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Preseason power rankings: No 31

The St. Louis Rams are lucky that the Lions were around last year.

If Detroit wasn’t so busy capturing our imagination with the first winless 16-game season, more fans would have noticed how truly awful the Rams have been for two years running.

St. Louis won five games combined over that span, “earning” the right to the second overall pick twice, which is tough to pull off in this up-and-down salary cap era.

New coach Steve Spagnuolo and G.M. Billy Devaney have a huge task in front of them to change the team’s culture without inheriting a great depth chart. 

To paraphrase Eagles president Joe Banner, this could be the worst roster in the league. 

On offense, Spagnuolo is hoping to build around running back Steven Jackson.  The offensive line is talented with second overall pick Jason Smith at right tackle, and mauling center Jason Brown, an excellent free agent acquisition from Baltimore.

Jackson will have to shine because the passing game is a mess.  Marc Bulger has been a shell of his former self the last two years and still hears Mike Martz in his ears.  Bulger is learning a new West Coast based system and the receiver group may be the weakest in the league, especially with Donnie Avery questionable for Week One. 

On defense, Spags will try to create his trademark pressure without the pass rushers he enjoyed in New York.  The Rams hope Chris Long can take the next step after a solid rookie season.  Aging ends Leonard Little and James Hall will have to do the rest.

The back end of the defense is uneven. Safety O.J. Otogwe may be the team’s best player and Ronald Bartell is a physical cornerback, but there are a lot of questions after that.

Spagnuolo probably wants to change the toughness of this franchise first, then slowly build up the roster.  The team has possibly had more live tackling and padded practices in
training camp than any other team and the
players have sounded quite receptive.

Relief that the Scott Linehan era is
over could be worth a few wins. 

Key Player:  Marc Bulger.  The Rams could improve steadily on their offensive line and defense, but it won’t matter that much unless Bulger can improve his performance with pressure in his face.

Rookie to watch:  Since we already touched on Smith, second-round middle linebacker James Laurinaitis is the pick.  He could give the Rams something they haven’t truly had since London Fletcher — a reliable quarterback of the defense at middle linebacker.

Best veteran acquisition:  Jason Brown.  Versatile and nasty, Brown is the perfect fit for what Spagnuolo is trying to do.  He was arguably the best free agent pickup of the year after Albert Haynesworth.

Key game:  Week Four, at San Francisco.  The Rams open with three of four games on the road and need to win in the division to avoid another slow start. 

Projected finish (i.e, complete guess I’m compelled to make because the boss did): 5-11.

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15 Responses to “Preseason power rankings: No 31”
  1. stiller43 says: Aug 13, 2009 2:23 PM

    I’m pretty sure you guys are just taking this past years draft order and calling it a day.

  2. thenictator says: Aug 13, 2009 2:26 PM

    5 wins w/ no defense and no passing game? errr …
    I’d give ‘em 3, tops.

  3. thenictator says: Aug 13, 2009 2:27 PM

    5 wins without a defense or a passing game? errr …

  4. DcNinerFan says: Aug 13, 2009 2:43 PM

    “”earning” the right to the second overall pick both twice”
    Who does your proofreading?

  5. Boudin says: Aug 13, 2009 2:47 PM

    another key acquisition is Mike Karney, the blocking FB. the dude is an anvil with cleats.

  6. dawk20db says: Aug 13, 2009 2:54 PM

    OK, so the worst two teams in the league will be 11-5? I know it doesn’t matter, but don’t you think someone will lose 12 or 13 games? And if it’s someone else that you think will…shouldn’t they be at the bottom?

  7. NoHomeTeam says: Aug 13, 2009 2:59 PM

    “Marc Bulger has been a shell of his former self the last two years and still hears Mike Martz in his ears.”
    This would be the one team that I think I could be (sort of) OK with signing Micheal Vick. It would just validate my opinion of this franchise.

  8. wydok says: Aug 13, 2009 3:12 PM

    Maybe the Rams should sign Vick…

  9. jefbob says: Aug 13, 2009 3:25 PM

    “OK, so the worst two teams in the league will be 11-5? I know it doesn’t matter, but don’t you think someone will lose 12 or 13 games? And if it’s someone else that you think will…shouldn’t they be at the bottom?”
    I’m confused, where are you getting 11-5? It clearly says 5-11 up there, as does the page on the Lions.

  10. CoughlinUpALoogie says: Aug 13, 2009 3:47 PM

    Wait, what? No haiku? Something like…
    Silence of the Rams.
    Super Bowl Spags as Lecter.
    Pass the Favre beans.
    QB/O-Line issues will continue to be the dominant theme and “Hannibal” Spags will chew out (up) a few under-achievers the first Qtr. of the season, but will have to look for relief by Week 6 if he hopes to keep from duplicating the Lions of ’08, who they will face in the Get-A-Win Bowl oddly enough in Week 08. 2 Wins, max!

  11. Bob Nelson says: Aug 13, 2009 4:17 PM

    They have a better QB and pass defense than vikings.
    One of this season’s wins will come against the vikings
    This is the only site that really hammers Bulger as if he is nothing.

  12. JaggedMark says: Aug 13, 2009 4:34 PM

    C’mon now. If you’re basing this on just how everyone finished last season, well we can go through last year’s standings and do that ourselves.
    Tampa Bay should be #32, by the way

  13. D3ACONJON3S says: Aug 13, 2009 4:52 PM

    Don’t forget that these guys beat the Skins and Cowboys last year. I’d be surprised if they didnt win 5 games.

  14. DaGMen07 says: Aug 13, 2009 5:20 PM

    Not that my opinion means anything, but I think the Rams are gonna surprise a lot of people this year. Don’t sleep on them. In their division they can easily go 4-2. I witnessed what Spags did for my Giants D. You saw what a regime change did for Miami. They could be this years Dolphins.

  15. Jimmy Smith and Bob Nelson are IDIOTS says: Aug 13, 2009 6:06 PM

    Let’s see… they play the Lions (W), the Packers (W) and should get one from their own division. 3-13 sounds like a winner.

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