I believe the cap hit would have been larger last season had we done that.

                              Well we are back to cap mechanics and I don't claim to be the expert. It seems to me the issue of the size of the cap hit was dependant upon whether and when KW was released ... not whether he was traded ... which of course is a separate issue about the value of KW based on immediate past performance.


                              Originally posted by HUbison
                              I'm curious. Does anyone happen to know what % of the cap is taken by the offense as compared to the defense.

                              Again ... I wouldn't stake one our stills on it but ... I try to keep a spreadsheet up to date with who the Rams have signed and the terms. I know it doesn't match published reports but I have the Rams at $77M in terms of the salary cap. I have 54 names with actual years/bonuses/salary for 2004. The offense (excluding Wilkens ???) represents 26 names holding 58% of the cap. Add Wilkens and you get 50% of the bodies eating 59.3% of the cap.


                              And yes TX ... I think Armey's answers are to be graded this year.

                              Comment

                              Related Topics

                              Collapse

                              • RamWraith
                                Rams will look for answers
                                by RamWraith
                                By Jim Thomas
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                07/26/2004
                                With a new quarterback and only a handful of players remaining from the Super Bowl championship team of 1999, coach Mike Martz has called the Rams a team in transition.

                                It will take months for the entire story to unfold. But the answers to several questions facing the team begin to be answered with the start of training camp Wednesday in Macomb, Ill. Stay tuned.

                                1.) Can Faulk still run (and catch)?

                                He might be the best all-purpose back in NFL history. At his best, he remains one of the most feared backs in the league. But Marshall Faulk is 31 years old, which by NFL standards for a running back qualifies you for an AARP card. With more than 3,400 regular-season and postseason touches, Faulk has taken a lot of hits over his 10 NFL seasons.

                                After missing five games last season because of hand and knee injuries, Faulk underwent yet another knee operation this offseason and talked openly with his agent about retiring in a year or two. How much can the Rams expect from Faulk in '04? Is it realistic to think they can still build an offense around him?

                                2.) How will Bulger fare as the man at quarterback?

                                For the first time since Trent Green went down with a knee injury five summers ago, someone other than Kurt Warner will open the regular season as the Rams' starting quarterback. Marc Bulger has shown accuracy, coolness under fire and an ability to rally the team at crunch time. Logic says he should be more relaxed without Warner - and the Warner zealots - peering over his shoulder at every snap. But can Bulger cut down on his interception total of a year ago? Can he regain the touch on the deep ball that was there in '02 but missing for most of '03? Will he prosper or wilt under the scrutiny that comes with being an NFL starting quarterback?

                                3.) What's my line?

                                The defensive line lost two of its top five performers in Grant Wistrom and Brian Young. Beyond their tackling stats and sack totals, Wistrom and Young brought an attitude and work ethic to the field that helped set the tone for the defense. Bryce Fisher enters training camp as Wistrom's replacement. Underachieving and injury-plagued Damione Lewis, a No. 12 overall pick in 2001, gets the first crack at Young's job. Fisher must show he can hold up against the run on a consistent basis. Lewis must stay healthy and show the skills he has flashed in St. Louis. There is also uncertainty over the status of Pro Bowl DE Leonard Little, who faces felony charges of drunken driving. And can DT Jimmy Kennedy make a meaningful contribution after a highly disappointing rookie campaign? Can rookie DE Anthony Hargrove supply sizzle as a pass rusher?

                                4.) What's my line? (Part II)

                                The interior of the Rams' offensive line had some rough moments in '03. New center Dave Wohlabaugh played the first...
                                -07-27-2004, 05:22 AM
                              • RamDez
                                St. Louis Rams 2004 Season Preview
                                by RamDez
                                St. Louis Rams 2004 Season Preview

                                From James Alder,
                                Aug 14 2004

                                QB Controversy No Longer an Issue

                                The defending NFC West Champion St. Louis Rams decided it was time to cut ties with former two-time league MVP Kurt Warner because of a contract that made it prohibitive for them to keep him as a backup. In doing so, they also rid themselves of the quarterback controversy that has dogged this team since Warnerís fairy-tale career took on a tailspin that mirrored his meteoric rise just a few short years ago. And now that all questions about his starting QB have been erased, the mad scientist, head coach Mike Martz, can get back to work devising further ways to frustrate defensive coordinators. As in recent seasons, the Rams find themselves in the situation of having what promises to be one of the most potent offenses in the league. They also find themselves, once again, looking for answers on defense.zSB(3,3);if(!z336){var zIsb=document.getElementById("adsb");if(zIsb){zIsb.style.display="inline";zIsb.style.height="0px";zIsb.style.width="0px";}var zIss=document.getElementById("adss");if(zIss){zIss.style.display="inline";zIss.style.height="0px";zIss.style.width="0px";}}





                                Lovie Smith accepted a head coaching job in Chicago, so the responsibility of pulling the defensive squad together falls squarely on the shoulders of new defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, who promises to use much of the same system used last year with a little more man-to-man schemes thrown in. Potentially, he has a very good unit, but there are legitimate concerns with durability, depth, and experience at several positions.




