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HOLY CRAP! No wonder Marshall is not the same

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  • RamWraith
    Rams' amazing run may be about to end
    by RamWraith
    Aging offense won't be able to bail team out anymore
    By Stephen Nover of

    The Rams have had a nice five-year run. Since 1999, St. Louis has won 70 percent of its games making the playoffs four times while reaching the Super Bowl twice and winning once.

    But there are ominous clouds signaling that good times may be coming to an end for the Rams.

    The Rams have always been careless with the ball. They’ve led the league three straight years in turnovers. Their high-powered offense, though, has been able to bail them out. That may not be the case anymore.

    The great Marshall Faulk is 31. That’s old for a running back. He’s slowing down and becoming injury-prone. Isaac Bruce also is 31 and isn’t as dangerous as he once was. Faulk has missed at least two games each of the past four years. If he goes down again, the Rams are in trouble because backup Lamar Gordon is out after ankle surgery and rookie Steven Jackson is too raw.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger is fragile and interception-prone. The Rams only have washed-up Chris Chandler in case Bulger gets hurt. The Rams may have to begin the season, too, with a makeshift offensive line. Both center Dave Wohlabaugh and right tackle Kyle Turley are out indefinitely with injuries, guard Adam Timmerman has a bad shoulder and All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace is doing his annual disruptive holdout.

    Maybe it’s time to place a call to Jackie Slater. He did finally retire, didn’t he?

    At least the Rams have their defense to bail them out. Yeah, right. The Rams' undersized front seven are vulnerable to ground attacks. At last remembrance, the Panthers were ending the Rams’ season, rushing for 216 yards and averaging 5.3 yards a carry in a playoff victory.

    Don’t be surprised if the Rams defense gets worse. Grant Wistrom, the Rams’ best overall defensive lineman, signed with division rival Seattle. Leonard Little, their top pass rusher, is facing a possible suspension after another DUI arrest. And respected defensive coordinator Lovie Smith now heads up the Bears.

    Also don’t look for Jeff Wilkins to make 39 of 42 field goals. That was a career year. His lifetime percentage before last season was 79 percent, not 93 percent.

    Luckily for the Rams, they play in the NFC West, which means four games against weaklings San Francisco and Arizona. So oddsmakers have set St. Louis’ over/under regular season win mark at either 9 1/2 or 10. I see the Rams having trouble reaching 10 victories even being in an easy division.

    Starting with an away game in Week 2 against the Falcons, the Rams have a four-game stretch where they play three road games in four weeks. Following their bye, the Rams have four tough games in a row. They host the Patriots on Nov. 7. Then they host the Seahawks. This is followed by road games at the Bills and Packers. If the Rams defeat the...
    -08-19-2004, 05:46 AM
  • RamWraith
    The swagger is back with the St. Louis Rams
    by RamWraith
    ST. LOUIS -- The swagger is back with the St. Louis Rams. Much like a couple of years ago, Rams offensive downs aren't just plays. They are shows. The pace is quick. The routes are imaginative. Overall, the old confidence has returned.

    Inside Rams camp
    RamsHow's the health of safety Adam Archuleta? Which newcomer should have a big impact in the front 7? Those are just a couple of the things John Clayton touches on in his observations from Rams camp.
    . Inside Rams camp
    "You need three or four receivers [for this offense] and we have four solid receivers now," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "We brought back [tight end] Roland Williams, and he was with the team when we were the greatest show on turf. He still thinks it's that way. We had to go through a couple of rough years, and you hate to let that persona down."

    Training camp practices opened with that old flair the Rams had in their Super Bowl years (1999, 2001 seasons). Practice passes never hit the turf. Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald snatch passes out of the air and try to zip past corners. Running back Steven Jackson explodes through the line of scrimmage and then uses his 230-pound body to "shake-and-bake" a linebacker. A thin Marshall Faulk runs routes with renewed quickness.

    " When this offense is working well, we can move down the field so quickly teams don't have time to catch up. Normally in those situations, defenses try to get safe. Coach Martz is the best when teams start getting safety because he starts attacking them."
    -QB Marc Bulger

    Coach Mike Martz says the Rams' swagger is just confidence. Fans love it. Opponents view it as arrogance and hate it. Rams players say their confidence is a byproduct of having fun, and the fun is back because the Rams' offense has reloaded.

    "I was just saying it this morning that it was like it was when I came in during my first year," Holt said. "Then, we had a great mix of veterans with some young guys coming in to help. It's the same way now. As long as the guys up front on the offensive line hold, we have that swagger. The coaches have the swagger. Practices are fun. We are going out there and we are seeing the ability to click and jell at a high pace."

    Returning to the 500-point-a-year level of 1999-2001 might be tough, but the Rams make a case they are ready to make a run. Curtis and McDonald have evolved into significant role players who augment the 90-catch skills of Holt and Bruce. Each has three years of experience in the offense. Curtis offers blistering speed that inside corners can't match. McDonald isn't Az-Zahir Hakim, but he offers a little bit of the shiftiness and run-after-the catch ability.

    But the single most exciting addition to the offense this year is Jackson. This isn't the dreadlocked rookie who looked lost in...
    -08-01-2005, 01:59 PM
  • 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.

    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.

