St. Louis Rams: First-Half MVPs for Offense, Defense and Special Teams
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The St. Louis Rams won their second game of the season on Sunday afternoon, squeaking by the Cleveland Browns 13-12. For a team that started the preseason with so much promise, the Rams have been one of the biggest disappointments in the NFL this season.
Of course, it could always be worse. Just ask those Indianapolis Colts fans.
Despite their ineptitude, the Rams have managed a few bright spots. Today I'm going to hand out my midseason MVP awards for offense, defense, and special teams.
Special Teams: Punter Donnie Jones
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Donnie Jones is one of the best punters in the NFL. This season he is averaging 44.4 yards per punt, with his longest punt being a 65 yard bomb.
The Rams punt return game has been awful, with Jerious Norwood spending a lot of time on the inactive list, and Austin Pettis forgetting how to call for a fair catch half of the time.
Yes, the Rams are so bad that their punter is one of their MVP's. So we salute you, Donnie Jones.
Honorable Mention: Kicker Josh Brown, who has to carry this offense with his field goals, you know, because the Rams don't score very many touchdowns.
Defense: Chris Long
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Chris Long is evolving into one of the best young defensive ends in the NFL. Long had seven sacks through the Rams' first eight games. The development of Robert Quinn at the opposite defensive end position has given Long more chances to go one-on-one and make a play.
The Long/Quinn duo gives the Rams something to look forward to going into 2012.
Honorable Mention: James Laurinaitis, middle linebacker. He is having a great year, and he is the leader of the Rams' defense. If the Rams get their front line starting cornerbacks healthy next season, the Rams have a very solid foundation on defense.
Offense: Steven Jackson
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Steven Jackson is a beast. Without Jackson, the Rams might be a historically bad team. I'm talking 0-16 people. Don't believe me?
Jackson carried the Rams offense to a win over the New Orleans Saints in Week 7. Then he ran for over 100 yards again in Week 8, when the Rams should have won against the Arizona Cardinals. In Week 9 against Cleveland, Jackson again ran for over 100 yards and led the Rams to a win on the road.
Prior to the last three weeks, Jackson has been injured, and the Rams didn't have a clue on offense. Sophomore QB Sam Bradford looks dazed and confused, the receiving corps is beat up and short on talent, and the offensive line is terrible.
If the Rams wanted to explore trading Jackson during the offseason, I think they could get a lot in return for him. If you put Jackson on a good football team, where he wasn't running against eight and nine man boxes, it would be scary to guess the numbers he might put up.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Lloyd, wide receiver. Lloyd is a true number one receiver, and even though he has only been with the Rams for a short while, seeing Lloyd run around out there reminds Rams' fans what an NFL wide receiver is supposed to look like.