Transcript of Rams chat with Jim Thomas

2010-11-09T15:45:00Z 2010-11-09T23:05:51Z Transcript of Rams chat with Jim ThomasJIM THOMAS stltoday.com
November 09, 2010 3:45 pm  • 
Here's a transcript of the questions and answers from Tuesday's live chat with Post-Dispatch football writer Jim Thomas:

HomeRunHomer: With Jason Smith susceptibility to concussions has he or the team looked into wearing a special helmet designed to reduce his risk of concussions? I remember back in the 90’s Mark Kelso of the Bills wore a big bulbous helmet that looked like he got it from the Great Gazoo that extended his career. I assume that the technology has improved over the last 20 years and it wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb. However, I would hate to see Jason’s career shorten and his quality of life reduced if this can be prevented with a change in equipment.

Jim Thomas: Not sure. I'll try to check into it.

MSS99: 1) Is it too early to call Gilyard and Onobun draft misses? How disappointed are the Rams with Gilyard that he hasn't been able to be productive (I know injuries have played a part though)

2) If the Rams do reasonably well the second part of the season, is there a chance they might trade some of their late round picks next draft to move up to get as many high-grade receivers they can? Or is this team still at a point it needs all the draft picks it can get?

Jim Thomas: 1.) W-A-Y too early. For one, I don't think anyone was expecting Onobun to play much thise season anyway. He was just too raw given that he'd played only one year of college football. As for Gilyard, he's been a disappointment so far, but I don't think you can call a guy a draft "miss" eight games into his rookie season.

2.) I'm not sure what you'd get for late picks. I think at this point, the Rams still need all the picks they can get.

rays06: while i think it was a good move not to go after moss, any chance of doing it in the off season or maybe T.O.?

Jim Thomas: Doubt it. And part of the reason is that those players _ at the current stage in their careers _ want to play for a perceived Super Bowl contender. The Rams still have a lot of victories to get if they want to be included in that category.

Andrew from Toronto: Thanks for taking our questions, each week. I enjoy hearing from fellow Ram fans across North America. It sure exciting times at Rams Nation, isn't it? My question is do know of the rams looking at bringing in any wide receivers this week? Are there any worth looking at and signing to shore up that position?

Jim Thomas: At this point, there's really not a whole left out there at wide receiver. Usually by this time of year, the Tuesday visits/workouts wind down because you've basically evaluated everyone who can walk and chew gum at the same time at this point. I'm not aware of any visits today.

Tackleberry: Is there any scenario where we don't see a major upgrade at WR this off-season? Devaney has a history of ignoring the obvious needs (back-up running back). Plus, I could see the team re-packaging Avery, Clayton, and Alexander and saying "imagine what it will be like now that they are all healthy!"

Jim Thomas: I think there's a train of thought that in a true West Coast offense where you spread the ball around, you really don't need a standout receiver. But boy, does an offense look better when it has one. A prime example is Philadelphia, which for many of the past several years kept looking and looking for upgrades at receiver until they finally came up with a couple of studs in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. As for saying about Avery, Clayton and Alexander "imagine what it will be like now that they are all healthy" -- what guarantee do we have that they will all be healthy given their injury histories, particularly in the case of Avery and Alexander? Plus, Clayton is a free agent after this season, so there's no guarantee he will be back.

Up North Ram Fan: Two questions first I am really trying to figure out the 53/45 man roster thing. Why pay 53 men to play football and only be able to dress 45 on game day, what is the purpose behind this? Second who is going to play wide receiver in Sunday’s game if some more go down do one of the TE/RB move out or just allot two tight end sets.

Jim Thomas: The purpose of the 53 to 45 rule is to level the playing field in case of injuries. And I guess in theory, it puts less pressure on teams to try to persuade injured players to get on the field. My problem is that eight inactive players (or seven and a 3rd qb if you're a team that has 3 QBs) is just too big a number. How about pushing up the game-day roster to 48, adding three more active players. Why not see how that works? It does seem pretty stupid to play players not to play.

As for your second question, it looks like that's a risk the Rams are willing to take for at least the next couple of weeks. The Rams use very few four WR sets anyway, but it is skating on thin ice.

Jim from Pittsburgh: What will it take, aside from winning of course, for the Rams to generate the buzz to make them worthy enough to be on Sunday Night or Monday Night Football? St. Louis has a young, exciting franchise QB, a superstar RB that should be a household name, and a defense that is really coming into its own.

