Our friends Jim Thomas and Ben Frederickson of the Post-Dispatch put together their all-time St. Louis Rams team, but since the franchise only had four winning seasons out of 21 in our town, I think it more fitting to assemble an all-worst St. Louis Rams team.
This is much more difficult, especially with the knowledge that between 2007-2011, the Rams had an NFL all-time worst five year record of 15-65. The only rule is that the player had to start a game for the Rams in St. Louis.
Feel free to comment, because there’s a lot of bad I may have missed…
QB-Steve Walsh. Walsh edges Nick Foles. He completed just 42.9% of his passes in three starts, with no touchdowns and five interceptions in 1996 before being replaced by Tony Banks.
Foles is picked over Keith Null as the backup because Foles came in with experience and expectation, and Null was a rookie starting for a hapless team. Foles completed 56.4% of his passes with seven touchdowns and ten interceptions. Null was 61.3%, with three TD’s and nine picks.
WR-Mike Sims-Walker, Drew Bennett and Mardy Gilyard. In the two years before he came to St. Louis, Sims-Walker caught 106 balls with fourteen touchdowns for Jacksonville.
In three starts for the Rams, the drop machine caught eleven for 139 yards and no TD’s before being cut.
Like Sims-Walker, Bennett was good before he got to St. Louis, making 194 grabs and scoring eighteen times for the Titans in the three seasons before his arrival. That included a year where he caught 80 balls for 1,247 yards and eleven touchdowns. That performance earned Bennett a six year, $30 million deal with the Rams, for whom he promptly disappeared.
In two seasons, he started one game, and caught 34 balls for 379 yards and three touchdowns. Bennett collected $13 million in two years, costing the Rams $382,352.94 per catch.
Gilyard was a heralded college player who just couldn’t figure out the playbook. In typical Rams fashion, they drafted an idiot. In his only season in STL (2010) he made two starts, and caught six balls for 63 yards with no scores.
The wide receiver position was incredibly competitive here (keep in mind, this is a race for the worst), especially from 2007 on. Austin Pettis couldn’t run, but thought he was really good. Former USC slot receiver Steve Smith was strong with the Giants, but was simply awful here. And people like Brandon Gibson and Laurent Robinson were just guys. Of course, the club sold Brian Quick as a future star when they used the 33rd pick in the draft on him in 2012, but he couldn’t figure out new playbooks and got hurt in 2014, never to be seen again. The Rams haven’t had a 1,000 receiver in their last seven seasons, since Torry Holt turned the trick in 2008.
G-Jacob Bell and Leo Goeas. Bell was a colossal free agent bust who signed as a 305 pounder but dropped weight and couldn’t play. He was perhaps the worst regular guard in St. Louis Rams history. Goeas was a revolving door in the early years here. Literally, if you sat in the end zone, defensive linemen looked like they were going through a revolving door as they spun him around to get to the quarterback. Milford Brown started a whole season in St. Louis, which in and of itself is remarkable. Davin Joseph should have been home watching TV rather than playing for the 2014 Rams, and for the vintage crew, Dwayne White, aka The Road Grader, was horrendous after coming over as a free agent in 1995.
C-Jason Brown. Another amazing waste of money, free agent Brown beat out fellow free agent waste Scott Wells, Tony Wragge and Nick Leckey. After the retirement of Andy McCollum, this position was a black hole for the team.
TE-Joe Klopfenstein. Klopfenstein was the worst regular St. Louis Ram at the best offensive position they had. A second round pick whose only problems were that he couldn’t block, run or catch, Klopfenstein beat out Randy McMichael, who never lived up to his contract here, and Anthony Becht, who had six catches for 39 yards in his one season and eleven starts. The Rams actually had some decent, productive players like Troy Drayton, Roland Williams, Ernie Conwell, Brandon Manumaleuna, Lance Kendricks and even Jared Cook, who has all of the statistical records for St. Louis Rams tight ends.
