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Newz Forum: FOOTBALL: St Louis Rams Preview 2004

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TRD

posted on Sep, 14 2004 @ 04:47 PM
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The story in St. Louis this season won't be about which Ram is starring on the turf of the Edward Jones Dome. The story will be about the former Ram who isn't. Quarterback Kurt Warner, arguably the face of the most prolific period in Rams history, was released in the spring and is now a New York Giant. The three- time Pro Bowler, two-time NFL MVP, and one-time Super Bowl MVP fell prey to nagging injuries that sapped his effectiveness during the last two years in St. Louis, and Warner was made expendable by the strong play of one-time understudy Marc Bulger. This is Bulger's team now, and he will be charged with the tall task of duplicating the Rams' 12-4 record of a year ago, while directing the team past the level it reached when it fell to upstart Carolina in the NFC playoffs.
 

Coming off a 12 win season, the Rams have done little in the free-agent market to alter their team. Offensively they were awesome in 2003, racking up 447 points, good for the second most in the league. (QB) Marc Bulger will once again lead this impressive unit with (RB) Marshall Faulk, (WR) Torry Holt and (WR) Isaac Bruce. Holt showed that he is one of the games best receivers leading the league with 117 receptions for nearly 1,700 yards and 12 touchdowns. While Faulk and Bruce are getting on in years, they are both still potent weapons that can make big plays, combining for over 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns last year. The Rams did move up in the draft to take (RB) Steven Jackson from Oregon State in the first-round (who was arguably one of the best running backs coming out of college last year).

The Insiders.com

Football About.com

Star Power: Torry Holt, WR, 6th year, 6-0, 190; Isaac Bruce, WR, 11th year, 6-0, 188; Marshall Faulk, RB, 11th year, 5-10, 211; Marc Bulger, QB, 3rd year, 6-3, 215; Orlando Pace, LT, 8th year, 6-7, 325; Adam Timmerman, RG, 10th year, 6-4, 310; Aeneas Williams, FS, 14th year, 5-11, 200; Leonard Little, LDE, 7th year, 6-3, 263; Jeff Wilkins, PK, 11th year, 6-2, 205.

Notable Additions: Steven Jackson, RB, 1st round pick 2004, 6-2, 231

Notable Subtractions: Grant Wistrom, DE, Signed by Seattle, 6-4, 272; Kurt Warner, QB, Cut June 1, Signed by N.Y.Giants, 6-2, 200; Kyle Turley, RT, I.R.(BACK), 6-5, 309

Notable Returnees: Jerametrius Butler, CB, 4th year, 5-10, 181; TE Brandon Manumaleuna, TE, 4th year, 6-2, 288

Now that Warner is in New York, the issues at quarterback appear to be settled. Starter Marc Bulger will no longer have to look over his shoulder to see if he is going to be replaced every time he makes a mistake, which should only add to his confidence. Bulger's ability to make quick reads is a good fit for this offense, but he tends to force the ball at times. He must cut down on the 22 interceptions he threw last season if this team is to become a legitimate contender again.

When healthy, Marshall Faulk is still one of the best running backs in the league, but he's had two knee surgeries in the last year and is 31-years old, which is why the Rams used their first-round pick in this year's draft on Steven Jackson out or Oregon State. Lamar Gordon, who is recovering from ankle surgery, figured to be the backup this season, but his lack of receiving skills make him a poor fit for this offense, so Jackson will likely take the No. 2 role from Gordon simply because he fills their needs better. He has good size at 6-2 and 230 pounds, yet is still elusiveness enough to make defenders miss. He has mid 4.4 speed with a quick first step and a good burst through the hole. He displays good balance and power, runs low to the ground, and isn't afraid to take on would-be tacklers. He also picks up a lot of yards after initial contact and catches the ball effectively out of the backfield. Starting wideouts Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt will once again make up one of the NFL's most potent receiving duos. Holt is in his prime and is probably one of the top three or four receivers in the game. Bruce is on the down side of his career and may have lost a step, but he is still better than most No. 2 receivers in the league. Second-year player Shaun McDonald looks to be a nice fit in the slot and Kevin Curtis, also in his second season, will come in when the Rams run four-receiver sets. Dane Looker and Mike Furrey will battle for the job as the fifth receiver. Brandon Manumaleuna will start at tight end, but he is not much of a weapon and will probably not be utilized a whole lot in this offense.

St. Louis still has a good number of first-rate skill players, and Bulger, Faulk, Holt, and Bruce should continue to be effective. But the Rams are showing plenty of signs of decay. The offensive line, even if Pace returns as expected, has a patchwork look. The defensive line stands to lose Little, and won't be able to generate the same heat without him. The corners are suspect, especially without Fisher, and Aeneas Williams, one of the marquee names on defense, is 36 years old. The only silver lining for Martz's team is that it plays in the NFL's weakest division, where only Seattle looks like a serious threat to take away the Rams' title. St. Louis is no longer a Super Bowl contender, and could be one year away from serious rebuilding, but can still expect to win about 10 games and be in the hunt for a playoff berth.




posted on Oct, 14 2004 @ 10:08 PM
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playing prety solid through 5 games, they just may have enough to take them to the playoffs. If only Mr. Martz can continue running the ball...



posted on Oct, 20 2004 @ 09:16 AM
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its ncie to see the rams on top of their division again.



posted on Oct, 20 2004 @ 08:36 PM
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For how long? I still expect the Seashawks to win this division.


TRD

posted on Oct, 25 2004 @ 03:57 PM
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Rams quarterback Marc Bulger rushes for a touchdown in the second quarter against the Dolphins.



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