Receiver and defensive backfield just two of many issues for Rams

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 13:  Laurent Robinson #11 of the St. Louis Rams carries the ball during the game against the Seattle Seahawks on September 13, 2009 at Qwest Field in Seattle, Washington. The Seahawks defeated the Rams 28-0. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Merry preseason, everyone. It’s been a long offseason, but football is finally gearing up again and to celebrate I’m rolling out a new series on TSR entitled “2010 NFL Question Marks,” where I discuss one or two of the biggest concerns that teams have heading into the new season. Granted, some teams have more issues than others, but I’ll primarily be focusing on the biggest problem areas. Today I’ll be discussing the woeful Rams and their concerns at receiver and in the defensive backfield.

When a team earns the right to select at the top of the draft, it’s easy to spot its holes.

And the Rams have a lot of holes.

Outside of running back Steven Jackson and a linebacker corps led by second-year player James Laurinaitis, the Rams have issues at nearly every position. The hope is that young players like Sam Bradford, Rodger Saffold, Jason Smith and Chris Long will step up in due time, but it’s going to be a while before guys like Bradford are ready to make major contributions.

The receiver and defensive backfield are currently the team’s two biggest weaknesses heading into the new year. Wideout was already a concern before Donnie Avery went down to a season ending injury and now that they won’t even have him, the Rams have an even bigger hole at the position.

I’ve been very high on Laurent Robinson since he came into the league as a third round pick of the Falcons in 2007. But despite flashing his potential on occasion, he’s been a dud due to injuries. He caught 13 passes for 167 yards and one touchdown in his first four games last year, then suffered an injury that shelved him for the rest of the season. With Avery out, he has the opportunity to be the No. 1 guy but can he stay healthy for 16 games? He hasn’t yet.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Rams wise to pass on Terrell Owens – will Bengals pursue him?

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 25:  Terrell Owens #81 of the Buffalo Bills warms up before a game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 25, 2009 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Donnie Avery, Laurent Robinson and Jason Smith are still largely inexperienced.

Sam Bradford, Mardy Gilyard and Rodger Saffold are really inexperienced.

That’s why the Rams’ decision to pass on Terrell Owens today was the correct one. This is a team in rebuilding mode and adding a 37-year-old receiver coming off a bad year and who has a history of criticizing quarterbacks isn’t ideal. Can T.O. still contribute in the right situation? Yes, but not in St. Louis.

Some are quick to point out that T.O. wasn’t a distraction last year in Buffalo. That’s because he couldn’t have been a distraction – the team was awful and so was he. Does anyone really think that he would have kept his mouth shut if he had posted solid numbers week in and week out and the Bills still lost? Not a chance.

The Rams are better off in the long run. Avery, Robinson and Gilyard all of upside – Owens doesn’t. Besides, what’s the best case scenario if the Rams sign T.O.? He plays well and they go 4-12 instead of 2-14? It’s saying a lot that Owens would even be worth two wins, so signing him would almost seem unnecessary for St. Louis.

Cincinnati, however, is a different story. They made the playoffs last year, have a veteran quarterback at the helm and in their offense, they have enough playmakers so that T.O. wouldn’t be the focal point (unlike if he landed in St. Louis). Not to mention, their locker room isn’t as inexperienced as the Rams’ is and one would think that Chad Ochocinco would nullify anything Owens brought to the table in terms of personality. Carson Palmer wouldn’t stand for being treated like a 2-year-old either.

The Bengals are a decent fit for T.O. – the Rams are not. We’ll see if Cincinnati eventually pulls the trigger on a contract for Owens. My guess is they will.

In other Rams-related news, FOX Sports is reporting that the team is close to signing No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford.

2010 NFL Draft Recap: NFC West

Here are quick-hit 2010 NFL Draft observations for the NFC West.

Arizona Cardinals
Nose tackle Dan Williams is a great fit for the Cards, who were fortunate he slipped to them at No. 26. The team has been trying to fill the nose tackle position for years and they may have found the player to do it in Williams, who is explosive off the line. There’s a great chance he’ll beat out Gabe Watson for the right to start in Week 1. I also really liked Arizona’s second round pick, linebacker Daryl Washington. He’ll play alongside Geno Hayes in the Cards’ 3-4 alignment and might rack up 100 tackles with his sideline-to-sideline style of play. Citadel receiver Andre Roberts is a sleeper and will help out immediately as a punt returner. Third-rounder O’Brien Schofield had a first round grade on him before tearing his ACL in the Senior Bowl. He’s a prototypical 3-4 edge-rusher and has high upside, although he may need more time to fully recover from the injury. I also love the selection of John Skelton in the fifth. He’s athletic, has a cannon for an arm and he was a gamer at Fordham. He could be a great developmental project down the road, especially if Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson don’t pan out. All in all, this was one of my favorite drafts of any team this year.

