Tag: James Laurinaitas

Wouldn’t it be Funny…

Silly me for thinking I was the mad genius. The elephant in the the Washington Redskins’ room has been the appearance that Robert Griffin III will simply never develop into a quarterback that can justify the king’s ransom in draft picks they sent to the St. Louis Rams a couple of years ago to get him. It just seems that nobody wanted to say the obvious. “It probably ain’t working…”

Then along comes ESPN’s John Keim, who would know better than most, with this article.

Immediately, I cackle to myself. Wouldn’t it be great if the Rams traded for him? As a Rams fan, I don’t actually want this to happen. But as someone who adores satire and unintentional comedy, it would be classic, wouldn’t it? I’m a genius! Let me brag to everyone…

Of course, nobody informed me that Grantland’s Bill Barnwell had already published this beauty. It’s a fun read, but probably should have been confined to the top five, rather than top ten, as a few of the teams listed are wholly unreastic.

So spoiler alert, the Rams are Barnwell’s most likely destination for RGIII to end up. It makes sense because Sam Bradford and his obscene price tag won’t be back after nearly two full seasons lost to injury. Shaun Hill is an adequate back up, but nobody’s idea of a starting quarterback for a team with playoff aspirations in 2015. And Austin Davis, the early season darling of Rams fans, proved he has the competitive spirit to be a leader but the physical tools best suited to be the guy with the clipboard.

In addition, it’s unlikely the Rams will be able to draft their next starting quarterback. Despite a general dearth of competence at nearly every level of leadership, there’s enough talent on the roster to keep them from having a record bad enough that nets a top draft pick. Immediately, that removes them from the running for guys like Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston.

There won’t be a lot in the free agent pool as far as quarterbacks go, so a trade is the most likely scenario, leaving Griffin and probably Jay Cutler as the only feasible targets. Cutler is a turnover machine and is owed a Brinks truck in gold boullion in salary so he’s out. That leaves Griffin. Essentially, that would mean the Rams got something like Greg Robinson, Alec Ogletree, Michael Brockers, and Janoris Jenkins for whatever conditional mid-round pick it would cost them to bring Griffin to St. Louis. (or Los Angeles, for that matter)

As entertaining as the notion is, here’s why it would end badly. First, all indicators so far in Griffin’s admittedly brief career are that he would need to be in an offense tailored to his skillset. He’s a gifted athlete with a cannon for an arm, but it’s pretty clear at this point he will never be the Michael Vick/Peyton Manning hybrid some envisioned him to be. Still, in the right system, he can thrive. Well, Brian Schottenheimer is one of the most brutally awful offensive coordinators in this history of offensive coordinator being an actual gig. Without any shadow of a doubt, you could reassign Schottenheimer to a position he’s qualified for, say…cotton candy vendor, and have whomever is in at quarterback make every play call at the line, and the offense would improve exponentially.

For perspective, there was a three game span in 2013 where the Rams actually started to get the ball to their most dynamic playmaker by far, Tavon Austin, and resembled a good NFL offense, even with Kellen Clemens at quarterback. Then, it appeared, Schottenheimer panicked because something his offense was doing worked, and immediately abandoned all future plans to get Austin the ball. It is now 13 weeks into the 2014 season, and Austin remains on the distant periphery of the Rams’ offensive game plan.

Secondly, for all of their flaws, the Rams are stocked with clubhouse leadership. Veterans like James Laurinaitas, Robert Quinn, Chris Long and others don’t tolerate any “me first” nonsense, and Griffin with his perpetual soap opera would in all likelihood be ostracized in short order.

But still…it would be hilarious, wouldn’t it?


Homer Corner: Make Michael Sam a Ram

I think it says something positive about society that one day after SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Michael Sam comes out as gay, the media has already moved on to way more important things…such as still debating and theorizing on why Shaun White opted not to compete in slopestyle. Now they can talk about not winning the Gold he was expected to, though regardless of what anyone says, a fourth place finish in the Olympics is hardly terrible.

That’s right, a nearly week old story about an Olympic athlete making a thought-out decision to not compete in a particular event is still commanding more headlines over the NFL soon having its first active openly gay player. 

Barring a terrible combine or suddenly going all Aaron Hernandez on an acquaintance, Sam will be drafted. He’s an excellent player as evidenced by his accomplishments this year. Some draft analysts have him going as high as the second round. Most have him in the third. All of them have him going somewhere. 

So where is that somewhere going to be? Let me be the first to say, let’s bring him to the Rams. Why? It’s the perfect environment for him. Look, one peek at Sam’s childhood/upbringing will lead you to the quick conclusion that coming out was hardly the toughest thing he’s dealt with. The kid has had three siblings die, and two more are incarcerated. He has a thick skin and will be able to deal with adversity. 

Still, you know there are going to be times when some player or fan in a spectacular moment of ignorance and bigotry will drop a slur or worse yet, wax poetic on some obtuse philosophy about football being no place for a man like Sam. Thick skin or not, when adversity rears its head, it’s nice to be where you are comfortable, feel supported and can bank on the right people having your back. 

So why the Rams? After all, if this were an episode of Family Feud, and Steve Harvey said, “Top five answers on the board, name a state associated with social tolerance,” think Missouri would crack the list? However, that’s where Sam went to college. And he came out to his team before the season started, and they all had his back. Nobody sold him out on Twitter. Nobody leaked a story anonymously to the press. They knew for months. We found out yesterday. Pretty freaking cool, huh? 

Second, there’s coach Jeff Fisher. I’ve long thought that his reputation as a coach is inflated. I still think he lacks the ability to make the in game adjustments to steal the extra win or three over the course of a season that the top coaches always seem to somehow manage. And I’m still convinced his eye for talent has cataracts. After all, this is the guy who thought Jim Walton, who presided over a breath-takingly bad secondary in Detroit, had the chops to handle a defensive coordinator position. But as a human being, Fisher seems the type to have his priorities firmly in line, and any intolerance will, for lack of a better way to put it, simply not be tolerated. 

Third, that defense is already populated with classy leaders; Chris Long, William Hayes, James Laurinaitas. Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn are growing into those roles too. (It’s worth mentioning Cortland Finnegan too. His atrocious play might spell release, rendering him a non-point, but nobody has ever questioned him as a leader to young teammates.) If these guys can provide an environment where young players deemed prone to getting in trouble, such as Alec Ogletree and Janoris Jenkins, can stay for the most part in line, providing a positive work environment for a teammate whose “difference” from everyone else is something as insignificant as sexual orientation should be a breeze. 

Ultimately, Sam’s success or failure as a professional football player will probably have nothing to do with his orientation, and everything to do with whether he can physically and mentally compete at the next level, just like it does for everyone else trying to make the jump from college to the pros. Personally, I’d like to see him succeed and I think St. Louis is great place for him to start that journey.