As a Rams fan living in the heart of Steelers country, very rarely do I get to see my favorite team in action. I know the schedules are probably developed way in advance, but we've seen some definite stinkers on Sunday and Monday Night Football this season.

Jim Thomas: The Rams haven't been on prime time since a Thursday night NFL Network game Dec. 20, 2007 against Pittsburgh. When you've lost 6 out of your last 48 games, nobody wants to watch you outside of your local market (and that week's opponent market). But I agree that things are changing. The Rams still don't have a bunch of marquee players, but Bradford, Jackson and the defense should be calling cards. I think if the team finishes out the season decently -- maybe 7-9 or better -- they should be in consideration for a prime time game.

jff78780: This has been a great year so far so i don't want to be pessimistic, but is it safe to say that Jason Smith is a bust? I think that Rodger Saffold has been incredible at LT. what is his ceiling? Can he be a great one in the future?

Jim Thomas: Why is Jason Smith a bust? He missed one game this season because of a concussion. Looks like he'll be back in action this week. He's had some rough spots, but I think he's played decently. As for Saffold, I wouldn't say incredible, but he's been pretty good -- again he's had some rough spots as well. I don't know about great, but Saffold certainly has the athleticism and seems to have the temperament to be very good.

Peter: can you talk about the injury situation. is justin king and jason smith playing this week? what other players are coming back?

Jim Thomas: We'll get a better idea on Wednesday. Monday's practice was only about 1 hour 15 minutes. It looks like Danario Alexander and Fendi Onobun will be out for sure. Donnie Jones is still trying to rest that calf injury. It looks like the secondary's in pretty good shape -- James Butler, Darian Stewart, and Justin King all took part in Monday's abbreviated practice. But not Bartell. Again, we'll see what Wednesday looks like.

kymizzou1:  In light of the Rams improved play and division leading status I am curious to know if ticket sales for the remaining three home games is improving? Do the Rams expect any games to be complete sellouts without sponsor support? My guess is the Chiefs game will sellout. The atmosphere has greatly improved this year at the dome, would love to see all the seats filled for the remaining three home games.

Jim Thomas: At last check, and it's been a couple of weeks, the San Francisco game (Dec. 26) still had tons of tickets left; the Kansas City game (Dec. 19) had the fewest. (We may see quite a few Chiefs fans in the stands for that one.) And the Atlanta game, Nov. 21, was somewhere in between. According to exec. VP Kevin Demoff, the team's improved play has led to some increased coporate sales, but hasn't really led to any improvement in individual ticket sales.

John Leara: Jim, I've been living in Arizona the past six years but am still a Ram's fan. Howie Long voiced his opinion against an eighteen game schedule because of the injuries and surgeries the players suffer. Do you have a pulse on how some of the players feel? Some of their bruises are pretty ugly but they just keep playing. Thank you, John Leara

Jim Thomas: I don't think there's a player in the locker room who's in favor of an 18-game schedule. (At least I haven't had one player express to me that he likes the idea of 18 regular-season games. And I've asked several.)

Insurgent: With the failure to place a claim for Randy Moss, are the RAMS sending a message that team chemistry and harmony are more important than potentially winning?

Jim Thomas: For one, Spags has spent a year and a half to build up some chemistry here. Now that the team appears to be finally on the right path why threaten that with a "me-first" player known to quit on plays and quit in games when things aren't going this way? The other thing, maybe Moss didn't want to be here, preferring to play with more of a contending team.
And lastly, if Moss was such a no-brainer/can't miss claim why did 31 OTHER TEAMS pass on him?

andyhubbard1991: The Rams have been night and day better than they were for the last three years. In your opionion, why are they playing Better?

Jim Thomas: The Cliff Notes version: The two biggest areas in terms of personnel are 1.) the quarterback; and 2.) the defense. I think the coaching has been better as well.

bbach: We hear so very little about the new owner since he took over. Is he involved at all in personnel discussions?

Jim Thomas: Stan Kroenke has been to most of the home games. He was at Rams Park on a Monday one week for a series of meetings. In terms of routine day to day personnel decisions, I'm pretty sure he's not involved. That's why you have a general manager.

jmcm1997: What's your take on Laurent Robinson? Last year he was having a very promising year until his injury. This year he doesn't seem to have found his groove. Is it nagging injuries or is this what we can expect from him week in and week out? Thanks.

