This is all a little pie-in-the-sky, but what the hell else do we, as Rams fans, have, if not for hope? Lots of banter will focus on the draft and FA, and I love it as much as anyone, but I am of the mind that no amount of players will fix what truly ails this team. I suppose that is not completely true, but this is not baseball, the Rams are not the Yankees, and there is that whole silly salary cap thing.
At the onset of the 2011 season, I had high hopes for this team. Sure, those hopes were buoyed by you, my fellow TSTers, and many in the NFL community, but it all made sense. Bradford won the ROY award and he had a fellow rookie safely guarding his blindside. Jason Smith looked to be settling into his role as RT, and the high-priced interior line would finally play to their potential with the addition of fiery Harvey Dahl. Steven Jackson was still Steven Jackson, but this year the Rams signed some capable players to back him up. The receivers were still a work in progress, but new OC Josh MacDaniels promised to "stress" defenses, if not "stretch" them. Finally, adding Kendricks offered the team the capability of running 2-TE sets.
Meanwhile, the defense looked poised to catapult into the leagues top 10. Like some of you, I feel as though the defense is still, even as injury-depleted as it is, a good unit. Injuries affected the defense more than the offense. With a healthy Bartell and Fletcher, the defense could have been very good. I don't think the same can be said for the offense. The line wasn't playing very well even with all of the starters healthy, and while having a healthy Danny and Salas would certainly make the WR corps better, I don't know that the team would be lighting up the scoreboard with them.
Considering these things, I have a non-player wish list for the off-season. For those of you that want Spags out--I was one, too--this wish list does not include a new head coach. I like the idea of Fisher, et. al. as well, but if some insiders are correct, and the players like playing for him, I can see keeping him around for another year and giving him a chance to see if he can become a good head coach. His defense, again, shows signs of being very good, and given a more competent OC, offensive position coaches, and GM, this team could get headed in the right direction.
General Manager- John Dorsey, Director of College Scouting, Green Bay Packers
This name is not new to TST. Brick Top wrote a piece in which he details the reasons why Dorsey would make a great GM for the Rams. He is a hot name, associated with some soon-to-be-vacant GM jobs, and I agree that Kroenke needs to try and make this happen.
Offensive Coordinator- Norv Turner
I was so excited at the prospect of McDaniels running the offense, but either because he doesn't have the personnel to execute his vision or he is incapable of adapting to said personnel, he seems to be a complete failure. We were tired of Shurmur's vanilla offense and McDaniels offered a breath of fresh air, but I think we can all agree now that vanilla tastes better than poop. Turner's work as a developer of QBs is legendary. If we can agree that Sam is the most valuable asset, Turner--upon availability--has to be the hire. Troy Aikman chose Turner to present him in Canton, as he credited him with his success. Turner turned Gus Frerotte and Brad Johnson into pro bowlers, with the latter throwing for 4000 yds in his 1st season under Turner. Alex Smith, as limited as he is, has said that his career would have been different if Turner had remained his OC (An excuse, perhaps). Finally, Turner has developed Philip Rivers into one of the league's best--this season being an exception--QBs. If he is indeed fired, Kroenke needs to give him a call.
Offensive Line Coach- Bob Bostad, U of Wisconsin Offensive Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator
3K suggested in a reply to my question in another post that Bostad wouldn't want to leave the college game and perhaps is not yet ready for an NFL job. I defer to his expert opinion, but maintain that based on his recent success--he has only been UWs O-Line coach for 3 years--now might be the time to take a chance on an up-and-coming young coach. Prior to being elevated to the O-Line coach at Wisconsin, Bostad was the TE coach, so maybe he can get Kendricks on the path to realizing his potential.The offensive line played well last year under Loney, but we now know it probably had more to do with the offensive scheme than his coaching. He has been given the pieces, with 3 high-priced FAs manning the interior, and I think it is time for him to go.
Wide Receiver Coach- Ted Gimore, USC Wide Receiver Coach
I am biased here, as a USC fan, and the argument can be made that his job is made easier having talented WRs to work with and a talented QB throwing them the ball. And I may again be showing my ignorance of coaching matriculation and NFL readiness. Be that as it may, although raw talent alone can make a college receiver successful, it takes some good coaching to make them great. USC had arguably the best WR tandem in college football to close the year, and Gilmore's coaching, with an emphasis on running good routes may have been the reason. While Cromwell is definitely not playing with a loaded deck, WR play has been a problem for the team. Injuries haven't helped, but like Loney, I think it is time for him to go.
Fell free to lambaste me for some, or all, of these suggestions; I am admittedly no expert. I am simply a fan that wants to be proud of my favorite team and see them put a quality product on the field. And I simply want to open the conversation to see what you, my fellow Rams fans, think about these matters. Coming into the home stretch of the season, I wish that we could be talking about how great all of the coaches have been doing and how fruitful the 2011 draft was. I wish we could be talking about who the Rams might face in the playoffs, and a potential first round bye. Those wishes died a while back, and we are now left with talking about how to fix this broken team.