Tag Archives: St. Louis Rams

St. Louis Rams 2015 Preview

Jeff Fisher is now in his fourth year coaching the St. Louis Rams.  Fisher is one of the more respected coaches in the league, who holds on to a lot of old school values that he’s able to implement onto younger teams.  One has to wonder how long the leash is going to be on Fisher though after this season.  He has twenty wins and twenty seven losses along with one tie, since he’s coached the Rams, who are one of the teams rumored to be leaving for Los Angeles.  Fisher had been a big supporter of often injured quarterback Sam Bradford, but now his quarterback is Nick Foles.  In 2013, Foles shocked the world by finishing the season with twenty seven touchdowns and two interceptions but in 2014 injuries and reality set in as Foles finished with thirteen touchdowns and ten interceptions.  Chances are Fisher might be quick on the trigger to pull Foles if he struggles early to go back to his guy Austin Davis who filled in admirably last year for an injured Bradford.  Rams also went and drafted Sean Mannion of Oregon State who has some pro potential but is still a project.

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If rookie running back Todd Gurley has a successful return from his torn ACL, Tre Mason may find himself in a back up role more sooner than later.  Gurley has the blend of speed and power that some are comparing to Adrian Peterson.  In a tough division and with questions at quarterback, a healthy Gurley may see north of twenty five touches a game if he’s at full health.

It’s not a stretch to say the passing game had it’s struggles last year when the leading receiver was your tight end with 52 catches and 634 yards.  Jared Cook is a good, big bodied tight end who would probably flourish in a better system, but there has to be little belief that this offense will turn high-flying anytime soon.  Kenny Britt led the team in receiving yards with 748, but Britt is undependable off-the field and seems to be uninterested in football most of the time.  The Rams drafted West Virginia wide outs Tavon Austin and Steman Bailey in 2013 and both have been underwhelming.  Bailey has shown flares of being a better wide receiver than Austin, who is more of a Percy Harvin type of player, but with a small frame.   Austin just hasn’t gotten his footing in the pro game.  Brian Quick might be the best option for the team at wide out, but there is not number one corner in the league who is scared of him.

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The offensive line looked as if it was on its way to being one of the best in the league, but with Joe Barksdale now in San Diego and Jake Long looking for a new team (at present time, Atlanta is the favorite) things are looking shaky.  Young Greg Robinson is their starting left tackle for the next decade or so, if things go according to plan but it’ll be a tough season as he’s the only formidable member of this offensive line.

This defensive line must eat this offensive line for lunch when they practice though. . .

The Rams added free agent Nick Fairley to a mix that already has reigning defensive rookie of the year Aaron Donald who finished the season with nine sacks and proved from day one to have unnatural power at his disposal.  Robert Quinn’s sack numbers were down last year, but one might equate that to the fact that Chris Long was sidelined due to injury.  At full health this is a pass attack that makes offensive tackles lose sleep.   At the linebacker spot it seems that James Laurinattis and Alec Ogletree have a friendly competition as to who is the best linebacker on the team.  Laurinattis has the better instincts where Ogletree is the better athlete.

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Mark Barron is an aggressive safety that gives defensive coordinator Gregg Williams flexibility in his blitzing packages.  When considering those packages though, corner Janoris Jenkins needs to become more disciplined.  He bites on pump fakes and jumps on double moves to often.

The Rams are a team people keep saying will make a leap, but where and when?  Sure, the 49ers will have a down season, but Arizona and Seattle are still viable opponents in their division.  Asking this defense to keep their team in games week after week is a tall order especially when the offense will be generally predictable throughout the year.

Predicted Record: 7-9

Predicted Pro Bowlers: Aaron Donald, Chris Long, Todd Gurley

G.W. Gras

@GeeSteelio

Cam Newton’s Future: Your Move Panthers

In 2011 Cam Newton was drafted with the first overall pick by the Carolina Panthers and was given  a four year contract worth $22 million (with a signing bonus of $14 million).    In his rookie season, he made the Panthers “must watch TV” as he became the single most entertaining player in the league.  His larger than life personality, rare athletic attributes for someone his size and his versatility captivated fans young and old.   His sophomore season came with the ever infamous “slump” word propped at the back-end of it and even more than that, Cam was developing a reputation for being a diva, who cared more about SuperMan poses and advertisements than things that mattered in the game of football.

