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  • Rams can turn record around by closing talent gap

    Rams can turn record around by closing talent gap

    Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
    [More columns]By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/22/2009

    Well so far, I must say that things are pretty much going as planned. I realize that because of the NFL's blackout policies, most of you did not get to see the latest episode of our favorite reality TV show, "Football Players of St. Louis," but in my role as the Notorious Man of the People (the Notorious MOP), let me give you a synopsis of what you might have missed:

    I was happy with the effort and positively joyous about the result.

    Sunday was a good day for those of us who understand that victory on the field during the dwindling days of another lost Rams season is no longer a necessary building block for the future. So what we hoped for on Sunday was exactly what we got.

    On two separate fronts, the Rams got good news in the race for the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft.

    Tampa Bay (now 2-12) won, the Rams (now 1-13) lost, and thus the home team's place in front of the line for the No. 1 pick dramatically improved. With only two weeks to play in the regular season, the Rams have, without tampering with the integrity of the game, moved one step closer to locking down the all-important first pick in the draft (let it roll off your tongue easily: N-dom-Ah-ken Suh ... N-dom-Ah-ken Suh ... N-dom-Ah-ken Suh), and that is a very good thing.

    In case there is any confusion, let me clear this up: I am not suggesting that I want the Rams to tank the rest of the season. First of all, that's not in the nature of the players or the coach. The point is, I just want the Rams to continue to do what they've been doing all season give the sort of gritty effort that is epitomized by their no-nonsense coach Steve Spagnuolo and their ultra-competitive and combative star tailback Steven Jackson.

    But the Rams are still a very bad team, and that is not going to change between now and the end of the season.

    Effort is admirable, but there's a very good reason why the Rams are the hardest working 1-13 team in the NFL. Unless effort is combined with superior talent, effort won't be enough to produce consistent winning at this level.

    But even as the season drags its way toward an inevitable 1-15 conclusion, there are two very good reasons why the Rams are better off now than they were at any time during the past few seasons:

    1. Steve Spagnuolo is a better head coach than Scott Linehan could ever be.

    2. Billy Devaney is a better general manager than Jay Zygmunt ever dreamed of being.

    After the game on Sunday, I ran into CBS Sports and NFL Network analyst Solomon Wilcots in the Edward Jones Dome, and just like every other TV analyst and NFL personnel man I have talked to this season before or after Rams games, Wilcots went out of his way to say how impressed he was with both Spagnuolo and Devaney.

    "That man can coach," Wilcots said. "I'm serious, I don't think people understand how good he really is, and just in case they don't, you need to let them know."

    Wilcots raved about Spagnuolo's coaching intelligence and unwavering approach. "He has a plan and he knows that it works because it worked in New York and Philly," Wilcots said. "People in this league have a ton of respect for him. A ton of respect." John Lynch, who seems to be in the booth every weekend for Fox, compared Spagnuolo to the legendary Tony Dungy in his demeanor and coaching style.

    And many of the NFL personnel people I have talked to discuss how Devaney has beefed up his personnel department, that there are some smart talent evaluators in the field for the Rams, and for the first time in decades, the men in charge of making the important personnel decisions on drafts and free agents are qualified football guys who are astute and know what they are looking at.

    At present, the talent gap between the Rams and the rest of the NFL is a chasm, so the Rams can go with a no-quit attitude from kickoff to the final buzzer, but at some point reality must settle in.

    And that's a very good reason why the Rams have won only one game this season.

    The talent gap.

    But fortunately, the Rams are past the worst of it. They have bottomed out, and the journey back out of the valley has begun. Unlike the turmoil in Washington, Cleveland or Tampa Bay, the Rams are not a franchise contemplating another major front-office renovation.

    I still believe in the men who have been put in charge of altering this franchise's sad past. They have assembled some young players on this roster who are starting to show that they can play; they just don't have enough of them.

    Now, this franchise has to get lucky again and start winning those important off-season competitions that have been the organization's undoing for so long.

    The Rams massive alterations are like the reconstruction of a dilapidated old house. First you have to have faith in the architects and believe that they are armed with a good blueprint.

    Now let's hope the Rams' architects will be wise enough to go out and find the right material (via the draft and free agency) to recreate a football masterpiece in St. Louis.
    :ramlogo:

  • #2
    Re: Rams can turn record around by closing talent gap

    I hope everybody who's already calling for the heads of Spags and Devaney reads this article.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams can turn record around by closing talent gap

      Bears s*** in the woods.

