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Rams Try Rebuild (and Remain) in St Louis for the Long Haul

Posted: May 20, 2009

At the beginning of this decade, the St. Louis Rams were as identifiable as any team in the NFL. The “Greatest Show on Turf” had star power to burn with the likes of Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt and Issac Bruce. However, while those teams were lighting up scoreboards and winning double-digit games, the team, from front office to coaching staff to personnel, feel into chaos leading the Rams to consequently fall off the radar. Without a winning season since 2003, the franchise is in rebuilding mode with new owner Chip Rosenbloom, new General Manager Billy Devaney, and new head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

How did the Rams get in such bad shape? Very simple - just too many misses this decade with their Drafts. Whether it was Tye Hill, Alex Barron, Jimmy Kennedy, Robert Thomas or Trung Canidate, there was just not enough production received from these first-round picks. Even the solid Steven Jackson has only had one Pro Bowl season in his huge year of 2006. Adam Carriker and Chris Long still have time to develop on the defensive line, but the Rams must start getting some star power to become competitive again.

That being said, we agree with Bernie Miklasz that the St. Louis management needs to build a solid foundation and not just go for the quick fix. Rosters decay because of many bad drafts so it’s next to impossible to repair them instantly. It’s very hard for many fans to be patient with their NFL club, but that is exactly what’s needed in the Gateway City.

The new Rams staff made the safe choice on Draft day by selecting Baylor offensive tackle Jason Smith instead of reaching for USC’s Mark Sanchez. While it’s easy to question this franchise for passing on Matt Ryan in the 2008 Draft, SPF doesn’t see the inexperienced Sanchez as the solution in St. Louis with so many other holes to fill. With Orlando Pace being released and a lack of faith in Barron, the Rams felt they had to address the tackle position. After that, they tried to improve their 28th-ranked defense by taking Ohio State linebacker James Laurinaitis, Iowa cornerback Bradley Fletcher, and Clemson defensive tackle Dorell Scott in the next three rounds.

Spagnuolo and his staff need this Draft class to serve as the building block for what they want to get done. If they can construct a decent offensive line, the Rams should be at least okay with Jackson running and Marc Bulger throwing the ball. The new coach has a ton of work to do on the defense, which hasn’t been effective since the days of Aeneas Williams and Grant Wistrom. It won’t be quick or easy, but hopefully Spagnuolo can get the Rams moving in the right direction and get fans excited about going to the Edward Jones Dome once again.

Now that the Rams seem to have a competent and stable front office and coaching staff, the question remains - how long will it take to see results on the field?  Rumors abound about the Rams being quietly for sale.  Unlike his late mother, Georgia Frontiere, Rosenbloom is a California guy.  Many believe that the Rams might relocate back to Los Angeles.  There is this story about $30 million in improvements that will happen at the Edward Jones Dome before the 2009 season.  Their stadium viability is only one of many issues moving forward for the Rams remaining in St Louis for the long term.

The St Louis market remains one of the best in sports.  The Rams, when they were a solid team, enjoyed deep fan support from their community.  Let's hope that their new direction will bear fruit quickly enough to revive their currently beaten-down fan base making any further talk of relocation a moot issue.

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