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Roster scrambling, defensive holes hint at trouble for Rams

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  • Roster scrambling, defensive holes hint at trouble for Rams

    By Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Sep. 08 2004

    A few days before the 2004 regular-season opener, the Rams seem unusually

    They're signing waiver-wire pick-ups and other castoffs in a late, desperate
    rush to upgrade the roster. They tried to lure used-up Jason Sehorn out of
    retirement, but he flunked the physical. In this flurry of activity, the Rams
    oddly failed to address the most glaring weaknesses, at cornerback and
    defensive tackle.

    If you're going to invite people off the street for open auditions, why not try
    to reinforce the unimposing, underachieving cast at defensive tackle? And how
    can the Rams be comfortable with only one experienced NFL cornerback in
    Jerametrius Butler? (I'm not counting Aeneas Williams; the Rams insist he will
    remain at free safety). The NFL is a passing league, and the Rams simply don't
    have enough cover guys.

    The Rams also made a debatable, peculiar decision to trade promising running
    back Lamar Gordon to Miami. Marshall Faulk's health is an open-ended concern.
    If Faulk's knee folds, the offense will have to rely on a rookie, Steven
    Jackson, who had knee issues late in his college career at Oregon State. Arlen
    Harris is a tough runner and can fill in at the position, but he lacks speed.

    Astoundingly, the Rams got nothing more than a third-round pick for Gordon. And
    they didn't insure themselves with a side agreement to upgrade to a more
    premium draft choice should Gordon produce a 1,000-yard rushing season in
    Miami. (And he will). More baffling is that the Rams unloaded Gordon's
    salary-cap friendly contract. Gordon wasn't costing them much, so why move him?

    After the retirement of head case Ricky Williams, the Dolphins were hard up for
    a back, and the Rams should have exploited the situation by holding out for a
    better draft choice. They're not running a charity.

    Gordon's frustrating foot problems finally were solved through surgery, so the
    move was hardly embraced inside every office at Rams Park. I'd be surprised if
    coach Mike Martz privately gave an enthusiastic endorsement to this trade.
    Martz offered mixed signals Wednesday when discussing the deal. While
    explaining that Gordon was expendable because of Jackson's emergence and the
    increased confidence in Faulk's viability, Martz also described the transaction
    as "risky" and his feelings as "nervous."

    "Lamar's a terrific value," Martz said.

    Yes, and the Dolphins undoubtedly would agree.

    It's been a fidgety week at Rams Park.

    "Very, very, busy," Martz said.

    And the roster tuning has taken Martz away from his game-planning for the
    Arizona Cardinals.

    The Rams usually are quiet at this time of summer, concentrating on getting
    ready to play their first real game. But this year, they're moving bodies in
    and out. I suppose it's good to see the Rams be so aggressive. But it also
    points to something I wrote about in our football preview section: the Rams'
    gradual erosion of talent. I don't believe these Rams have as much depth of
    talent as other squads we've seen here since 1999.

    And I repeat: If the Rams are going to make late roster alterations, why not
    stitch the obvious holes at DT and CB? The Rams' offense should be fine, but
    the defense is vulnerable. Martz concedes that the Rams are "a little thin" at
    defensive tackle, and "a corner short" on defense. But he's counting on
    internal improvement.

    "You look beyond your own roster so often to find these needs, but you brought
    these guys in here because you like them, and you think they can play," he
    said. "And you'd better see if they can play. Because if they can't play,
    you've made a mistake. But you've got to show that kind of trust in them.
    That's the reason you have them here, so you should give them that opportunity

    Are the Rams ready to open the season? I wonder. But at least they're fortunate
    to have the Cardinals coming to town.

  • #2
    Re: Roster scrambling, defensive holes hint at trouble for Rams

    Who the hell is this guy? Questioning the Rams' personnel decisions and readiness for the season to start! Doesn't he know Mike Martz's record?


    • #3
      Re: Roster scrambling, defensive holes hint at trouble for Rams

      I'd rather see them rushing to get waiver-wire guys than just accepting what they had and moving on. At least they are attempting to make improvements.