      Talk about stating the obvious...

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Rams can turn record around by closing talent gap

        Originally posted by Nick_Weasel View Post
        I hope everybody who's already calling for the heads of Spags and Devaney reads this article.
        I still think its funny people do that.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Rams can turn record around by closing talent gap

          It's this type of article that gets me all fired up the 2010 season.

          GO RAMS!!!!
          sigpic :ram::helmet:

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Rams can turn record around by closing talent gap

            Its not so much a talent gap--but more a depth gap. Sure A few more aces in WR core would be a plus--a switch up RB to compliment S. Jackson--maybe a 4th or 3rd rounder as QB to develope.

            As much as stars can help, its often the no-names that make the difference

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Rams can turn record around by closing talent gap

              Originally posted by DistantRam View Post
              Bears s*** in the woods.

              Talk about stating the obvious...

              For some reason I can't stop laughing at this...


              I agree though. You can tell that it's getting close to his christmas vacation.

              Comment

              Related Topics

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              • RamWraith
                St. Louis Rams fans must be patient with team's new management
                by RamWraith
                By Bryan Burwell
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                Tuesday, Jan. 27 2009
                Unlike building a house, the reconstruction of a football franchise begins from
                the top, not the bottom. So for now, the heavy action at Rams Park is happening
                on the second floor of the building, where new coaches are beginning to fill up
                the empty office space.

                The surprisingly orderly process of fixing the Rams began with Billy Devaney's
                empowerment as the new general manager, then his thorough hunt for a new head
                coach. And now, Steve Spagnuolo's staff is taking shape every day, and soon
                enough Spags and his new coaches will get together with Devaney and his
                expanding staff of personnel men.

                What should come of those brainstorming sessions should prove to be the moves
                that will put the ultimate final touches on this imposing franchise face-lift:

                Picking the right players.

                There is nothing more critical to an organization that has failed miserably at
                this task for far too long. There is a reason why the Rams have sunk so far
                down on the NFL's strength chart, and it goes right to bad decisions on player
                acquisitions. How bad have the Rams fared on draft day? Well, consider that
                from the five draft classes between 2000 and 2004, there are only three players
                remaining on the active roster: Chris Massey ('02), Pisa Tinoisamoa ('03) and
                Steven Jackson ('04).

                Even if you take into consideration the normal erosion of free agency, that is
                a shameful record of failure by the folks who used to work the draft. Those are
                the drafts that should have built the veteran core for the Rams, but instead
                they merely highlight the gross incompetence of the men no longer in charge.
                Just as glaring is the fact that the nine draft classes of this decade have
                produced only one Pro Bowl player (Jackson).

                The good news is that real football people are running things again, which
                means that we're beyond the days of selecting players for all the wrong reasons.

                So, despite the very public man-crushes that draftniks are already developing
                with certain prominent college stars, and the guesswork that is happening
                across the Internet, here's a word of advice:

                Slow your roll.

                The Rams are nowhere close to determining which direction they are going with
                that very valuable first-round pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

                There's too much time left. Too many evaluations to be done. There's free
                agency shopping to be done, combine workouts, Senior Bowl film work, pro-day
                workouts and hundreds of hours worth of carefully detailed scouting reports to
                evaluate.

                Yeah, it's fun to guess what they're going to do with the second pick, but
                that's all speculation. Until...
                -01-27-2009, 04:27 AM
              • eldfan
                Rams could find a tonic at top of draft
                by eldfan
                Rams could find a tonic at top of draft

                Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
                [More columns]By Bryan Burwell
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                12/18/2009

                In this, their unfortunate season of imperfection, the Rams get no breaks. Whatever can go wrong usually does go wrong.

                On Monday afternoon, Steve Spagnuolo had just finished running through the injury report from the Rams latest defeat when he paused for a moment to stare at the slip of paper that was chock full of names and assorted bumps and bruises.

                "Wow this thing really is pretty long," he said, only half-joking.

                There are other places in the pro football universe, like Indianapolis and New Orleans, where they contemplate the ramifications of trying to get through their schedule unblemished. Every NFL talking head, talk-show host and ex-player and coach has an opinion about the value of chasing a perfect season.

                Oh, to be so lucky. The Rams haven't been in that exclusive neighborhood in nearly a decade. Way over here on the darker side of the NFL, the imperfect Rams the worst team in pro football at 1-12 just ponder more creative ways to suffer.