                                Quarterback
                                Now that Warner is in New York, the issues at quarterback appear to be settled. Starter Marc Bulger will no longer have to look over his shoulder to see if he is going to be replaced every time he makes a mistake, which should only add to his confidence. Bulgerís ability to make quick reads is a good fit for this offense, but he tends to force the ball at times. He must cut down on the 22 interceptions he threw last season if this team is to become a legitimate contender again.

                                Backup Chris Chandler will be entering his 18th year in the league, and while he can be as effective as anyone throwing the ball, he has to have great protection to get the job done. He tends to hold onto the ball too long, which is why durability has become such an issue for him in recent years. Jeff Smoker, who slipped on draft day because of off-field issues, was added late in the daft and will likely be a developmental prospect in the No. 3 role.

                                Running Backs
                                When healthy, Marshall Faulk is still one of the best running backs in the league, but heís had two knee surgeries in the last year and is 31-years old, which is why the Rams used...
                                -08-14-2004, 01:15 PM
                              • Nick
                                ESPN Scouts Inc: Rams Team Summary
                                by Nick
                                Training camps start late this year, with the first rookies not due to report until July 27. But Insider will keep the NFL fires burning all month with complete training camp previews of each team. Scouts, Inc., has sized up every roster and checks in with position-by-position breakdowns.



                                Quarterbacks
                                In terms of overall talent of the unit, the Rams are clearly not as deep with Marc Bulger and newcomer Chris Chandler than they were with Bulger and Kurt Warner. However, with coach Mike Martz and the Rams' organization finally putting an end to its quarterback soap opera, the team as a whole is much better off.

                                This is finally Bulger's team, and often times that confidence of knowing that you don't have to look over your shoulder every time you make a mistake can be invaluable for a quarterback. Bulger has proved that he can be effective as a starter. He is still young and has the upside to develop into an even better player with more experience in the future. However, in order for Bulger to take his game to the next level he must cut down on his mistakes, force fewer passes if his primary target is not open, and become more consistent with his deep ball. For as many good things as he did in '03, throwing as many interceptions (22) as touchdowns is unacceptable. That type of carelessness with the football will prevent the Rams from making a serious run at another Super Bowl, which is why so much time and effort in the offseason and preseason is being spent on building Bulger's confidence and working with him to limit his mistakes.

                                Chandler will be 38 years old in October and is nearing the end of his string quickly. He obviously has great starting experience and has proved in the last couple of seasons that he can step in for the short term and move an offense. He also is intelligent and has a history of picking things up quickly, so he should be ready to run the offense this season if needed.

                                However, his skills are on a heavy decline and, as a result of his age and durability problems, he no longer can be trusted as a multiple game starter if necessitated by injury. Chandler was signed to be Bulger's backup in '04, but the Rams need to make sure they find a replacement for Chandler -- whether it's rookie Jeff Smoker or another veteran addition -- in '05, because Chandler is just a decent backup at this point and he's on a steep decline.

                                Smoker, who slipped on draft day because of a substance-abuse problem in college, was a great find for coach Mike Martz that late in the draft. Smoker has dealt with his problems and showed a lot of courage by returning to his team and re-assuming the leadership role. He has the physical tools of a third-round quarterback and could wind up becoming Bulger's backup by '05.



                                Running backs
                                Marshall Faulk is still one of the elite weapons at the position when he is fully healthy,...
                                -07-26-2004, 09:10 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                Overview from ESPN
                                by RamWraith
                                Monday, July 26, 2004


                                Scouts, Inc.
                                Chat with Scouts, Inc., at 2 p.m. EST today!
                                Training camps start late this year, with the first rookies not due to report
                                until July 27. But Insider will keep the NFL fires burning all month with
                                complete training camp previews of each team. Scouts, Inc., has sized up every
                                roster and checks in with position-by-position breakdowns.
                                Quarterbacks
                                In terms of overall talent of the unit, the Rams are clearly not as deep with
                                Marc Bulger and newcomer Chris Chandler than they were with Bulger and Kurt
                                Warner. However, with coach Mike Martz and the Rams' organization finally
                                putting an end to its quarterback soap opera, the team as a whole is much better
                                off.

