BY ANDY GOLDSTEIN and DEREK JONES
What Went Right
When a team goes 3-13, there is not much positive to be taken from it. However, when the Rams weren’t decimated by injuries they were decent team — just ask the Saints. Offensively, the Rams have weapons. Both Torry Holt and Steven Jackson eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark while Marc Bulger shook off a rib injury to…oh geez. What am I doing? The Rams severely underachieved this season featuring a defense that hasn’t improved in five years and an offense that continues to hold on to its past.
What Went Wrong
Yes, Jackson (barely) crossed the 1,000-yard mark in 2007, and he had a nice fantasy playoff run, but most owners out there weren’t actually in their fantasy playoffs due to Jackson’s wildly inconsistent and injury-riddled season. Bulger only managed to participate in 12 games this season, meaning he’s now only stayed healthy for 36 of the Rams’ last 48 games. The offense as a whole has regressed immensely from where it was a couple years ago.
The Rams need help along the offensive line. When LT Orlando Pace gets injured, the Rams’ offense is not the same. They need more depth as a group to avoid such problems. Speaking of depth, having Gus Frerotte as a back-up quarterback at this point is a problem. He can’t play anymore as evidenced by throwing 12 interceptions in eight games and his lack of game management. Also, the Rams may need to address an aging receiver situation. They brought in Drew Bennett last offseason, but he didn’t set the world on fire.
Glenn Dorsey, defensive tackle from LSU, is a lot of experts’ pick for the Rams. I might be in the minority, but I’d like to see the Rams go with offense, maybe even taking a quarterback. Bulger has lost my confidence and Brian Brohm or Matt Ryan could be in the driver’s seat by 2009. But I don’t get to pick for the Rams, sadly.
State of the Team
Quarterbacks - Why a coach would let a quarterback continue to play with bad ribs is beyond me. Bulger played much of the season injured. He missed four games and, when he did play, he wasn’t the same guy who had been productive for St. Louis once upon a time. Bulger’s 11 TD passes marked the lowest total of his career. Nonetheless, when he is upright and healthy, he is one of the better quarterbacks in the league. He had a career year in ’06, but because of injury issues, he crashed back down to earth in ’07. Bulger, who has shown a propensity to get hurt (he has only played a full season once), needs a capable backup. Frerotte is the same guy who decided to headbutt a wall in 1997. I wouldn’t trust him to water flowers outside of my house.
Running backs - Before people go berserk over Jackson just barely breaking the 1,000-yard barrier for the season, take a few things into consideration. Injuries at offensive line and quarterback helped destroy a potentially promising season for the guy that many people believed was the second-best back in fantasy football. Jackson’s backups offered little relief. Rookie Brian Leonard showed that he has a long way to go before he is a trustworthy NFL backup. Fellow rookie Antonio Pittman didn’t provide much help either in Jackson’s absence. Despite not getting great production from the running game, the Rams are young and somewhat deep at this position which is more than some NFL teams can say. In 2008, if he’s healthy, look for Jackson to regain his status among fantasy football’s best.
Wide receivers - Colour me worried here. Since 2000, the Rams have taken one wide out in the first round of the NFL draft, and that was Kevin Curtis who, as some of you may know, is catching passes in Philadelphia now. Isaac Bruce and Holt are well over the hill and by the time the offensive line is built back up, neither will be a factor. Hopefully this position can be addressed either in the draft or via free agency.
Tight ends - On the Rams, the tight ends block. I could be a tight end for this team. In fact, that’s my goal for 2008. I will win that job.
Defense/special teams - For the last few years, I’ve talked to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the Rams prior to each season. It seems like every year he tells me that they spent a lot of money on defense and need to improve their special teams. However, after each season they still have the same problems. Defensively, they allowed the second most points in the league.
They ranked 21st in total defense and were incapable of creating turnovers. The defensive line needs an overhaul at some point. DE Leonard Little and DT LaRoi Glover are past their prime. If you can’t rush the passer or stop the run, why are you out there? St. Louis has little to offer in terms of playmaking linebackers. The secondary is average. CB Tye Hill showed some promise, but missed time due to injury. In all, heading into 2008, the Rams’ defense needs massive work yet again. The special teams have not been anything to write home about in eight years. Kicker Jeff Wilkins is still the most reliable facet of the Rams’ special teams. Remember when people were afraid to kick to Dante Hall? (Scratching head…) Ah yes, that was back in 2003. Sadly, his best days are behind him.
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