Team checklist: St. Louis Rams


After a promising 2010 season, the Rams struck gold in the draft with potential franchise pass rusher Robert Quinn. That pick was followed by a number of apparent role-player selections. A rising but still-rebuilding team, St. Louis could benefit from multiple diamond in the rough-type signings as opposed to one star who’d require a blockbuster contract.

We suspect they’ll be aggressive in free agency.

1. Find a complementary back to Jackson.

Only three active backs have more career carries than Steven Jackson. Jackson’s yards-per-carry average also dropped to 3.76 last season. These are tell-tale signs of a running back in danger of falling off the proverbial cliff.

The Rams passed on Mikel Leshoure in the second round, forcing them to take seriously an unimpressive running back market. St. Louis has been speculatively connected to Cadillac Williams, Darren Sproles, and Ronnie Brown. Ideally, they’ll find a back capable of handling a significant early-down workload while Jackson goes back to dominating in passing situations. Considering who’s available, this will be easier said than done.

2. Plug defensive holes without overspending.

Every team would love to do this every offseason, of course, but what projects as the most impressive free agency class in league history could make it more feasible this year. Rather than splurge on Nnamdi Asomugha or Eric Weddle, the Rams should pursue young defensive talents who won’t require big money. And sign several of them. Justin Durant and James Anderson come to mind at outside linebacker. Brodney Pool and Reed Doughty could be value pickups at safety.

3. Move quickly with offensive install.

Sam Bradford, possibly with assistance from Ben McDaniels, got the ball rolling on implementing new coordinator Josh McDaniels’ offense at offseason workouts. This may have been a somewhat risky approach, however, since it was Bradford and — not the coach — teaching the system to players. When the lockout ends, McDaniels and Bradford will need to be sure to iron out any kinks in the information “taught” at player-organized activities. McDaniels’ scheme is very unlike old offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s, particularly in regard to what is required from tight ends and wide receivers.

4. Keep McDaniels out of personnel matters.

After seeing McDaniels work magic with Matt Cassel and Kyle Orton, we can confidently call him one of the game’s brightest young offensive minds. After seeing McDaniels flame out in Denver due to a slew of horrible personnel moves, we can confidently say he shouldn’t be calling any shots when it comes to player acquisition.

In the draft, we suspect McDaniels had plenty to do with the Rams’ selection of tight end Lance Kendricks over Leshoure at No. 47 overall. Kendricks may be a fine long-term player for St. Louis, but at first glance the pick didn’t seem like good value. Moving forward, G.M. Billy Devaney should be sure to listen to McDaniels’ suggestions about types of players needed to execute the offense. Devaney shouldn’t heed McDaniels’ advice when it comes to signing or drafting anyone.

5. Stick to the Four Pillars philosophy.

As stated above, the Rams are a young, rebuilding team. They’re not ready to take chances on potential locker-room cancers like Terrell Owens and Randy Moss. The Four Pillars is Devaney’s franchise-building philosophy that stresses faith, character, core values, and team first. Continuing to operate according to this creed may also rule out free agent Plaxico Burress.

12 responses to “Team checklist: St. Louis Rams

  1. Your points 1-4 are fully correct. Point 5 needs “clarification”. The Four Pillars philosophy didn’t originate with Devaney, it originated with Spagnuolo. However, both of them have hedged on it already, so Plaxico Burress is probably under consideration. The problem is that at this point Burress is basically a possession receiver (albeit a tall/strong one) and the Rams drafted 3 possession receivers in this draft, counting the tight end. So they won’t want to take up a roster spot with a 34-year-old possession receiver.

    Three new possession receivers, on top of the four we already have. At this rate, Devaney should get busted for possession.

  2. Yeah..the 4 pillars is from Spags. Jackson’s fine….YPA is overrated just like QB rating, but yeah there should be a legit backup for him. The draft just wasn’t strong @ RB this year. Oh McD is an OC, and I may be a fan on the internet but I’m pretty OCs don’t have personel say.

  3. Offensive and defensive coordinators often have say in personel matters. Esspecially in a case where the head coach is defensive minded, the OC will often have a good bit of say in the matter. The redskins are letting Haslett do a great bit of shopping around on a team where the head coach is an offensive mind. Let the writers write.

  4. I’ve been saying it for years (not that anyone outside my fantasy football league has heard these crazy rantings): Josh McDaniels is the new Mike Martz. He turns backups into stat-generating, borderline probowlers. With a real franchise QB like Bradford he is going to work miracles for the St. Louis offense, especially with Danny Amendola in the slot. That dude is Wes Welker Lite, right down to the Texas Tech pedigree. He’s probably more likely to lobby for a pure third down back, leaving Jackson as a running or receiving threat on first and second down.

  5. @ramofsteel

    Actually, I read numerous times prior to the draft that experts thought this was a very deep RB class.

    The Rams actually could be a win now team since they play in the worst division in the history of sports. They definitely have the best QB in the division.

    A solid WR, a backup for Jackson and some LB or DB help could definitely put this team in the playoffs.

  6. I’m talkin RBs that are worthy for the 1st or early 2nd round (like Best or Ingram). Devaney has failed (and he has admitted it) on gettin a RB behind Jackson, even tho Jackson said it ain’t a need.

    OCs sure have input,but they don’t have final say like HCs and GMs. They aren’t gonna trade picks/players or sign w/e FA they want. Oh and Rams fans like me know all about Haz. Please don’t remind us of that debacle.

  7. @tylerdurdeno: Rams have two solid receivers coming back from injuries if they could regain form in Avery and Clayton, extremely solid slot receiver in Amendola, and DX who could be a huge playmaker if he could find a way to un-paper mache his knees. Rams don’t need another WR if everyone remains healthy.

    SJax does and has needed a spell back for years, but Darby isn’t that bad. I wish the Rams had drafted Mike Hart out of Michigan a few years ago before Indy took him in the 7th round. Damn failure.

    LB is such a weak position besides Animal Jr though, I don’t think that will be fixed in the short term. Maybe they can sign a Nick Barnett to play OLB instead of his usual middle, but besides that, who is actually available? Thomas Howard formerly of the Raiders is my favorite as the Rams would then have two run-stuffing backers and a coverage LB in the starting line up.

  8. The Rams did a great job in the draft. They addressed what Spags looks for in a defense which is a swarming pass rush. They gave Bradford three NFL ready receivers that will all be more reliable than anyone currently catching balls on the roster.

    The backup RB issue is not as big an issue as it was last year. With two “rookie” tackles and a poor receiving game, Jackson was overloaded with defensive attention. When McDaniels makes his mark on this offense, they will be spreading the ball out and keeping the defense guessing, which will open up more room for Jackson and take off some of the pressure to carry the entire offense on his back. He will be better this year due to a more well rounded offensive core and a better and more experienced offensive line.

    Although I’d love to see us get Sproles for some RB relief and return game skills.

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