Friday, January 21, 2011

2011 Rams Mock Draft #1

1(14): Julio Jones WR Alabama
With practically every mock draft around predicting the exact same thing, and with the Rams' desperate need at receiver, it is hard to pick anyone other than Julio Jones at this spot. The best part about Jones, other than his size (6'4" 220 lbs.), and his work ethic, is that he put up his numbers (1,133 yards 7 TD) in a run-first offense. He is truly an exciting prospect.

However, the Rams need to find a receiver before the draft. They need to sign one of the top free-agent receivers that will become available (Sidney Rice, Vincent Jackson, Braylon Edwards). They have a huge need at wide-receiver, so they can not afford to put it to chance by waiting for the draft. There is always the possibility that Jones won't last, and there is also the possibility that his stock will slip. Fixing the receiver problem should be priority number one at Rams park as soon as the free-agent market is open. But for now, the Rams do not have a top receiver, which makes Jones the best option here (Jones could still be the best option here even if they do sign a top free-agent receiver).

2(46) Ryan Williams RB Virginia Tech
Running-back Mark Ingram won the Heisman Trophy in 2009, but not far behind in stats was Ryan Williams. Williams arguably had better rushing numbers that Ingram in 2009. Ingram had 1,658 yards, while Williams had 1,655 yards; however, Williams had 21 rushing touchdowns, while Ingram had 17.

Williams missed four consecutive games in 2010 with a hamstring injury. Even when Williams returned to action, the lingering effects of the injury put a damper on his season. Although, Williams does not have a lengthy history of injuries, so that shouldn't be a major concern for the Rams. All things considered, Williams has a chance to be the steal of the draft at this spot.

Steven Jackson is still in his prime, but he certainly has a lot of miles on those legs. He needs some relief, and Williams will certainly be able to carry some of the work load. This pick would add another weapon to the offense, and it would also keep Jackson fresh for all four quarters.

3(78) John Moffitt OG Wisconsin
Between center Jason Brown, and right-tackle Jason Smith, there lies a disaster known as Adam Goldberg. For whatever reason, the Rams refuse to give former 3rd round pick John Greco a chance to play. It seems that he is in the doghouse for something. So therefore, the Rams need to find a new right-guard, and the Goldberg experiment can't go on for much longer.

I know it is three offensive picks in three rounds, but I think the offense clearly needs most of the improvements. The defense certainly has needs (outside-linebacker, strong-safety, defensive-tackle), but the offense is the reason the Rams failed to make the playoffs. They can win tough games with the defense they have now, but not with the offense. The offensive unit as a whole is desperate for upgrades.

4(110) Quan Sturdivant OLB North Carolina 
The Rams need some help at outside-linebacker. Diggs had a somewhat solid season until he was injured, so he will hopefully be back to help, but he will be 33 by the end of next season. Larry Grant and David Vobora are not good enough; they can maybe provide solid depth, but that's about the most they can offer. Chris Chamberlain is strictly a special-teams player; at least that's the way it should be.

Picks like this make me nervous. I don't like players that may only have recognition due to the great players around them (see: Marc Bulger). That could very well be the case for Strudivant, as he was surrounded by some very good defensive players at North Carolina. But even so, if he keeps his stock up, he could be the best option available at this spot.

5(142) Lawrence Wilson OLB Connecticut
What did we learn from the 2010 draft? If the Rams can't address a certain need in the first two or three rounds, then they draft multiple players at that position in the later rounds. They failed to find a defensive-end in the first three rounds of the 2010 draft, so they took three of them in later rounds (Hall Davis, Eugene Sims, George Selvie) . Same goes with tight-end, but they only took two of them later on (Mike Hoomanawanui, Fendi Onobun). The strategy seemed to work, as Selvie and Hoomanawanui are seemingly promising prospects.

Wilson is a bit on the small side, but he was a solid tackler for Connecticut. He led his team with 140 tackles last season, and was named 1st team All-Big East. As a freshman he named as a second-team Freshman All-American. He will be a bit of a project, but he could develop into a very solid player.

6(174) Lawrence Guy DT Arizona St.
The Rams will be in trouble if something happens to the elder Fred Robbins. Robbins was absolutely key in allowing Chris Long and James Hall to have break out years. Robbins will be 34 by the start of the 2011 season. Darrel Scott and Clifton Ryan are being developed, and they might be able to get the job done. However, the Rams need more prospects to develop at the position.

