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Ask the Expert: Bryan Burwell

Posted Sep 10, 2013

Falcons vice president of football communications Reggie Roberts catches up with St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Bryan Burwell in this week's Ask the Expert

Reggie Roberts:  The Rams seemingly appear to be one of those teams that have vastly improved, but many in the national media are taking a wait and see approach. Do head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead have the Rams headed in the right direction?

Bryan Burwell:  I firmly believe Coach Fisher and Les Snead have the Rams pointed in the right direction. From a personnel standpoint, they seem to understand the importance of more size, speed, and athleticism. They aren't afraid to take chances on players with so called red flag issues either. They seem to have an intuition about knowing the difference between a bad guy and a good guy who made dumb mistakes.  On the field, Coach Fisher has assembled a strong coaching staff that knows how to teach and has the respect of the veteran players.

RR: The Rams finished the 2012 season tied for first in the NFL with 52 sacks. How good is their defensive line?

BB:  The Rams defensive line will be the strength of this defense. They have no fewer than four pass rushing DEs that they can put on the field in a number of combinations and a pair of stout tackles in Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford who clog up the middle.

RR:  Let’s switch gears and talk about St. Louis’ opponent on Sunday — the Atlanta Falcons, who lost in New Orleans 23-17 during NFL Week 1.  What kind of game are you expecting to see from the Falcons?

BB:  I would imagine at home we will see a different Falcons team from the one that lost on the road last week. But the key will be if their offensive line can keep QB Ryan on his feet against this strong rams pass rush.

RR:  Offensively, the Rams are led by QB Sam Bradford and an improved supporting cast which includes free agent TE Jared Cook, speedy rookie WR Tavon Austin, and RB Daryl Richardson.  How good can this offense be this season?

BB:  The Rams offensively are vastly improved at the skill positions with weapons at every spot now. The best addition obviously is TE Jared Cook, but this is an offensive unit that made mistakes and still put 27 points on the board. And the offensive line hasn't allowed a sack dating back to last year for three consecutive games. The Rams have definitely rejoined the NFL arms race.  I believe this offense has the capability to be on the same level with New Orleans in terms of production and diversity of weapons.

RR:  The Rams will see a familiar face on Sunday when former RB Steven Jackson lines up at tailback for the Falcons.  Give us your take on just how good of a player Jackson is?

BB: Steven Jackson is one of my favorite players I've covered in 40 plus years in the business. If the Falcons rely on him, he will be the workhorse they hoped to get. I know he dropped a touchdown last week — hands SJ, not shoulder pads! — but remember he caught 90 passes in a season. He can and should be an effective multi-down running back because he can grind it out, break away, or pass block with a fury. And he is one of the more interesting guys you will meet off the field as well.

RR:  You are obviously very familiar with the NFC since that is the division the Rams play in. After watching the first week of NFL regular season action, how do you see the NFC West shaking and give us your prediction as to who will win the division this season?

BB:   I still believe San Francisco is the class of the division, but I also think the Rams could surprise and leap frog Seattle and move into second-place in the division.

RR:  And finally, who wins Sunday’s Rams at Falcons game and give us a score?

BB:  Atlanta 34, St. Louis 30.


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