Jim Thomas: He saw a lot of time against Carolina and should see a lot of time vs. San Francisco as well. The Rams really don't have any other options at this point. He still doesn't look like he's moving as well to me as he did early in the '09 season before his '09 injury. This could be a make-or-break stretch for him.

rams26: It's been a long time since we have controlled our own destiny in the NFC West. Do you think that Spags will deliver that message to the Team, or just say take one game at a time approach? I think it's an important point!

Lastly, I can't remember such an important game for the Rams!!!!!

Jim Thomas: I think Spags doesn't mind the team being aware of the big picture. After all, their goal has always been to win the West. But I don't think he wants them to dwell too much on that. He wants them to focus on the task at hand, which is San Francisco. One practice, one day, one week at a time. That's the Spags way, and it's really not much different than most football coaches. After all, it's impossible to get to, say, nine victories until you get to five victories first.
This is the team's most important game since at least the '06 season, maybe even earlier than that. Fitting isn't it, that it's against the Rams' old West Coast rivals, the 49ers.

Bopat from Socal: Jim,
We know the Dallas Cowboys and Minnesota Vikings are overrated. And the Seattle Seahawks aren't very good. So why do the networks keep shoving the "nationally televised game" down our throats featuring these teams while the Rams are beginning to make some noise and aren't even considered? I would think by now the rest of the country would like to see Sam Bradford. Or is it because the Rams are still considered "losers" to TV networks? Thanks for your time.

Jim Thomas: Well, except for the "flex" scheduling which begins next week, the schedule is what it is. Even on the highlight shows, the networks seem to be obsessed with Favre/Minnesota/Dallas/McNabb....A couple of weeks ago, if you weren't in St. Louis you never would've known that one of the great WRs of all time, Isaac Bruce, had his jersey retired. Then again, he's not a "me-first" head case is he? I thought it was amusing during Monday night's Pittsburgh-Cincy game when the announcers talked about how happy Terrell Owens is in Cincy. Well why wouldn't he be? He has been targeted about 10-12 times a game. It's when things aren't going T.O.'s way that he becomes a problem. And did you notices the Ochocinco tantrum during the game? For all the numbers T.O. has put up, how many games have the Bengals won this year? (2-6) Last year, minus T.O., the Bengals were 6-2 after eight games.

mars: JT, we all know the Rams are thin at WR. Another injury and they will have to go raid a PS or bring back guys like Burton or Kent. I would prefer raiding the Bears PS and bringing in Juaquin Iglesias. I know Bernie has mentioned him as well in his blog. Of course Juaqin is not going to be another Ike Bruce. If he can't crack the Bears active roster, that is alarming. But........his familiarity with Bradford and the cohesion they share from their time in college would be attractive, don't you think? Have you specifically asked the Rams about Iglesias? Just wondering if there had been any talk considering he and Bradford were successful in college.

Jim Thomas: I'm not aware of any interest in Iglesias.

4thandJuan: I see that Mark Setterstrom is on the PUP list. I believe this is about the time that teams can re-activate players from the PUP list. So, could we expect Mark to play this year? On another OL question, who backs up Saffold at LT? Does Jason Smith move over, or someone else takes that slot?

Jim Thomas: Setterstom won't be back this year.
Foster, Goldberg and Smith are all possibilities at LT behind Saffold.

nocococo: I am looking for the Rams to play smashmouth football the rest of the season, 2 TEs and a whole lot of SJ39, throw in some play action passes. What do you expect the offense to do in the 2nd half? I imagine a lot of it revolves around if Denario gets back on the field healthy.

Jim Thomas: I think it'll be pretty much what we've seen since Clayton was injured. This team has to scrap for every point. The Rams' main formation this year has actually been three wide receiver sets -- and again, I don't think that changes much. Obviously, a healthy and productive Danario could change the dynamic at least somewhat.

steve: hi jim. i have 100% confidence in coach spagnuolo in his ability to motivate and lead a group of winners, which seems to be the type of player he has brought in and/or kept. which is why it pains me to see former rams...hargrove, hedgecock, kennedy, lewis, leonard, chillar...do well for other teams. these players were here during linehan's tenure. if only spags had a chance to reach, teach, and motivate these guys into winners while they were here. who knows what the rams might be capable of. presently, only incognito comes to mind as an 'unreachable' player under spags. any additions/deletions to this list?

