Posted on: April 7, 2011 11:38 am
Edited on: April 7, 2011 1:37 pm
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups .
The Rams were one of the most surprisingly successful squads in the NFL last season. Coming off a dreadful 1-15 season in 2009 – which netted St. Louis the 2010 No. 1 pick and, naturally, QB Sam Bradford – St. Louis won six more games than it had in 2009 and were a game away from taking home the NFC West division title and a postseason berth, falling instead to the Seahawks in the season finale.
But the biggest news since their loss to Seattle was the hiring of former Broncos coach Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator and quarterback coach. He’ll work closely with Bradfo
Quarterback, new offensive coordinator
While McDaniels helped current Chiefs QB Matt Cassel to a surprisingly good season the year he had to replace Tom Brady – who also got a little bit of McDaniels when he was in New England – and comes to St. Louis with a strong reputation as an offensive coordinator, Bradford will have plenty of work to do. The Rams will forgo the West Coast offense they ran last year and run more of a shotgun, spread-based scheme. This is where an offseason workout schedule would be helpful.
1. Wide Reciever
One of the most impressive accomplishments by Bradford last season was to throw for 3,512 yards to a corps of WRs that screams unknown and unproven (Danny Amendola, you’re our breakout star!!). The team lost Mark Clayton (patellar tendon) and Donnie Avery (ACL) while Danario Alexander missed eight games while undergoing a fifth (!) knee surgery. The acquisition of Randy Moss – if he would have let it happen – would have helped last year, but overall, the Rams really need help in this area.
2. Defensive Line
Surprisingly, the Rams weren’t terrible there last season, and much of that had to do with Fred Robbins and James Hall – who registered double-digit sacks for only the second time in his career at the age of 33. Overall, St. Louis ranked 19th in pass defense and 17th in run defense, and as you probably know, there’s a plethora of defensive linemen in the draft that could get a call from St. Louis (although drafting a WR in the first round makes more sense).
3. Defensive Backs
The Rams released standout SS Oshiomogho Atogwe, a defensive captain last year, because he was due an $8 million roster bonus Feb. 21. As a result, he left for Washington and left a huge hole in the St. Louis secondary. And while the Rams had high hopes in James Butler, he’s been plagued by injury and lost his starting spot. St. Louis probably won’t want to count on him.
The Rams still have plenty of holes to fill, but they also have young standouts on each side of the ball, particularly Bradford and MLB James Laurinaitis. In any other division, you’d say the Rams might struggle a bit and could feel good about themselves if they finish at .500.
But in the weak NFC West, they’ll be one of the favorites to win the division and return to the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
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Posted on: December 30, 2010 4:26 pm
Posted by Andy Benoit
This week’s Key Matchup looks at two teams that most people know very little about. We don’t have a choice, really – the NFL stuck by its word and put the game with the most significant playoff implications in primetime Sunday night. Thus, America is getting introduced to the 2010 Rams and the 2010 Seahawks this week. Combined, these teams have as many wins as the 2010 Patriots.
First thing to know about the Seahawks: they can’t run the ball. Their 85.5 yards per game on the ground ranks dead last in the NFL. Some thought the early season trade for Marshawn Lynch would spearhead the ground game. But those who thought that clearly hadn’t watched Lynch closely the past few years. The former first-round pick is not an explosive breakaway runner, and though he fights through tacklers with tremendous tenacity, he doesn’t have enough power to be considered a thumper. These limitations aren’t a major issue for an NFL runner, unless that NFL runner lacks vision and patience – which Lynch does.
Backup Justin Forsett is one of the hardest players in the game to tackle, but the Seahawks coaching staff insists he is built to only be a third-down back. Still, with this being a make-or-break game, don’t be surprised if quick, slippery Forsett gets a bulk of the carries.
With Seattle unable to run, Matt Hasselbeck’s status for this game is all the more crucial. Hasselbeck, at this point, can probably be considered a true “questionable” with a left hip strain. If the stakes weren’t so high, he’d likely be doubtful. But a gimpy Hasselbeck is superior to a healthy Charlie Whitehurst, as a gimpy Hasselbeck at least has the trust of play-caller Jeremy Bates (Bates recently called Hasselbeck the team’s “best player on offense”.)
Prior to the season, one figured that any team in football would be able to throw at will against this St. Louis secondary. Cornerbacks Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher are better in zone than man (this is a polite way of saying they’re average). And strong safety Craig Dahl doesn’t have the greatest range (he’d be a special teamer for most clubs).
But the Rams have mustered a fairly respectable 21st-ranked pass defense, thanks to a surprisingly effective pass-rush, highlighted by a front line that, like the Titans of ’09, constantly features four solid player but boasts no star. Former No. 2 overall pick Chris Long has been near star status, thanks to his career-high 8.5 sacks. But Long’s damage comes from his motor more than his athleticism. Guys like that are difficult to play against but not nightmarish to gameplan for. Nevertheless, Long will be a major test for rookie left tackle Russell Okung, who is playing with an ankle that is not 100 percent. Veterans James Hall and Fred Robbins have also been major surprises for Steve Spagnuolo’s unit.
Finally, no player is more important to the Rams’ defense than James Laurinaitis. The second-year linebacker has dispelled the notion that he lacks the range and lateral agility to patrol the middle in coverage. A year ago, such criticism was accurate. But Laurinaitis has drastically improved his recognition, which has made him a more explosive player. If the Rams choose to dedicate his services to primarily stopping tight end John Carlson on Sunday, the Seahawks will have no choice but to try to win via the big play from their wide receivers. If that’s the case, the issue becomes whether Seattle’s front five can keep that potent Rams front four at bay.
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Posted on: December 27, 2010 5:20 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2010 5:23 pm
Posted by Andy Benoit
Posted on: October 30, 2010 5:38 pm
Posted by Andy Benoit
Redskins @ Lions
Panthers @ Rams
Tags: Artis Hicks, Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Cornell Green, Danario Alexander, Darell Scott, DeAndre Levy, Detroit Lions, Dexter McCluster, Fred Robbins, Jahvid Best, Jairus Byrd, Jammal Brown, Jason Smith, Kansas City Chiefs, Kareem Moore, LaRon Landry, Matthew Stafford, Mike Sellers, Renardo Foster, St. Louis Rams, Stephon Heyer, Terrence McGee, Washington Redskins
Posted on: August 6, 2010 6:53 pm
Edited on: August 6, 2010 7:08 pm
Posted by Andy Benoit
Pro Football Talk reports that the Rams have placed veteran defensive tackle Chris Hovan on injured reserve. Hovan has been bothered by back pain throughout training camp. The former Buccaneer was looking to rejuvenate his career in St. Louis. Now, it's possible that career could be over.
Hovan has not been injury-prone in his career. He started 79 of 80 games for the Bucs over the past five seasons. But nagging back injuries are difficult to overcome - especially for a 32-year-old.
The Rams will be fine at defensive tackle (or at least not much worse than they were before losing Hovan). Inconsistent but underrated Clifton Ryan is still expected to start next to Darell Scott, a second-year pro who lacks sizzling athleticisim but always hustles his tail off. Veteran Fred Robbins, if healthy, will be the top backup off the bench.
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