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  • Pasch Scouts the Rams --Card Press

    by: Dave Pasch
    The Arizona Cardinals will see a lot of familiar faces Sunday when they visit St. Louis for the season opener, some of which they're not looking forward to seeing. That group includes Orlando Pace, who after a lengthy holdout signed a one year contract, and is expected to start Sunday, despite missing the entire preseason. In the past Pace holdouts, he at least played in one preseason game, so maybe he'll be a bit rusty.

    OFFENSE

    Pace will start at LT, and former Cardinals offensive lineman Chris Dishman will start at LG. The Rams still have Adam Timmerman, and Andy McCollum, but cut last year's starting center Dave Wohlabaugh, and Kyle Turley is out for the year with a back injury, which could cost him his career.

    Even though the Rams have Marshall Faulk, they still used their first round pick on running back Steven Jackson out of Oregon State. Faulk is 31 years old, and had some injury problems the last few years.

    The Kurt Warner era is officially over, even though it essentially ended when Marc Bulger grabbed the job early last season. Bulger looked great at times, but also threw 25 interceptions, including the post-season. He also had a lot of success, throwing for over 3,800 yards, and 22 touchdowns, but the Rams weren't as dangerous stretching the field, or in the red zone in 2003.

    That wasn't because of Torry Holt. He had his best NFL season, and one of the best EVER with 117 catches for just under 1,700 yards. Isaac Bruce is entering his 10th season, but can still get it done. Dane Looker was a nice surprise last year, and 2003 draft picks Shaun McDonald, and Kevin Curtis are healthier than they were at this time last year.

    DEFENSE

    Larry Marmie, who spent the last three seasons coordinating the Cardinals defense, will run the show in St. Louis for Mike Martz, who worked for Marmie at Arizona State. Marmie brought with him several former Cardinals, including Justin Lucas and Nijrell Eason. Eason failed to make the 53-man roster in Arizona last year, Lucas was let go on June 1.

    Leonard Little faces felony DUI chargers, which could impact his future in the NFL. He's by far the Rams best player on defense, and losing Grant Wistrom to Seattle in free agency won't help their pass rush. Former first round picks, DT's Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis have been disappointing, and last year's number one pick, DT Jimmy Kennedy is injured.

    The Rams have a good linebacking corps, but their best LB Tommy Polley is banged up, and may not play this week. Rookie fourth round pick Brandon Chillar would start in his place.

    CB Travis Fisher, who led the team last year with four INT's, is out with a broken arm, so 2003 fifth round pick Kevin Garrett will likely get the start opposite 2001 fifth round pick, Jerametrius Butler. St. Louis is pretty good at safety with the tandem of Adam Archuleta and Aeneas Williams, who is entering his 13th season.

    The fans and media in St. Louis have already started criticizing Mike Martz, partly because he didn't know what the score was late in a preseason game, which cost his team the contest. Still, Martz is a terrific offensive mind, and Bulger showed flashes last year of being a top notch quarterback. Bulger will make mistakes when pressured, and the offensive line hasn't played together yet (because of Pace's holdout), so if the Cardinals can manufacture a pass rush, they have a chance to contain the Rams potent offense.

  • #2
    Re: Pasch Scouts the Rams --Card Press

    I was okay with this until he got to the defensive analysis and here's where he fell off his rocker.
    He's by far the Rams best player on defense
    Little is great, but no way is he the best player on our defense.
    losing Grant Wistrom to Seattle in free agency won't help their pass rush.
    It won't hurt us either. Fisher's pass rush is as good as Wistrom. Hargrove's pass rush will be better.
    Former first round picks, DT's Ryan Pickett and Damione Lewis have been disappointing
    ...due to injury. If both are healthy this year, they will show their worth. They've played well when healthy. As well, they both are playing at more natural weights with each adding 20-30 lbs.
    their best LB Tommy Polley is banged up, and may not play this week
    So what? He's a back-up now anyway.
    CB Travis Fisher, who led the team last year with four INT's, is out with a broken arm, so 2003 fifth round pick Kevin Garrett will likely get the start opposite 2001 fifth round pick, Jerametrius Butler.
    Our CBs are interchangeable. Everyone of them is quick, small, agile, less-than-physical d-backs. Once Garrett & Groce have a few games under their belts, only their jersey numbers will distinguish between our 4 corners.
    Bulger will make mistakes when pressured
    It's called a learning curve. Has he learned or not? We'll find out this year. However, previous error does not necessarily lend itself to performance forecasting.
    so if the Cardinals can manufacture a pass rush, they have a chance to contain the Rams potent offense.
    And if I were transformed in to a 14-year-old Romanian girl, I would have a chance to win Olympic gold in gymnastics...but that's not going to happen either.
    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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    • RamWraith
      Rams are a team in transition
      by RamWraith
      By Steve Korte
      Pro Football Weekly

