First off, let's get back into the Rams ownership situation. Since our investment in this season's playoffs is as observers and well/ill-wishers, this is by far the most important issue at hand for Rams fans. Combine St. Louis' small market status, the team's LA-based ownership with the NFL's desire to have a team in the nation's second largest media market and you've got the recipe for a good conspiracy theory and something to give Rams fans nightmares. The prospect of more losing seasons don't make the bad dreams go away either. But the odds just don't seem to be there, at least not yet, for a move. Finagling their way out of a multi-million dollar lease isn't the easiest of legal battles to wage. The Miklasz column in the PD offers more reassurance that the Rams new owner will do right by by the city.
Winning would be the best way to prevent the need to move. And as uninspiring as .500 seasons are, 8-8 efforts last year and in 2004 prevented the Rams from stringing together four straight losing seasons, like they did when they first came to town. And even though memories of that last Super Bowl appearance need to be dusted off, the Rams have hardly been among the league's worst in that span. If you'd consider yourself an optimist, then the team's just a few roster tweaks and some healthy knees and shoulders away from a good season. Even a realist has to feel better about this team's prospects for the immediate future than say an Arizona Cardinals fan before they drafted Matt Leinart...
Speaking of drafting a QB, something the Rams still don't need to worry about using their first round pick for, Rivals.com put Boston College QB Matt Ryan atop their 100 prospects list. Two of the Rams most frequently talked about targets, Chris and Jake Long, are ranked #4 and #6, respectively. The Senior Bowl next weekend ought to shake up the rankings just a bit, and maybe give us some insight into what to do with the first two picks.
Here's a few notes from last night's NFC Championship to give Rams fans something to think about:
- Does anyone out there think that Pace can be as good a contributor, not so much a superstar, as Packers' RT Mark Tauscher? Michael Strahan finished the game with just 2 tackles and no sacks.
- The Packers have had great blocking all season, but the Giants defensive line gave them nothing last night. Part of the reason was that the Giants did such a great job of taking away their screen plays. Against Seattle, the Packers used the fullback and usually brought in a TE to block like an extra fullback to get some yards out of Ryan Grant. Last night the Giants defense just moved so fast in their pressure they took away Green Bay's ability to get the screen set up. Giants' MLB Antonio Pierce broke up a notable one late in the second quarter to force the Packers to settle for three points instead of what might have been a decisive seven. My biggest hope for Art Valero is that he can institute a better blocking game for the Rams. Getting more out of our TEs, RBs and WRs on plays like that would do a lot to spice up a play book that reads with all the excitement of the last Babysitter's Club title. Hopefully the blocking will be able to adjust a little better to intense pressure that got to the Packers last night.
- In fact, I wonder if maybe Green Bay's playbook was too dependent on having lots of time behind their blockers to set up plays. Their play action has lots of moving parts, and Farve's decision making in the second half made it clear at least something wasn't working. Maybe, but Bret Farve fans have to waking up with lots of questions on their mind this morning.
- The Packers WRs led the league in yards after catch, as you may have heard since that fact was repeated continually last night and got even more air time after the 90 yard TD pass to Driver. The Rams were among the worst in league, 28th to be exact, in yards after the catch. For Holt and Bennett, injuries deserve some blame. However, because so many passes were to WRs along the sideline rather than to open arms in midfield, it was impossible for the Rams to get many yards after catch from their receivers or Steven Jackson who has the physical ability to really add yards after the catch. Again, we're hopeful the coaching changes will take care of this problem