St. Louis Rams: Peyton Manning

NFLN survey/Super Bowl QB: Rams

January, 29, 2014
Jan 29
10:00
AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- No quarterback in the NFL has more Super Bowl rings than New England's Tom Brady. Brady has won three and has played on the biggest stage two more times.

Brady
That's why it was no surprise to see Brady named on the most ballots of the 320 NFL players surveyed for the question "Two-minute warning and the Super Bowl is on the line. Whom do you want at quarterback?"

Brady took the title clean with 40 percent of the votes. Denver's Peyton Manning and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers followed behind.

Of the 10 Rams I asked, Brady, Manning and Rodgers were the only names to come up. Each has at least one Super Bowl ring and the consensus around the league is that those three, plus New Orleans' Drew Brees, form the league's elite quartet at the position.

Fourteen quarterbacks received votes but it's probably a safe bet that Rams quarterback Sam Bradford wasn't one given the many other options. Bradford has yet to even appear in a playoff game so entrusting him over the other signal callers would be silly.

Whether or not Bradford ever becomes a quarterback deserving of mention in a poll like this remains to be seen. To this point, that seems pretty far off.
ST. LOUIS -- With the Super Bowl coming up, there will be plenty of time to discuss and re-hash all the many story lines sure to come from the Seattle-Denver matchup.

On Monday, ESPN's Dan Graziano wrote something that I felt was worth leading this space with and is certainly worth your time to read. In the column, Graziano makes the argument that instead of nitpicking every little thing about great players such as Peyton Manning, we should stop and savor his greatness. The same can be said for other great players around the league.

The larger point to the column is that we are often so quick to judge, compare and rank players that we often forget to really enjoy watching legends at work. It's a point I agree wholeheartedly with.

Graziano argues that Manning is the greatest quarterback of all time and doesn't need any more validation to have that crown. I don't necessarily agree with that because I don't believe you can compare players across generations in such simple terms. But that's really not the point.

The column got me to thinking about how it pertains to the Rams. Things have been so bad for the franchise in the past decade that the mere mention of the "Greatest Show on Turf" elicits chills and nostalgia from fans. The further removed from that special team we get, the easier it is to long for those glory days. It's been a long time since Rams fans have had something like that to watch with such wonder and enthusiasm.

It's worth noting now as a means to have greater appreciation for what players like Manning are doing now. Like him, love him, rank him ahead or below of your favorite quarterback but enjoy what he does because you never know when he'll be gone or when something like it will come along again.

I.C.Y.M.I.

A roundup of Monday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we looked back at the classic NFC Championship Game waged by NFC West division rivals Seattle and San Francisco and where the Rams have to get to catch up to them. ... Next, we offered a look at this week's Senior Bowl and how the Rams have used it to add talent in the past two drafts. ... Finally, we began our "plays that shaped the season" series with No. 10, end Robert Quinn's franchise record-setting sack.

Elsewhere:

At stltoday.com, columnist Bernie Miklasz discusses the Rams' need to make big moves despite public comments to the contrary.

In his daily video, Miklasz takes an early peek at the Super Bowl matchup.

Jim Thomas writes about the value of the Senior Bowl for the Rams under coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead.

Another week, another mock draft courtesy of Turf Show Times.

NFLN survey/respected player: Rams

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
10:00
AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning continues to rack up the honors among his peers courtesy of the latest NFL Nation poll of 320 players. He already earned the most votes as the player to build a team around. Now he's also been mentioned the most times in the poll as the league's most respected player.

I have a hunch that while Manning isn't one to take pride in individual accolades or poll results, this is one he's probably value above many others. In talking to 10 Rams for this exercise, Manning's name came up right away multiple times and for obvious reasons. Players greatly value the opinion of other players and they also value their respect.

Manning won this one going away, earning nearly 27 percent of the vote with New England's Tom Brady second at 7.5 percent. In total, 78 players received votes though no St. Louis Rams appeared in the top seven. One former Ram did finish tied for sixth though in the form of linebacker London Fletcher.

Fletcher started his career with the Rams and became one of the league's top middle linebackers before the Rams decided to let him walk in free agency. It was one of the worst personnel decisions in a series of many the team has made in the 2000s as Fletcher has gone on to a career that will garner strong consideration for the Hall of Fame.

NFLN survey/franchise player: Rams

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
10:00
AM ET
ST. LOUIS -- It should be no surprise that when 320 NFL players were asked to name one player they would choose to start a franchise with that the top four vote-getters were all quarterbacks. Likewise, it was no shock to see Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning atop the list.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck finished second, followed by New England's Tom Brady and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers. In total, 37 players received votes. There were no St. Louis Rams among the top seven to receive votes. Of the Rams currently on the roster, one could make an argument for defensive end Robert Quinn. It stands to reason if you want to start your team with a quarterback, someone might also want to start a team with a guy best equipped to stop one. So maybe Quinn will one day land on the list. He did garner a couple votes this time around.

When I conducted the survey in the Rams' locker room, I was struck by the quickness with which the players I asked came up with their responses. Some went for the veteran Manning, others for the young gun Luck and others went for the in between with Rodgers.