      ST. LOUIS -- Despite returning 20-of-22 starters, the Rams are a team in transition.

      It's a team that is counting heavily on its young players, many of them former first-day draft choices, stepping up to take the pressure off its aging stars.

      It's a team that has a cloud of uncertainty hanging over its offensive line: Pro Bowl OLT Orlando Pace, the Rams' franchise player, missed training camp for the second straight year due to a contract dispute, and ORT Kyle Turley will miss the season with back problems.

      It's a team that also must deal with the possibility that RB Marshall Faulk is no longer the most dangerous weapon in the NFL.

      And, most of all, it's a team whose success rests on the throwing arm of Marc Bulger, the undisputed starting quarterback now that two-time NFL MVP Kurt Warner is a member of the Giants.

      "Coming in as No. 1 obviously motivates me," Bulger said. "I know the team is counting on me, and that definitely gives me more motivation."

      Rams head coach Mike Martz went with Bulger, who has an 18-4 record as a starter in regular-season games, over Warner because he believes Bulger is an ascending player.

      "I do know that he is markedly improved from a year ago, no question about it," Martz said. "He's been consistently crisp. Just the speed of seeing things and getting the ball to the right guy, there is no hesitation or anything.:

      Quarterbacks: The Rams rewarded Bulger with a four-year contract extension that included a $9 million signing bonus, but now he must live up to that $19 million contract. Bulger threw for 3,845 yards -- third-most in the NFL -- last year. However, he also threw just as many interceptions as touchdown passes (22). Bulger must stop forcing passes into coverage if he wants to cut down his interception total. He also needs to work on his deep ball, as evidenced by the fact that the Rams completed only one pass longer than 45 yards last season. The Rams brought in the well-traveled Chris Chandler to serve as Bulger's backup. Chandler has the kind of accuracy that Martz craves from his quarterbacks, but it would be hard to imagine Chandler holding up physically if he was called upon to be the team's starter for an extended period of time. The third-string job belongs to rookie Jeff Smoker, a sixth-round draft pick out of Michigan State. Grade: B.


      Running backs: Faulk's odometer has a lot of miles on it. He has carried the ball 2,576 times over his 10-year career, and he's coming off several knee surgeries over the last three years, including a scope in the offseason. With that in mind, the Rams traded up in the first round of the 2004 draft to select Oregon State RB Steven Jackson. Jackson can run with both power and speed, which could allow the Rams the flexibility to line up Faulk...
      -09-01-2004, 01:06 PM
    • Nick
      Q&A with Randy Karraker from the HERD Board (LONG!)
      by Nick
      Q&A with Randy Karraker from the HERD Board
      Monday, August 09 2004 @ 10:16 PM CDT
      Contributed by: Shaky


      zn:

      Howdy to Randy, and howdy to the herd.

      Randy, do you agree or disagree with the following:

      The question is, is it possible to replace a hyped up Turley who in fact had
      trouble adjusting to the system last year, didn't LIKE the system blocking especially>, was injured at least part of the time ANYWAY, and was
      never much of a run blocker on top of it? Okay, so, how good will this
      year's OL be? That's an open question, but I sincerely doubt they will be
      worse than last year when the offense was 30th in rushing and 29th in sacks
      allowed supplemental blockers--TE, FB, etc.>.

      I am of course being deliberately provocative and controversial and stuff,
      but still, just use that as a platform and to go anywhere you want with it.

      Thanks Randy and keep up the (as usual) good work.