                                BulgerThis is finally Bulger's team, and often times that confidence of knowing
                                that you don't have to look over your shoulder every time you make a mistake can
                                be invaluable for a quarterback. Bulger has proved that he can be effective as a
                                starter. He is still young and has the upside to develop into an even better
                                player with more experience in the future.
                                However, in order for Bulger to take his game to the next level he must cut down
                                on his mistakes, force fewer passes if his primary target is not open, and
                                become more consistent with his deep ball. For as many good things as he did in
                                '03, throwing as many interceptions (22) as touchdowns is unacceptable. That
                                type of carelessness with the football will prevent the Rams from making a
                                serious run at another Super Bowl, which is why so much time and effort in the
                                offseason and preseason is being spent on building Bulger's confidence and
                                working with him to limit his mistakes.
                                Chandler will be 38 years old in October and is nearing the end of his string
                                quickly. He obviously has great starting experience and has proved in the last
                                couple of seasons that he can step in for the short term and move an offense. He
                                also is intelligent and has a history of picking things up quickly, so he should
                                be ready to run the offense this season if needed.
                                However, his skills are on a heavy decline and, as a result of his age and
                                durability problems, he no longer can be trusted as a multiple game starter if
                                necessitated by injury. Chandler was signed to be Bulger's backup in '04, but
                                the Rams need to make sure they find a replacement for Chandler -- whether it's
                                rookie Jeff Smoker or another veteran addition -- in '05, because Chandler is
                                just a decent backup at this point and he's on a steep decline.
                                Smoker, who slipped on draft day because of a substance-abuse problem in
                                college, was a great find for coach Mike Martz that late in the draft. Smoker
                                has dealt with his problems and showed a lot of courage by returning to his team
                                ...
                                -07-27-2004, 05:26 AM
                              • evil disco man
                                The Good and The Bad
                                by evil disco man
                                With the Rams' first preseason game only days away, I thought it a good time to take a look at what the Rams put on the table this season - from two perspectives. Feel free to add your opinions and even new categories while trying to include both the possible positive and negative aspects of each.

                                Quarterbacks
                                GOOD: Marc Bulger can relax now, knowing that the job is his. He's had a full offseason to prepare with the team as the sure-fire starter, and will therefore show more confidence and production with the team behind him. Chris Chandler is the perfect backup; not durable enough to challenge for the starting job, but is an accurate, smart, veteran passer. Jeff Smoker is young, talented, is over his past troubles and could be the quarterback of the future.

                                BAD: Marc Bulger was too inconsistent last year to prove he is really worthy of leading the Rams' passing attack. His decision-making and read progressions are questionable, and his long ball is awful. The team is on his shoulders now, and it will be too much for him to handle. Chris Chandler is old and entering a new offense, and he's known for being a statue in the pocket - something that isn't encouraging knowing that he's been severely injury-prone. Jeff Smoker is too young and unproven right now, and with his legal history in mind, he could only have a negative impact.

                                Running Backs
                                GOOD: Doctors found something previously undiscovered in Marshall Faulk's knee, fixed it, and he'll now be able to play like the old Marshall instead of an old Marshall. He provides the team with great leadership and knowledge and can carry this offense. Steven Jackson was considered the best back in the NFL Draft. He can run over, around, and through would-be tacklers and is a great receiver. He will be a workhorse in the near future for the Rams, and will be able to give Faulk a rest every now and then this season. Lamar Gordon and Arlen Harris provide great depth, as both are experienced in this offense. Joey Goodspeed emerged from the plethora of fullbacks the Rams brought in last season and will be a dependable lead blocker. Arlen Harris could even see time at fullback as the Robert Holcombe-type.

                                BAD: Marshall Faulk isn't getting any younger, and he showed that last season. He had to have surgery on that knee again and could be even more prone to injuries after losing weight this offseason. Steven Jackson is too young to step into this offense right now as an unproven rookie, and his head will be swimming trying to learn Martz's playbook. Lamar Gordon is injury prone and inconsistent as a backup; there's no way the team could rely on him if injuries occur. The only thing Arlen Harris can give the team is three yards and a cloud of dust. Martz as usual ignores the fullbacks, and as a result the Rams really have none worth noting.

                                Receivers
                                GOOD: Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are the best tandem at wide receiver in...
                                -08-09-2004, 01:53 PM
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