The Guys in the CBS 5 Sports Office, Scott Smith and Executive Sports Producer Jody Isaac think I’m obsessed with the St. Louis Rams. I’m not. They get me fired up because of the questionable off-season moves starting with hiring Jeff Fisher as Head Coach. In an age of unprecedented offensive football, with great offensive minds throughout the league, the Rams pick a defensive minded head coach again. In seventeen years as Head Coach of the Oilers/Titans, Fisher had only six seasons with an above five hundred record. In Nashville, Fisher was labeled “Mr. Mediocre.” So, why was he such a hot commodity? Stop it.
So instead of hiring a great offensive coach like Saints Pete Carmichael Junior or Green Bay’s Joe Philbin (later hired by Miami) Rams General Manager Les Snead picks “Mr. Mediocre.” My heart goes out to Quarterback Sam Bradford, who could be a superstar if he was given the right pieces and coach, none of which he has. An offense ranked almost dead last in offense (31st) couldn’t afford to lose free agent receiver Brandon Lloyd. Guess what? He left and signed with New England, so the Rams are left with a receiving unit lacking any star power. Rams Fever…if you have it see a doctor and get rid of it.
Needing playmakers desperately, the Rams should have drafted Receiver Justin Blackmon in the first round. Instead they draft Brian Quick out of Appalachian State (Rd. 2) and Chris Givens out of Wake Forest (Rd. 4). Draft experts shook their heads on both picks and so do I. Someone in St. Louis please get Sam Bradford some studs to throw to? It’s long overdue as the Rams passing game will struggle again.
Despite all the problems with the passing game, the Rams ranked 23rd in the league in rushing. Tailback Steven Jackson managed to rush for over 11-hundred yards with five touchdowns. He has to be frustrated with the direction of the team. He’s 29 and his physical, bruising style could be taking its toll on his body. In the second round, the Rams draft Tailback Isaiah Pead out of Cincinnati. He’s a versatile back, who bulked up for the NFL Combine. Is he the future? No. Can he help? Sure.
The biggest problem with the team lies on the offensive line. Rams Quarterbacks were sacked 55 times last year. If this was my team, I’m building a fortress to protect my franchise quarterback, like the 49’ers did a couple of years ago. It paid off for them. The Rams didn’t do that. They didn’t address one of thier biggest needa until the fifth round of the draft getting Offensive Guard Watkins Rokevious out of South Carolina. Good move. He’s a very good player, he could start immediately. So, it looks like Bradford could be running for his life again or maybe not.
Fisher brings in new Offensive Line Coach Paul Boudreau, who earned strong reviews in Atlanta. He has a history of maximizing talent and he’ll have to do the same in St. Louis. Free Agent pickups Quinn Ojinnaka and Robert Turner who played for Boudreau in Atlanta, will battle journeymen Bryan Mattison for the starting left tackle job. Rokevious might also become a factor at Left Tackle. The O-line should be somewhat better, but not dominant by any means.
There is plenty of hope on defense starting with Linebacker James Laurinaitis. He’s a stud racking up a 142 tackles, 105 of those solo. Defensive End Chris Long is a beast, he’s coming off a 13 sack year. On the other end, Robert Quinn can bring the Heat with five sacks. He’s also feeling heat after getting arrested for DUI on July 10th. Veteran Safety Quintin Mikell and potential star in the making in fellow Safety Darian Stewart lead a secondary that ranked seventh in pass defense and twenty-second overall in total defense. If the offense could stay on the field longer the defense would be better.
Back to the Rams draft, this might come as a surprise with their first round pick Fisher went defense. Shocker. Quarterback Sam Bradford was seen crying when the pick was made. The Rams trade down to fourteen and draft Defensive Tackle Michael Brockers. His last year at LSU, he finished with 54 tackles and two sacks. He reminds me of Anthony “Booger” McFarland, another former LSU Player. Who parlayed a decent, but under achieving career with Tampa Bay. Brockers is very raw, some people like the pick, others don’t.
The Rams also draft troubled, but talented Cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who has more character issues than an episode of Dr. Phil. You build a winner with character players, not players like Jenkins who has multiple related marijuana arrests. If you’re a Rams fan, God have mercy on your soul. I see this team being a lot like the Titans under Fisher. They’ll have a good defense that will keep them in games, but not much more. Not enough firepower at receiver and a questionable offensive line leads to the cellar of the NFC West and a 6 and 10 season. By the way, Sam Bradford was sacked five times in the time it took me to put this together.