Archive for St. Louis Rams

Current Social Media Followings of All 32 NFL Teams

Posted in Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Social Media, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 30, 2017 by Shane Gray

Shane Gray (@RealShaneGray)

With NFL training camps opening across the country, it seemed a perfect time to check the Twitter, Instagram and Facebook followings of the league’s 32 franchises. We will update these following Super Bowl LII next February to check trends. As it stands now, these numbers stand out:

-The Dallas Cowboys and New England Patriots ranked first or second on each of the three aforementioned social media sites.

-The Pittsburgh Steelers were the only other club to rank in the top 5 on all three platforms.

-The San Francisco 49ers, Denver Broncos, Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks were the only other teams to rank in the top 10 on all three outlets.

-The Jacksonville Jaguars were the only organization to rank last on multiple hubs (Twitter and Facebook).

-The Los Angeles Rams were easily the largest market to rank in the bottom 10 (No. 31, 31 and 27) on all three platforms.

-In the battle for New York, the Giants go three-for-three against the Jets.-

-The Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans are the only franchises to rank in the bottom three for all three outlets.-

-The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the only other organization to rank in the bottom five for all three platforms.

With that, here are the complete results — ranked for each site — of all 32 NFL teams:

Twitter
1. Patriots: 3.4 M
2. Cowboys: 3 M
3. Steelers: 2.4 M
4. Broncos: 2.2 M
4. Panthers: 2.2 M
6. Eagles: 2.1M
7. Seahawks: 1.9 M
8. Packers: 1.8 M
8. Falcons: 1.8 M
10. 49ers: 1.6 M
11. Texans: 1.5 M
11. Giants: 1.5 M
13. Bears: 1.4 M
14. Jets: 1.1 M
14. Ravens: 1.1 M
14. Saints: 1.1 M
14. Lions: 1.1 M
18. Raiders: 1 M
18. Redskins: 1M
20. Chiefs: 906K
21. Browns: 888 K
22. Vikings: 875 K
23. Colts: 868 K
24. Dolphins: 843 K
25. Cardinals: 777 K
26. Bills: 749 K
27. Bengals: 741 K
28. Chargers: 665 K
29. Buccaneers: 670 K
30. Titans: 583 K
31. Rams: 502 K
32. Jaguars: 464 K

Facebook
1. Cowboys: 8.746 M
2. Patriots: 7.011 M
3. Steelers: 6.510 M
4. Packers: 5.439 M
5. Broncos: 4.437 M
6. 49ers: 4.2 M
7. Bears: 4.102 M
8. Seahawks: 4.071 M
9. Saints: 4.047 M
10. Giants: 3.968 M
11. Raiders: 3.431 M
12. Eagles: 3.016 M
13. Panthers: 2.386 M
14. Ravens: 2.351 M
15. Colts: 2.270 M
16. Dolphins: 2.256 M
17. Texans: 2.201 M
18. Vikings: 2.105 M
19. Falcons: 2.041 M
20. Jets: 1.97 M
21. Redskins: 1.982 M
22. Lions: 1.915 M
23. Chargers: 1.593M
24. Chiefs: 1.551 M
25. Cardinals: 1.453 M
26. Browns: 1.269 M
27. Bengals: 1.193 M
28. Buccaneers: 944 K
29. Titans: 930 K
30. Bills: 860 K
31. Rams: 790 K
32. Jaguars: 594 K

Instagram
1. Patriots: 2.6 M
2. Cowboys: 2.4 M
3. Seahawks: 2M
4. Steelers: 1.5 M
4. Giants: 1.5 M
6. Panthers: 1.4 M
6. Packers: 1.4 M
8. 49ers: 1.3 M
9. Broncos: 1.1 M
9. Raiders: 1.1 M
11. Eagles: 981 K
12. Texans: 934K
13. Ravens: 733 K
14. Saints: 715 K
15. Dolphins: 708 K
16. Falcons: 700 K
17. Bears: 655 K
18. Redskins: 588 K
19. Cardinals: 559 K
20. Chiefs: 547 K
21. Vikings: 530 K
22. Lions: 521 K
23. Jets: 517 K
24. Colts: 494 K
25. Chargers: 464 K
25. Browns: 464 K
27. Rams: 393 K
28. Bills: 381 K
29. Bengals: 341 K
30. Jaguars: 300 K
30. Buccaneers: 300 K
32: Titans: 279 K

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Thursday’s Thoughts on Rams Draft and Blues Playoffs

Posted in Football, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2016 by Shane Gray

DraftLogoSt. Louis, MO

(@RealShaneGray)

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Rams traded a plethora of premium 2016 and 2017 draft picks to the Tennessee Titans in exchange for the number one overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. In doing so, the Rams bet the farm on the hope that either Jared Goff or Carson Wentz will become the league’s next elite quarterback and help lift the former St. Louis-based franchise out of a decade-plus stretch of frustration and futility.

