The St. Louis Rams are no longer the “Greatest Show on Turf.”
Their 5-27 record over the past two seasons isn’t the only indication of that. The release of seven-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Torry Holt marked the end of one of the greatest offenses in the history of the NFL.
Rams receivers used to burn NFL defenses up and down the field at the Edward Jones Dome with the likes of Holt and Isaac Bruce.
Now, a trio of inexperienced wideouts will be called upon to help revive the glory days of the once-potent Rams offense.
The top three receivers on the Rams depth chart—Donnie Avery, Laurent Robinson, and Keenan Burton—combine for 19 NFL starts and 103 NFL receptions in their careers.
Filling Holt’s production may seem daunting, considering he caught 869 passes and scored 74 touchdowns in his 10 years with the Rams.
Luckily for the young and inexperienced receiving core, new coach Steve Spagnuolo has vowed to revolve the offense around running back Steven Jackson.
The Rams have committed to this, beefing up their offensive line by drafting tackle Jason Smith second overall and adding center Jason Brown.
Jackson’s health will determine whether or not he can play the workhorse role that he performed so well in the 2006 season, when he led the league in all-purpose yards.
Another factor that could help the new-look Rams receivers will be the implementation of the West Coast Offense. This will put more pressure on quarterback Marc Bulger to make quick and precise decisions when delivering the ball to his young wideouts.
These guys still have to learn the new system, but they won’t be required to make plays like the receivers in Mike Martz’s “go long offense” when Kurt Warner would throw 60-yard bombs downfield and hope Holt or Bruce would come up with the ball.
The Rams receiver shuffle is only part of the total makeover for next season. St. Louis could become a place where unknowns turn into household names in 2009.
The St. Louis wideouts may have the least amount of pressure of anyone on the team because teams and experts won’t expect them to win games. You can’t ask for a better story for a group of unknowns to sneak up on you and be a factor in this league.
While Donnie Avery, Laurent Robinson, and Keenan Burton and the Rams receivers may not be the new attractions of the “Greatest Show on Turf,” they certainly have a one-of-a-kind opportunity to start building on a new “Show” in St. Louis.