                And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it does.

                A swine flu mini-epidemic just swept through Rams Park.

                Practice was canceled Thursday when a half-dozen players or so came to work suffering from swine flu symptoms.

                You can't make this stuff up.

                Q: Who where the only Rams players who didn't get the swine flu?

                A: The wide receivers. They haven't caught anything all year.

                On Thursday afternoon, the only thing the Rams coach could do was laugh about the crazy circumstances. When someone asked him if he was worried that he might not have enough healthy players to suit up for Sunday's game with Houston, Spags chuckled. "I will be out there," he said. "Don't even send me down that direction."

                This wretched season just keeps getting more curious, and I just happen to love it. Stop me if you've heard this before, but I have found the silver lining in this dark, dark cloud. At this point for the 1-12 Rams, losing is definitely a very good thing. If they're going to be bad, you might as well aim to be the worst team in the NFL, because losing does have its rewards.

                If you're going to be this historically bad, the silver lining is knowing that there is a stud future Pro Bowl game-changing defensive tackle waiting for the Rams if they get the first pick in next spring's NFL draft and if they're only smart enough to take him.

                Sometimes you get star-crossed when you are a bad team, and that is what has happened to the Rams the last few years. They get just bad enough to be near the top of the draft, but then they get stuck with having to draft a player with the second overall...
                -12-18-2009, 05:16 AM
              • MauiRam
                St. Louis Rams poised to improve
                by MauiRam
                Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                07/30/2009

                As the Rams open training camp, I've been looking for reasons to be optimistic about 2009. The franchise is for sale. The team, which was near the top of the NFL in 2000, has tumbled to the bottom of the league at decade's end. The previous football regime virtually destroyed the roster, leaving few impact players in place.

                So where's the hope?

                It starts (and ends, really) with the offseason purge of the front office and the installation of Billy Devaney as general manager and Steve Spagnuolo as head coach.

                The Rams can overcome themselves and the opponents by winning. That's the only cure. The Rams must win. And then they'll get the fans back. They'll give people a reason to care again.

                At least with Devaney, Spagnuolo and their lieutenants, the football side of the operation is manned by fresh thinkers, high-energy personalities, and a collective will to succeed.

                The working environment is harmonious. Well, at least for now; there is something strange about the NFL that causes egos to expand. But now the Rams have a united football front, and that's a dramatic change from the bickering, back-room power grabs and the insidious dysfunction of the immediate past.

                I'm not saying that Devaney is Bill Polian, or that Spagnuolo is Bill Belichick. They have a lot to prove to before becoming certified winners in this league. And that especially is true of Spagnuolo, the first-time head coach. You just never know about the first-timers as leaders until they lose three in a row, and the sniping begins, and the adversity is crackling around them.

                But there's no question that Spagnuolo has personal charisma, and that he has learned from some of the best in the business, including the late Jim Johnson, the Philadelphia Eagles' outstanding defensive coordinator.

                Johnson died Tuesday. I knew Johnson for the last 20-plus years of his life, and I respected him as much as any coach or person I've encountered in the NFL. Soon after Johnson was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year, he returned my call and left a voice message. I had phoned several weeks earlier to get a scouting report on Spagnuolo.

                "A talented coach, but even more than that, he's real," Johnson said on the voice mail. "There's nothing phony about him. He's smart and he's a sincere guy and players will follow his lead. And when players need to be challenged, he's tough enough to command respect. He'll win there." MORE BERNIE

                I had hoped to have a lengthier conversation with Johnson about "Spags," and write an entire column about it. But frankly I didn't want to bother Johnson as he fought the terminal illness that would claim his life.

                If a straight-shooter and man of integrity such as Johnson goes out...
                -07-30-2009, 08:42 AM
              • mikhal5569
                Probably The Best Article I've Read All Year
                by mikhal5569
                Spagnuolo has Rams on right track.