      • #4
        Re: Roster scrambling, defensive holes hint at trouble for Rams

        Originally posted by DJRamFan
        I'd rather see them rushing to get waiver-wire guys than just accepting what they had and moving on. At least they are attempting to make improvements.
        I'd rather see them rushing to identify unsuitable talent and getting rid of them while there is time to get someone into football condition.


        • #5
          Re: Roster scrambling, defensive holes hint at trouble for Rams

          I'm not going to pass any judgement until they do one thing....

          PLAY THE DAD GUM GAME. All this speculation is making no one but my ulcer happy.


          • #6
            Re: Roster scrambling, defensive holes hint at trouble for Rams

            Bernie's opinion that the Rams could have gotten more for Lamar Gordon has absolutely no basis in fact or logic.

            Once again, he seems to go out of his way to complain.


            • #7
              Re: Roster scrambling, defensive holes hint at trouble for Rams

              Originally posted by AvengerRam
              Bernie's opinion that the Rams could have gotten more for Lamar Gordon has absolutely no basis in fact or logic.

              Once again, he seems to go out of his way to complain.
              I try to give Bernie the benefit of doubt when possible, but I've got to admit this one is way out in left field. Unless we knew that Faulk couldn't go or Jackson just wasn't ready, this was the best move and the most value we are going to get out of Gordon. No way could we have gotten anything higher than this 3rd round pick. The pick will probably be in the low 80's next draft and we can certainly find someone decent there.

              Bernie's entitled to his opinion, but I think AV is right; Bernie fumbled this one.
              The more things change, the more they stay the same.


              • #8
                Re: Roster scrambling, defensive holes hint at trouble for Rams

                Maybe, we have all this roster thrashing and player changes and player injuries and signings and re-signings and reassignments all confused.

                Maybe our "Real Man of Genius" (aka MM) is using all this as a way to distract our opponents and draw attention away from the Ram's real weakness - the Head Coach. :redface:

                That's a hint a trouble alright!!

                ARF ARF ARF


                Related Topics


                • RamWraith
                  What PFT has to say
                  by RamWraith

                  A league source tells us that the St. Louis Rams initially wanted defensive tackle Jeff Zgonina in lieu of the third-round draft pick they received when they shipped running back Lamar Gordon to the Miami Dolphins.

                  Per the source, the Dolphins refused -- and the Rams didn't persist.

                  Given that the Rams are looking for help at the defensive tackle position and that the Dolphins were desperate to prop up their running game, it seems odd to us that the Rams didn't insist on bringing back Zgonina, who was still a defensive team captain for the Rams even as he was landing a better financial offer on the open market. The Fins, after all, recently added Bryan Robinson, who'll play on the inside, so the loss of Zgonina wouldn't have been so damaging.

                  Also, Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch questions why the Rams settled only for the third-rounder in exchange for Gordon, especially since the Rams had some leverage in the discussions.

                  It works like this. The Dolphins need a running back badly. The Rams have an extra running back. So the price tag goes up.

                  (Perhaps the simplicity of that approach is beneath a guy like Mike Martz, who isn't thinking at all unless he's thinking 27 levels deep.)

                  Martz dubbed the trade "risky" and admitted to feeling "nervous" about sending Gordon, a 2002 third-rounder who has played well when Marshall Faulk couldn't go. Sure, they now have Faulk and first-rounder Steven Jackson, but an early injury to either of them will have bigger consequences without Gordon around.

                  And if Martz was nervous about shipping Gordon to Miami in exchange for the same pick with which he was drafted, why not ask for more? If, as we've suggested, Martz is on the hot seat this year in St. Louis, why not insist at a minimum on someone who can help improve the team now. That third-round pick won't do Martz any good if he's the offensive coordinator in San Diego next season (but it might help Miami coach Dave Wannstedt, of course, if he's the defensive coordinator with the Rams come April 2005).

                  For the Fins, then, it appears to have been a good deal. Word around the league is that they were hell bent on using the third-rounder they got in addition to Marty Booker for defensive end Adewale Ogunleye to get a running back. We're hearing that the Fins actually tried to send the third-rounder back to Chicago for running back Anthony Thomas, but the Bears declined.