Guy is 6'5" and 300 lbs. He has a 40-time that is under five seconds. These measurables make him an ideal defensive-tackle prospect for Spagnuolo's four-front defense. He ended his 2010 season with 41 tackles, and 1.5 sacks.

7(206) Owen Marecic FB Stanford
The great thing about fullbacks is that they are not wanted. It is very possible to get the best fullback of the draft in the last round of the draft; and that is exactly what the Rams would be getting here with Marecic.

Mike Karney is not very good. He can make some good blocks, but he is far from a sure blocker. He is also not a valuable special-teams asset, which should be a requirement in this day and age for a fullback. With Karney out, and Marecic in, it would be just another slight upgrade for the offense; and the offense needs all of the upgrades it can get, even if they are small.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Update: Rams sign McDaniels as OC

Just a few hours ago a made a post stating the possibility of the Rams losing McDaniels to Seattle. I speculated that the move was a result of the Rams' avoidable procrastination. I also theorized that the procrastination may have been a result of coach Steve Spagnuolo wanting to wait for a chance to interview his friend Brad Childress.

Fortunately, the speculation was misguided and incorrect. The Rams have announced that they have reached a deal with Josh McDaniels to take over for Pat Shurmur as the offensive-coordinator. Shurmur was recently hired by the Cleveland Brows as their new head-coach.

McDaniels comes with an impressive resume. For starters, he is known to be good with quarterbacks. He turned the formerly mediocre Kyle Orton into a top-tier passer; and he also jumped started the career of Matt Cassel, who had previously not started a single game since high-school.

On top of his quarterback coaching skills, which could greatly benefit Sam Bradford, he was also the coordinator for the New England Patriots from 2006-2008, meaning he was the man behind the Patriot's record setting 2007 season, which featured possibly the best offense in NFL history. Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes that season.

The signing has been confirmed in this article by

McDaniel's deal with the Rams nearly completed

As reported by ESPN's John Clayton, and as announced over KMOV during the 6:00 PM news, the Rams are apparently very close to completing a deal with Josh McDaniels, which would make him the new Offensive-Coordinator.

Clayton has actually reported that the deal is already done, but there has been no official information released that either confirms, or denies the report.

Also, Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network said that that he believes McDaniels will make his official decision within the next 24 hours. Lombardi also added that McDaniels will likely choose the Rams over the Minnesota Vikings.

McDaniels is the overwhelming fan favorite for the open position, so if the Rams hire anyone other than McDaniels then there would likely be an angry outcry from the fan base.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

McDaniels to interview with the Rams today

Mike Sando of ESPN has reported that the Rams will be conducting an interview with Josh McDaniels today (Saturday, January 15th) for the open Offensive-Coordinator position. As we all know, the position became vacant after Pat Shurmur accepted the head-coaching gig in Cleveland.

Critics question whether or not it would be wise for the Rams to bring in a new offensive scheme, especially considering that it's not ideal to put young quarterbacks (Sam Bradford) through multiple coordinators early on in his career (see Alex Smith). The constant switching of the play books and terminology can stunt the growth of young players. The McDaniels offense would be different than the West-Coast offense that the Rams have been running the past two seasons under Shurmur.

However, some believe that it is more important find the best candidate, and to find a coach that is quarterback friendly, rather than a less qualified coach that just happens to use a familiar system. Also, Bradford displayed an uncanny ability to learn fast in 2010, which won him the starting job by week 1.

One could also argue that the young Rams players on offense have even more experience in a high-octane spread offense, such as the one McDaniels runs, as oppose to the familiar west-coast offense. That experience comes from their college careers (See- Bradford, Amendola, Avery, Alexander, J.Smith, Saffold, Hoomanawanui, and Gilyard).

But as of now, McDaniels seems to be the clear front-runner according to the media, and he is the overwhelming favorite among St. Louis fans.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Josh McDaniels to the Rams?

Rams offensive-coordinator Pat Shurmur is believed to be the front-runner for the head coaching gig in Cleveland. Since Shurmur has never coordinated an offense that has cracked the top 20, the hiring is likely an attempt to ensure the development of Colt McCoy. They like what Shurmur has done with Bradford, and they want the same for McCoy. Even if he doesn't pan out as a head coach, having a solid quarterback developed and ready for the next ten or more years would be worth it.

That leaves a vacancy for the Rams. It is not typically ideal to put a young quarterback through two different offensive coordinators in his first two seasons, but there is nothings they can do about that if Shurmur accepts the job. However, the option of Josh McDaniels would make that inconvenience well worth it.