San Francisco 49ers
I loved what the Niners did with their first three picks, which is where teams usually find starters and players that can make an impact right away. Anthony Davis will compete with Adam Snyder for the starting right tackle job, while Mike Iupati will battle David Bass at the starting left guard position. To nab two potential starters with their first two picks was excellent for San Fran. I also really liked the Taylor Mays selection in the second round because it showed great value, although he has a lot to prove after a sub par senior season at USC. The good thing for the Niners is that he has a chip on his shoulder, is a great athlete and will be working close with Mike Singletary, who is an excellent motivator. I didn’t like the pick of Navorro Bowman in the third round, only because he’s too small to play inside linebacker in a 3-4 and might wind up being a career special teamer if he stays in San Fran. It was a little early to be selecting special teamers in the third round. I did really like what San Fran did in the later rounds, however, nabbing bruising runner Anthony Dixon and burner Kyle Williams in the sixth.

Read the rest of this entry »

2010 BCS Bowl Preview: 5 Things to Watch for in the Sugar Bowl

No. 3 Cincinnati will try to put Brian Kelly’s departure to Notre Dame behind it when it takes on No. 5 Florida at 8:30PM ET on New Year’s Day. As part of our 2010 BCS Bowl Preview, here are five things to watch for in the Sugar Bowl.

1. Cincinnati’s potent passing attack vs. Florida’s vaunted defense
Led by quarterback Tony Pike and explosive receiver Mardy Gilyard, the Bearcats rank sixth in the nation in passing offense, total offense and scoring offense. Cincinnati averaged almost 40 points per game this season and houses one of the most deadly passing games in the country. That said, they’ll be heavily tested by a Florida defense that has the third best pass defense in the nation, the fourth best overall defense and the third best scoring defense. Only Alabama (11.0) and Nebraska (11.23) have allowed fewer points than Florida’s mark of 11.54. Led by defensive backs Joe Haden, A.J. Jones and Major Wright, the Gators have virtually been impossible to throw on. Making matters worse for opponents, Florida also has a fearsome pass rush, led by defensive linemen Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap. At the center is linebacker Brandon Spikes, who is the heart and soul of the Gators’ defense. Cincinnati will certainly have to earn everything it gets come New Year’s Day.

2. The Gators’ rushing attack vs. the Bearcats’ suspect run defense
Florida boasts the 10th best rushing attack in the nation, averaging 225.23 yards per game. That doesn’t bode well for a Cincinnati run defense that is surrendering over 140 yards per game this season. The Bearcats’ defense is fast and aggressive, but struggles when opponents attack them right up the middle. In their three closest games this season, Connecticut, West Virginia and Pittsburgh all had success running up the gut. If Florida starts pounding the rock up the middle, it could take control of the game early by grinding out the clock and keeping Cincinnati’s high-powered offense on the sidelines.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Official Sugar Bowl Smack Talk Thread: Cincinnati vs. Florida

The 2010 Sugar Bowl will have plenty of intrigue surrounding it when the Florida Gators take on the Cincinnati Bearcats on New Year’s Day. For the Gators, Tim Tebow will be playing his last collegiate game of his career, while the Bearcats will try to overcome the loss of their head coach, Brian Kelly, who ditched them for Notre Dame.

2010 Sugar Bowl Game Information
Matchup: Florida (12-1) vs. Cincinnati (12-0)
Venue: Superdome, New Orleans
Kickoff: 8:30PM ET, January 1
TV: FOX
Odds: Florida –10

Key Stats:
Cincinnati will have its hands full trying to move the ball against a Florida team that ranks 4th in the nation in total defense, 3rd in pass defense and third in scoring. Led by linebacker Brandon Spikes, the defensive line pair of Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap, as well as a secondary headed by safety Major Wright, the Gators have one of the best defenses in the country. Offensively, Tebow leads a group that has averaged over 225 rushing yards per game this season and over 34 points per outing.

If any team were to move the ball on Florida, it might be Cincinnati, which has the sixth best offense in college football. Led by quarterback Tony Pike and receiver Mardy Gilyard, the Bearcats rank 6th in passing offense and 6th in scoring (averaging 39.83 points per game). Defensively, Cincinnati has the top passing efficiency unit in the country and are 48th in total defense.

The Bottom Line:
Cincinnati has more than enough weapons to contend in this game, but how will they fair without Kelly calling the plays? And even though this looks like a great matchup for Florida, will the Gators get up for the Sugar Bowl after failing to reach the national title game again? One would think that Tebow would get his team up to play this game, but don’t forget Alabama quit last year in this same venue and got rolled by Utah.

Let the smack begin:

n
Who will win the 2010 Sugar Bowl?
View Results


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Related Posts