                  Even if Gordon was the second choice, the Fins finally got their guy. In the end, the Ogunleye trade yielded replacements for the two major offseason losses -- Ricky Williams and David Boston -- both of which seemingly came too late to address this year. So now the expectations in Miami are reduced, and we now wouldn't be surprised to see the Fins come out of the darkness of...
                  -09-09-2004, 06:35 AM
                • moklerman
                  Guest of the Martz Dog House?
                  by moklerman
                  What's the deal with Lamar Gordon? I admit I didn't watch him as closely as I should have while he was playing, always anticipating/hoping for Faulk to come back, but from what I remember he was always gaining positive yards and hitting the hole hard when he got a chance. I know he seemed to get nicked up a little too easily, but if that's the only reason that he's been demoted to 3rd string I think it's a little harsh.

                  I mean, the guy's used to playing Division IIA ball so there has to be somewhat of an adjustment period doesn't there? I certainly hope that this isn't another case of treating the symptom and not the disease. The O-Line and gameplan are more to blame for the lack of production at the running back spot than the individual playerS (yes, that's a capital "S" meaning all the rb's have struggled, not just one of them).

                  I'm starting to get the impression that there is no learning curve at Rams Park. It "seems" like if players don't produce right away they are shipped off or given up on. Doublly tough on players that are getting thrown into the fracas as rookies. I have my doubts about Arlen Harris (I like him, but I question whether or not he has "it") but I think that Gordon has the potential to make it in the league. I definitely wouldn't give up on either of them, as it appears Martz is doing by making Arlen play out of position and demoting Gordon to 3rd string and drafting Jackson.

                  The new and improved Martz Dog House: "Players Check In, But They Don't Check Out!".
                  -05-30-2004, 05:51 AM
                • RamWraith
                  Anxious players deal with the dread of cutdown day
                  by RamWraith
                  By Bill Coats
                  Of the Post-Dispatch
                  Monday, Aug. 30 2004

                  "The Turk" is lurking at Rams Park, which makes for uneasy times for players
                  teetering on the bubble as roster cutdowns take place.

                  "I couldn't sleep the last two nights, and my stomach's been turning," said
                  undrafted rookie Matt Morgan, an offensive tackle from Pitt. "It's been pretty

                  Others, such as safety Nijrell Eason, try to purge all thoughts of impending
                  doom. "To me, it's just like any other time," said Eason, an Arizona State
                  product who has played in one NFL game. "You just do whatever you can. What's
                  out of your hands, you can't really control."

                  The team has to make one more cut to reach 65 players by today's deadline. The
                  53-man final roster must be set by Sept. 5. Between now and then, "The Turk" -
                  the Rams use several members of the scouting department to do the dirty work -
                  will be instructing ill-fated players to report to general manager Charley
                  Armey's office to officially receive the bad tidings.

                  "It's pretty nervous about this time," said defensive end Kevin Aldridge, an
                  undrafted rookie from Southern Methodist. "You start number-counting, seeing
                  who was here last year, who was a high draft pick, how many they'll keep at
                  your position."

                  Morgan said he tries to avoid the numbers game. "I talked to a lot of the vets,
                  and they said you can't do that to yourself," he said. "You'll just tear
                  yourself apart; there's too much stress. You've got to worry about practice,
                  not whether you're going to be here tomorrow or not."

                  Surviving the first flurry of cuts is cause for some relief. But not much,
                  Aldridge emphasized. "You still know there's more to come," he said. "You're
                  not here until the final roster is set."

                  In the meantime, it's hard not to flinch when the telephone rings. Morgan got a
                  scare Saturday morning, when six players were released. He received a call, but
                  "they were looking for somebody else that I was hanging out with," he said. "I
                  (thought), 'Whew.' I wiped the sweat off my brow."

                  Aldridge said he keeps a close eye on his caller ID. "If the number is from
                  (Rams Park), then you start panicking," he said, laughing. But he also noted
                  that it's important not to allow the building anxiety to affect his performance
                  on the field.

