On Monday night the Giants face off against a team they don’t play often, but one that has many familiar names. Head Coach, and former Giants Defensive Coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo started the re-building process in 2009, and it has been on a fast track ever since. Building both through the draft and free agency his team is starting to grow into an NFL success story. Let’s take a look at some of their players.
Offense: Coach “Spags” was fortunate enough to inherit a top ranked running back in Stephen Jackson. Jackson, as many of you know, is a true stud at running back. He recently became the only player in team history to rush for 1,000 yards in 5 consecutive seasons. He is banged up this week, and is backed up on the depth chart by the newly acquired Cadillac Williams. At Quarterback the Rams have Sam Bradford, the number one overall pick in the 2010 draft. Bradford stepped right into the role of starting QB and impressed many in his first year in the NFL. He is still a work in progress, but it is clear he has all the tools to be a very good if not great NFL QB. The Offensive line is young on the outside. They have a rookie Left Tackle in Rodger Saffold, and a second year right tackle in Jason Smith, Smith might be held out this week with an injury. The interior of their line was all acquired through free agency and has an average of 7 years experience anchored by Right Guard Harvey Dahl. Where the Rams fall short on offense is in their receiving corps. What was once the strength of the Rams of the 1990′s has now fallen on hard times. Danny Amendola is out with a dis-located elbow and that leaves Mike Sims-Walker and Greg Salas as the starters along with Tight End Billy Bajema. Sims-Walker was signed this year after some average years in Jacksonville. He had one catch last week for 5 yards. The offense is obviously based off the running game, but with Jackson listed as doubtful, it could be a long night for the Rams offense.
The Defense: This obviously is “Spags”s specialty and is littered with familiar names, high draft picks, and former Giants. Up front they have Chris Long, a first round draft pick, Fred Robbins, a former Giant, Justin Bannan, and James Hall each with 10 years NFL experience. Behind them is a fabulous group of Linebackers that would make any New York fan jealous. Second year linebacker out of Ohio State, James Laurinaitis is in the middle of two free agents Brady Poppinga formerly of Green Bay, and Ben Leber, formally of the Minnesota Vikings. Once again however, the fall off to the secondary is noticeable. With injuries to this unit they are left with a very young group at corner, and some castoffs at Safety. Justin King and Bradley Fletcher are the young corners with a combined total of 5 years experience, and Craig Dahl and Quintin Mikell are the starting safeties backed up by former Giant James Butler.
The transformation of the St. Louis Rams is well underway and “Spags” is building a team and an organization at the same time. He needed to change the culture in St. Louis and begin a new era. He certainly seems like the right person for the job. After finishing at 7-9 last year and having a chance to make the playoffs in the weak NFC West Division, The Rams will continue to build through free agency and the draft. They have a franchise Qb, and what seems like a good mix of veterans and young players. With no one player having more than 10 years experience, they are set up for good things in the future.