Tuesday, August 18, 2009
2009 NFL PREVIEW- St. Louis Rams
ST. LOUIS RAMS
2008 RECORD: 2-14
(4th in NFC West)
HEAD COACH: Steve Spagnuolo
Key Additions: OL Jason Brown (FA/Ravens) RB Mike Karney (FA/Saints) S James Butler (FA/Giants) WR Laurent Robinson (trade/Falcons) QB Kyle Boller (FA)
Key Losses: WR Torry Holt (FA/Jaguars) OL Orlando Pace (FA/Bears) OL Nick Leckey (FA/Saints) WR Dante Hall (FA) RB Brian Leonard (trade/Lions) WR Dane Looker (FA) QB Trent Green (FA) WR Drew Bennett (FA) DL La'Roi Glover (FA) S Corey Chavous (FA)
Offense: The Rams, once known as the "greatest show on turf" have crashed hard since the glory days of Kurt Warner, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, Marshall Faulk, etc., and in 2009 they face many questions on offense.
Quarterback Marc Bulger is back after a bad 2008 campaign that saw him throw for 2,720 yards with just 11 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Ouch!
Bulger has been banged up the last couple of years and has injury problems as camp is continuing this summer. Kyle Boller (free agent) comes over to St. Louis to provide some experience and depth.
Steven Jackson had a bounce back year of sorts in '08 and rushed for 1,042 yards (4.1 ypc average) and seven touchdowns. Along with fullback Mike Karney and backups Kenneth Darby, Antonio Pittman, Samkon Gado and Joe Klopfenstein, Jackson will be the feature back once again in 2009.
Donnie Avery (53 catches, 674 yards and three TDs) and Keenan Burton will be the top wide receivers for St. Louis. Avery is the leader after Torry Holt departed for Jacksonville in the off-season. Burton will be relied upon more in '09 after catching 13 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown last season.
The Tight End will again be Randy McMichael and Bill Bajema backs up. The offensive line has Jason Brown at center, Rich Incognito and Jacob Bell at guards and tackles Alex Barron and Jason Smith.
The offense ranked 27th overall in the NFL last year (287 yards per game) and was 25th in rushing and 26th in passing while Rams' quarterbacks were sacked 45 times.
Defense: Not much to talk about on defense in '08 as the Rams ranked 28th in total defense, allowing 372 yards per game with 155 yards on the ground allowed. St. Louis allowed 465 points for the season, which was 31st in the NFL.
Leonard Little and Chris Long are the Defensive Ends and line up with tackles Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan in the 4-3 scheme.
The linebackers will be Will Witherspoon and Chris Draft on the outside and rookie James Laurinitis (Ohio State) in the middle for the Rams.
The secondary sees James Butler and Oshiomogho Atogwe at safties and cornerbacks Tye Hill and Ron Bartell.
The Rams had 30 sacks in 2008 with Little getting six of those. However, the defense simply allowed too many yards on the ground and new Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo, who was Defensive Coordinator for the New York Giants, will work hard to see improvement in that area.
OUTLOOK: The Rams suffered through a miserable season in 2008 and can really only go upward in '09, barring of course a winless campaign via Detroit Lions.
The offense has many question marks, with the exception of running back Steven Jackson and (if healthy) quarterback Marc Bulger.
There are a lot of new players picking up playing time in 2009 on offense and the Rams will have to learn on the fly as the season gets going.
The defense also has to improve if the Rams want to avoid the NFC West cellar again in '09.
Spagnuolo proved to be a great 'D' coordinator in New York and even won a Super Bowl ring two years ago with the Giants. Perhaps some of that mojo will rub off on the team in the new season.
Then again, perhaps not.
Look for St. Louis to improve as the season goes along and pull a surprise here and there in 2009. However, another last-place finish in the NFC West seems inevitable. The Rams will likely bring up the rear once again and finish at 4-12 in 2009.
Week 1- at Seattle (Sept. 13)
Week 2- at Washington (Sept. 20)
Week 3- vs. Green Bay (Sept. 27)
Week 4- at San Francisco (Oct. 4)
Week 5- vs. Minnesota (Oct. 11)
Week 6- at Jacksonville (Oct. 18)
Week 7- vs. Indianapolis (Oct. 25)
Week 8- at Detroit (Nov. 1)
Week 9- BYE WEEK
Week 10- vs. New Orleans (Nov. 15)
Week 11- vs. Arizona (Nov. 22)
Week 12- vs. Seattle (Nov. 29)
Week 13- at Chicago (Dec. 6)
Week 14- at Tennessee (Dec. 13)
Week 15- vs. Houston (Dec. 20)
Week 16- at Arizona (Dec. 27)
Week 17- vs. San Francisco (Jan. 3)