NFC West: ARI | STL | SFO | SEA
2009 finds the Rams in a position that also has seven other teams, a new head coach.
The Steve Spagnuolo era starts with cutting the likes of Orlando Pace, Torry Holt, Trent Green and Corey Chavous. Brought into town were, among others, Mike Karney, Eric Moore, Kyle Boller and James Butler.
For the second year in a row, the Rams found themselves in the top five of the draft, and they chose mammoth Baylor tackle Jason Smith with the second pick in the draft, hoping he will become the new franchise tackle.
In the second round they added Buckeye linebacker James Laurinaitis, and defense continued to be the prime focus, as the Rams added defensive back Brad Fletcher and defensive tackle Dorell Scott.
Three Burning Questions
Is Marc Bulger still a capable NFL quarterback?
If the Lions had passed, then I think the Rams would have bit on quarterback Matthew Stafford. Torry Holt is gone, Isaac Bruce as well, and it may have been an understandable clean sweep to also tell Bulger to take a spot in the unemployment line.
2006 was Bulger’s best career season. Despite playing in 15 games last season, the 2008 stats show his completion percentage dropped by six points, the yards went down 1600 yards, the touchdowns were cut and half, and the QB rating took a dive of more than 20 points. Bulger always seemed to be more a product of the system than a driving force behind it.
The Rams won’t get much further holding on to him.
Will Chris Long be unleashed this year?
Long had a fairly pedestrian rookie season, logging a mere four sacks. With the defensive minded Spagnuolo at the helm, known for his defensive line in New York, can Chris Long take those numbers and double them, or better?
He will be missing Adam Carriker in the middle who was placed on injured reserve, but with Victor Adeyanju, James Hall and Leonard Little joining the end rotation and veteran tackle Hollis Thomas, it looks like Long still has talent around him.
I think he can get close to ten sacks this year.
Is the secondary improved?
The Rams ranked a fairly respectable 19th against the pass last season, but that number is misleading, since many opponents were able to resort to running out the clock early in the game.
St. Louis only managed 12 interceptions. Gone is the first rounder from just a few years ago, CB Tye Hill. O.J. Atogwe is a safety I like, but with the likes of Ronald Bartell, Justin King and James Butler roaming the defensive backfield, you can color me unimpressed.
Good Plays: Stephen Jackson looks healthy, and he will be relied on to carry the Rams offense. He is the only Ram worth a flier until others prove themselves.
Avoid: I would stay far, far away from Marc Bulger, and the defense may have a decent line, but they’re at best good for making a start while your real defense has a bye.
Sleeper: Jackson has certainly proven he’s not the most durable runner, so drafting his backup late in the draft could be a wise move. That’s where Samkon Gado comes in.
For the prognosis and final record, read the originally posted article here.
This is an original article by Pigskin Heaven Staffer, Sascha Bartels. You can read it, more of Sascha's articles, and more from the Pigskin Heaven staff here.