The St. Louis Rams had several challenges in front of them when heading into the season. A new head coach and general manager had to begin building a strong working relationship for the future, blow up a aging roster, add several new faces and begin building team chemistry. All indications are the Jeff Fisher and Les Snead’s relationship is like a Rolex watch, a masterpiece that is built for the long haul with unparalleled performance.
While the team is beginning to build and the locker room is forming a natural togetherness, the completion of team chemistry is a process that is ongoing and will be captured somewhere throughout the 2012 journey. The new Rams will need to experience winning early and the tough love of losing a close game in order to develop the team chemistry needed to make a big push within the NFC West.
When analyzing Rams preseason game tapes and practices to project the 53 players that I feel should make the final roster, it was very clear that there is still a lot of work yet to be done. Hot spots have to be filled and depth needs to be built on the backend of the roster for immediate success in 2012.
The Rams, like all NFL teams, have several options when forming their 53 man roster. It often comes down to a numbers game. Will Fisher keep four tight ends and one fullback, or go with two fullbacks and three tight ends? Do they keep Greg Salas as the sixth receiver until Austin Pettis comes off Reserve/Suspension? On defense, are they happy with the fourth safety? Are they still looking for depth at linebacker and the defensive end positions? Will Les Snead work the trade phones before the cut down deadline?
To help answer these questions, I have developed a system to determine what players to keep, and what players may fall victim of the numbers game. The color explanation is listed below;
BLUE: Blue players are playmakers and difference- makers in every game. Playoff teams need at least 10 or more on the roster.
RED: Starters/contributor’s on special teams, can win with right away. They have Blue traits with ascending skill set.
ORANGE: Backup/core special teams’ players with limited production. They struggle to match up with high red players at this time, but have the skill set to develop and ascend to a red player.
GREEN: A high percentage of free- agent greenies get hurt and lack the skill set to ascend to an Orange player.
When looking at the Analysis Worksheet, there is a (+) category players that fall in this area are those that are heavily being considered on the 53 roster, but could fall into the bubble area as well. Those in the “bubble” category have less than a 50/50 chance to make the roster. It all depends on special teams contribution, injury history and upside.
While the last preseason games ended Thursday night, for the personnel departments the last 24 hours have been sleepless as they prepare for the mass amount of players that will be released on Friday. The focus remains on building the rosters depth and signing players to the eight man practice squad.