Seahawks Insider

The 5 spot: Rams in focus

Post by Eric Williams on Dec. 29, 2012 at 10:24 am with 43 Comments »
December 29, 2012 10:24 am
St. Louis Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins (21) knocks the ball loose as he hits Washington tight end Fred Davis during fourth quarter action of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012 at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis. (AP Photo/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Chris Lee)

Howard Balzer, one of the first NFL draft gurus who regularly covers St. Louis sports, has been gracious enough to answer five questions on the Rams heading into this weekend’s big matchup.

You can follow Howard’s coverage of the Rams on the web and via Twitter.

Check out the Q&A below.

1. Sam Bradford seems to have gotten over his sophomore slump and is playing better in his third season. What’s been the difference for Bradford in Year 3?

Balzer: The “sophomore slump” was the creation of a new offensive coordinator, the lockout, a brutal schedule to start the season and then the nasty high ankle sprain Bradford sustained in the sixth game of the season. This year, he has been healthy, and while there was another new offense to learn, he and the rest of the offensive personnel had the offseason to learn it. There have still been inconsistencies, but Bradford has been improved in the red zone and in the fourth quarter. The emergence of rookie wide receiver Chris Givens as a deep threat has helped create other opportunities.

2. Jeff Fisher has St. Louis on the brink of finishing above the .500 mark for the first time since 2003. How has he changed the culture for the Rams?

Balzer: Fisher knows what buttons to push and when to push them. He had instant credibility in the locker room and, most important, brought an experienced coaching staff with him. He hasn’t hesitated to play rookies and other young players, and has simply added an air of confidence. Even when he took over, he refused to talk about the past, only saying the goal was to continuously improve and work to win each week.

3. The Rams have a talented rookie class this season, with players like Janoris Jenkins, Michael Brockers and Greg Zuerlein making an impact. How has Fisher infused the roster with new talent?

Balzer: The overall quality of the rookies has been outstanding. Perhaps the most important aspect is Fisher’s understanding that rookies will make mistakes, but he keeps them on the field to get better. Of course, he also didn’t hesitate to bench Jenkins and Givens when they missed curfew before the road game in San Francisco, and since then, Jenkins has scored all four of his defensive touchdowns. Going back to the draft, he expressed no concerns about entering the season with rookie kickers, which they did with Zuerlein and punter Johnny Hekker. In addition to the draft, the Rams did an impressive job with undrafted free agents.

4. Steven Jackson is 10 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the eighth straight year. He also reached 10,000 yards this season, and at 29-years old has hinted at retirement. What is Jackson’s future in St. Louis?

Balzer: The “retirement” talk was merely Jackson joking during a media session Thursday. He has a list of the top 10 all-time rushers in his locker, and his goal is to enter that group. To do that will take two more 1,000-yard seasons. He truly wants it to happen with the Rams so he can finish his career with the team that drafted him. He can void the final year of his contract on Feb.8, but the feeling is a new deal will occur before that date. Jackson was voted a team captain and he has been a mentor to rookies Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead. Fisher appreciates what he means to the team, on and off the field.

5. What are the most significant holes the Rams need to address in the draft next year to compete with San Francisco and Seattle for an NFC West crown?

Balzer: Offensively, more production has to come from the receiving corps, whether it’s from a veteran addition or the improvement of the players currently on the roster, especially second-round pick Brian Quick. The offensive line has battled, but an upgrade at right tackle would be welcome, although Barry Richardson played better than most people expected.

On defense, the real issue is at safety. Quintin Mikell had a solid season, but will be entering his 11th season in 2013. Craig Dahl is a solid backup, but a better starter is needed.

Interviews, Opponents
Leave a comment Comments → 43
  1. I feel bad for Steven Jackson, one of the most underrated players in this league playing for that team so long and doing so well is incredibly commendable.

  2. The Rams are improving very rapidly. With the right moves there will be three NFC West teams next season that no one wants to play.

  3. I have always thought Fisher was a good coach – give him some time and there will be 3 teams that are playing well in our division.

    looking forward to being the NFC Best for a long time!!

  4. The Comcast link works,now the News Tribune can get paid.I for one will hit it every time I visit.

  5. After 15 games:

    Russell Wilson 25 TD 10 INT 63.4 pct 98.0 rating
    10 wins, including wins over GB, NE, CHI, SF

    Andrew Luck 21 TD 18 INT 54.3 pct 75.6 rating
    10 wins, including wins over GB, DET, lost to NE, CHI, HOU

    RGIII 20 TD 5 INT 66.4 pct 104.1 rating
    8 wins, including wins over NYG, NO, DAL, BAL

    Three Current Rookie Records About to be Broken?:

    Most Passing Touchdowns, Rookie, Season 26, Peyton Manning, 1998
    Highest completion percentage, rookie, season: 66.44, Ben Roethlisberger, 2004 (196/295)
    Highest passer rating, rookie, season: 98.1, Ben Roethlisberger, 2004

  6. OregonHawk says:

    Wow, Thanks Stevos

  7. MattandCindy says:

    Poor Evan Moore. You should send him that link Bobby…even though he’d probably drop it.

  8. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Lol MattandCindy.

    I thought this was a pretty lame preview, but it was worth posting because of the comments. I thought the Seahawk fans comments were classy and several Ram fans point that out.
    One thing we and the Ram fans have in common is our dislike for 49er fans.

  9. Ewalters7354 says:

    Georgia, that link was terrible lol

  10. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Ewalters- I know. I’ve sunk to the lowest of low with that one, however it was the Comments that really got my attention. Sorry.

  11. princeaden says:

    A bit off topic, but I want one of those ” It ain’t easy bein Sweezy ” T-shirts..

  12. MattandCindy says:

    Nice, Georgia. I giggled at the “don’t cash that check yet” stuff. It also really does appear that a few of the Rams fans wouldn’t mind us winning as long as the 40’ba$tards lose…and after the curb stomp we laid on ‘em, I can’t imagine they have that false sense of royalty and entitlement anymore.

    P.S. – Too clear up any suspicions of me having a dual personality, my wife is registering. Of course, she has chosen the name CindyandMatt. No worries, though. Hardcore fan. Seahawks underwear. It’s aaaallllll good.

  13. GeorgiaHawk says:

    MattandCindy – The first time I saw you post my warped mind went MorkandMindy so that wasn’t meant to be an insult.

    Keep posting because I love your wit. BTW-The more you post the more chance you look stupid. But after that you get beyond stupid and become a regular.

  14. ‘It Aint Easy Bein Sweezy” lol! I want one too.

  15. Thanks Cerjam. Glad they got that fixed so we can do our posrt to promote/fund the blog.

  16. No team is as good (nor as bad) as any media outlet of fan blog states. That said, let’s have this discussion after the SB and see how “good” we are (or are not) at that time.

    (Not trying to be sarcastic, just don’t wan’t to get on the “we’re great” bandwagon until after we’ve proved that we are…and that means PC lifting a Lombardi Trophy.

  17. MattandCindy says:
  18. raymaines says:

    Right now the Seahawks are the new bullies on the block and the old bullies are in full retreat mode. Maybe in a couple of years we’ll be whining about how the Rams mistreat us and none of it will be funny, but right now I’m loving the 49’er fan reaction to all of this.

    I’m re-posting this for anyone that missed it the first time. A very funny 2 1/2 minutes:

  19. One note of caution; the Niners have some injury issues, especially Justin SMith. With him in the game, things might have been different. And as much as I loathe his guts, Harbaugh is a great coach with a great team; he wont be caught off guard by Seattle again.

    THat Niner beat down was EPIC, but its likely to be a major aberration in the series. They will remain a tough team for years to come–and hopefully so will Seattle.

    My friend Jason thought up the It aint easy bein Sweezy gag for t-shirts the first week of the season…he is desperate to get a Sweezy jersey, but has his first kid so money’s tight…Looks like we shoulda printed those T-shirts, huh?!

  20. And the Rams are pretty good. They will soon have a secondary as good as ours, if things continue…both Trumaine Johnson and Jenkins have ridiculous talent. And they’ve got other guys on the upswing too. Fishers a good tough coach, and they have some real studs on defense.

    I have always liked Bradford, I think hes much better than many Hawk fans want to admit. Next year we will begin to see it.

    And they are finding some good young WR’s too. Gibson is pretty good, and Givens ripped us a couple times.

  21. montanamike2 says:

    Definitely the Rams are on the upswing. I hope the Cards stay dysfunctional for a while.

  22. bbnate420 says:

    The Lambs need some new safeties, but they have a ton of talent at CB. There also have a spit load of picks the next few years. They probably will be a force to be dealt with. Never know though, the Tards looked imposing at the beginning of the year.

  23. raymaines says:

    Totally off subject, but…

    Can you imagine the pain, anguish, and suffering in Northern California if the Whiners blew an early lead and lost to Arizona in OT, while Minnesota and Seattle were winning big time?

    That’s my dream. I don’t really care if Seattle wins the division or has a week off exactly, I just want the 49’ers to loose. The longer, more drawn out and painful the loss is, the better I’d like it.

    I would be happy enough with a #5 seed in the playoffs except it would mean SF wins the division and has a higher seed. Unacceptable unless Seattle eventually goes to Candlestick and beats the crap out of the 49’ers in front of their home crowd. That would work for me.

  24. The Seahawks really need to play a home playoff game.

  25. Dukeshire says:

    I’m far less concerned about this group on the road than I have been any Seahawks team since Knox was HC. Home playoff game would be nice, but they can road-warrior it, I believe.

  26. Dave Boling says:

    Good link, GeorgiaHawk. I don’t think even that point chart can capture how hot this team is … especially after the Sherman ruling.

    On Wednesday, I asked the two most veteran Seahawks to compare the 2012 Hawks at this point to the roll the 2005 team was on. Both Leroy Hill and Marcus Trufant said this team is not only similar in confidence and momentum, but has a brighter future because of the youth. Leroy made some strong statements that might interest you in my column tomorrow morning in the Trib.

  27. I agree Duke. There is just a feeling i have with this team that they can get things done on the road now. If the offense continues to click and the defense keep being bullies, i think they can win anywhere against anyone.

  28. letsworkitout says:

    It is unreal to me how someone can have an actual hatred for another team. Really? Some don’t care what happens as long as the 49ers lose? What kind of mentality is that? Sad, very sad.

  29. tealskin says:

    Fandom can be a strange thing. We’re all just exercising our demons here.

  30. montanamike2 says:

    For those of us who have been taunted for years by 49’r fans, i don’t hate them but i don’t wish them well either. They have mucho talent but the arrogance and a dick coach doesn’t help their cause either.
    Many teams all over the country have fans who despise the whiners.
    On a seperate note i’ll be glad to clinch the division but would also like to keep the momentum going, we’ll be on the road but having Sherman and Browner should help. This team has a history of letdowns after a bye.

  31. montanamike2 says:

    Last week i pushed for the idea of Wilson for ROY, it probably won’t happen especially since the media is still infatuated with RG3 in a knee brace over the guy who scored 150 points in 3 games or will surpass PM’s rookie TD record. I’m ok if he doesn’t win now that the media has taken notice of him, i just want the same call for him if he gets clocked in the head as Brady or Rogers gets. Scrubs don’t get calls in their favor whereas franchise qb’s do.

  32. One thing about Mr. Happy USC teams is that there were a handful of years where I thought he had his team playing the best at the end of the season (but just missed out playing for it all).

  33. Wilson hasn’t exactly walked onto the football field all by himself and single handedly scored 150 points in 3 weeks. The D/ST has scored 4 TDs and there have been 10 other players on the field with him on offense. Even some Pro Bowlers like Okung and Lynch. I heard they are pretty good. It’s a team game and Wilson is a big part of it. Of the rookie QBs I think it obvious he’s playing on the best team, which helps. Would we trade rosters, minus QB, with Washington? No. At the same time, this TEAM wouldn’t have scored as many as 150 points in 3 weeks if it didn’t have Wilson either. He’s been impressive. The team has, just like the end of the year version of some of Mr. Happy’s USC teams that was playing the best at the end of the season but wasn’t able to play for the BCS Championship a few of those years.

  34. GeorgiaHawk says:

    Sweezy has done a remarkable job. He is the icing on the cake that helps put this rookie class over the top, imo.

  35. “Scrubs don’t get calls in their favor whereas franchise qb’s do.”
    So true!

    We have another character building opportunity today. The old Seahawks might not be up enough to handle a solid division opponent who really wants to finish with a winning season. I think we will rise to the occasion.

  36. bbnate420 says:

    I thought Luck has singlehandedly won 8 games this year? ;-)

    P.S. JJ, don’t blow a stitch.

  37. Dukeshire says:

    Sweet teaser, Dave… lol

  38. letsworkitout says:

    Taunted for years? Take a look at the last 10 years…..Niners have only 2 winning seasons (last year and this year) keeping the cellar warm. Seahawks have won how many division titles in the last 10 years? Didn’t they go to the Superbowl? The Hawks have been superior to the Niners for years until last year.

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