INDIANAPOLIS, IN - AUGUST 12: Head coach Jeff Fisher of the St. Louis Rams looks on against the Indianapolis Colts during a preseason NFL game at Lucas Oil Stadium on August 12, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
OK, so sue me! I can't stop writing here at TST. Ryan tried to play the - "If you publish, you're no longer one of the cool kids here. You'll have to go and hang out in the Amazon author's thread now..." - card, but I ain't buyin' it! I happen to know I've never been all that cool, so this rule obviously doesn't apply to me... Wait, don't sue me...You know that's just an expression, right? RAMpage, stop Google-ing attorneys, though I am suing DC for the "fire starter" crack about my book. E-books aren't flammable, so you may be causing Moms everywhere to delete my book. We're talking pain and suffering here, not to mention potential author groupies that may think twice because they could burst into flame?
I have used the keen eyes I'm famous for to glean which of the players on the Rams current roster show promise. Too early you say? Noooo! Not for someone as mentally
challenged, er, I mean astute, as I am when it comes to all things "RAMS."
Let's have a look at a few players to watch in tonight's game. I decided to use "High" and "Low" as my unit of measure. Why, you ask? Because who can resist an opportunity for "High" jokes? How many of them will have Janoris Jenkins' name in them? Then there's the Robert Quinn driving tips? Say what you want, but timeless humor is too much to resist on a hot, muggy August day, am I right?
First up, let's take a gander at the Rams receiver corps. The jury is still out on whether this group of players will be awarded an "E" to go on the end of "corps." Though I've seen a flash here and there of what might be, they're still a ways away from being a cohesive receiver unit. I still see Sam Bradford set to "default mode" when the season begins, and it will be up to coach Ray Sherman to get Danny Amendola to run a pattern with first down intentions, and not the three or four yards as we've seen in the past. Brian Quick still has his small school training wheels on, and Chris Givens has only shown he can run faster than the big guys chasing him.
Greg Salas seems to be in the 'meh' category with Jeff Fisher and Sherman, which surprises me. He showed more promise last season than any other player, other than the now vanquished to N.E. - Brandon Lloyd. If he's cut, I will be truly bum-fuzzled. Austin Pettis has a steep hill to climb. While he's obviously taken Brandon Gibson's course in "How to Shine in the Pre-Season So You Can Take the Rest of the Season Off", it doesn't change the fact this team needs all hands on deck when the season begins. Not being available for the first two games of the season due to his "PEDS" fetish may mean he's destined for no more than the "PUP List" when the season starts.
Then there's Danario Alexander, and the aforementioned Gibson. Why do I get a vision of "Newman", every time one of their names are mentioned? Both these players have shown they can play, just not "WHEN" they can play. DX is a casualty of the game we all love, so there's no malice in my heart for a player the injury Gods have decided they own. Gibson on the other hand... He's a player I have little or no faith in, and his shining moments are still too far apart to convince me he's anything more than a camp warrior. If it's possible for Sherman to find Gibson's divine spark, then by all means keep him. But he needs to show us all more than just a little flame to earn a roster spot.
High - Low Rating? LOW
Quarterbacks are such titchy creatures, aren't they? I'm reminded of thoroughbred race horses, who win or lose on the quality of the hay they eat, the ground they run on, or the jockey holding the reins... Sam Bradford is in a stakes race for his NFL life, with an unknown jockey steering his course, for the third time in three NFL seasons. Leg wraps o' plenty, Sam will need to forget to limp, and remove the stampede fear of thundering herds charging his way. He has the arm of a true elite quarterback. Is it enough though? When the dust clears, and the photo of the finish line reveals a champion, will we see Sam Bradford win by a nose, or blow away the field in a Seabiscuit-esk sprint to the finish at season's end?
High - Low Rating - Too close to call...
The Rams defense is the bulwark of this team's future. OK, a guy named Andrew Luck had a pretty decent day against them, but I have to give his Colts-Rams game ball to the replacement referees, and not the former Stanford University wunderkind. If holding is a play in the Colts offensive playbook, they executed it flawlessly.
Where I have cause for concern on the Rams defense is Strong Safety and Outside Linebacker. Both these positions showed an alarming tendency to bite on plays and find themselves out of position for the better part of the Colts game. I'm impressed by the Rams Corner Back corps. They will gel nicely, thank you very much, and Jenkins could very well be the steal of the 2012 NFL Draft. Look for Cortland Finnegan to be the centerpiece of one of the best defensive secondaries the Rams have had in the last decade.
The Outside Linebacker position is one that's been on the minds of every Rams fan for years. This current crop of "savvy" veterans isn't going to cause our "wonder" to go away anytime soon. Look for the Rams to break with tradition in the 2013 NFL Draft, and draft at least one OLB in the first round. Yes, I'm worried that much about this OLB corps.
Another area where improvement has to be made is Strong Safety. In the current incarnation of the NFL, the Tight End has become a focal point in many offenses. The crop of safeties, outside of Quentin Mikell, is woeful at best. Craig Dahl could be this season's safety version of Justin King. He's been beat over the top, and missed tackles down under. Darian Stewart shows flashes, but health concerns drive my belief he'll be a non-factor as the season progresses.
High - Low Rating - High - the Defensive line is the key to allowing the secondary time to grow.
There you have it, and I feel like I've had my "TST fix." I'll be in the game thread later today, so have at me for my player miscues.