T-Adam Goldberg (most memorable play, getting flattened by Aldon Smith in San Francisco, video below) and John St. Clair. There was a game in 2000 in Tampa in which Bucs defensive linemen were pushing each other out of the way so they could face St. Clair.
This was another especially tough position.
At tackle, Alex Barron was an abysmal false start machine, number two overall pick Jason Smith couldn’t play left tackle, couldn’t pass block and was hurt all the time, and Greg Robinson couldn’t stop holding. Mark LeVoir started three games at the end of the 2011 season. It’s been a rough go. As the owner told the COO before the team drafted Robinson, “we haven’t done too well with tackles, have we?” Nope.
RB-Daryl Richardson. There are a lot of ways to go here. Richardson came into 2013 with high expectations after a reasonable rookie year, but averaged 3.1 yards per attempt with no touchdowns in 69 carries. Richardson beat out a couple of Dick Vermeil favorites; Jerald Moore, who averaged 3.2 yards per carry and 17.7 yards per game in three years and thirteen starts…and June Henley, who played in 1998 for St. Louis, and averaged 3.6 yards per carry.
Pretty much anybody that backed up Steven Jackson and started a game can fit here, too. Of course, if we are putting together a roster, Lawrence Phillips must be a part of the team.
FB-Brian Leonard. The Rams used a fullback in about half of their years in St. Louis. Leonard left something to be desired after being taken in the second round of the 2007 draft. He beats out Dan Kreider, who forgot how to block when he got to St. Louis.
TE/H-Back Stephen Spach. Spach edges out Aaron Walker. One other honorable mention here is Richard Owens, whom Scott Linehan brought from Minnesota to replace fullback Madison Hedgecock, whom Linehan didn’t like. Hedgecock went on to a Super Bowl Championship career with the Giants.
Defensive ends: Victor Adeyanju and C.J. Ah You. Adeyanju played 53 games over four seasons, starting 26, with 97 tackles and just three sacks. After his last game with the Rams in 2009, he never played in the NFL again. Ah You played the Steve Spagnuolo years, from 2009-2011.
He played in 33 games, starting three, with 33 tackles and six sacks. The forgettable Brandon Green garners honorable mention here. He played in 29 games during the 2005-2006 seasons, starting six. Green finished his Rams career with 33 tackles and 3.5 sacks. Defensive end was a spot where the Rams always had at least one good player during their time here. It was their best position.
DT’s-Darell Scott and Clifton Ryan. Scott was unfortunately the best the Rams had for a while. He played in 33 games, starting five. He never had a sack, and had 43 tackles. Like Adeyanju, he never played in the NFL again after his three years in St. Louis. Ryan started 27 of 49 games from 2007-2010, with 82 tackles and three sacks. Ryan made it two DT’s on our team that never played after their Rams career.
Gary Gibson started 22 of 37 games during the Spagnuolo era, alongside Ah You. He had just 37 tackles and three sacks, but did play four more years with other teams. Justin Bannan was a serviceable player for other teams, but didn’t play that well in his only year in St. Louis, 2011.
LB: Jamie Duncan, Brady Poppinga and Quinton Culberson. Duncan was brought in to replace London Fletcher, who had put together seasons of 106 and 89 tackles in 2000-2001. Duncan came in and had years of 49 and 23 tackles in his two years in STL. I recall sitting in the stands and cheering loudly every time he made a tackle. Poppinga had a cool name, but wasn’t that smart and found himself at the wrong place at the wrong time. Culberson was another forgettable Rams defender. He started ten of sixteen games in the 2-14 season of 2008. He had 40 tackles and multiple mistakes.
Honorable mention goes to Robert Thomas, Chris Claiborne and Larry Grant. Thomas was drafted to also replace Fletcher and eventually Duncan. The first rounder played the weak side early in his career, and in his best year had 62 tackles. Claiborne was a first round bust of the Lions out of USC. He was dreadful during the 2005 season in STL. Grant was the junior college player of the year before going to Ohio State. He was the definition of the old football adage “looks like Tarzan, plays like Jane.”
