Work in Sports
St. Louis Rams
Defending champs in good shape to defend title
The St. Louis Rams open their training camp at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Ill., on July 21. Here are a few questions from Sports Illustrated's Dr. Z, followed by CNNSI.com's perspective on some of the issues facing the Rams this season. SI's season preview will post Aug. 23.
Dr. Z wants to know:
1.) Why is everyone picking Tampa Bay and Washington to go to the Super Bowl? Aren't we forgetting someone here?
2.) I've read that the Rams have been "crippled by free-agent losses." Huh? I count two offensive line starters, both of whom have been adequately replaced, and two backup defenders. Isn't this a lot better than a defending Super Bowl champ could normally expect?
3.) Mike Martz's desire to keep fortifying the NFL's most exciting attack led him to draft a 4.3 burner, RB Trung Canidate, in the first round. Would you call this a pick for greed, rather than need?
4.) The rap on new center Steve Everitt is that he's got great ability but he loses interest. Would you guess that a run at the Super Bowl would be enough to keep him interested?
5.) Martz's offense is the True West Coast Offense, as taught by Sid Gillman and handed down from Gillman to Don Coryell to Norv Turner to Ernie Zampese to Martz. When will people get that straight? Or does anyone but me really care?
6.) How much dough will Kurt Warner sign for?
The Rams can make the playoffs if ... Kurt Warner plays close to his 1999 form and the rest of the Rams avoid the injury bug. St. Louis also has to adjust to being the hunted rather than the hunters.
Pivotal games: Nov. 5 vs. Carolina; Nov. 20 vs. Washington; Dec. 18 at Tampa Bay. The Rams also visit the Panthers on Dec. 3 and they must face the two teams picked to dethrone them in the NFC.
On the hot seat: Mike Martz got plenty of credit for directing the Rams' high-powered offense last season, but he'll find it's different running the entire show. How Martz adjusts to the head-coaching spotlight will be a big part of the Rams' 2000 equation.
Up-and-comers: Wide receiver Torry Holt had an impressive rookie season (52 catches, 788 yards, 6 TDs) and made the Rams look good by selecting him with the sixth overall pick.