      RK:


      Thanks for the comments. Sure it's possible (probable) to replace Turley,
      and the offensive line can be a lot better. As they say, the cemeteries are
      full of indispensable people, so any OL is replaceable. The bigger thing to
      me is that individuals don't make a great line. Matt Light, Russ Hochstein,
      Dan Koppen, Joe Andruzzi and Tom Ashworth won last year's Super Bowl. The
      other side had Steussie, Donnaley, Mitchell, Jeno James and Jordan Gross. A
      couple of good players, a couple of average ones, and a rookie. I'm more
      than OK with Pace and Grant Williams at T. My concern is that Timmerman and
      McCollum, with lots of miles on them, got pushed around a little bit last
      season. I think they need to be more stout, a tougher group than last year.
      Additionally, while Turley didn't take well to the coaching and the system,
      he's still a great player. It couldn't hurt to have him.



      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------



      RamFanInPA:

      Pace Comments BS?????
      Orlando Pace stated a while back how he thought he and the Rams could get a
      long term deal done. The Rams can't negotiate until he signs the tender
      correct? So, why not sign the tender, get into camp, and then start
      negotiating the long term deal!!!! Does Pace just want to skip camp? Was his
      "big" statements just crap? When do you expect Pace to sign the tender and
      get into camp?

      Randy, thanks for all you do!

      RK:

      It appears that his comments were BS. You're right in that they can't
      negotiate with him until he signs the tender. Everyone in Macomb thinks
      he'll be in at the end of camp, just like last season, and the players I...
      -08-11-2004, 06:21 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
      Seahawks.NET
      .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
    • RamDez
      St. Louis Rams' quarterback Marc Bulger ready for first full year as starter
      by RamDez
      St. Louis Rams' quarterback Marc Bulger ready for first full year as starter
      R.B. FALLSTROM Canadian Press
      Friday, September 10, 2004
      ST. LOUIS (AP) - Marc Bulger is 18-4 as the St. Louis Rams' quarterback, he has a new four-year contract and he was the Pro Bowl MVP.

      Still, a new experience lies ahead. Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals will be his first opening-day start. Bulger stepped in for Kurt Warner in both 2002 and 2003, and last year he seized the job for good after only one week. And there's been no hint of controversy in the pre-season, not with 38-year-old Chris Chandler a safe choice as the backup.

      So, he doesn't think it's that big of a deal. This has been his team for a while.

      "I play the way I do regardless of whether I played the series before or the season before, and I'm not going to change that," Bulger said. "I never change the way I play."

      Bulger wasn't overworked in the pre-season, throwing only 36 passes in four games - fewer than both Chandler (44) and third-string Jeff Smoker (42). Now, the wraps come off for Bulger and for tailback Marshall Faulk, who totalled 14 carries.

      "Our game plans are pretty minimal in the pre-season," Bulger said. "Now, coach Martz can get real creative, and that's what's really fun about this offence.

      "It's always a lot more exciting once it counts, especially when you know you have a good team."

      The Rams won the NFC West with a 12-4 record and are expected to contend again despite questions on both lines. They're a double-digit favourite to get off to a good start against the Cardinals, 4-12 last year.

      "I'm looking forward to setting the tone for the season," wide receiver Isaac Bruce said. "We want to make sure nobody surprises us."

      The biggest areas of concern for the Rams heading into the opener are integrating tackle Orlando Pace into an offensive line that's been a trouble area all summer, and finding a replacement for departed defensive end Grant Wistrom.

      Pace had only four practices to prepare for the opener after waiting until Sunday to agree to a one-year, $7.02-million contract as the team's franchise player. He's a five-time Pro Bowl player, and reported 18 pounds below last year's playing weight, although in the early going he might have some football conditioning issues.

      "You never worry about Orlando, he's going to do his job," Bulger said. "He obviously came back in good shape and that's why all throughout camp it wasn't really an issue, for the players at least."

      Bryce Fisher, a seventh-round draft pick in 1999 by the Bills, is a low-profile replacement for Wistrom.

      "I've got a lot of work to do, but I really feel like the coaches at least know what they have in me," Fisher said....
      -09-10-2004, 02:36 PM
    • 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, 06:22 AM
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