Jim Thomas: Well, Kennedy, Hargrove, and Leonard are all roll players. I don't think Lewis is in the league right now. Hedgecock and Chillar would've fit in with a lot of coaches.

Ron: How many wins do you think it is going to take to win the west?

Jim Thomas: Nine, maybe eight.

Vance: Is it TOO early to bring DX back...He was at practice 11 days from the surgery. I am no doctor, but is it worth the risk.

Jim Thomas: I think he's still a couple weeks away.

LucyintheSky: Any interest in Al Harris?

Jim Thomas: Don't think so.

mars: JT, halfway through the season do you assess the Rams needs in the offseason any differently than you did before the season started? In no particular order, I still feel the Rams need these SIX pieces: big, strong DT that is stout against the run, a pure pass rushing DE, an OLB to pair with JL55, a big strong #1 WR that can stretch the field, a playmaking #1a Tailback with speed and elusiveness, an Offensive Guard. Obviously safety, another big Corner, another OT are always of interest in terms of depth. But do you agree with the "big six" in terms of top needs going into 2011?

Jim Thomas: Hard to disagree with your six.

Encino: It seems to me that this is a make-or-break game for the 49ers but not for the Rams. Is this a fair assessment?

Jim Thomas: I do think a loss hurts the 49ers more than it does the Rams. But if the Rams are serious about winning the West, they're going to have to pick up two, three road wins somewhere along the way.

midnighter67: I'm curious as to how the impending lockout will affect next years draft. Would there even be a draft? If there is a draft but the season is cancelled because of the lack of an agreement, would those players be eligible to re-enter the next year's draft or would they become free agents for sitting out a year? Is there a possiblity that next year's graduating seniors could be in a '12 draft with 2012's draft eligible players? If so, would the NFL extend the number of rounds for the '12 draft? I could go on and on. I guess the most important question is, will the two sides reach an agreement before next spring?

Jim Thomas: Impossible to say right now.

HWPR: Seeing teams like the Cowboys "quit" on a coach - if that's what happened - what is it that you see about Spag's that motivates his players to "want" to splay for him? Or do you get the sense that players could care less and it's just about the x's and o's?

Jim Thomas: Spags comes across as a sincere, driven, genuine person. Not that he's a softie, because he's not, but he tries to connect with the players on an individual basis as well. He doesn't mope after a tough loss. All of these are qualities that I think the players buy in to, but sooner or later there must be progress in order for the players to ocntinue buying in. And right now, we're seeing progress.

kevin: After looking at some of the young QB's in the NFL I started to wonder....(and yes i know there is a lot of projection still left)....BUt who do you think will be the best QB in the future out of Bradford, Stafford and freeman

Jim Thomas: Stafford continues to have injury problems, and I'm sure that's a concern for Detroit. I don't think Freeman has all of the passing skills that Bradford possesses. But Freeman has had a knack for fourth-quarter comebacks, something Bradford has yet to display.

DK03: I know there is alot of season left, but do you see Spags as a possible Coach of the Year candidate? Let's say the Rams hang on and win the NFC West, I would think he would have to be at the top of the list. Your thoughts?

Jim Thomas: Sure. Right now, Raheem Morris, Todd Haley, and even the "Cable Guy" would have to be candidates as well. Not to mention Mike Smith in Atlanta.

Reggie Abreu: Is Chris Chamberlain back from his injury yet?

Jim Thomas: Yes, he has been back _ mainly on special teams _ for the past two games.

Reggie Abreu: Whats your impression of CB Jerome Murphy so far?

Jim Thomas: Rough around the edges. Good size. Aggressive. Has shown he can be a good tackler but has also taken some bad angles and missed some tackles. Pretty good ball instincts.

kevin: Looking at how good both bradford and Suh have been this season, do you think the rams made the right decision, or would they look better with Suh and Colt McCoy (he has been darn impressive vs tough teams this seaosn, but still a lot to see)

Jim Thomas: Bradford and Saffold look like two pretty good draft picks to me.

safer: Hi Jim, Why are we not taking a look at Fendi as a #1? It looks like Mike H0-Ho will be our starting t/e because of his blocking skills, so why not at least try Fendi even if he can only run a streak, slant, curl and an out? It's not like Calvin Johnson runs the world's best routes--he is just such a beast when the ball gets there--just like Fendi could be. IF we aren't playing Fendi much now (when his hip is better), then I just do not see why he isn't a better option than Burton, or whoever at this point. THANKS! Rich

Jim Thomas: Onobun played one (1) year in college. As talented as he is, he is very rough around the edges. I just don't think he's ready. And right now, he's hurt.

soly: Are there any plans for the Rams to change the uniforms? There's been a lot of talk about the throwback choices, but what about a whole new look? Any impetus on that front?