In giving up a first, two seconds and a third rounder this year and first and third round selections next year, L.A. essentially sealed the franchise’s fate for the next several seasons.

After relinquishing so much draft capital to move up to get their gunslinger, the Rams bold move will do one of two things:

If it works, they have landed themselves a top-tier quarterback to go along with a potentially dominant defense and ground game, and the move will help elevate the organization to the upper echelon of the NFL in rather short order.

If it fails, the risky trade with the Titans will set the franchise back several more seasons and likely keep the franchise fumbling in the won-loss column for several more years.

In short, this trade will all but make or break the Rams hopes to turn the corner in California. This was an all-boom or all-bust deal. Time will tell the tale on how it plays out for Stan Kroenke and company.

Speaking of the Rams Trade…

Unfortunately , St. Louis fans and media alike learned that the Rams front office  — led by team CEO Kevin Demoff — was good at a few things not remotely related to winning football games: lying, manipulating and serving themselves.

With that understood, I couldn’t help but laugh when hearing that the Rams chose to wait a day to announce the aforementioned trade for the number one pick so as to not take away from the final home game of Lakers all-time great Kobe Bryant.

Of course, the Rams made sure to let everyone know that they postponed the news an extra day rather than just quietly announcing the trade the next day and leaving it at that. That’s the Rams, though.

For anyone unclear of the Rams motives, let me break it down for you:

The Rams did that for the Rams. That’s it.

They desired to appeal to Lakers fans by attempting to show consideration for their fan base in an effort to help the Rams and nobody but the Rams. It’s really that simple.

The Rams PR machine continues to be predictably pathetic.

How ‘Bout Those Blues? 

After securing a three games to one advantage over the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the NHL’s Western Conference playoffs, the Blues started looking like the same old Blues in faltering to a 3-3 series tie as fans wondered if it was yet another hear-we-go-again- postseason collapse.

But this year, with all the chips on the line, St. Louis stepped up with a thrilling game 7 win at home to the delight of Blues faithful.

As the club is now just a series win away from their first Stanley Cup appearance since 1970, a Finals appearance couldn’t come at a better time for either the Blues or the STL.

With the Rams and the NFL freshly departed, this would be the ideal time for the Blues to grab the attention of former Rams fans who may be looking for another local pro club to turn their attention to. With many football fans feeling scorned, what better time for the Blues to pack the bandwagon than right now? What better time to grow some future die-hard fans with a Stanley Cup appearance just months after the Rams exit?

And for St. Louis, what better time for the Blue note to win a Stanley Cup than right now, with so many sports fans and St. Louisans in general feeling disappointment following the exodus of the world’s preeminent sports league?

Whether you are one of the many have moved on from the Rams move or one of many others who haven’t, this would be a perfect time for the city’s great sports fans and the region in general to enjoy some good fortunes in relation to the region’s pro-sports landscape.

Now perhaps more than over, St. Louis wants to see the Blues get this done and they may have a better shot than they have in awhile to do just that.

Thanks for reading…

SG

Sam Bradford: The Complaining Thief

Posted in Eagles, Football, Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 28, 2016 by thelegendkil

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@thelegendkil

ST. LOUIS, MO

With the arrival of the NFL draft approaching, there has been no let down when it comes to wheeling and dealing by teams looking to inject something positive into their franchise with a game changing player. Last week the Los Angeles Rams traded their first round pick (Number 15), two second round picks (43 &45), a third round pick (76), and the Tennessee Titans will get Rams first and third round picks in 2017. That’s what the Rams gave up for the number one overall pick in the draft. This will mark the second time the Rams have picked number one overall since 2010.

And in 2010, while the Rams where still residing in St.Louis, they decided to draft Sam Bradford with that pick.  That pick failed to live up to the hype of an elite quarterback, with the former Heisman winner receiving a 6-year, $78 million dollar contract ($50 million of it guaranteed). Bradford was just a tease, he had all the tools to make himself one of the best in the NFL, but he lacked the most important ingredient any football player should have – and that’s heart.

