It is well-known that 2014 is a big year for the St. Louis Rams, another 7-9 or 8-8 year just may not be enough to please the fans. The Rams haven’t had a winning record since 2003, and haven’t made the playoffs since 2004.
The Rams finally look to be getting back on track with their corps of young players. However, last season, there were still a group of players that didn’t produce as well as expected, and have high expectations to get back on track and succeed in 2014.
This is a three-part series called “More Pressure to Succeed”, and last week we did Brian Quick or Chris Givens. Today’s question is, who has more pressure to succeed in 2014, Trumaine Johnson or Janoris Jenkins?
These two cornerbacks have a lot of pressure on them in 2014. After a disappointing year to say the least last season, and the fact that the Rams got rid of Cortland Finnegan and had the faith to name these guys the number one and two cornerbacks, these two need to have a big year.
Last year the excuse was Tim Walton wasn’t a good defensive coordinator, but this season the Rams have Gregg Williams, an experienced defensive coordinator. There are no excuses this year for the secondary, and specifically the cornerbacks.
If it’s one player with a lot of pressure this upcoming season on the defensive side of the ball, it’s Janoris Jenkins. After an astounding rookie year in which Jenkins made play after play which included four interceptions, three of which were returned for touchdowns, and a blocked kick, there was much promise going into his sophomore season.
That however, was not the case. Jenkins struggled mightily, grading out as the 61st rated cornerback on Pro Football Focus. A lot of Jenkins’ struggles were due to the inexperience of defensive coordinator Tim Walton and being put in a tough position n his second year with top cornerback Cortland Finnegan struggling.
Going into his third season, the Rams no longer have Finnegan, therefore it is going to be up to Jenkins to be the number one guy to cover opposing teams primary receiver. There is no doubt that Jenkins has the talent to be the top guy, he showed it in his rookie season.
With a new, more experienced defensive coordinator, I fully expect Jenkins to take the leap and prove that he is more than capable of being the number one guy. There is no question that Jenkins can talk the talk, but can he walk the walk?
Throughout his first two seasons in the league, Trumaine Johnson has seen as the third guy that the Rams rotated in and would play in nickel or dime packages. This season however, the Rams will call on Johnson to be their number two guy.
Johnson, like Jenkins, struggled like every player not named Robert Quinn in Tim Walton’s defense. Being forced to play 10-15 yards off of the wide receiver, puts the cornerback in a difficult position right off the bat.
The Rams are relying on Johnson to be their number two guy and hope that he can step up to the plate. Johnson graded as the Rams’ best cornerback his rookie season in 2012 and at times looked the part last season. Going into his third season now, Jeff Fisher is calling on Johnson to be the number two guy and step up, but can he do it?
Conclusion: Janoris Jenkins
With the questions in the secondary the Rams need a guy to step up, and that guy has to be Jenkins. He is now, without a doubt the number one cornerback and vocal leader in the secondary. There will be a lot of pressure for him to step up and be the playmaker that he was in his rookie season and more.