1. Like Father, Like Son
I was about as surprised as Johnny Manziel winning the Heisman when I heard the news of the Rams not retaining defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. The decision was further solidified when the Rams also announced the firing of their linebackers’ coach, Blake Williams. And of course, it is duly noted that Blake is the son of Gregg Williams.
Even if Williams was to return, he wouldn’t have much of a vital role. As proud as he is, he wouldn’t accept any type of demotion considering his resume and pedigree. I’m positive that Williams’ “cooperation” with Roger Goodell and the NFL in the BountyGate fiasco included reinstatement if he would give the names of all parties involved. (i.e players, coaches, GM)
I can’t see loyal and born leaders like James Laurinaitis or Chris Long trusting a single word that would come out of Williams’ mouth. Jeff Fisher hired a talented coaching staff. Improvement was visible all across the board, especially the defense, and quite frankly, Paul Bourdrea was one of the unsung heroes on the Rams coaching staff. Why bring back a controversial and detrimental figure that would cause an implosion among the players and coaches? Fisher will hire a competent DC to take the Rams from a Top 15, maybe even Top 5 defense.
2. 2013 Schedule
Lately, I have been hearing about the Rams having a much easier schedule next season. However, in the voice of Lee Corso, “Not so fast my friend.” After peeking at the schedule, St. Louis has seven games against teams that made the playoffs this year. Not to mention that five of those game come on the road. This is the NFL however, and the start of a new season could turn a franchise from worst to first.
The Rams will go up against a slew of formidable quarterbacks next year: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Cam Newton, Tony Romo, Drew Brees, Jay Cutler, Andrew Luck and of course, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick twice.
Schaub (Houston), Romo (Dallas), Luck (Indianapolis), Ryan (Atlanta) and Newton (Carolina) are all on the road. The Rams could look to pick up another home win next year considering they only had seven this year. They technically had eight if you count the “home” game in London, but that was no home game considering the fact that the Patriots are popular in London.
3. Three and out
This can be attributed to the receivers for the inconsistency of separation, costly false starts and allowed sacks by the offensive line, play-calling, or maybe Sam Bradford holding onto the ball too long. Whatever the cause may be, something has to be done about the Rams’ third-down production. St. Louis finished with a third-down conversion rate of 32.1%, ranking 29 out of 32. Out of quarterbacks that have thrown at least 100 passes on third down, Bradford had a passer rating of 69.3, ranking him 24th in the NFL.
Bradford’s numbers can be a bit of a head scratcher. Bradford was fifth in the league on third-down throws 10 yards and beyond. He completed 20 of 29 passes with a passer rating of 111.4. I’m a Bradford supporter and I won’t judge him harshly until he has had consecutive offensive coordinators, but he has to improve his overall performance on third downs.
I have no doubt in my mind that Janoris Jenkins won’t become a premier corner in this league. I was high on Jenkins prior to his dismissal from the University of Florida. Mel Kiper Jr. called Jenkins the Eric Berry of this draft. He was speaking of the 2010 draft during that time. His four defensive touchdown turned heads and caused fans to wonder if he has a shot at winning defensive rookie of the year. To simply put it:
Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers has this award hands down. Besides, Jenkins wasn’t even the best rookie corner. Jenkins was constantly targeted due to a couple of lapses in coverage and an overaggressive tendency to jump routes. The Packers’ Casey Hayward had six interceptions and 26 pass deflections. According to Pro Football Focus quarterbacks that threw in Hayward’s direction had a horrific passer rating of 31.1 completing no touchdowns while not having a single penalty.
5. Unsung Heroes
Jo-Lonn Dunbar and William Hayes became mainstays on the Rams’ tenacious front seven. Dunbar was originally signed to a two-year deal. I believe the Rams will tack on another year. St. Louis constantly heard chatters of giving Laurinaitis help on the strong and weak side. Dunbar succeeded in his role finishing second on the team in tackles, finishing with 114 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 2 INT and 2 forced fumbles.
Hayes followed his former head coach and brought that same feisty attitude along with Cortland Finnegan. Hayes was signed to a one-year deal in the offseason, but his production on the field deserves a resigning. Hayes finished 9th on the team in tackles with 29 and third on the team in sacks with seven.