Jim Thomas: Haven't heard anything on this.

midnighter67: I watched Randy McMichael make two outstanding touchdown catches against Houston this weekend. Where were those hands when he was in St. Louis? Speaking of tight ends, can the Rams now be considered loaded at the position given the play of Bajema, Fells, and Hoomanawanui? I wonder if Onubun will be able to get on the roster next year much less get on the field.

Jim Thomas: Until last week, McMichael hadn't done much in San Diego. I don't know about loaded, but right now TE doesn't look like a position of need.

joe: If another team claims a player off of the RAMS practice squad, would the Rams have the right to keep this player by moving him to the 53 man roster?

Jim Thomas: In theory yes. The Rams could offer him a spot on their 53-man roster before he signs with the other club. But then it would be the player's choice.

j_thrasher: Will Jason Smith play this week? And, any definitive explanation regarding Clifton Ryan's headaches?

Jim Thomas: Looks like Smith will play. But we'll know more Wednesday. As for Ryan, I think even he is still searching for answers.

northernram: Obviously it would be great if the Rams won the NFC west but i'm thinking fans are getting a little ahead of themselves with the 10-6, 11-5 talk. This team won 6 games in 3 the last years combined!! I would be extremely happy with anywhere from 6-8 wins and another offseason to add some free agents and some more solid draft picks. It's funny how everyone reacts to a Rams loss now - like they were supposed to go 12-4 or something. We're 4-4 at the halfway point with a rookie qb who gets better every week - not bad I'd say. Thoughts??

Jim Thomas: No doubt the expectations have been raised. More importantly, I think this team now believes in itself, at least more so than it did in years. Before we start dreaming of playoffs, let's see if this team can win one (1) road game.

Ross in Omaha: If I recall correctly, the Rams passed on Mike Williams when they picked Mardy Gilyard. Williams went to Tampa Bay and is tearing it up. Is this a true miss by Devaney or is it too early to tell?

Jim Thomas: Too early to tell. Gilyard was taken No. 99 overall, or two spots ahead of Williams.

proehlscatch: Jim, will the talk of Rams leaving ever end? There's always this black cloud hanging over the organization.

Jim Thomas: Not until the lease situation gets resolved.

bob: Jim-any news on denario alexander will he be back soon?

Jim Thomas: Still a couple weeks away -- at least.

Tackleberry: Jim,

The Rams have a tough 3-game road stretch in the 2nd half of the season; based on where these teams are today is 2-1 a realistic goal?

Jim Thomas: Given the fact that the Rams haven't won a road game in more than a calendar year, I'd say no.

Grey: Do you think the offense will look to get the ball down field by utilizing our pretty quick TEs? (IL Mike and Fells)

Jim Thomas: Well, it would be nice to see the TEs utilized more. And maybe that will happen now that Hoomanawanui and Bajema are back and have had a few games to get back in the groove.

Fun Bobby: I know its early but dont you think the Rams will draft Julio Jones next year. Big WR, Big Play Ability, and Blocks extremely well.

Weird question for you, which Jersey should I get? Laurenitis or Bradford? And do you think the Rams can actually pull off the division title? I mean, even if they just win the 4 division games left, 8-8 gets it?

Jim Thomas: Not ready to answer questions about the draft...I'd get an Isaac Bruce jersey....All things possible on division title front, but even winning just the four division wins means the Rams must win three games on the road.

Scotty_Ba: Anyway to get the word out to keep the Chiefs fans out? I really hope Rams fan show up for that game and it remains a Rams home game.

Jim Thomas: I don't think there's any way to keep them from buying tickets. And many of them, I'm sure, already have been purchased.

AzRamsFan: Is there any reason why Sam doesn't run the ball more often? It seems there are times when he has an opening but chooses to throw off. I think he would pose another threat if he held the ball and ran more often.

Jim Thomas: Don't think Sam's thing is really to run the football. He uses his athleticism more to buy time as a passer. And the more a qb runs, the more he's susceptible to injury....That's it for today, talk to you all next Tuesday.

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