Torry Holt: There's 'resemblance' to '17 Rams, 'Greatest Show on Turf' teams

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Torry Holt watched Robert Woods catch a screen pass from Jared Goff a few yards behind midfield and take it 52 yards for a touchdown during the Los Angeles Rams' Week 9 blowout victory over the New York Giants, and the memories flooded back.

That was the type of play Holt used to watch Az-Zahir Hakim make when they were teammates on the St. Louis Rams in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the season opener in 2000, fresh off a Super Bowl win, Hakim took a screen 80 yards for a touchdown. For about the last 50 yards, Holt ran alongside Hakim, sometimes in stride, and they talked amongst themselves until Hakim crossed the goal line.

Goff's 67-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins in that same Week 9 game brought back even more memories to Holt. Watkins made the same type of double move that Holt remembered he and Isaac Bruce used to make when Kurt Warner threw 60-, 70-, 80-yard deep balls downfield for them to catch up to.

The more Holt has watched this year's edition of the Rams, the more he's seen some "Greatest Show on Turf" in them. But for as good as the Rams have been this season -- a 7-3 record, fourth-ranked offense, a fierce defensive line -- Holt was cautious to not anoint them as the second coming of that era.

"There's some resemblance to those Rams teams when we were in St. Louis, but they still got a ways to go," Holt told ESPN. "But I am excited about the development of Jared Goff and Sean McVay being a shot in the arm for this football team. Todd Gurley is running the ball extremely well and he's catching the ball out of the backfield."

The similarities, even the ones on the field, are obvious.

The Rams found new life this season thanks, in part, to first-year head coach McVay and a handful of offseason moves that bolstered positions that were in need of help.

Kind of like the Greatest Show on Turf did in 1999.

The offseason heading into the 1999 season shaped the franchise for an unprecedented run of success, one that the Rams have yet to repeat. Mike Martz was hired as the Rams' offensive coordinator before the 1999 season. Holt was drafted. The Rams traded for Marshall Faulk. Quarterback Trent Green signed as a free agent, along with offensive guard Adam Timmerman.

The Rams won Super Bowl XXXIV after the 1999 season and, two years later, lost Super Bowl XXXVI, going 37-11 over a three-year stretch in which they averaged 32.7 points per game.

The offseason for the Rams before this season has had a similar impact.

McVay was at the heart of it. The Rams also signed 35-year-old left tackle Andrew Whitworth -- who's playing the critical Orlando Pace role -- and Woods. They traded for Watkins and drafted Cooper Kupp and Gerald Everett.

"Free agency for us in '99 was huge," Holt said. "Free agency for the L.A. Rams in 2017 with Whitworth, Robert Woods and coach McVay, have all been huge assets, huge additions for this L.A. Rams squad, and the reason why they made the noise they made in the first nine weeks of the season."

This year's Rams are on pace to have the best season on offense since 2001, when that year's team lost in Super Bowl XXXVI to the New England Patriots. That run ended, for many, the Greatest Show on Turf era.

This year's edition is on pace for 484.8 points and 6,006 yards. It could become the first time the Rams have scored more than 450 points and have gained more than 6,000 yards since 2001.

The Rams were ranked first in yards and points every season from 1999 to 2001. This year's team ranked first in points and third in yards through the first three games.

This year's team has a big-armed quarterback in Goff, a star running back in Gurley and a host of reliable and effective receivers in Watkins, Woods, Tavon Austin and Kupp. Five players, including Gurley, have at least 17 catches and six players have caught touchdowns.

"Jared is doing a good job of spreading the ball around to Woods, to Watson, to [tight end Tyler] Higbee, to Everett, to Austin, he's spreading the ball around to Cooper Kupp, to his targets, and it makes it tough for defenses to settle in on one guy when you got multiple guys on offense making plays," Holt said. "That's how it was for us with the Greatest Show on Turf. It was a matter of who do you go into the game trying to stop, and the current L.A. Rams are working toward achieving that kind of high level of production on the offensive side of the ball."

Holt, despite being a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a receiver, sees the similarities on defense and special teams, too.

Watching Mark Barron, Lamarcus Joyner, Nickell Robey-Coleman and Trumaine Johnson in Los Angeles' secondary -- they have nine of the team's 12 interceptions -- reminds Holt of Todd Lyght and Dre Bly, who had nine of the Rams' 29 interceptions in 1999.

And then there are the special teams, Holt said.

"I think one of the underrated parts about the Greatest Show on Turf was how well we played special teams," Holt said. "That had a lot to do with the late, great Frank Gansz. I think [special-teams coordinator] coach [John] Fassel is doing an outstanding job."