He was coddled by the press – and it got worse when Jeff Fisher became head coach in 2012. But last year, in an unexpected twist, Bradford was dealt to the Philadelphia Eagles for Nick Foles. Fisher was perturbed that Sam Bradford wouldn’t take a pay cut, especially after several other veterans did so. Most thought that once Sam Bradford got away from the Rams his star would rise and he would prove naysayers wrong.

And boy he did over achieve. He went 7-7 as a starter for the Eagles putting his career record at a “dazzling” 25-37-1. A “eye-popping” winning percentage of .405, yet he bolstered 19 TD’s with 14 interceptions and 3,725 passing yards. His career totals are 78 TDs/52 INTs and 14,790 yards. These are some of the most deceiving numbers you’ll see a starting QB have without taking one single snap in the playoffs.

Now Sam Bradford is demanding a trade from the Eagles. Just a month ago they signed him to a two year deal for $35 million, with 22 of it being guaranteed.  This is happening all because the Eagles, just like the Rams, made a huge deal with the Cleveland Browns to land the number two pick in this year draft.

The Eagles traded (No.8) pick and fourth round pick this year – and traded away first round pick in 2017 and second round pick in 2018. The Eagles will more than likely use that pick on a QB.

Philadelphia Eagles Executive VP of football operations Howie Roseman is quoted in an ESPN.com story by Phil Sheridan as saying “Let me be clear. Sam Bradford is our starting QB. We told him that.” Not that it mattered to Bradford. He threw a tantrum and is now demanding a trade. Talk about entitlement – this guy has the gall to throw a fit because the Eagles want to draft a QB with the second pick.

He should be doing all types of praise dancing after stinking up the Edward Jones Dome for four years, getting traded and collecting every penny of that rookie contract – only to have the Eagles gift wrap an additional 22 million guaranteed. He’s never had to fight for a job as the starter his entire career, and he can’t even handle competing against either Carson Wentz,  Jared Goff or former Missouri Tigers QB Chase Daniel. We are seeing the real guy now and it’s more than unflattering.

According to NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, the Eagles feel blindsided by Bradford’s trade request. “Too much dead cap $11m if they trade him before June 1 Broncos and Jets seem good spots though #NFL #shutUpSam,” says longtime Philadelphia radio host Phil Allen (now program director for 98.5 FM and contributor to NTheZone), said via Twitter.

That was about the cleanest tweet I could find coming out of the city of Brotherly Love.

Sam Bradford has fooled us all for years. He’s managed to get over 100 million playing a shade over .400 football, no playoffs and shaky health.

Find me on Twitter @thelegendkil

You can also follow @NTheZoneShow on Twitter as well

Welcome, Phil Allen!

Posted in Special, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2016 by MtAiryPhil

cb9f3ea3-fbfe-43ef-840a-ef2d53cb8474The A-Train here. I am very excited because we have added another contributor to the N The Zone family. We are continuing to grow and ready to take on the “City to City, State to State, Worldwide” theme as it’s said on our podcast.

So folks, I present to you Phil Allen! Allen, aka @MtAiryPhil is a long suffering Philadelphia sports junkie, journalist and broadcaster who spent nearly a decade as the Eagles postgame show host, and ESPN RADIO Philly weekend studio host. He is also a special contributor at 900AM WURD and was featured in E-A-G-L-E-S The Movie!

But enough about that, I’ll let him do the talking for sure.  Take it, Phil.

PHIL ALLEN:

Excited? Yup! Intimidated? Little bit. I mean, it’s the A-Train, Arlington Lane and a brother aptly named the “Legend Killer” Palmer Alexander, whom I watched hold the St. Louis Rams front office, the City Council, and pretty much all of Missouri’s feet to the fire as the process that culminated in the Rams exodus to LA played itself out. Finally, it’s in N The Zone Radio/Podcast and as a listener, I can hear the coals roasting (along with some guests) on the fire. Let’s keep it 100, I can’t wait. I’m honored to contribute to N The Zone.

So what do I bring? I don’t know. The pain of a lifetime waiting for a Super Bowl Champion? 42 years without a Stanley Cup Title? Season tickets to an NBA team currently 9-62 that is 33 years removed from it’s last parade?

Here’s what I know for sure. We will create broadcasts that are memorable, informative, and I believe, have the air of a world heavyweight title match in the moments when the ring is empty, and the combatants stand poised in the entryway, awaiting music, pyrotechnics, and the dulcet tones of Michael Buffer.