CB: Justin King and Tye Hill. This is an exceptionally tough position. Who can forget King getting burned by Torrey Smith of Baltimore in the first quarter of a game in 2011? He never seemed to make a play. The Rams traded down from the eleventh spot (Jay Cutler) to the fifteenth to select Hill in 2006. He was tiny, had no ball skills and didn’t appear to be very bright. He had four interceptions in 40 games (25 starts) with the Rams. In Spagnuolo’s first training camp, Hill was traded for a seventh round pick before his fourth season in the league. Jonathan Wade, Rod Hood, Fakhir Brown and Lenny Walls get honorable mention.
Wade had a big mouth but had just two interceptions in 47 games. Hood was used up by the time he got to St. Louis in 2011. Brown is remembered for getting torched by the Browns Braylon Edwards and Joe Jurevicius in a 2007 game, said “we knew they were good, but they were gooder than we thought they were.” The overmatched Walls started three games in 2007, but quickly showed he wasn’t up to real NFL standards. Cornerback may have been the worst position for the Rams in St. Louis.
S: James Butler and Craig Dahl. Spagnuolo gave scholarships to a couple of his former Giants players, and Butler and Dahl took advantage. Neither were particularly strong in coverage, but they had an advocate. They were certainly among the worst the Rams sent out there. Butler signed a big money contract but started just seventeen games in three seasons. Dahl had an 87 tackle season in 2010, but simply couldn’t cover a pass.
Michael Hawthorne’s career ended here in 2007 after he was helpless in five starts. Todd Johnson came over from the Bears as a special teams ace. When forced into action at safety, however, he left a lot to be desired. He’s honorable mention because he wasn’t expected to start at safety.
K-Steve McLauglin. This one is pretty easy. McLaughlin was a third round pick the season the Rams arrived in town, but was cut during his rookie season after hitting just eight of sixteen field goals. After him, the Rams did well with kickers, especially from 1997 on, with Jeff Wilkins, Josh Brown and Greg Zuerlein.
P-Brian Barker. Barker gets the nod here because of an incident. During the Rams’ Veterans Day tribute at halftime of a game against Arizona in 2005, Barker came out early for the third quarter and started warming up, punting over the assembled military personnel that were being honored. His overall performance wasn’t that good anyway.
He beats out Reggie Hodges, whom he replaced in ’05 after Hodges was released. Based on poor performance, Hodges was like Secretariat in the 1973 Belmont (or perhaps Sham, who finished last). His 38.0 yard gross average and 31.0 net are far and away the worst for a St. Louis Rams punter.
KR-Quinn Porter. Porter was the Rams kickoff returner in 2011 and averaged 22.2 yards per return. He was excessively slow, and I once bet Tony Softli $100 that Porter would never return a kick past the 50 yard line as an NFL player. I still haven’t been paid. In 2005, a guy named David Allen returned kicks for the Rams, averaging 20.2 per return with a long of 32.
PR-Shaun McDonald. McDonald returned 61 punts as a Ram for a 5.7 average and a long of 39 yards. He beat out Dane Looker, who had a 7.8 yard average on 28 returns, but if you take out one 44 yarder, it was 6.5. In his last four years, his averages were 8.6, 6.7, 2.5 and 5.7. We would be remiss if we didn’t address Austin Pettis here, who apparently wasn’t told before going out to return that he was allowed to fair catch. He made it exciting for those that miss hard hits and violence in the NFL.
Steve Spagnuolo. The first coach Stan Kroenke had a major hand in hiring; Spagnuolo is tied for the worst winning percentage (.208) among coaches with 40 or more games in the Super Bowl era. His 10-38 record is tied with Rod Marinelli. In addition to the losing, Spags alienated the office by having pictures of the Greatest Show on Turf taken down, firing veteran staffers and banning people like Jim Hanifan and D’Marco Farr from the inside of Rams Park.
Billy Devaney. Spagnuolo’s running partner, Devaney did a terrible job of drafting and in free agency.
Do you even need to ask?