As an offensive-coordinator for the New England Patriots from 2006-2008, McDaniels has a 39-9 overall record as a coordinator. He coordinated one of the best offenses ever in 2007, when the Patriots blew everyone away with a 16-0 record, and Tom Brady had 50 touchdown passes. That team eventually lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl (a defense coordinated by Steve Spagnuolo at the time). But how amazing would it be for the Rams to have the same guy who called that record setting offense at coordinator, and have the defensive mastermind who stopped it as head coach?
McDaniels comes with an impressive resume.

McDaniels has also been known as a very quarterback friendly coach. Tom Brady performed like Tom Brady under McDaniels. But his first real challenge came when Brady was put on the IR in 2008, and was replaced by Matt Cassel, who at the time had not started a game since high school. He was able to get over 3,600 yards out of Cassel, as well as 21 touchdown passes.

It didn't end with Cassel. When McDaniels was head coach in Denver, and traded for Kyle Orton, Orton was formally a mediocre passer. He was instantly able to help Orton turn into a 3,000 yard passer; and last season, Orton performed like a top ten quarterback.

Even though McDaniels was not a success as a head coach, his offense in Denver was hardly the problem. His offense this past season ranked 7th in passing, and 13th overall. The run game struggled, but starting running-back Knowshon Moreno was injured for a good portion of the season.

Some people may be concerned over his player relations. His falling outs with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall ultimately ended in him sending those pro-bowl players packing. But it's hard to picture anything less, because when the head coach (34) is practically the same age as the players, it is hard to expect complete control. The idea of making someone that young a head coach was a disaster from the start.

So given that McDaniels is a quarterback friendly coach, and that every offense under his command (whether as head coach or coordinator) has had success, it is very possible that McDaniels is just what the doctor ordered for this anemic Rams offense. Obviously, if this hiring does take place, it is up to General Manager Billy Devaney to find some key offensive weapons, but the hiring would at least be a solid start.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Rams' possible free-agent targets

The Rams will face a clearly more difficult schedule in 2011. They will face Pittsburgh, Green Bay, and the New York Giants on the road; and they will also see Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New Orleans at home. It is a seemingly challenging schedule, but what should the Rams do about it? What can they do to construct a solid force that can keep up with those teams? The two glaring weaknesses on the team are 1) The Offense, and 2) Pass Coverage. 

The Rams are brutal on offense, and the most obvious hole on that side of the ball is at receiver. Also, Steven Jackson is getting to a point where he could certainly use a young/explosive runner to come in and give him some rest. They also need blocking for the run game, particularly at right-guard.

On top of that, they can't cover a lick. Many fans seem satisfied with the Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher duo at corner, but let's be realistic and admit that either corner position could use an upgrade. However, strong-safety is the most obvious weakness of the defense.
Here are several appealing free-agent prospects:

1) Sidney Rice: In General Manager Billy Devaney's mind, the ideal free-agent is a rising star who is still young. No one fits this bill better than the 25 year old Sidney Rice. Rice led Minnesota with over 1,300 receiving yards in 2009, but was haunted with injury in 2008 and 2010. At 6'4 and 202 pounds, Rice has the size and down field abilities that the Rams are drooling for.

2) Vincent Jackson: Jackson has been Phillip River's favorite wide-receiver is 2008 and 2009. He is 6'5 and 230 pounds, making him a massive down field threat. He is still in his prime at age 27, but he comes with some character concerns. A DUI forced the NFL to give Jackson a three game suspension, and he is one DUI away from a season long suspension. These circumstances may make Jackson a little too risky, especially when you consider the amount of money he will require. 

3) Braylon Edwards: The Jets will probably only be able to keep only one of their top two receivers (Edwards and Santonio Holmes), as they both will be free-agents after this season. Edwards will likely be the odd man out. Edwards has been somewhat of a disappointment throughout his career, but he has the size (6'3" and 214 pounds) and the experience that the Rams are looking for. He has also never had the luxury of a quality quarterback (and hell no, I don't consider Mark Sanchez a quality passer). In 2007 he had 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns with freaking Derek Anderson at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.

1) Eric Wright: The 25 year old Wright is a hard hitting corner-back, and he has been the keystone of Cleveland's secondary for the past three season. If the coaching staff insists on keeping Fletcher and Bartell on as starters, then Wright is certainly good enough to stick at strong-safety.

2) Richard Marshall: Marshall is only 26 years old, and he is possibly the best player on Carolina's defense. He is a heat-seeking missile in the run game, and he can also make plays in coverage. He has over 80 tackles in four out of his five seasons in the league.