The Sound of Philadelphia meets the Blues of St. Louis…the East Coast rat race merged with the Midwestern drawl and the history shared by Eagles-Cardinals long time rivalry, the recent detonation of Phillies baseball dreams by the DeScalsos’, Ecksteins’, Schumakers’ plus a heaping dose of Chris Carpenter.

I could go on. I won’t.

10 For Tuesday: Rams’ Demoff Further Exposed

Posted in Los Angeles Rams, NFL, Randy Karraker, Sports, St. Louis Rams, Stan Kroenke with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2016 by Shane Gray

DemoffRams(St. Louis, MO)

@RealShaneGray

By now, many of you have likely either watched or heard quite a bit about the head-scratching, mind-boggling presentation that Los Angeles Rams Chief Operating Offender Kevin Demoff made at Harvard-Westlake High School on March 1.

Unfortunately, if you missed the video and want to see it, Demoff has apparently had his infamous, boneheaded speech pulled, after several comments he made were strongly scrutinized in articles by the likes of The Sporting News’ Ron Clements, InsideSTL’s Tim McKernan and 101 ESPN’s Randy Karraker as well as in audio by 101 ESPN’s Bernie Miklasz, among others.

In other news regarding the Rams’ great deceiver, Demoff spent time this weekend speaking at the South by Southwest conference about “the intersection of personal ethics, fandom and commerce in sports.”

Yes, you read that correctly.

The same man who quite obviously has no appreciation or understanding of proper personal ethics and who blatantly lied to his fans repeatedly was invited to speak about “the intersection of personal ethics, fandom and commerce in sports.”

You can’t make this stuff up.

If Demoff’s speech was honest, this appearance would have consisted of him talking about how he believes that any respect towards personal ethics or fans should be tossed out and stomped on if needed when “commerce in sports” is involved.

With that said, today’s “10 for Tuesday”…

 

1. Some people want the N The Zone family to continue talking about the Rams, while others want us to stop talking about the *%$#*@-up franchise altogether. I can see both sides.

With that said, the above is new information and — I for one — will continue to report anything that exposes Demoff for the deceptive, dishonest, slimy human being that he has proven himself to be. Consider it a warning for our L.A. brethren and appropriate reporting for the STL family.

So, if you don’t want to see it, you’re on the wrong site. On the other hand, if you want to see Demoff called out for his lies and exposed for all the damage he helped bring to St. Louis and the fans here, then you’re exactly where you need to be.

2. In Demoff’s aforementioned presentation, he made it clear that the move to L.A. was in the works for two-and-a-half years prior to its approval. In other words, the Rams began plotting for relocation by at least the Summer of 2013 when Sellout Stan Kroenke called Demoff about the Inglewood site.

3. Additionally, Demoff detailed how the Rams were quietly but earnestly making moves towards the move by the Spring of 2014 and that they were “stealthily” working hard towards an L.A. stadium in the summer of that same year.

4. Points two and three — like the Rams relocation proposal — add more proof that Demoff was lying to St. Louis since — at least — roughly the close of the dome’s arbitration case in early 2013. When looking at points two and three, these words from 2014 — among many others you can find here from both 2013 and 2014 — look particularly pitiful:

Demoff (to InsideSTL)

“I expect it (our future) will be right here in St. Louis. I don’t see any reason that that can’t be so.”

“I promise you Stan is looking at lots of pieces of land around the world right now and none of them are for football stadiums.”

Demoff (to 101ESPN):

“..I know everybody can sit here and say, especially this weekend, “The building can rock like it did in 1999,” which is absolutely true. If we play better football, it will be loud, passionate. But in terms of getting people off the couch away from television which is a fight that everybody in the NFL is going through and everybody in sports is going through, how do we improve the fan experience and give them the best? I think that’s the solution. If we can come up with it whether it’s downtown, whether it’s in the county, whether it’s somewhere else, I think we’d be in favor of it.”

Demoff October 2014 (CBS Sports 920’s McKernan, Edmonds & Moe):

“I think when he (Kroenke) said what he said (about wanting Rams to stay) when he bought the team, he was sincere, he was genuine and in the meantime there’s a path and a process that’s behind closed doors, and that’s what we’ve adapted to.”

