O-Line Envy

Bill Cowher is not averse to looking around the NFL and coveting what he sees. He witnessed big tight ends abusing his small defensive backs. While he failed to upgrade the size of his corners, he did sign TE Jay Riemersma during the off-season. Cowher also saw the cover-2 magic in Tampa Bay win the Super Bowl. As a result, he went after S Dexter Jackson. Cowher will get another chance this Sunday to watch what he hasn't got.

The wizardry of Kurt Warner, the former starting quarterback for the St. Louis Rams, is now sitting on the bench. Bill Cowher already found his Warner in Tommy Maddox, who, like Warner, is revisiting the demons of NFL failure. However, the root of this bad juju is none other than the play of the offensive line.

"There is no need for anyone to dwell in self-pity," said Cowher about the injuries and poor play on his offensive line. "This happens around the National Football League. Everybody is going through it. That is why it is a whole season. It is very important that we sit there and focus on who we are playing and the job that we have to do and not go through the ‘oh, woe is me' scenario because everybody is going through it around the National Football League. Every team has its own issues that they are dealing with right now."

Certainly, the Rams have their own problems with RB Marshall Faulk injured and LB Tommy Polley out with a dislocated elbow. But some problems are more manageable than others and the 4-2 Rams are case and point.

"There are a lot of good offensive weapons and they now have Kyle Turley and Orlando Pace at the two tackles and they have solidified their offensive line," Cowher compared this year's offense in St. Louis to those of years' past. "I think that had a lot to do with their issues they had last year. They had St. Clair out there playing last year and they went out and got Kyle Turley and now both Turley and Pace are playing very well."

Everyone is not going through it, at least not in the same way or to the same degree. However, during the 2002 season the Rams looked a lot like the Pittsburgh Steelers of 2003.

Cowher would love to find a Turley somewhere out there right now, "How much do you weigh, Tunch [SteelCitySports.com's own Ilkin, a former offensive lineman for the Pittsburgh Steelers]? I am not going to sit here and discuss every scenario with you guys. We can sit here and talk for the whole 20 minutes about that. It really would not serve any purpose. Just understand that we are looking at all the options that are possible."

The short-term options do not look very good. The Rams were 1-5 through six games in 2002. The main reason was poor play on the offensive line. St. Louis weathered other problems, such as injuries to Warner, QB Marc Bulger, and RB Marshall Faulk, but the lack of good players on the offensive line led to a finish of 7-9.

In sum, there are no miracle cures for a cursed OL. Cowher knows this and the sudden bad news of Mathias Nkwenti's back injury only served to reinforce what he must already know, this team will only go as far as its offensive line can take it.

Cowher was asked if he would use any ‘unusual motivational tactics.' His response, which ended the press conference, had an air of resignation about it, "I don't think there is anything that I can do along those lines that would take us to another level."

You can only do so much with the hand you are dealt. Certainly, the Rams proved that last year. Both teams attempted to improve their respective lots during the off-season. One team landed Kyle Turley and the other signed Todd Fordham.

And after something akin to 7-9, Bill Cowher will once again try to emulate success he sees in the NFL. After a few moves, Maddox's career might take another turn for the good. Or, then again, the Steelers may take another stab at a cheap imitation. Either way, Cowher's current bastion of hope is no better than Tunch Ilkin turning back the clock and suiting up.

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