The Rams' season has come to an end and it's time to reflect a little bit before diving into the boiling ocean of the offseason. Or rather, since we're already getting draft fever, dreaming up strategies, scouting prospects, and reading between the lines of various coach/GM interviews, consider this a time to take a brief break to get our heads above water before diving back in again.
Our Bloguin network writers announced their NFL regular season awards, and Sam Bradford already has something shiny to put on his internet mantle.
- Foxboro Blog
The Rams honored four of their own this week as well. Bradford was named the team's Carroll Rosenbloom Memorial Rookie of the Year, Steven Jackson the Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Most Valuable Player, Oshiomogho Atogwe the Carl Ekern Spirit of the Game Award for "best teammate," and Bradley Fletcher was given the Ed Block Courage Award in honor of his strong comeback from a season lost to devastating knee injury.
However, it seems to me that several deserving guys need to be honored in this space as well. So here, without further ado, are the first annual RamsHerd year-end awards:
The Eddie Murphy Memorial "Most Necessary Rookie Performance" Award: LT Rodger Saffold
Sam Bradford had a fantastic year, exceeding everyone's expectations, and exceeding the hype and circumstance surrounding the #1 overall pick of the draft and future face of the franchise. If anything, Bradford has set that bar higher than it has been since Peyton Manning was drafted first overall 13 offseasons ago. Now consider for a moment: What if Alex Barron had been his left tackle?
Saffold allowed 3 sacks and 10 hits as a rookie this season; as a five-year veteran in 2009, Barron watched as his quarterbacks got sacked 7 times and hit 15 more. Saffold's strong play as early as the team's initial minicamps not only gave the Rams the comfort to trade away Barron, Saffold made the deal pay off. Regardless of who we got (Barbie), our end result was better protection for the future of the franchise.
And while Saffold still has room for improvement -- particularly on those nasty inside moves and twists -- arguably no performance was more necessary in stabilizing the offense than his.
(This award is named for the man who single-handedly saved the SNL franchise, which had been listing badly after the loss of John Belushi and Chevy Chase, with his electric first season of work. Without him, there may not have been another season, let alone twenty. Eddie Murphy, once a hilariously unpredictable comedian, has been apparently dead for about two decades, though someone with his name continues to make movies.)
The Mike Patton "Best Free Agent Signing" Award: DT Fred Robbins
I admit that I wasn't expecting much when the Rams signed Fred Robbins. He might help clog the middle, but he wouldn’t do much to erase the sting of losing Ndamukong Suh, especially if Bradford hadn’t panned out. And in training camp, Robbins became known more for his popsicle breaks than for anything on the field.
However, once the regular season started, Robbins tag-teamed with Chris Long to make the left side of the Rams’ defensive front into a formidable force against opposing passers. From 2009 to 2010, our team jumped from 25th to 7th in sacks, despite losing their most prolific sack artist in Leonard Little. Robbins’ contribution to that transformation cannot be overstated.
Moreover, Robbins’ work was noticed by more than Rams fans and opposing passers. Big #98 was ranked among the top ten DTs in the NFL, by the folks at Pro Football Focus.
This award is named in honor of Mike Patton, who was brought in off the street to helm Faith No More after they got sick of their original lead singer/songwriter’s drugged up antics. Patton wrote lyrics to The Real Thing on the fly in the studio, having been brought in just prior to recording, and delivered one of the most unique vocal performances heard in the genre. The result was a metal classic that became the band’s first platinum album, and pretty much narrated my senior year in high school.
The James Brown Memorial ”Hardest Working Man in the Business” Award: DE Chris Long
Chris Long’s first two years in the NFL weren’t pretty. While he tried hard, it seemed as though his lack of strength, size, technique, or supporting cast (or all of the above) would prevent him from ever becoming an impact player; and as a #2 pick overall, that put the word “bust” in the conversation more often than is comfortable. However, in his third year we saw a completely different player emerge. (Insert butterfly/chrysalis, phoenix/ashes, Marvin Gaye/Detroit metaphor here.)
The motor was still there, but suddenly so were the moves! A fearsome rip move, a low-to-the-ground speed rush, and a seldom seen but wickedly effective spin move. And just as suddenly, the Rams’ defensive game plan gelled. Perhaps we can credit Long’s offseason with Jay Glazer and his MMA training, but just as likely: moving him to the left defensive end from the right made all the difference.
@RamsGab a lot of times they place you dependent upon which hand is dominant. At LDE Long gets to use his dominant right arm for moves
This award is given in honor of the hardest working man in show business, Soul Brother Number One, Sex Machine, Mr. Dynamite, The King of Funk, Mr. Please Please Please Please Hemself, and foremost The Godfather of Soul. There can be only one James Brown; everyone else in the business is in his shadow.
Did I miss someone? Want to nominate a Ram award? Let me hear about it.