“It’s hard to believe now but the Seattle Seahawks actually moved to Los Angeles for about two weeks in 1996 before returning back to Seattle. I don’t think anybody now looks at their fanbase and says they’re not passionate, they’re not a great team, that’s not a great market. So these things tend to get worse before they get better and I always look at if we can get this thing done, how do we move forward, how do we build a great stadium, how do we make St. Louis a better place for having a great venue?”

5. Clearly, Demoff served as Chief B.S.er in St. Louis, along with his duties as Vice President of Football Operations. And while were on the football side, Demoff also let this gem slip out at his presentation at Westlake-Harvard, via Turf Show Times:

“I will say, we’ve been really crappy in free agency. I’ve written a lot of bad deals. We just haven’t found a lot of success in free agency. And so I think there’s a buyer beware in all of that, in terms of going out and buying other people’s players, that we just haven’t figured out.”

There are clearly a lot of things that Demoff and the Rams haven’t figured out on the field, as evidenced by there historically poor performance over the last decade-plus. But for Demoff to admit that they aren’t being aggressive in free agency due, in part, to them not having the confidence to believe they are capable of getting it right… well… that is stunning.

I mean, everyone who’s followed the Rams in recent years realizes they aren’t getting it right and haven’t for some time, but for the team’s COO to admit that they are basically inept in regard to free agency is eye-opening and scary.

Best of luck with that, Los Angeles. You sure as heck will need it with Kroenke, Demoff and company at the helm.

6. Demoff’s presentation also revealed that when then Rams quarterback Sam Bradford was knocked out for the year in the preseason of 2014, that he welcomed a “distraction” from the on-field “trainwreck” that was likely to come.

I have to wonder what current players or former Rams like Chris Long or James Laurinaitis think knowing their top executive — and who knows who else in the organization or on the coaching staff — had given up on the season before it even started. I have to think they aren’t very appreciative of the thoughts.

Either way, the comments vividly show that Demoff possesses quite the loser’s mentality, giving up on his team before the season even began. What a competitive fighter to lead the organization from the top, right? And you wonder why the Rams haven’t had a winning season since 2003? With leadership like this, don’t much to change for the Rams on the field other than the stadium and the city the team plays within.

7. Along the same lines, Demoff essentially shared that he was thankful that the Rams fell out of the playoff race late in 2015 so that he could concentrate more on the franchise’s reLIEcation application.

What a slap in the face to the hard-working, paying customers buying tickets in St. Louis and the players who put their bodies on the lines on the gridiron. Yet another example of the classlessness at the top of the Rams organization.

8. With all of the above in mind, I wonder how many season ticket holders out there have emails from 2013-2015 from Demoff? I know that many do, as he was quite interactive with fans and media during many stretches. I would love to see ’em.

9. On another note, we would love to have your feedback on what you think of the N The Zone Show. Tweet @RealShaneGray, @thelegendkil, @TheATrainSTL or @NTheZoneShow to provide us with your feedback and we will try to respond to everyone’s thoughts and opinions.

10. Finally, a little late on this, but excited to see St. Louis land an NHL Winter Classic game for 2017 against the Chicago Blackhawks. The Blues and Cardinals worked in conjunction to bring this to pass. Good to have a couple of civic-minded professional organizations in town working together to bring great events to the STL.

Thanks for reading…

 

Thursday’s Thoughts

Posted in Football, NCAA Football, NFL, Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2016 by Shane Gray

janorisjenkins-

(St. Louis, MO)

by @RealShaneGray

-I was happy to see former University of Missouri quarterback Chase Daniel agree to terms yesterday on a three year, $21 million dollar contract with the Philadelphia Eagles that includes $12 million in guaranteed cash. This is Daniel’s second significant “second string” contract of his career — after just finishing a three year, $10 million dollar deal with the Kansas City Chiefs where he served as a backup to Alex Smith.

Considering Daniel’s sizable contract in relation to his professional resume, ESPN’s Adam Schefter was right in pointing out that the former Mizzou standout will receive at least a puncher’s chance to win the Eagles starting quarterback job over incumbent QB Sam Bradford — who somehow recently reeled in a 2 year, $35 million dollar deal to remain in Philadelphia.

Furthermore, this move puts Daniel in position to potentially land at least a handful of starts in 2016 due to injury, considering the fragile history of Bradford, a player who has missed 33 of 96 pro starts due to injury — or over two full season’s worth of games in six years.

With all that said, however, I can’t help but wonder whether a delay of another 24 hours might have left Daniel with an almost ideal opportunity with the Denver Broncos after the Super Bowl winning franchise lost Peyton Manning to retirement and free agent Brock Osweiler to the Houston Texans.

