Any website can post "offseason grades" for NFL teams, mixing the draft and free agency into transaction soup, then straining it through the mind of some sportswriter who doesn't know who half the players are. Only the Shutdown 50 has the resources to get actual players, coaches, and executives from each team to evaluate their own offseasons! That's right: over the next few weeks, you will get transaction evaluations straight from the horse's mouths: straight talk about who was signed, who was lost, who was drafted, and why.
(For the satirically challenged: all player, coach, and executive remarks are made by an impersonator).
In this segment, several coaches from the St. Louis Rams will help linebacker James Laurinaitis break down their team's moves. Take it away, guys.
CHUCK CECIL: Hello, I am Chuck Cecil, and I will be filling in as defensive coordinator for the suspended Gregg Williams.
DAVE MCGINNIS: Hello, I am Dave McGinnis, and I will also be filling in as defensive coordinator for the suspended Gregg Williams.
LAURINAITIS: Greetings, fans. Hey, don't worry about the confusion in the defensive staff. I may have a bunch of brand-new coaches with no clearly-defined leadership structure giving me orders, but trust me, these guys are always on the same page.
CECIL: That's right, James. Tell the fans about the new faces in the secondary.
MCGINNIS: No, James, tell them about the changes along the front seven.
LAURINAITIS: Well, I guess I will start with the secondary, where Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins are our new starting cornerbacks. These guys represent a major upgrade, because we only intercepted 12 passes, two of them by me. Of course, Finnegan is a hothead and Jenkins is a pothead, but both have outstanding talent, and with our clearly defined coaching structure, both will have well-articulated expectations and rules.
MCGINNIS: Tell them about Michael Brockers now.
CECIL: No, tell them about the free agents on the defensive line.
LAURINAITIS: How about I do both! Brockers was a fine first round pick. He is an athletic interior lineman who will help us get pass pressure without resorting to non-stop blitzing. Trevor Laws and William Hayes add a lot of depth on the line, so whichever of these guys is in charge of substitutions will be able to keep fresh players in the game.
Remember that last year's first-round pick, Robert Quinn, recorded five sacks and started to really come on in the second half of the season. Chris Long can now count on a lot of support, both up the middle and on the other edge. And with fewer blockers on me, I can be more effective. I may not be able to improve on last season's 142 tackles, but I can make those tackles more meaningful.
CECIL: We should talk about offense. Talk about the rookies.
MCGINNIS: No, talk about Sam Bradford's development.
LAURINAITIS: Umm, well, we short-changed the offense a bit. Second-round picks Brian Quick and Isaiah Pead will provide a small boost. Pead will be a good third-down back, but Quick needs time to develop. Steve Smith had a terrible year for the Eagles last season, but he did catch 107 passes for the Giants in 2009. Sam Bradford, you do not seem too concerned about the lack of weapons, but I fear you may be putting on a brave face. Do you have anything to add?
SAM BRADFORD: Kwopkalowo'li.
MCGINNIS: He is speaking in tongues!
CECIL: No, he is expressing his Native American heritage.
LAURINAITIS: It's neither! He is so worried about the coaching upheaval and lack of offensive weapons here in St. Louis that he is quoting Twilight. He has gone Team Jacob! Sam, it is okay. Steven Jackson is still here. Pead can catch short passes. The coaches will sort themselves out. Shhh … I've got you buddy.
SAM BRADFORD: Kwopkalowo'li?
LAURINAITIS: I will, buddy, I will.
Tanier's Team Reports:
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- James Laurinaitis
- Gregg Williams