How long has it been? True relevancy..... Quality football.... A professional football team that actually resembles a professional football team week in and week out..... How often do you see all this, in St Louis! Yes, it has been a great year when you put things in perspective. I've been watching this team since 1996 when I was a kid. I watched the glory days of "The Greatest Show on Turf", I've since watched the most consistently bad team on turf. We saw a glimpse of what could be in 2010, only to watch it all fall apart in 2011. Effectively, and abruptly ending any optimism built by the deceptively mediocre 7-8 "improvement" the year before. This year, however, there's not one Rams fan that doesn't believe in this team and the great things that are coming. And if you don't believe..... You should. The Rams have built themselves a team. It took 8+ years, but the Rams are finally a team to be reckoned with. After last weeks comeback the Rams sit at 6-6-1 and are riding a 3 game win streak including a huge game against the 49ers. No, it hasn't always been pretty, sometimes it's been down right ugly. But The Rams and their "Never say Die" attitude have been getting things done. With 3 games to go, the Rams are fighting for there slim playoff hopes and are otherwise out to spoil 3 other playoff hopeful's chances.
So what else do they need? What takes them from "That annoying team that won't go away" to "That team that everyone fears"? There are still alot of places that could use some improvement on both sides of the ball, but I think most would agree that it tilts heavily towards the offensive side. In my opinion the Rams could solidify nearly every position of need this off-season after the great moves made last year. Here are my areas of need for the Rams in order of importance most-least.
OL / WR / OLB / S / RB
Seems like alot to ask of our GM to fill that many holes.... But look back a year ago. What a disaster zone St Louis was. In one year they've built a near-elite defense and have taken arguably the worst offense and made it average to at times good. And when you look at the possibilities through free agency and the draft this season, with the right moves, this team could be a dark horse next year. No, not for the playoffs, for the Super Bowl. "You don't know what you're talking about"..... Just read.
Lets address some needs with the potentially LOADED free agency class.
You take a look first at OL. Namely RT and LG. Odds are Fisher and Snead draft there guys at these position, Fisher knows how to get the most out of his linemen. (Saffold when healthy this season has been one of the best in the league) But take a look. Ryan Clady, Sebastian Vollmer, Jake Long are the big names at tackle, and if you think all of them will get franchised you're insane. They're all young, they'd all allow the Rams to find a mid-late round guard, and they'd be able to move an already great LT to RT in Saffold and have two of the best bookends in the league. There are a couple guards out there, but in my opinion tackle would be the more realistic idea for a free agent pickup by Fisher/Snead.
Next up, WR. This, in my opinion, is the MUST sign free agent pickup position for the Rams. There is no WR that will step in week one and be THE guy in this years draft. There are, however 3-4 #1 type guys available in free agency. Dwayne Bowe, Mike Wallace, and Greg Jennings are the big name. And don't forget, the Rams have also got to worry about signing Amendola back. Losing the one guy Bradford seems to always have a connection with when theyre both on the field would not be smart. As for the other 3, all of them have at one time been mentioned as possible trade bait/free agency destinations to the Rams and all three would immediately improve this offense. Wallace might make the least sense now with the emergence of Givens as a great deep threat. Jennings has always been one of 3-4 options in an elite passing attack, and you have to wonder how he'd do if he were used as that #1 guy week in and week out. Then there's Bowe.... This is my ideal pickup of free agency for the Rams. Character concerns? Sure. Injury concerns? A little. Elite talent that hasn't had the QB to utilize it? ABSOLUTELY! How's this lineup sound: Bowe, Givens, Amendola, Quick. Finally a WR corp you can get behind 100%.
On the defensive side we're looking for an OLB, and a S. Names to look at: Jairus Byrd S, Erin Henderson OLB, Daryl Smith OLB, William Moore S, and Kenny Phillips S. Some of these guys have yet to realize there potential, sure. But never underestimate the power of great coaching. Personally, I'd love to see Moore at Safety. I remember his play at Mizzou and when he's on, he's got elite talent. I also believe Smith would be a great veteran pickup that would come cheap after missing this season to injury.
As for RB, it's pretty ridiculous what's been happening at RB this season. One week we hear that the Rams management doesn't want Jackson, the next they absolutely love him. It's somewhere in the middle ground. They want him, but not for #1 guy money. In my opinion they owe it not only to Jackson, but to the Rams fans to ensure Steven Jackson retires a Rams. He's one of the all-time greats to wear blue and gold and has been the lone bright spot on an otherwise dark dark team nearly since he came into the league. And let's be honest, if Fisher was feeding him the ball 20+ times a game like we know he should Jackson would have broke the 1000 yard mark a few weeks ago. Say you're protecting him, say it's his age, but Jackson is Jackson. He has never and will never back down or give in to any team. He wants to and is still able to carry this team. He is the unquestioned leader of the Rams. All that said, they either sign him or they don't. If they sign him, they're set at the position with Richardson a capable back up and Pead still progressing. If not..... Look for a complimentary veteran back to Richardson's speed such as Rashard Mendenhall.
Being realistic, the Rams will most likely sign 1 or 2 starters through free agency tops. It most likely will not be an o-lineman or linebacker. I sincerely hope they sign the one thing all Rams fans have been begging for since the GSOT days.... A #1 WR. Remember when we had 2? Bruce and Holt. Those were the days. Who's to say the Rams can't sign a Dwayne Bowe and Quick develops in 1-2 years. Then you've got another deadly tandem, with a deep threat Givens (Az-Hakim with better hands) and a slot guy Danny Amendola (Proehl only faster, more agile, and a better route runner). They'll sign a veteran RB if Jackson leaves. All in all, like I said, with the right moves this off season, the Rams aren't too far off from being legitimate contenders. Heck, I'll put them in the playoffs with the current team if we had a true #1 talent at WR.
Let's take a poll on which position's of need would be best solved through F.A.
That's my take. What are your thoughts?