Had Daniel remained on the market, you have to wonder if John Elway and company might have took a hard look at Daniel few relatively few appealing options available on the free agent market.

With the QB spot wide open in Denver, an exceptional D in place, a more-than-capable stable of running backs in the fold and some very good pass catchers under contract, a chance to lead the offense in the Mile High City would present a great opportunity for a quarterback this fall.

Considering how everything has played out, I can’t help but wonder if Daniel could have at least ended up being in the mix and with a chance to earn a starting gig had he signed on in Denver.

-Folks can spin it however they want to, but the Rams loss of cornerback Janoris Jenkins to the New York Giants is a significant one. At 27, Jenkins was entering his prime and coming off what was clearly his best all-around season to date.

Sure, there is a shot that former Mizzou Tigers corner E.J. Gaines can get back to full strength following a season ending injury last year and build upon a very stout 2014 rookie campaign, but there is no guarantee this will occur.

Gaines indeed had a very impressive rookie season, but even if he proves to be as good in 2016 as Jenkins was a year ago, the Rams lost high-quality depth at a position that absolutely demands depth and lots of in today’s pass-proficient NFL.

So, even if Gaines proves to be an adequate replacement for Jenkins opposite of franchise-tagged Trumaine Johnson, Los Angeles lost quality depth that will likely be much harder to replace than most wish to admit.

Beyond Jenkins, the Rams also lost starting free safety Rodney McLeod, who had grown into a solid player in Gregg Williams’ defense. With Williams running something of a unique, hybird D, replacing a solid veteran like McLeod may be easier said than done.

In total, a good-to-great 2015 Rams defense is now minus half of its starting secondary from a season ago. People can act as if that isn’t a big deal, but it is.

Beyond that, the Rams are now down nearly 50 percent of last season’s first string defense when counting the cuts of defensive end Chris Long and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.

Yes, Long’s production had dropped off and Laurinaitis had his flaws. And yes, both are replaceable — especially on the field — and even upgradeable.

On the other hand, Laurinaitis ran and quarterbacked the St. Louis D for seven seasons and both J.L. and Long both served as key leaders in the Rams locker room.

The stat sheet is one thing, but the intangibles are another — and both Long and Laurinaitis brought a great deal of desirable intangibles to the franchise that aren’t always easy to replace.

Can the Rams defense be as good as it was a year ago?

Yes, it can, as they will have defensive end Robert Quinn back in top form, a deep, talented defensive line that includes defensive tackle Aaron Donald and re-signed defensive end William Hayes and potential improvement in the middle, where former outside ‘backer Alec Ogletree is expected to take over — something he has experience doing from his SEC days at the University of Georgia.

The Rams also return one of the game’s best strong safeties — T.J. McDonald — and re-signed small but highly-productive outside linebacker Mark Barron. If he can hold up at 210 pounds — which is a legitimate if — then the Rams could be formidable at linebacker.

With all of that considered, the departures of Jenkins and McLeod in free agency — and particularly Jenkins — wasn’t a small thing. This pair was productive and likely will not be easily replaced.

There’s a reason that most top-tier defenses lock up their in-prime defenders. The Rams are gambling that they can plug-and-play others and be fine. But for me, they will have to prove they can do it before I believe it.

-On the other side of the ball, I think the Rams made smart moves in bringing back center Tim Barnes (yet another former Missouri Tiger stalwart finding his way into this article) and 6’4″ wide receiver Brian Quick — who was on his way to a breakout campaign in 2014 before suffering a season ending injury midway through the year.

With a full offseason without a major surgery to recover from ahead of him, can Quick get it going in 2016? In my mind, he can. And if I’m right, it will give a big boost to a Rams offense that needs the passing game to get a lot better this fall than it has been in recent seasons.

-Speaking of wide receivers, former Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson hung up the cleats early at age 30 and walked away from a whole lot of paper in retiring during the past week.

At 6’5″ and with great speed to go with it — especially a little earlier in his career — Johnson was pretty much unstoppable when at his best. Johnson was not only a great player, but, from all indications, a good man as well.

It is amazing that one organization — the Lions — have now watched two all-time greats retire while at or near their prime, after seeing running back Barry Sanders walk away at the top of his game in 1998. How unlucky is Detroit, anyhow?

In that farewell year, Sanders compiled 1,491 rushing yards, 37 catches and four touchdowns.

— Thanks for reading….

