Last Season - The St. Louis Rams had another awful season in 2008. After winning just three games in 2007, the Rams repeated their seemingly nothingness football team for a 2-14 overall record. Outside of Detroit’s historically horrible season, the Rams were another team searching for many answers after their 2008 campaign.
St. Louis was the only team to rank in the bottom three in both scoring offense and defense last year. The Rams gave up a whopping 29.1 points per game on defense, while only being able to muster out 14 points on offense. Those kinds of numbers on one side of the ball make it difficult to win, much less when both sides of the ball have such sizeable issues.
The Rams failed to win a single game in the weakest division in football in the NFC West. St. Louis went 0-6 against the division foes. The Rams two victories on the year came surprisingly against two fairly solid teams when they knocked off Washington and Dallas back to back early in the year. However after those two wins, St. Louis lost their last 10 games of the regular season.
Scott Linehan started the year as head coach of the Rams, but was fired after a 0-4 start. Interim coach Jim Haslett took over the job, but things did not get any better as the Rams were 2-10 under his control and it became obvious that the Rams would again be on the coaching hunt following seasons end.
Off Season - The first move of the off season in St. Louis was to find a new guy to lead the team. After only winning five games in the last two seasons, a coaching change was only logical. In January, 2009 the Rams announced former New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo. Spagnuolo was the man responsible for turning the New York Giants defense into one of the premier units in the league and the Rams could definitely use some help with their defense as well. Spagnuolo and the rest of the Rams coaching staff was a busy bunch over the off season.
The first line of focus was the miserable offensive line that gave up 45 sacks last season. St. Louis was able to reach a deal with one of the best centers in the NFL by the way of former Baltimore star Jason Brown. Brown and the Rams reached five-year deal worth just under $40 million. The Rams continued their efforts to beef up the offensive line in the NFL Draft.
St. Louis used the No. 2 overall pick to select Jason Smith. Smith was among the best offensive line class in NFL history and the Rams figured he was the best of them all. Smith is a former Baylor standout who has great size and tremendous pass blocking ability. Expect Smith to be an immediate starter as the Rams look to rebuild up front.
The next three picks in the draft focused the defensive side of the ball. Former Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis was chosen by the Rams in the second round. Laurinaitis does not have the most god given talent from your average linebacker, but makes up for it with hustle and awareness. The Rams also selected Bradley Fletcher out of Iowa at the CB position. Fletcher is a solid corner who can also give aid in the rush defense. This young group of kids will have big roles in turning the Rams back into a contender in the NFC.
2009 Preview - The St. Louis Rams addressed some of their major issues on the offensive line, but there are still concerns up front as well. Stephen Jackson ability to be affective on the ground is critical as QB Marc Bulger has consistently underachieved over the past few seasons. Bulger does not have the help needed at the receiver position. The Rams No. 1 receiver in 2008 was Torry Holt.
Holt only captured 64 passes for just fewer than 800 yards. However, Holt will be playing for the Jaguars and that means Donnie Avery will be the No. 1 target. The Rams still have all kinds of questions on offense as they lack some big time playmakers. However, if they can turn the line around expect Stephen Jackson to be a bigger force in 2009.
The defense has some young talent in players like defensive end Chris Long and James Laurinaitis who will both be starters for many years, but they have failed to get the results in the past few seasons. Spagnuolo will have his hand on the defense very early in the culture change in St. Louis. Expect the Rams to be loaded with new blitz packages and new schemes to get to the quarterback. The Rams may not be an elite defense in 2008, but they will not give up 29 points per game either.
2009 Prediction - Marc Bulger must have a big year for the Rams if they are to win some ball games. Jackson can only do so much with the rushing game and St. Louis will have to find away to move the ball through the air. The Rams offense really needs more playmakers, but they will find a way to pull out a few wins. Defensively, expect the Rams to show flashes of both the old and the new.
Pick – 4th NFC West (6-10)