                  "You have go out there and play as hard as you can, and hopefully it'll work
                  out," he said. "And if they don't want to keep you, maybe somebody else will
                  bring you in or you can hope to make the practice...
                  -08-31-2004, 05:43 AM
                • RamWraith
                  Rams' injuries have been too much to overcome
                  by RamWraith
                  By Jeff Gordon
                  Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
                  Tuesday, Dec. 14 2004

                  During stretches of Sunday’s loss at Carolina, the Rams played without their
                  defensive catalysts.

                  Defensive end Leonard Little, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa and cornerback Travis
                  Fisher moved in and out of the fray due to injuries and illness.

                  Safety Aeneas Williams bowed out, too, due to his lingering “stinger” injury.
                  Of course, quarterback Marc Bulger and running backs Marshall Faulk and Steven
                  Jackson were also sidelined by injuries.

                  And would-be offensive line stalwarts Dave Wohlabaugh (center) and Kyle Turley
                  (right tackle) haven’t been around all season, after failing to recover from
                  off-season surgery.

                  You add it all up and the Rams just didn’t have enough . . . which has become
                  the story of their season.

                  Certainly some individuals could have played much better this season,
                  particularly among the defensive line, linebackers and safeties. Rams fans will
                  always find plenty of reasons to second-guess coach Mike Martz, too, given his

                  But in the final assessment, the Rams’ key injuries have been just too much to

                  To wit:

                  -- The offensive line has been in flux since training camp, since injuries to
                  veteran back-ups Chris Dishman and Grant Williams, plus young reserve Scott
                  Tercero, compounded the loss of Turley and Wohlabaugh.

                  Sometimes the unit has held up. But at Carolina, Martz viewed its performance
                  as embarrassing, noting that young right tackle Blaine Saipaia was the best of
                  the five starters.

                  -- The offensive and defensive leaders of this team, Faulk and Aeneas Williams,
                  are no longer Pro Bowl-caliber players. Faulk looked like his old self in brief
                  stretches this season, but a nagging knee injury has sent him to the sidelines.

                  Williams’ “stinger” has rendered him ineffective all season. Why does he
                  continue attempting to play?

                  These two future Hall of Fame inductees have been the heart and soul of the
                  Rams in recent seasons.

                  -- By losing Bulger and Jackson as well, the Rams suddenly lacked their usual
                  offensive firepower.

                  “This is such an odd deal because offensively we have always been OK, sometimes
                  good, but never been bad like that, and that really upsets me, as you can all
                  imagine,” Martz said at his Monday news conference. “Yet these are all things
                  that we can fix. We’ll just move on from there.”

                  Arlen Harris gave the team a game performance at Carolina, but the pitiable
                  Chandler threw six interceptions as Martz refused to scale back his game plan.

                  “I have to do a better job with...
                  -12-20-2004, 02:19 PM
                • AvengerRam_old
                  Showcase of Gordon Paid Off
                  by AvengerRam_old
                  I'll admit... I'm surprised.

                  I would not have guessed that the Rams would have been able to acquire a 3rd Round pick for Gordon.

                  Not that Gordon doesn't have potential. He could prove to be a 1,000 yard back for the Dolphins.

                  But with the Rams, he was a third string back with only moderate production in the past and a recent surgery.

                  So how did the Rams get such a high price for him?

                  Obviously, part of the reason is the Dolphins' deperate need for a back after Ricky Williams decided that the grass at Pro Player Stadium does not compare to the kind you buy in Amsterdam.

                  But the Rams also played this one very well.

                  First, Martz publicly chastised himself for suggesting that Gordon was soft after it was revealed that Lamar needed surgery to remove a bone chip. While I believe that was a sincere expression of regret by Martz, he also made sure that other teams heard his confession.

                  Then, in the final preseason game, Gordon was deliberately showcased, as he was given the ball 24 times (22 carries, 2 receptions). He showed productivity and the ability to be a workhorse - and the Dolphins paid a higher than market value price because of this.

                  While the Rams could regret the trade this year if the injury bug hits, in the long run, this should be a good trade for the Rams (and, for Lamar's sake, hopefully for the Dolphins as well).
                  -09-08-2004, 07:41 PM