Ten For Tuesday: March 1 Edition

Posted in Baseball, Basketball, Football, Los Angeles Rams, MLS, NFL, Sports, St. Louis Cardinals, St. Louis Rams, St. Louis Sports with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2016 by Shane Gray

10_black_logo_on_white_background

(St. Louis, MO)

Shane Gray (@RealShaneGray)

Welcome to my new weekly column entitled “Ten for Tuesday”. I hope you all will enjoy the debut edition, which touches on yesterday’s Rams feature, the St.Louis Cardinals, why I’m not necessarily hyped about the prospects of MLS to STL, what Mizzou Football must do to regain elite their elite status, the good and bad of the NFL Combine, the mystery of NBA Pre-Draft Measurements, the wonder that is Stephen Curry and much more.

With that said, I hope you will enjoy week one of “Ten for Tuesday”.

Let’s get to it:

1- For those who missed it, I penned a feature yesterday named “Monday’s Missile: Los Angeles Rams Not Worthy of St. Louis’ Support”. It has proven to very controversial and his elicited very strong, passionate responses from folks all over the nation. If you haven’t yet taken a look at the rather brief read, I’d love for you to take a moment to do so. Whether you love it or hate it, I’d enjoy hearing your take on the feature. Hit me up on twitter via @RealShaneGray and let me know how you feel.

While on the topic of the aforementioned feature, I’d like to make a couple things clear that I didn’t touch on yesterday:

One, I wish no ill will whatsoever towards the Rams players. Obviously, they had nothing to do with the move. I interviewed several of them on different occasions over the last few years, and think the world of guys like Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Quinn, free agent wide receiver Brian Quick and former Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis, all of whom were great people, great interviews and wonderful assets in the community.

Two, I wish to congratulate any and all CLASSY fans from L.A. who will get to watch the Rams return to Cali. I don’t blame them for being excited. Not at all. As for those who want to bash St.Louis and the fans here, however, well… that’s another story altogether.

2- With the Rams moving on, I plan to turn more attention back to the St. Louis Cardinals. I will be honest and admit that much of my focus turned away from the Redbirds after the Rams came to St. Louis. As a child, though, I was an absolute die-hard, live-and-die Cardinals fan. They were my first true love in regards to a sports team. Somewhere along the way, though, I lost my passion for the game even after playing it in college.

As probably everyone is aware by now, the Redbirds are in the thick of Spring Training in preparation for the 2016 Major League Baseball campaign. Can they hold off the rival Cubs? Will the Pirates again make major noise in the division? That discussion will come on another day and I look forward to diving into some Cardinals coverage this year.

3- Switching gears, a group of prominent, local investors — including Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt and former #STLNFL Task Force co-head Dave Peacock, among others — recently united to form #MLS2STL and are exploring the possibility of bringing an expansion MLS franchise to St. Louis. (In case you missed it, here’s the full story.)

While I have nothing against MLS and am all for anything that would be a positive for the region, I do have one significant reservation about bringing an MLS team to the city.

Why am I so lukewarm on the MLS2STL? Here’s why:

I don’t believe St. Louis is currently viewed by many as a four team region. If true — and I have reason to believe that is indeed the case — I’d prefer our third professional club to be something other than an MLS franchise.

With the MLB and NHL deeply rooted in the Gateway City, that realistically only leaves room for one other major pro sports league/team, and I’d personally hate to reduce or remove any future hopes for an NFL expansion team with truly committed local ownership and a 30 year plus iron-clad lease, or even a chance at an NBA franchise at some point down the road in exchange for MLS. I could be wrong, but I think the presence of MLS would greatly reduce any chances of eventually making a run at having a team from either of those two more prestigious leagues,and if that is indeed true, that bothers me.

As for the NBA, keep in mind that Stan Kroenke relative Bill Laurie nearly locked up an expansion team even WITH the NFL and three other pro teams in town. With that considered, IF a legitimate effort were made at a time when there are but two major pro teams in town rather than three, I think it could certainly get done.

4- Speaking of the Association, Stephen Curry continues to amaze me. To me, he’s the best player in the League right now. He’s the best scorer and best shooter, he’s money in crunch time, he’s a willing and effective passer and he can D up when the chips are on the line.

In short, if there’s one guy in pro basketball that I’m paying to watch play right now, it’s Curry… and nobody else is a close second at the moment.

