Rams Family I've been in contemplation since that fated day when we all heard SJ39 was truly gone from the Rams stable. I wondered then, "What we're gonna do now?" Yeah I know we as a fan base are somewhat divided on if we should have let Steven Jackson walk, but I can tell you that the feeling I have about our backfield now is one that is foreign to me. If nothing else over these foul years of losing, we at least had SJax. Sure there were some of us who hated to see him attempt to mimic his predecessor Marshall Faulk by tip toeing down the line when no whole was in sight yet or on some run plays trying to be elusive when all of us knew he wasn't built for "breakin' ankles". Yet no one could keep quiet on monster runs that were known to have a Defense "a huffin and a puffin" for air. All the while knowing that the hit they just took from Jackson would have dire consequences in the morning, let alone during the game. He was the only leader we had and he made the game a little less painful to watch in comparison to all the rest of the carnage. Then came Chris Long, James Laurinaitis, and a few others over the years, but none were like him. Yep, he's really gone and it's still surreal. What are we gonna do?
The media is doing the same ol' techniques, keeping us in shambles with all of the season predictions and NFL player crime news. Of course the off season is how it is; there is the Combine that is tossed out to us fans like raw scraps to ravenous dogs as we are in the dark days before the beginning of the season. Regionals, Pro Days, Draft, OTA's, minicamps (not us though) and blah blah. Plain out...it's a miserable menagerie of "survival of the American football fan during the off-season". This is a time when a development league could be ongoing and airing over the redundant programming which is the NFL Network. Hello!! Anyone remember a thing called NFL Europe?!! Anyway...it's hard going right now.
So I am left to questions like, well, for the Rams...what are we gonna do?
I mean we did pretty good by grabbing Jared Cook and also creating a potential trade/pickup situation in snatching Jake Long right outta Miami's little Dolphin mouth (gimme yo cornbread!). Ok, you're saying right now, what is this goof talking about this time? Well what I mean is this, Jake Long gets signed, Roger Saffold wants to pout because he has been on the field for every game, paid his dues to make sure Sam was not on his back, NOT been hurt, been the best darned left tackle that there has ever been and and and ......riiiiiiiiight.
Then we read that he wants to be traded?! Hah, I bet Les Snead started salivating as soon as he read that! LT Roger Saffold could net the Rams a pick or more.
Oh wait, his agent backed off the comments. Now we see true professionalism at its best by him coming out and making the most of his situation. This tells me a few things; 1. Saffold can possibly get a nice extension if he makes a difference this season. 2. Saffold could possibly cash in with a different team if he makes a difference this season. 3. The culture has changed for the St. Louis Rams and there is now an environment that makes a player really think hard before they leave. Just ask Chris Williams and Willie Hayes.
So...what are we gonna do about our back field? I'm back on the running back situation by the way.
Currently we have Isaiah Pead, Daryl Richardson, Terrance Ganaway, Zac Stacy, Chase Reynolds (I think?) and Benny Cunningham. Yeah I know, I was the same way when I checked the UDFA signings. I'm like, "Who?"
I have looked at this thing from different angles and want to share my take. I had to break it down the best way I know how, which is surely not the same as a scout, but only as a fan:
1. Daryl Richardson - First, let's start with a proven product. I like the way this young man plays! I like his vision of the field and his ability to hit the hole strong! Even when it looks like there's nothing there, he sees something there. As a fan, I like seeing backs hit the hole hard and burst through the line. He runs with power and confidence. He has good change of direction, speed and can catch out of the backfield. He holds the ball well and will fight for the extra yardage. I don't know how much pass blocking he was asked to do last year, but it wasn't much at all as Steven Jackson was better than everyone in that aspect.
2. Isaiah Pead - This will be somewhat stringent as I have not had the pleasure of seeing him much in a professional football game. From what I have seen in college and spotty time in the NFL I can say some good things and also understand why he may not have had as much playing time as he would've liked. He does show good vision of the field, great change of direction and can run with power; he just hasn't done much of that power running in the NFL. I know I mentioned his change of the direction, but he is also what I would call "shifty" in that he can use not only his feet to make a man miss, but also his upper body. He's also fast. Lastly on the positives, he is great in space. Buuuuuut....his ball positioning sucked, he needs a huge hole to do anything and due to lack of power running, he'll go down with less than adequate tackling. He also is not that great at pass protection.
3. Zac Stacy - This draft pick was a smack in the mouth towards the end of a major Rams draft beatdown that put every front office in the league on notice! This is how the Rams roll now! Our FO mimicks the same attitude that our Defense does and our Offense hopes to. We're no joke. That phrase kinda sums up this gentleman Zac Stacy. He runs with authority and power. This guy is also what I would call "shifty". When watching film on him, he would easily collect extra yardage on a head fake or slight movement of shoulders. He can catch the ball, he follows down field blocks well by being patient and he has excellent vision of the field. He sees the end zone no matter what. Good pass protector.
4. Terrance Ganaway - We picked him up last season and I see why. Jeff Fisher likes big backs and always has. After looking at college games, I see that Ganaway is patient to the hole, hits it with confidence, will be hard to bring down and can take a few hits. He is pretty much a one cut runner, but that cut is elusive. He needed coaching up though because his ball security was questionable in positioning, he needs a big hole to run through, he's not that fast and doesn't seem to run with much control. Yet, this high character guy is listed as a fullback on the roster. So we'll see.
5. Benny Cunningham - This UDFA runs like a bowling ball with legs. He gets low, good pass protector and it always seems to take more than one man to take him down. He doesn't need a big hole to run through, extremely powerful runner and his legs don't stop, when healthy. Problem is, he is not 100%. He's working currently with a left knee rehab while going through camp. He has been cleared I think, but in his pro day vid, his strength is still coming back to him. Personally I think he needs to hold the ball a little higher, but he made plays. At best right now, he may be an upgrade over Chase Reynolds as a special teamer and #4 rb if healthy. If he makes the squad, he could press for more time as his leg power comes back. I like the pick up right now. We'll see how it goes through the off season program as the numbers whittle down.
So when looking at all the above, I am left wondering, who stays, who goes and how the work will be divided up? Strange thing is, we don't have an offense that calls for one running back to be "the back". I get the impression that we will be fluid in the backfield, using whomever works for that portion of the game plan. I noticed last season, the offense was about tiring out the defense as much as it was about getting points on the board. It's a great problem to have really. When you need speed, you have at least three that you can work with and one that is proven. When you need power, you have at least three you could potentially use. Whether catching the ball or blocking the rushing linebacker, we are in decent shape. I didn't bother mentioning the Illudium PU-36 Space Modulator (Marvin the Martian's gun) that we have in Tavon Austin that will also be used outta the backfield. It will take that and more to replace Steven Jackson, but still, the possibilities are endless. Tell me what you think we're gonna do and thanks for reading! Ram Nation for ever!