1) Ahmad Bradshaw: The 24 year old running-back may have lost some value after losing the starting job towards the end of the season, but it's likely he will still require more than the Rams are willing to pay for a number two running-back. However, he is familiar with the "running-back by committee" approach (meaning he won't mind sharing with Steven Jackson), and he also has the Spagnuolo New York connection.

2) Mike Tolbert/Darren Sproles: Both of the San Diego running-backs will be free-agents. Tolbert (25) is a former full-back, but he proved to be a bruising presence in place of the injured Ryan Mathews. He rushed for over 700 yards, and an impressive 11 touchdowns for the Chargers. Sproles, on the other hand, isn't as impressive, but his speed would compliment Steven Jackson nicely, and he would also be able to relieve Danny Amendola of his kick returning duties, which would allow Amendola to focus on being a receiver.

Logan Mankins: The pro-bowl offensive-guard will be a free-agent, and New England has already made the negotiations bitter, as they have failed to extend him to a worthy contract. Mankins will not come cheap, but he would instantly make the Rams' offensive-line one of the best in the league.

Davin Joseph: Joseph would be a cheaper alternative to Mankins, but not by a lot. Joseph is the best offensive-lineman for Tampa Bay, and he would be a welcomed replacement for Adam Goldberg.

Barry Cofield: The Rams already snatched up his counterpart Fred Robbins, and like Robbins, Cofield has the Spagnuolo New York factor. The difference is that Cofield is younger (26), but he is also just as good as Robbins. If the Rams were to make this move, then they would have two out of the four starters that played on the Giant's notorious defensive-line the year they won the Super Bowl.

Mathias Kiwanuka: Kiwanuka, the defensive-end, has been struggling with injury this year for the Giants, which may reduce the 27 year old's price tag,  he would still be a great addition. He would likely split time with James Hall on the opposite side of Chris Long, with George Selvie also being available as an occasional member of the rotation.

Chad Greenway: Greenway has been leading the Minnesota line-backing core since 2007. Opposing teams would absolutely dread seeing Greenway and James Laurinaitis playing side-by-side. Greenway ended the 2010 season with a career high 144 tackles.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Rams pull of epic choke on national television, losing to Seattle 16-6

Well if tonight was an audition for prime time games next season, the Rams failed miserably. There is not a single network that will want to put that garbage on prime time again.

The Rams entered Seattle as the heavy favorites, but a lack of offense cost them not only the game, but also the season. It's been happening all season long- a gutless offensive game plan that relies on a slightly above average defense. Many point out that the lack of play makers probably influences the game plan. That may be true, but how can anyone expect them to make big plays when they never get a chance? Practice makes it perfect, right?

The game was a disaster from the start. The 86 yard reception by... Ruvell Martin?... set up a touchdown, and that put the Rams in a bad situation from the start (An opening drive field-goal would've put the pathetic Rams offense into a bad situation).

It's not like Seattle piled it on and put the Rams in a situation that they could not recover from. The seven points by Seattle was their entire offensive production from the entire first half; and they only got a single field-goal in the 3rd quarter.

The Rams just had no ability to respond. Their three point first half performance should convince everyone that the offensive game planning is completely flawed. And the mental breakdowns in the second-half should convince everyone that the team lacks play-makers. It doesn't make sense why people think it has to be one or the other (the reason for the offensive futility), when it is clearly both.

Mix in the inevitable defensive breakdown midway through the second half, and the final result is exactly what happened tonight. It is something that has happened multiple times this season. Nine times to be exact.


Nothing: There really wasn't anything good about this game. The defense played real well at times, but that didn't last. And of course, the Rams get a nice draft pick in April (the 11th pick I believe), which puts them in the AJ Green sweepstakes.

Sam Bradford: Elevate the god damn ball. Three tips in one drive isn't enough for you to figure that out?

Danario Alexander: He dropped two big passes that certainly could've been game changers. They were very catchable balls.

Craig Dahl: His new nickname should be "Almost" for all of the times he almost makes the tackle, but ends up completely whiffing.

Ron Bartell: His holding penalty on Seattle's touchdown drive was a killer.

The Offensive-Line: They just flat out did not get it done. Their run blocking was decent at times, but they got overpowered for the most part.

Daniel Fells: He needs some credit here for having the most embarrassing drop of the game (maybe the season).

The Offensive Game Plan: Apparently the game plan was to run Steven Jackson only 11 times, and throw multiple four yard incompletions. And don't forget to completely exclude Mike Hoomanawanui from the game plan, he sucks.