    GOOD: Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are the best tandem at wide receiver in...
    -08-09-2004, 02:53 PM
  • RamDez
    Seahawks Opponent Preview – St. Louis Rams
    by RamDez
    Wrapping up the Weekly Opponent Preview with the Rams

    Seahawks Opponent Preview – St. Louis Rams

    By Scott Eklund
    .NET reporter Scott Eklund wraps up his weekly look at the Seahawks’ 2004 opponents. Up this week: The St. Louis Rams, who the Hawks host October 10th at Qwest Field and then travel to meet in the Gateway City on November 14th.
    Overview: Rams head coach Mike Martz isn’t considered “Mad Mike” for nothing. Since he took over as head coach in February of 2000 the Rams have had the best and most dangerous offense in the NFL.

    The offense has been known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” since the 1999 season (the franchise’s first and only Super Bowl title), but the offense began to show signs of slowing down toward the end of 2003 and many think Martz and his offensive coaches will look more to a ground game that features a sure Hall-of-Famer in Marshall Faulk and first-round selection RB Stephen Jackson.

    Gone is former defensive coordinator Lovie Smith left St. Louis to coach the Chicago Bears and in his place Larry Marmie, a long-time friend of Martz, who will stick with basically the same defense with only a couple of variations.

    Martz still focuses on the offense and he has plenty of talent at his disposal. However, some key parts have left and those that remain are getting older and aren’t the players they once were.

    Offense: The Ram offense will still be high-flying and very explosive, but look for Martz and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild to use more of a power-running game to help out new starter QB Marc Bulger.

    Saying Bulger is a “new” starter is sort of a misnomer. Bulger has started 22 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and ineffective play by former starter Kurt Warner. Warner was an icon in the Gateway City and Bulger will have lots of pressure on him to perform at a high level.

    In 2003 Bulger completed 63.2% of his passes for 3,845 yards, 22 TDs and 22 INTs. Bulger isn’t very mobile, but he has enough pocket-awareness and savvy to move around enough to allow things to happen down field. Bulger’s two biggest faults are his decision-making and is youth. He still does not see the field as well as Warner and sometimes that gets him into trouble.

    Bulger’s strength lies in his live arm, accuracy and his calmness under pressure. If he can cut down on the untimely interceptions (see last season’s Divisional Playoff loss to Carolina) he could be a special QB. As it stands the jury is still out on whether he will be an elite QB or just an average signal-caller.

    Behind Bulger is grey-beard Chris Chandler. Chandler thows a great deep ball, understands defenses, and is a good leader. Chandler has the ability to help the team get through two or three weeks in case Bulger is hurt. Rookie Jeff Smoker will be brought along slowly as his talents and firey attitude...
    -08-14-2004, 02:14 PM
  • ramavenger
    Rams balance need /
    by ramavenger
    Rams balance need, logic in deploying top weapon Faulk
    Sept. 1, 2004
    By Clark Judge Senior Writer
    Tell Clark your opinion!

    Rams: Five things to know
    It's not how much time former All-Pro running back Marshall Faulk might miss this season that will determine where St. Louis finishes. It's how much he plays, with the Rams careful how they use a 31-year-old back sidelined with injuries parts of the past four seasons.

    The Rams drafted Steven Jackson in Round 1 for a very good reason. (AP)
    Here's the problem: Faulk is the Rams' best player, and the more he's on the field, the more problems the Rams pose for opponents. But the more he plays, the greater the risk of injury, and he missed a month-and-a-half last year with a broken hand and sore knee.

    It's a sticky situation. St. Louis needs the guy for the stretch drive, especially with Seattle hot on its trail in the NFC West, but rookie Steven Jackson and Lamar Gordon give it two outstanding young backs who can give Faulk what he needs most -- a break.

    Neither is the equal of Faulk -- few backs are -- but both are good enough they could start for some NFL teams. So how do you use them? More specific, how don't you use Marshall Faulk? I'm not sure, but I know who is.

    Mike Martz, come on down.

    "You have to be careful with him," the Rams' head coach said of his prized back. "There's just so much wear and tear. It's a fine line. He's always felt the pressure of having to stay in, even when he was pretty well banged up. But now he has the luxury (of decent backups), so he doesn't have to go more than a couple plays in a row.

    "He's always had to carry the load, so I think this is a relief to him, to be honest with you."

    Now you and I both know Marshall Faulk will go more than a couple of plays in a row. Faulk not only is a terrific player; he's a consummate professional, determined to stay in the huddle until or unless the contest is out of reach. But blowouts are less frequent each year, with 10 of the Rams' 17 games last season decided by 10 or fewer points.

    Five things you should know
    Martz will leave Faulk's availability up to the man who knows best -- Marshall Faulk. If he wants to stay on the field, Martz will let him.

    But it's a balancing act that bears watching. Players are loath to leave the field, with quarterback Steve Young atypically cursing his head coach when he was pulled in the third quarter of a 40-8 loss in 1994. Young wanted a chance to save the day, but George Seifert wanted to win the season, and there was little chance if Young was hurt.

    So, he spared Young, the team won its next 10 and later captured Super Bowl XXIX.

    "Marshall is smart," Martz said. "He...
    -09-06-2004, 02:42 PM