                Don Banks. SI.com
                First-year Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has*team on right track - Don Banks - SI.com
                ST. LOUIS -- One of my favorite things to do on an NFL training camp tour is to visit a team that features a rookie head coach, as the Rams do this year after hiring ex-Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo this offseason. Though I'm usually blowing through camp in a day or so, you can often learn a lot from watching those early days of a new regime, seeing whether or not the veterans on that team are buying what the new guy is selling, and seeing a first-time coach in the process of finding out who he can and can't count on.
                True, trying to take an accurate temperature reading of an organization's new program after interviewing a handful of players for a matter of minutes is your basic snap judgment, writ large. It's far from foolproof. But sometimes it can be dead on.
                For example, after stops at both the Falcons and Ravens training camps last summer, I came away believing that rookie head coaches Mike Smith and John Harbaugh both had a pretty good handle on what it was going to take to turn Atlanta and Baltimore around, and that they had already put the wheels in motion. It's not that I saw 11-5 seasons coming for both, far from it. But I did see two teams that were in the process of fully buying into Smith and Harbaugh's approaches, and I sensed it would pay dividends at some point.
                In an inverse way, the same was true for the 2007 Falcons, who I also paid a camp visit to, in order to discover what the new Bobby Petrino era was all about in Atlanta. One day there and I had the feeling trouble was on way for the Birds that season, thanks largely to the degree of skepticism I heard coming from key Atlanta veterans. And you know how that story turned out: Petrino's rookie season was his only NFL season, as his 13-game tenure was a debacle of epic proportion.
                All that said, I'm ready to make the call that Spagnuolo seems like the right man for the job that faces his downtrodden Rams. While their NFL-worst 5-27 record the past two years breeds a certain amount of willingness to follow anyone with a plan, the Rams convinced me that Spagnuolo has been pitch perfect so far in his make-over efforts in St. Louis.
                "I was talking to someone in the locker room two days ago, and I said, 'He hasn't told us a lie yet,' '' Rams second-year defensive end Chris Long told me Thursday afternoon, after another two-a-day practice was in the books. "Everything he's said has been on point. I thought we bought into Spags the minute he walked in the door. I had never heard him talk or seen him before, but I knew where he had been, and that resume spoke for itself. On top of that, he's a man who treats people with respect, and when he speaks, guys listen and really embrace his notion of respecting team.''
                Watching Spagnuolo work a practice is like watching...
                -08-09-2009, 06:52 AM
              • MauiRam
                Rams could find a tonic at top of draft ..
                by MauiRam
                Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                12/18/2009

                In this, their unfortunate season of imperfection, the Rams get no breaks. Whatever can go wrong usually does go wrong.

                On Monday afternoon, Steve Spagnuolo had just finished running through the injury report from the Rams latest defeat when he paused for a moment to stare at the slip of paper that was chock full of names and assorted bumps and bruises.

                "Wow this thing really is pretty long," he said, only half-joking.

                There are other places in the pro football universe, like Indianapolis and New Orleans, where they contemplate the ramifications of trying to get through their schedule unblemished. Every NFL talking head, talk-show host and ex-player and coach has an opinion about the value of chasing a perfect season.

                Oh, to be so lucky. The Rams haven't been in that exclusive neighborhood in nearly a decade. Way over here on the darker side of the NFL, the imperfect Rams the worst team in pro football at 1-12 just ponder more creative ways to suffer.

                And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse, it does.

                A swine flu mini-epidemic just swept through Rams Park.

                Practice was canceled Thursday when a half-dozen players or so came to work suffering from swine flu symptoms.

                You can't make this stuff up.

                Q: Who where the only Rams players who didn't get the swine flu? MORE
                A: The wide receivers. They haven't caught anything all year.

                On Thursday afternoon, the only thing the Rams coach could do was laugh about the crazy circumstances. When someone asked him if he was worried that he might not have enough healthy players to suit up for Sunday's game with Houston, Spags chuckled. "I will be out there," he said. "Don't even send me down that direction."

                This wretched season just keeps getting more curious, and I just happen to love it. Stop me if you've heard this before, but I have found the silver lining in this dark, dark cloud. At this point for the 1-12 Rams, losing is definitely a very good thing. If they're going to be bad, you might as well aim to be the worst team in the NFL, because losing does have its rewards.

                If you're going to be this historically bad, the silver lining is knowing that there is a stud future Pro Bowl game-changing defensive tackle waiting for the Rams if they get the first pick in next spring's NFL draft and if they're only smart enough to take him.

                Sometimes you get star-crossed when you are a bad team, and that is what has happened to the Rams the last few years. They get just bad enough to be near the top of the draft, but then they get stuck with having to draft a player with the second overall pick who isn't really a drop-dead, game-changing automatic stud.

                This year, they...
                -12-18-2009, 07:42 AM
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