The Offensive Performance: Between the multiple sacks, the dropped balls, and the other incompletions, this game would've been bad at any level, including little league football.

Laurent Robinson: I'm sure he will have a lot of time to think about his penalties and dropped balls next season when he's sitting at home.


S. Bradford19/3615501
S. Jackson1145013
K. Darby1707
S. Jackson439020
D. Fells339015
B. Gibson330014


C. Whitehurst22/3619210
M. Lynch2075024
C. Whitehurst83009
R. Martin385061
B. Obomanu539013
L. Washington324010

Rams @ Seahawks: Pre-Game Package

We've known for weeks now that this game had potential to be the NFC West Championship game, and it looks like we won't be disappointed. If the Seahawks win they will have a 7-9 record, which would be an equal record to the Rams, but they would own the tie-breaker (which would be division record, since both teams would be 1-1 against each other in the event of a Seattle victory).

The Rams seem the have the momentum entering the game given that the Seahawks have lost seven out of their last nine games; and to make matters worse, their only two wins the past nine weeks came against the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals.

Seattle QB Charlie Whitehurst has only one start in five seasons.
Seattle does not have a clear cut starter at quarterback either. Matt Hasselbeck is questionable with a hip injury, and back-up Charlie Whitehurst has only one career start, as well as a 54.7 career quarterback rating. Also, their leading receiver Mike Williams has only touched the end-zone once this season. Even so, when the Seahawks do move the ball it's because of their air attack that ranks 18th in the NFL (one slot ahead of the Rams' 19th ranked aerial attack).

The Seattle ground game has been putrid at best. Neither Marshawn Lynch or Justin Forsett have been able to break the 500 yard barrier this season. So it's really no surprise that their rushing attack ranks dead last in the league at 32nd. So even if Seattle is capable of scoring through the air tonight, it's not like they can eat up the clock on the ground.

So far, the Rams lost their first match-ups against Arizona and San Francisco, but the coaching staff has been able to make the necessary adjustments in order to beat those teams the second time around. Since the Rams were able to beat Seattle during their first match-up, this second match-up should not be too much of an obstacle for the Rams. This could change if Seattle's notorious #12 is a factor, which is not likely, as he's been on the I.R. since week 8.

The Rams' solid run defense will be able to contain the worst rushing offense in the NFL, and the Seattle passing attack won't be a factor as long as Long and company can create pressure. If Hasselbeck is on the bench then their chances greatly increase, as Whitehurst is prone to making mistakes. But even if the veteran Hasselbeck toughs it out, the Rams will be battling a slow and injured quarterback.

On offense, the Rams have to expose the 29th ranked Seattle pass defense. Danario Alexander had a big game last week, so offensive-coordinator Pat Shurmur needs to figure out how to get him involved again. Also, tight-end Mike Hoomanawanui practiced this week, and if he plays then he'll really add some firepower to the Rams' air attack.

The Seahawks will have a hard time covering Hoomanawanui, Alexander, and Amendola; all while keeping an eye on Steven Jackson in the backfield. Shurmur needs to create some rhythm between Sam Bradford and those three receivers. He needs to incorporate the no-huddle offense to start the game, and bust out a run when Seattle isn't expecting it. What Shurmur should not do is the exact opposite- run on first and second down, and bust out a pass when Seattle isn't expecting it.

But no matter what the Rams do or don't do, it is hard to picture a scenario where St. Louis coughs up this game. The Rams should have no problem securing the division tonight.


St.Louis Rams

Sam Bradford554335335718
Steven Jackson31911963.76
Kenneth Darby3310032
Danny Amendola836808.23
Brandon Gibson5059011.82

Seattle Seahawks

Matt Hasselbeck444266300112
Charlie Whitehurst63353151
Marshawn Lynch1454983.46
Justin Forsett1154954.32
Mike Williams6273511.91
Ben Obomanu2545518.24


NamePositionInjuryPractice StatusGame Status
Michael HoomanawanuiTEAnkleFull Participation in PracticeQuestionable
Jerome MurphyCBFingerFull Participation in PracticeProbable


NamePositionInjuryPractice StatusGame Status
Brandon StokleyWRHeadDid Not Participate In PracticeQuestionable
Matt HasselbeckQBHipLimited Participation in PracticeQuestionable
Olindo MareKBackFull Participation in PracticeProbable
Lofa TatupuLBKneeFull Participation in PracticeProbable