Welcome to the 4th of July edition of the St. Louis Rams "News and Notes at Noon", the one-stop destination for all major Rams headlines with brief commentary and analysis for all current and former military personnel and Rams Nation worldwide. Special thanks, on this Independence Day, to all of the veterans, past and present, who helped ensure the freedoms that yet exist in the United States.
Special thanks to my friend and colleague, Steven Gerwel, for putting together Tuesday's Rams "News and Notes at Noon."
Looking Back at the St. Louis Rams Super Bowl Win over the Tennessee Titans
This terrific post from thepullinglineman.blogspot.com sheds some interesting light on the Rams approach to the Super Bowl in 2000 against Jeff Fisher and the Tennessee Titans.
The above-linked post takes a look at the fascinating approach by Mike Martz, just before Super Bowl XXXIV something that helped the St. Louis offense become elite but also, at times, something that could put the Rams in some precarious situations.
I would suggest taking a look at this interesting and revealing piece.
To this day, even after the league-wide offensive explosion of recent year, the Rams are still the only team to score 500 or more points in three consecutive seasons (1999-2001.)
Pre-Training Camp Analysis of St. Louis Defense
Mike Sando broke down the Rams defense in this piece for ESPN.
Sando looked at each position group (as he did with the Rams offense a day earlier) and split the players into three categories of players most likely to make the regular season roster: safest bets, leading contenders and longer odds.
Although most of his projections looks solid, I disagree with Sando when he slides former Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle and free agent addition Trevor Laws into the longer odds category. In fact, Sando lists Matt Conrath, an undrafted free agent from Virginia, as being more likely to make the team.
Laws is a very solid run stopper and a guy who should be a very sound rotational DT in this system. I fully expect him to contribute for St. Louis in 2012.
Sando points out, as most would agree, that the depth in the defensive backfield is greatly improved and that the depth at safety may be better than some think.
He also feels that the defensive line, with all of its young talent, should be a strength for years to come, that the Rams free agent additions at outside linebacker are likely stopgaps until the Rams can address the position next year, and that the specialists lack experience, as is certainly the case, with a rookie kicker and punter.
An Analysis of Sam Bradford's Downfield Throws
My friend Brandon Birkhead of Turf Show Times put together a terrific piece analyzing all of Sam Bradford's passes that went beyond 15 yards in 2011, as you can see here. The video footage, by the way, is courtesy of the great folks at Rams On Demand.
As we know too well, the Rams and Sam Bradford struggled in the passing game last season due to a myriad of factors including but not limited to:
A new offensive coordinator and a new offense with a short offseason, a season ending injury to Danny Amendola (among others), inconsistent pass protection, lack of separation at wide receiver, Bradford's struggles to progress through his reads, his ankle injury, and far too many key drops.
According to Birkhead's studies of Bradford, although the conversion rate on throws beyond 15 yards last year was not as high as desired (for a variety of reasons that he mentions including drops), Bradford was, however, very accurate when given a clean pocket, something that occurred far too infrequently last year.
For the full in-depth Birkhead article, please check the above-linked piece.
Rodger Saffold Stays in St. Louis to Workout and Prepare for The Season
According to Kathleen Nelson and this article at stltoday.com, Rams left tackle Rodger Saffold is staying in St. Louis to thoroughly prepare for the soon coming campaign after tearing a pectoral muscle last season:
Since I couldn't participate in team exercises, I'm using these next six weeks to work out with the strength coaches, so nobody has worries and they know that I'm doing the right thing.
Saffold told Nelson that the major changes at Rams Park, with the new coaching regime and a multitude of new players, has gone very well:
Everything is going great, smoother than you could expect with so many changes. Even with so many new people they get along almost instantly with the rest of us. We've learned the little things we need to do the big things we want to do.
So, overall, it's been fantastic. I've been blessed to work with a staff that's letting me get better instead of rushing me out. I hope it's to the point that last year and the surgery is a bad memory.
As for Saffold's progress during the rehabilitation process, Rams head trainer Reggie Scott is pleased:
He's doing great with his rehab. He's pretty much cleared to play. He's returned to the normal standards, so we know when we have those standards it's time to return to play. At training camp, we'll still kind of phase him in to get him up to speed. Then, he'll be ready to go.
Nelson also looks deeply into a scare that Saffold had in relation to his health while working out at the University of Indiana. For more from Saffold on his return and the scary situation he encountered in college while conditioning, please read the above-linked piece in full.
Will the Edward Jones Dome Be One Of, If Not, the Noisiest Stadium in Football Again?
As most of you probably know by now, the NFL is loosening its restrictions on both the blackout policy and crowd related regulations, according to this from the Wall Street Journal.
Today, Darin Gantt of Pro Football Talk took a look at how the altered atmosphere rules could impact the NFL teams and specifically touched on the St. Louis Rams, as you can see here.
Gantt accurately points out that, when the Rams were good, the Edward Jones Dome was one of the loudest stadiums, if not the single loudest stadium, in the entirety of the league.
It brought me back to the days of listening to the likes of ESPN and commentators talking about the EJD being the loudest anywhere and the Rams having one of the best home field advantages in the NFL.
The Edward Jones Dome was rocking during the home opener last season. However, when enduring the worst five year winning percentage in NFL history, it has been tough to maintain enthusiasm for a team that has not only been historically bad but, oftentimes, brutally boring.
If the Rams return to their winning ways, the EJD will again become one of the greatest and loudest home venues in the league, something that would help St. Louis and its defense significantly.
Jeff Fisher Expects His Old Running Back, Chris Johnson, To Return to Form
According to this from John Glennon of The Tennessean, Jeff Fisher of the Rams feels that his former pupil, Chris Johnson, will bounce back to form and again become one of the NFL's elite running backs this year:
I didn't watch all that much of him last year, but that kind of thing doesn't happen overnight. C.J. is still a very talented running back and he's still got a lot ahead of him.
You had coaching changes, you had philosophical changes, you had a lockout and you had no offseason. So you just delete last year and move on with high expectations.
Fisher, as many of you may remember, coached Johnson from 2008-2010 in Nashville, a time when Johnson excelled. In 2009, Johnson ran for 2,006 yards at 5.6 yards per carry.
Last year, after a contract holdout, Johnson struggled in comparison to his past performances. In 2011, the speedy runner racked up 1,047 yards at four yards per rush, the lowest total and average of his four year career.
Although the league lockout and Johnson contract holdout surely played a role, one might wonder if the departure of Fisher, long known for his terrific rushing offenses, had an impact on the diminished Titans running game.
Various Rams Videos from Rookie Week
Finally, for any of you without holiday plans, this might be a good day to check out some videos at stlouisrams.com from the recent rookie week for the St. Louis freshman class.
In addition, you can find other videos from Rams veterans via the link above at the St. Louis Rams official website.
Have a great holiday with your family and friends, STL Rams Nation.