Given Rodgers' relative youth, I think he's probably the best choice. Luck would be close behind but Rodgers has enough football left in him that he'd still be a good long-term option. Don't get me wrong, Manning is amazing but he's much closer to the end of his career than the beginning.

From the Rams' perspective, they're still in the process of trying to develop players who can one day show up at the top of polls such as this.

Final 2013 preseason QB snap counts

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
11:40
AM ET
Six projected starting quarterbacks played in their teams' final exhibition games of the 2013 preseason. The Seattle Seahawks' Russell Wilson and the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick were two of them, and both led touchdown drives before exiting after one series. None of the NFL's projected starters got hurt Thursday night.

The chart shows week-by-week snap counts for quarterbacks I singled out as projected starters heading into preseason. NFC West alums Kevin Kolb and Matt Flynn might not start after all, but I've left them in the chart for context.

St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher has generally played starters in the final preseason game. He did not this time.

"Typically I have, but I guess in the new world that we’re in, it’s hard to," Fisher told reporters after the Rams' game against Baltimore. "What that implies is that I'm pleased with where they are right now, those guys that sat. They worked hard. We got a great workout and it allowed them to fast-forward their minds to Arizona."

Fisher could have been alluding to the run of higher-profile injuries around the league this summer. Last year, the Rams lost rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers to a high-ankle sprain in the final preseason game.

The Rams emerged from this preseason healthier than their division rivals. That did not stop the 49ers from playing their offensive starters or the Seahawks from playing starters on both sides of the ball Thursday night. The Arizona Cardinals rested most of their starters, though Michael Floyd was one notable exception.

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh offered no explanation for playing his starting offense one series. Kaepernick hadn't gotten many snaps through the first three games, however. Getting additional reps for Kaepernick and the team's group of emerging receivers made some sense on the surface.

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll went into the final preseason game saying he wanted starters to play because the team values this games as competitive opportunities.

Observation deck: Rams-Broncos

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
12:10
AM ET

By his own admission, St. Louis Rams rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree struggled to gain traction in his first two preseason appearances. Missed tackles, blown assignments and poor reads plagued Ogletree in those first two games, and again Saturday night in the first quarter against Denver.

But when Ogletree stripped Broncos running back Ronnie Hillman, scooped up the fumble and returned it 13 yards for a touchdown, the light seemed to go on.

Ogletree went on to breakup two passes and come up with an interception in the process of showing why Rams coach Jeff Fisher wanted him so much in the first round of April’s NFL draft.

By no means is Ogletree a finished product, and he did have those hiccups in the first quarter, but the Rams have been looking for progress and got plenty of it against the Broncos.

Other observations from the Rams' 27-26 loss:
  • Before the game, Fisher made it clear he wanted to get a look at rookie Tavon Austin returning punts. He got two glimpses and had to like what he saw. Austin had two returns for 104 yards, including an 81-yarder to set up the team’s first touchdown.
  • Austin probably should have scored on the return but ran into Ogletree and slowed down a bit. It wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, though, as the Rams got to work their red-zone offense again. Quarterback Sam Bradford hit tight end Jared Cook for a 3-yard touchdown on the first play.
  • The first-team offense attempted just five running plays against a loaded run box and didn’t go anywhere with those tries. The Rams have seen loaded run boxes two weeks in a row and have generated almost no running threat to speak of. They’ll need to be better in that regard come the regular season but if the preseason is an indication, teams are going to make the Rams prove they can beat them in the pass game before they back off.
  • The Rams were the league’s leader in penalties last season, and already look to be in midseason form in that regard. They continue to struggle with pre-snap infractions and racked up 11 penalties for 74 yards against the Broncos.
  • Both teams played the first half at a breakneck pace, especially the Broncos. Denver ran 49 plays in the opening 30 minutes, picking up 290 yards. Because the Rams forced two turnovers, Denver managed just 10 points. Denver quarterback Peyton Manning attempted 34 passes.
  • Bradford had his worst outing of the preseason but still looked sharp. He finished 9-of-16 for 110 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions for a rating of 98.4. Bradford continues to look comfortable in his second year in coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s offense.
  • Tackling was much improved for the Rams’ first-team defense after a series of whiffs in their two previous preseason outings. There was only one glaring missed tackle from that group. Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis was particularly active, posting eight tackles in unofficial press-box statistics.
  • It was a strong night for the Rams' top unit on special teams as they got Austin’s two punt returns, a blocked field goal from safety T.J. McDonald, a pair of field goals (including a 58-yarder) from Greg Zuerlein and outstanding punting from Johnny Hekker. Noticeable, universal improvement for a group that surrendered a long punt return for a touchdown in the opener against Cleveland.
  • Undrafted rookie linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong showed up again, coming up with a sack and a pair of tackles in relief work. He’s put together a strong preseason and has positioned himself to make the 53-man roster.
  • Perhaps most important, the Rams made it out of the game relatively injury-free. Tight end Cory Harkey limped off in the second half and guard Ryan Lee was shaken up, but, at least at first glance, the Rams made it out of another one without any serious injuries of note.

SPONSORED HEADLINES