St. Louis Rams 2005 Preview

By John Onan  |   Tuesday, August 23, 2005  |  Comments( 0 )

St. Louis Rams
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Mike Martz has been one of the most condemned coaches this side of Dave Wannstedt and if he fails to fill the holes the Rams have on the offensive line and defensively, the end could be near for the man credited for the evolution of the "greatest show on turf".

Strengths: You can't argue with the success that Martz and Co. have had passing the football over the past five seasons. Starting QB Marc Bulger passed for nearly 4,000 yards last season despite missing two games due to injury. The offensive line will have to step up their protection, as this team will be in deep trouble if he is sidelined for any length of time this year.

Torry Holt has taken the torch from Issac Bruce as Bulger's number one target, even though Bruce is not shabby at all. Actually, Bruce is still a very productive cog in the Rams offense despite the fact he is getting older. The St. Louis Rams do have a few talented guys that can play supporting roles at receiver, but the drop in talent is deep after Holt and Bruce.

The two-headed monster of future Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk and superstar in waiting Steven Jackson will once again keep defenses honest, so they don't key on the Rams' All-Pro wide receivers. Faulk seems content with the fact that Jackson is the future and maybe the present also, and has done a fine job mentoring the young player.

Weaknesses: As stated earlier, the offensive line broke down towards the end of the 2004 season, prompting the Rams to use their first-round draft choice on former Florida State offensive tackle Alex Barron. It's too early to tell how the 6-foot-6 310 pound Barron will adjust to the rigors of blocking opposing NFL defensive ends, but the potential is definitely there to become a star. On the opposite side, Orlando Pace remains a mainstay for the club, but the middle of the line will need to step it a notch to open holes for Jackson and Faulk.

Martz was embarrassed with the way the St. Louis Rams front seven was manhandled in their playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons last season. They were exposed as soft and slow. Other than troubled defensive end Leonard Little, this team lacks a pass rushing threat, which puts too much pressure on what is a pretty good secondary.

The Rams upgraded at linebacker acquiring former Dallas Cowboy Dexter Coakley and Chris Claiborne, who spent a good part of last season injured in Minnesota. Hopefully for St Louis, their tough demeanor will rub off on the rest of the defenders.

The secondary will miss Jeremitrius Butler at one starting corner after he suffered a knee injury and will miss the entire year. Safety Adam Archuleta is considered the top guy in the Rams defensive backfield.

The only excitement generated by the special teams last season was their failures in tackling opposing kick returners. The Rams were dwarfed in this category, as their own return teams were very mediocre. Kicker Jeff Wilkens benefits from kicking indoors, but he remains a liability past 40 yards. The Rams signed veteran Brian Barker to replace another older punter, Sean Landeta.

Overall: The St. Louis Rams offensive and defensive line situations are of grave concern. Football games are often times decided in the trenches. This team can still put points on the board at a good clip, and may have to if they want to save Martz' job. They will struggle to finish above Seattle and Arizona out West. I see 7-9 and a coaching change from where I sit.
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