5- Last year, the Missouri Tigers football program fell off and fell off hard, going 5-7 in a year filled with off-field controversy, on-field struggles and the eventual resignation of Head Coach Gary Pinkel, who ran the show at Mizzou for 15 years, leading the Tigers to ten winning seasons, 10 bowl games, six bowl wins and a combination of five Big 12 North/SEC East Division championships.

After a down year, what does Mizzou need to do to get back on track?

To me, the most glaring hole on the Tigers roster a year ago — and something that was always a strong point during Missouri’s best years within the Pinkel era — was a deep, productive receiving corps.

Last season, the Tigers lack of depth and overall talent at receiver was undeniable, and the offense struggled to produce points and generate big plays largely because of it.

If Mizzou is going to get back to its winning ways and again become a power in the SEC, they need to get their wideout talent back to something close to the level it had been prior to the 2015 debacle.

6- I have always enjoyed the annual NFL Combine, and watched it extremely closely when covering the Rams and preparing for draft-related articles from 2011 through 2015.

That said, the Combine can be either a blessing or a curse for NFL talent evaluators and NFL teams — depending on how it is utilized.

When game tape is kept as the priority, the combine is a fine tool to further evaluate prospects. When the combine is used strictly as a complimentary tool to hone in on what a player has done on the field and fine tune evaluations, it is great.

But when scouts and teams take the bait and move someone up or down a draft board based more upon the combine than what a player or players actually did on the gridiron, teams are asking for major problems.

The combine is fine to help refine grades on a given player, but when the grades become based more upon the combine stats than the football stats, teams are begging to end up drafting busts.

7- Speaking of the combine, the NBA Combine has always been fascinating to me in regard to the measurements, and — more specifically — the height measurements.

At the NFL Combine, players are measured only once, and in their bare feet. But at the NBA Combine, prospects are measured early in the morning (when players are 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch taller than they would be late in the day), and are measured both in their bare feet and in their shoes.

As many of you are probably aware, in-shoe heights are commonly used on rosters in college or pro basketball. One can argue about whether that makes sense or not, but its been a common practice in recent decades to either list players in roughly their shoe heights or add anywhere from a half-inch to over two inches to a player’s barefoot measurement.

For example, Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love was measured at 6’7″3/4 without shoes at the 2008 pre-draft camp, but has been listed at 6’10” throughout his pro and college career.

Former Cavs guard and rumored lover of Lebron James’ mom Delonte West was measured at 6’1″1/2 barefoot, 6’2″3/4 with shoes while being listed at 6’4″ for portions of his pro career.

John Starks, who starred for the New York Knicks during the Patrick Ewing era, admitted to a 6’2″height while playing with a 6’5″listing.

Finally, former Oklahoma State standout Byron Houston — from way back in the Big 8 days — measured just 6’4″ barefoot while being listed at 6’7″ both in college and the NBA.

On the other hand, there are always a few players who use their barefoot heights and are even taller without shoes than their listed heights. Longtime legend Kevin Garnett is one of those players, listed at 6’11” while being been measured at 7’1″ in shoes. Another future Hall-of-Famer, Kevin Durant, is listed at 6’9 but stands close to 7 foot on the hardwood in shoes.

In general, when you see a player’s height on a roster, you can bet it is either an in-shoe listing or roughly an inch to an inch and a half above their barefoot height, but it’s always interesting — to me at least — to see the extremes of the over-inflated listings or the few who utilize their barefoot measurement.

8- With the concussion issue coming to the forefront in the NFL, particularly after Will Smith’s blockbuster “Concussion” movie, has it changed how you feel about your son, brother, nephew or cousin playing the game?  I’d love to hear your take on the topic. Hit me up on Twitter (@RealShaneGray) and let me know how you feel about your loved ones playing football.

9- Speaking of movies, let’s play make believe for a quick second and pretend that YOU are going to star in a sports-related feature film. If you were the star and had your pick of women to play the role of your wife or girlfriend, tweet me her name and why you chose her using #NTheZone and #MyLeadingLady. It will be interesting to see what women y’all have been scoping out.

10- Finally, on next week’s N The Zone Podcast with Palmer Alexander (@thelegendkil) of the St. Louis American and Arlington Lane (@TheATrainSTL), we will be introducing a new segment entitled “Ask Shane/Get at Gray”. For those following me on twitter, DM me your question/questions, and I will answer a few of them over the air next Sunday. For those whose answers are chosen, we will let you know by tagging your twitter handle when tweeting out the segment. I look forward to the inquiries.

Thanks for reading…

 

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