Chris Long has been one of the bright spots for the Rams in 2011.
The St. Louis Rams defense has been a whole lot better than their offense. When I broke down the Rams' offense, a lot of players didn't make the cut. I will probably be a little kinder to the defense.
Because of the NFL Lockout, the offenses this season are ahead of the defenses, for now anyway. Throw in the fact that injuries have devastated the Rams' secondary, and it has really hurt a promising group of young players on the defensive side of the ball.
If not for a depleted corps of cornerbacks, the Rams' D, in my opinion, could be a top 10 defense in the NFL.
Can we please get Robert Quinn on the field?
This is one of the positions of hope for the Rams. Chris Long is finally looking like a cornerstone type of player at left defensive end. He is not a superstar, but he gets consistent pressure on the QB, and he always plays hard. Robert Quinn was the team's first-round pick in last April's NFL Draft. He has star potential, but for some reason he can't get on the field.
I know, I know, he is really young, he doesn't have a lot of experience, blah, blah, blah...
Give me a break. St. Louis doesn't have anybody else that's worth costing this kid playing time. James Hall, an aging veteran, and Eugene Sims, a second-year player, are both ahead of Quinn on the depth chart at right defensive end. Come on Spags, put the kid in and let him play. It took Chris Long a couple of seasons before he figured it out. Quinn isn't learning anything on the bench.
Hall's time is up in St. Louis. He has had a nice career, but he isn't getting any younger. I like Sims as a rotation defensive Lineman. C.J. Ah You has a cool name, but as a right defensive end, he leaves a lot to be desired.
KEEP: Long, Sims, Quinn
CUT: Hall, Ah You
Will the real Fred Robbins please stand up?
Fred Robbins was a great free-agent pickup for the Rams last year. He really played well, and he helped to fill a glaring need for the Rams at Defensive Tackle. This season, not so much.
The Rams' DT rotation has been, in a word, disappointing.
Justin Banaan has played okay, and has some potential. Gary Gibson and Darrell Scott are on the roster because the Rams couldn't find anybody else.
CUT: Robbins, Gibson, Scott
James Laurinaitis is the undisputed leader of the Rams' D.
The Rams are just a mess at the linebacker position. They have made more changes at this position than any other on the roster, but it hasn't helped. James Laurinaitis is a stud at middle linebacker, but the rest of the linebackers on the Rams' roster leave a lot to be desired.
Brady Poppinga and Ben Leber are a couple of veteran free-agent pickups that were supposed to really help fix the Rams' problems at linebacker, but both have been very disappointing. It's hard to judge the linebackers properly against the run because of the soft play of the interior defensive lineman, but come on guys...
You have to tackle better than this!
Chris Chamberlain and Josh Hull aren't keepers, but they do play a role on special teams. I actually like Bryan Kehl and am very intrigued by the rookie Jabara Williams.
KEEP: Laurinaitis, Williams, Kehl
ON THE BUBBLE: Chamberlain, Poppinga, Leber
Stop picking on Justin King. Come on guys!
Let's just cut through all the crap, okay? Ron Bartell is a solid NFL cornerback, and he is out for the year. Jerome Murphy was a promising young player, and he is also out for the year. So the Rams' top two corners are out for the year. That leaves Bradley Fletcher and the much maligned Justin King as the starting corners.
And that is a recipe for disaster.
King is not a bad player. He would be a solid nickel or dime CB. Right now he is being overexposed. It's hard to find good cornerbacks in the NFL. Why do you think a guy like Nnamdi Asomugha gets paid like he does? Because guys that can cover like that are hard to find!
So this may shock you, but I'm not here to pile on Justin King. The dude is trying. He is a solid player. But when your dime corner is your starting corner, that means some random guy off the street is now your new dime corner! Al Harris is like 415 years old. He is our nickel corner. Rod Hood, I'm not going to lie, I've never even heard of him, but he's our dime corner.
KEEP: Bartell, Murphy, Fletcher, King
CUT: Harris, Hood
Can we just please put Darian Stewart on the field and leave him there?
Quintin Mickell was one of the "big splash" free agent moves for the Rams this offseason. Mickell is a very underrated free safety, a solid football player. Craig Dahl remains the teams' strong safety, but nobody except Steve Spagnulo knows why.
Dahl is a physical player, but he can't cover anybody.
Darian Stewart, an exciting young player, has also made some big mistakes this season—see the Ravens game?—but he has also made some big plays. Stewart has a lot of potential. James Butler remains on the roster as a backup free safety, but honestly, I thought he retired. Who knew James Butler was still on the team? Rookie Jermale Hines is also on the depth chart, but contributes mainly on special teams.
KEEP: Mickell, Stewart, and Hines
CUT: Dahl and Butler