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In his final two seasons though, Cam has worked more in the film room, reads defenses better and has become more of a leader on this Panthers team.  He has been under center for the Panthers for two consecutive division titles and playoff runs.  Sure, he still loves the camera and at times flashes some obnoxious antics on the field but the guy just enjoys what he’s doing.  That shouldn’t be a problem. Right?

The Carolina Panthers have never said outright that Cam was their “future” or their “franchise” quarterback.  Rumor mills start up every so often that management and / or coaches don’t see Cam as the guy who can elevate his play or be deserving of franchise QB money.

The pay scale for quarterbacks today is out of control.  Even nonsensical at times, but one thing is certain : If you want to build an offense – you better make sure you have a quarterback that fits it.  Cam brings a unique skill set, but has shown development in the departments that are needed in being a starting quarterback in the NFL.   Some teams have been looking for their quarterback forever – Carolina has a guy who can play another 6 or 7 years in this league and at best be a top-10 talent.

With one more year on his rookie contract, a year that will be up in the $14 million range – time is ticking for Carolina and Cam Newton.  Decisions have to be made.

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If Carolina truly doesn’t believe that Cam Newton is their guy, they’d be smart to find a suitor for him, instead of letting him just walk away.  Here are three teams that might find it in their best interest to acquire Cam’s services.

1. New York Jets:  The Jets have a knack for having a top pick in a draft full of uncertainty in the first round.  With the sixth overall pick this year, the Jets have the option of being one of the teams in play for either Marcus Mariota or Jameis Winston.  Here we go again.  If recent history has showed us anything, it’s that the Jets have not been lucky when drafting their “quarterback of the future.”  Instead of taking another blind gamble, why not acquire the services of a playoff quarterback like Cam Newton.   Even trading the sixth overall pick for Cam (as long as he intends on signing long term with the Jets) is a smarter move than the aforementioned gamble.   If Cam is Super-Man, New York would definitely serve as his Metropolis.  After losing a personality like Rex Ryan’s, Cam Newton can fill the void and be the face of a franchise that desperately needs one.

2. Houston Texans: Maybe what Cam needs is a little southern comfort.  The Texans roster as a whole is better than the Indianapolis Colts’ yet what the Colts have that the Texans don’t is a quarterback. That’s the difference between first place and second in the AFC South right now.  The Texans are coached by Bill O’Brien who was so good in Penn State, even under heavy sanctions and a limited roster – he made quarterback Matt McGloin serviceable – and even developed him to be a back up QB in the NFL.  O’Brien works an offense that is run heavy to set up the big play – which fits right into Cam’s bag of tricks.  O’Brien is a disciplinary type of coach though and who knows if Cam is ready to shed his child-like antics yet. . .

3. St. Louis Rams:  Jeff Fisher can talk all he wants about Sam Bradford being his guy, but the truth is : Enough is enough with Sam Bradford.  Four years of being a starter has shown two seasons shortened by injury and two full seasons of a guy putting up average to okay numbers.  Bless the Rams souls for trying to work through Shaun Hill and Austin Davis as starting quarterbacks but the truth is, they need someone now.  Their defense is ready to go, they have Cam’s old Auburn teammate Tre Mason as the clear #1 running back on the depth chart and an offensive line that is far from the makeshift line in Carolina.  With the right quarterback this team can be a wildcard or division contender by next year.

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Other teams that come to mind but with doubt are the Tampa Bay Bucs and the Chicago Bears.  These two make sense – football wise –  but won’t happen simply because Carolina wouldn’t trade Cam within their division; and Chicago simply has catastrophic cap issues especially when dealing with the contract of their own quarterback Jay Cutler. Even if Chicago found a trade partner – they would definitely not be able to wash their hands free of the whole contract.

Cam Newton’s future should be in Carolina – no where else.  Maybe if Carolina added to the pieces like Kelvin Benjamin and Gregg Olson – the development will come easier.  He’s got all the tools, it’s just time for Carolina to go “all-in” on Cam.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio