Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rams 2014 schedule

The Rams' 2014 schedule is out, featuring two home primetime games, a really early bye, an eight-week death march, and THE LAST GAME IN FREAKING SEATTLE AGAIN FOR THE THIRD STRAIGHT YEAR AND THE FOURTH TIME IN FIVE YEARS. GRRR.

Week 1, September 7th, home, noon

Hey, didn't I guess Minnesota (or Oakland) for opening week? It will behoove the Rams to get off to a much better start against the run than they did last year. Adrian Peterson rolled them for 212 yards his last time here.



Week 2, September 14th, away, 3:05

The Rams got about as favorable a start to the schedule as they could hope for. The first three weeks, two home games, no playoff teams from last year.




Week 3, September 21st, home, noon

Again, it would very much behoove the Rams to defend the run early in the season far better than last year. They cannot allow Demarco Murray to run them out of their own building. He has 425 yards against them in two career meetings.



Week 4 - BYE              Don't know the last time this happened, but the Rams got stuck with the first bye week of the season. Seahawks and Big Dead did, too, which is no way to treat the league's most physical division.


Week 5, October 5th, away, noon

And the death march begins, the first of eight straight games against playoff teams from 2013. The Rams could be very glad to have that bye week to prepare.



Week 6, October 13th, home, 7:30 (Monday night)

Monday night against the 49ers can't go much worse than Thursday night against the 49ers, can it?




Week 7, October 19, home, noon

Thanks, Goodell. The two best teams in the conference and two of the most physical games on the schedule back-to-back. At least there's the slight benefit that the Rams get the first two division games at home.



Week 8, October 26, away, noon

I think I might have mentioned before that the Rams haven't beaten the Chiefs in the regular season since NINETEEN NINETY FREAKING FOUR. Suitable that they're batting cleanup in this Murderer's Row section of the schedule.



Week 9, November 2, away, 3:05

Oh, and here's something that will make the death march a walk in the park; crucial division game for the Rams on the road, and THE 49ERS WILL BE COMING OFF THEIR BYE WEEK. F@#k you, Goodell. Only time that happens this year, but it would be nice if the league would at least pretend they're not trying to hand the 49ers one here.


Week 10, November 9, away, 3:25

The Big Dead close a span of four division games in five weeks that will probably decide the Rams' season. Third straight road game, too. Another F.U. from Goodell. And, yes, I just figured out Arizona did not make the playoffs last year. They were 10-6, though, so this isn't any rest stop on the death march.




Week 11, November 16, home, noon

Over-under on Peyton Manning hard-counting the Rams offsides: 12. OMAHA!
 



Week 12, November 23, away, 3:05

Prediction: Rams pull off the road surprise, with Phillip Rivers throwing four INTs because he keeps throwing to the team wearing the Chargers' OLD uniforms.



Week 13, November 30, home, noon

Without knowing how the draft will shake out, this could be St. Louis' best chance to see Johnny Manziel in action. Matt Schaub's a decent bet to have been killed or pick-sixed his way to the bench by now.



Week 14, December 7, away, noon


Rooting here for a Michael Brockers sack, a Janoris Jenkins pick, an Alec Ogletree forced fumble, a Zac Stacy TD and maybe even a Stedman Bailey TD. All drafted by the Rams using or trading picks from the RGIII trade.


Week 15, December 11, home, 7:25 (Thursday night)

RamView hates Thursday night games, and always will. The Rams are at least getting the benefit of getting primetime division games at home. Now they need to capitalize on them far better than they did last year.



Week 16, December 21, home, 3:05

The Rams haven't beaten the Giants since 2001; with ten days between home games, if they don't do it here, it may never happen.




Week 17, December 28, away, 3:25

The league would never have Seattle and San Francisco play each other the last week. It was a certainty the Rams would finish against one or the other. BUT COME ON. Why not Seattle here?
Or even San Francisco there? Can we mix it up a little? Ever?


The schedule looks daunting, don't they all? I'm not a fan of the early bye week or the apparent law that the Rams have to end every season in Seattle now. But, to make the least brave prediction of all time, if the Rams can get back to .500 in the division, I believe they'll be... a playoff team. The NFC West games will be the big question they have to answer in 2014.

-$-

Final preseason schedule

The Rams' preseason schedule has also been finalized:

Week 1 - August 8th vs. Saints, Friday night, 7 pm

Week 2 - August 16th vs. Packers, Saturday afternoon, 3 pm

Week 3 - August 23 @ Cleveland, Saturday night, 7 pm

Week 4 - August 28 @ Miami, Thursday night, 6 pm

Trying to think ahead, that would seem to put the Rams' annual Dome scrimmage on August 2nd, which would seem to make July 26th the first day training camp will be open to the public, with rookies reporting on the 24th.

Football season is coming!

-$-

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Rams' 2014 pre-draft visits

It's that time of year again... all 32 NFL teams are allowed to invite 30 draft prospects (plus an unlimited number of prospects "local" to each team) to their facilities for pre-draft visits, mainly another chance for the staffs to get to know the players better.

Under Jeff Fisher and Les Snead, the Rams' annual guest lists have been very informative of which players' names they're going to call on draft day. For sure, four of the Rams' first six picks were in for pre-draft visits in 2012, and I believe every player they drafted last year had come for a visit. It's also worth noting that last year's invite list was pretty heavy with WRs and LBs, which is where the Rams went with their first two picks.

I'm not positive if Zac Stacy visited last year or not, and therein lies a little problem. Either because they're unable to have their ear to the ground at the right times, or the Rams ask to have some visits kept quiet, local media hasn't reported all of the pre-draft visits here in the Fisher era. We only found out T.J. McDonald and Stedman Bailey had official visits last year after they were drafted. I'll remain vigilant in keeping the list of visiting players up-to-date, but I'll need some quality help, OK?

And, so far, not getting it. Right now I've got only 19 confirmed "top 30" visits, 2 unconfirmed rumors and 3 local visits. C'mon, St. Louis reporters...

Here's who we know has visited Rams Park so far, or is expected to: (updated 4/22)

Maurice Alexander, S, Utah State (local)

Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State

Joel Bitonio, T, Nevada

Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina

Darqueze Dennard, CB, Michigan State

Aaron Donald, DT, Pitt (still only rumored)

Kony Ealy, DE, Missouri (local)

Dominique Easley, DT, Florida State

Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina

Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M

Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech

Garrett Gilbert, QB, SMU (reported by PFT)

Justin Gilbert, CB, Oklahoma State

Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

Reggie Jordan, TE/FB, Missouri Western (local)

Taylor Lewan, T, Michigan

Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo 

Jake Matthews, T, Texas A&M (scheduled to visit, per Jeff Fisher)

Greg Robinson, T, Auburn

Tom Savage, QB, Pittsburgh

Ryan Shazier, OLB, Ohio State

Stephon Tuitt, DT, Notre Dame

Billy Turner, OT, North Dakota State 

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU

Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson


Count by position: (excludes local and rumored visits):
OT - 4
WR - 4
CB - 4
DT - 3
OLB - 2
QB - 2
DE - 1
No RBs, TEs or guards, not a big surprise. But no safeties?


I'll update and bump this list to the top of the blog as updates come in.

-$-

Rams' preseason opponents announced

The Rams will open the 2014 preseason at home against the Saints sometime between August 7th and 11th. (I'll guess the 10th.) They're also at home for the second week of preseason before going on the road for the last two games. The schedule:

August 7-11     New Orleans

August 14-18   Green Bay

August 21-25   @ Cleveland

August 28-29   @ Miami

Closing the preseason with two road games makes me wonder if the Rams get to open the regular season at home. If they are, I'll guess the Vikings or Raiders as the opening week guests. Denver @ Seattle is probably the league Thursday night opener. 49ers should be home the first week to open their new stadium. Arizona opened here last year, doesn't seem fair to make them do it again. And the league will prefer more marquee week 1 matchups for the Cowboys and Giants.

It's been noted there's no Governor's Cup for the second straight preseason, but it'll be on the line when the Rams play in Arrowhead in the regular season. It wasn't held in Kansas City last year because of some conflict with the Royals, so let's charge the Chiefs for a loss for that one.

-$-

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pillars of the Rams community, and not

Dear Rams front office:
These are the kind of things we fans love to hear that Rams players are doing off the field:

* Robert Quinn and Will Witherspoon went to Kenya and I believe Uganda last month with the Starkey Hearing Foundation on a mission to provide hearing aids for the hearing impaired. 

* James Laurinaitis and Jake McQuaide visited child cancer patients at a local hospital.

* Austin Pettis hosted a charity basketball game and football camp for kids in Orange, California, as a benefit for his charitable foundation. Trumaine Johnson, T.J. McDonald and Brian Quick all took part in the festivities.

* Jared Cook will host a golf tournament in May to raise money for military families. Before coming to the Rams, he was the Titans Community Man of the Year.

Here, on the other hand, is the type of off-field activity we're not so thrilled about:
* Within a week of signing with the Rams as a free agent, cornerback Greg Reid was thrown in jail in Georgia for violating the terms of his probation. He was riding in a car that got pulled over for a seatbelt violation, and was arrested because there was a warrant out on him, reportedly for failing to check in with his probation officer. I'd hardly call Reid a thug for allowing this to happen, but it's at best a MAJOR oversight on his part. You're an NFL player, you have to take enough responsibility for yourself not to let this kind of thing happen. This should give the Rams plenty of reason, as if there wasn't enough already, not to put themselves in a position of relying on Reid, but instead, they scrambled as fast as they could at Rams Park to say the arrest wouldn't affect his status with the team. Lovely.

* Lovelier: the signing of disaster-waiting-to-happen WR Kenny Britt to a one-year contract last week. Mr. Britt's vital statistics:

2009: (rookie year) 42 receptions, 701 yards, 3 TDs.

2010: 42 receptions, 775 yards, 9 TDs, arrested twice, in New Jersey and Tennessee, for at least five different moving violations.

2011: 17 receptions, 289 yards, 3 TDs, torn MCL and ACL,  and FOUR arrests. One because he didn't pay a friend's bail as promised. One for causing a police chase in April. That was pled down to careless driving, which he pled guilty to in June. THE NEXT DAY New Jersey narcotics officers arrested him for resisting arrest for allegedly trying to hide a joint from them. In July he turned himself in to Tennessee authorities for lying on his driver's license application.

2012: 45 receptions, 589 yards, 4 TDs, and a DUI arrest in Kentucky, marking the eighth time he'd been arrested since being drafted. Suspended by the league for the first week of the season.

2013: 11 catches, 96 yards, no TDs. Eventually benched by Titans coaches for dropped passes and dumb penalties. Also had an incident in January where he didn't cooperate with police after taking a friend who'd been involved in a stabbing to the hospital.

Wonder if the was the same friend whose bail he was supposed to pay in 2011.

The Rams are so bad at wide receiver that I get why they signed Britt. His first two seasons were very promising. They are in awful need of the big-receiver and deep-ball skills Britt showed those first two seasons. Maybe if you get him away from that one friend, and don't let him drive himself ANYWHERE, maybe Jeff Fisher gives him what appears to be needed tough-love surrogate parenting, maybe Ray Sherman remembers how to coach up big WRs again, maybe you have a big redemption story.

Maybe it's the guys in the first part of this letter that even make it possible to think that hopefully of a career idiot like Kenny Britt. I'd encourage Britt to prove me wrong by staying clean and playing his butt off.

But I'd encourage the Rams to do more to give us players we can root for because of what they do instead of being fed more and more players we're asked to root for despite themselves. At least try. Signing numbskulls like Britt and Reid isn't even trying.

Thanks, and go Rams,
Mike

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rams free agent signing: Shaun Hill

AP / mlive.com
RamView hasn't had the kindest things to say about quarterback Shaun Hill over the years. Namely: he's a "hack"; he throws a football like he's trying to launch a shot put; he telegraphs his throws; his passes have hang time and are challenged to cut through a modest headwind; and he has a noodle arm to make Steve Walsh look like John Elway. But, the Rams had to fill a roster hole at QB2 after losing Kellen Clemens to San Diego, and in signing Hill, they've upgraded at the position.

Hill, 34 years old, 6'3" 220, has a .500 lifetime record, thanks in part to his mesmerizing sway over the Rams. Not only has he never lost to the Rams, in 2008, he led the 49ers to a 35-0 victory over St. Louis, and 2 years later, led the Lions over the Rams in an even more humiliating 44-6 fiasco. Most of Hill's career action has been in that 2008-2010 timeframe; he's only thrown 16 passes the past three seasons (completing 12). His numbers add up, though. His career passer rating (85.9) is better than Sam Bradford's (QB controversy!!). He's completed 61.9% of his career passes (62.8 in 9 games in 2008, 61.8 in 11 games in 2010). The number of Hill's I, and I'm guessing Jeff Fisher, like best is that he has a nearly 2:1 career TD:INT ration (41:23). That's a huge advantage over Clemens, who's been more in the 1:1 range. And though, hell no, Hill doesn't have a big arm, Clemens' arm strength advantage is trumped by Hill's accuracy and ability to avoid INTs. Hill's been an effective game manager and an accurate short passer who'll kill a defense with checkdowns and underneath stuff if you give him time.

The main caveat about Hill is that he's coming off offseason foot surgery for the second straight season and isn't a lock to participate in OTAs. But, unless he'd have difficulty with Brian Schottenheimer's system, which no one anywhere expects, the Rams have landed one of the better backup QBs in the league and still have a QB aboard good enough to keep the offense afloat if (when?) Bradford gets hurt again.

-$-

Rams free agent signing: Alex Carrington

Associated Press
The Rams addressed a depth issue at defensive tackle by signing 26-year-old free agent Alex Carrington (6'5” 301) away from the Buffalo Bills. A third-round pick in 2010 as a defensive end, Carrington was a wash-out in Buffalo until they figured out to kick him inside. He's graded out negatively inside as a run defender, but has been a strong bull-rusher and a consistent pass pressure factor as a DT. Mike Waufle will like that Carrington can play all over the line and provide pocket push off the bench the Rams haven't really been getting at DT. John Fassel will like that Carrington blocked FOUR kicks in 2012.

It's not like Carrington is any kind of sack machine. Pro Football Focus loves his ability to penetrate the pocket to the point they have called him a “secret superstar”, but he has a whole 4 career sacks and was never higher than fourth on the DT depth chart in Buffalo. He also missed almost all of last season due to a torn quadriceps. But he should be comfortable enough in the Rams' system, and the team needed to get better depth behind Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford. He's more athletic and more productive than either Jermelle Cudjo or Matt Conrath. Carrington's pass rush ability gives the Rams someone they can rotate in and have the two stud Dts fresher for the 4th quarter.

Also, you can't have a dynasty without a Carrington. (Ask your parents.)

-$-