Justin Fritze will be breaking down where every team in the NFL currently stands for us here at TOJ, going from worst to first…continuing today with the St. Louis Rams –
There is a strange three headed beast. It begins with the mustache of Jeff Fisher, surrounded by his increasingly “party first” mullet. It wears black sunglasses, even at night, and it is very predictable in it’s forward motion.
We all know Jeff Fisher was a defensive minded coach, so him picking up a sadistic defensive coordinator has made his rebirth in St. Louis a pretty predictable style of football. Turnovers, quarterback sacks, run the ball, short passing. Kill the clock. Antithesis of the Greatest Show On Turf.
One simple problem. There are no Pro Bowlers at defensive line or linebacker (although Fred Long made the 2008 All Pro team), helped out by a defensive back roster including the 37 year old Al Harris and the 31 year old Quintin Mikell. Add to this the fact that 11 cornerbacks were on IR at some point last season. How the hell do you explain that?
Now, the third head of that beast, Brian “the slant” Schottenheimer, is coming to town off a relatively soul crushing end to his tenure with the Jets. This makes sense to get picked up by Fisher. Why? Because as soon as Brian starts screwing up, Jeff is gonna take over the play calling and remind him, in that gravelly baritone “you have no f*cking clue what you’re doing Brian, and I still owe this kid Bradford $32 million, so if you’ll kindly stick to ruining one quarterbacks career I’m gonna take this thing over from here on out”. Then he will win coach of the year on route to the playoffs.
If the offensive experiment works then Schottenheimer will get his shot at a head coaching opportunity next year, when of course five of the 2012 season’s coaches have been fired. (Making bets on someone’s livelihood is cruel and mean, but this is football, and football is full of clowns.)
But how would it work? Well there’s Steven Jackson, who can bail Bradford out of most 3rd and short situations, a potential monster if they draft Matt Kalil at offensive tackle, or if they decide to go receiver (Kendall Wright?) in the second round, they’ll have at least three guys who can run and catch, with serious upside (Pettis 23, Salas 24, Kendricks 23), even if they completely fail on the draft pick.
THE MAD SLANTER
This is where the offense vs. defense argument comes into play. If Williams gets his way, they will take Morris Claiborne in the first round, disregarding the fact that all logical persons see Kalil as a can’t miss pick who for the next 10 years will appear in multiple Pro Bowls. But the Rams need to make a play to grab every young defensive free agent they can, because they’re going to play the 49ers twice, Arizona twice, and a Seahawks team that may in fact yield a legitimate starting roster for the first time in 5 years. Stealing guys like Cliff Avril and Anthony Spencer could help out with line depth, but they need something else. Terrell Thomas?
So how does Schottenheimer step in from all this obsessus defensus and put his foot down? He loads up the NFL.com page of the Rams, and points to the following statistics: Points (32nd) Yards (31st) Passing Yards (30th) Rush Yards (23rd). BOOM. Win one for Schotty. There are 32 teams in the NFL.
This team, with a decent draft (can’t screw it up from the 2 spot THAT bad) and a few free agent pickups, can actually COMPETE for the NFC West next year. Anyone can compete in the NFC West. If Gregg Williams carries a few tricks over from the Saints, there’s not any elite quarterbacks in their division that are going to put up numbers.
There is one thing to remember: The Rams play some playoff teams next year, and Gregg Williams, regardless of his skills, is now on the wrong side of 5,400 yards passing.