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  1. #1
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    Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    Defense Draws Rave Reviews
    Thursday, June 15, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As the Rams tumbled toward the bottom of the league in total defense last year, it became increasingly difficult to pin blame as the mistakes mounted and the finger pointing amplified.

    By the time the season was over, the defense found itself ranked 30th in the league in total defense and at the bottom of the NFC in said category. It also was a major factor in the team’s tumble to a 6-10 record and missing the playoffs.

    With the experienced and fiery Jim Haslett in charge of a revamped group, though, there is a palpable excitement among the members of the defense that not only will the group improve on last year’s performance (it would almost have to), but that it will become a force to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.

    “I’m really happy with the attitude and approach our defense has,” coach Scott Linehan said. “I think that’s an area we addressed in the offseason with acquisitions and draft picks. You just see a group developing cohesiveness. I think that’s the most exciting thing going on around here.”

    Perhaps more important is the noticeable bounce in the step of the various members of the defense. From the always enthusiastic Pisa Tinoisamoa to sturdy veteran Corey Chavous down to rookie Tye Hill, there’s an enthusiasm on the field that stood out in the team’s final minicamp.

    Sure, the Rams made plenty of changes to the defense during the offseason, but there’s more than the change in personnel that has the group excited about playing defense again.

    “I love it,” cornerback Ron Bartell said. “I think it’s more aggressive which we need. You have to be a lot more responsible. You have to know what you are doing. Guys aren’t going to be able to make excuses anymore.”

    At various points during last year, some since-removed players could be seen looking around for someone to blame after giving up a big play. Based on the opinions of many of the Rams, that will be an impossibility in Haslett’s scheme.

    Haslett was one of the creators of the “Blitzburgh” defense when he coordinated the Steelers attack and built a reputation as a get-after-the-quarterback type of coach. So, where you would see last year’s Rams content to sit back in Cover 2 and give an 11-yard cushion on third-and-10, this year’s version will be going after the quarterback at full speed. That’s something that players at every position can certainly get used to.

    “It’s a lot more everything,” cornerback Jerametrius Butler said. “In the past we just had cover 2, cover 4, man to man. There’s a lot more. Everybody has to do a job. You can’t hide anybody in this defense. If you have a weak link they will find it so you have to do your job.”

    Linehan believes that won’t be much of a problem considering that there will be fewer weak links in the defense this year. In addition to returning defensive leaders Leonard Little and Pisa Tinoisamoa, the Rams added rock-solid veterans such as Chavous and tackle La’Roi Glover, a bright young star in linebacker Will Witherspoon and an exciting rookie cornerback in Tye Hill.

    If nothing else, there should at least be some heated competition at pretty much every position on the defense. While the likes of Little probably don’t have to worry about job security, there should be an interesting battle opposite him for the starting job and the secondary competition could be training camp’s most intense.

    “We brought in players here that can put this team where it wants to be and that’s on top,” linebacker Dexter Coakley said. “Right now we are under the radar and that’s where we want to be, but we have a very talented ball club here and I would be excited just to get out there and play with those guys.”

    All of the money spent to make the defense better might have been for naught were it not for the change in defensive philosophy that is being instilled by Haslett. Not only is Haslett’s scheme more aggressive, but his personality is much different from Larry Marmie, his more reserved predecessor.

    Haslett brings passion and energy to a defense that seemed to be lacking both last season, save for a few of the aforementioned leaders.

    “Those additions, we had a great draft, all around I think we have done a lot of great things,” Witherspoon said. “The coaches have done a great job of getting a good group of guys together. I think this is a fresh start for all of us. We are getting to a point where we are working together and becoming a family-knit group that you really want.”

    So far, Linehan estimates that Haslett and Co. have put in most of the defensive schemes. The finer points of the defense are being hammered out. That’s good news for a group that can use all of the practice time it can get to build the type of cohesiveness that Linehan and Haslett are seeking.

    Players with unmet potential such as defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy and cornerback Travis Fisher have drawn praise for their play and appear poised for big years in Haslett’s scheme.

    That is all a part of the plan, according to Witherspoon.

    “I think this is going to be a great system,” Witherspoon said. “Guys are making strides every day. We are still installing and getting things in. Things are improving; guys are getting better and understanding of everything they need to do.”
    More than anything, though, it’s that aggressive approach of Haslett that has his players excited. The opportunity to rack up sacks, interceptions and just make big plays is a change of pace for a group that finished 13th in the NFC in takeaways a year ago.

    “I love the defense,” Butler said. “The defense is a lot different than in the past. It’s a lot more blitzing, you don’t let the offense dictate the tempo of the game and it lets us make plays.”

    While it remains to be seen how much the changes will help the defense, the possibilities are seemingly endless and that has created excitement not felt in years.

    RamsFan16

  2. #2
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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    So, where you would see last year’s Rams content to sit back in Cover 2 and give an 11-yard cushion on third-and-10, this year’s version will be going after the quarterback at full speed.
    This is music to my ears. Those big cushions and passive cover 2 schemes the last few years always drove me nuts!

    Players with unmet potential such as defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy and cornerback Travis Fisher have drawn praise for their play and appear poised for big years in Haslett’s scheme.
    I fell for this stuff last year and took it at face value. This year I'm going to be very cautiously optimistic.

  3. #3
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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    I'm the ClanRam Secretary of Defense and this year, the proof will be on the field. Not even during Preseason, but the regular season proof.

    They might as well not even talk about how the defense has improved.

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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    I'm the ClanRam Secretary of Defense and this year, the proof will be on the field. Not even during Preseason, but the regular season proof.

    They might as well not even talk about how the defense has improved.
    Somebody finally said it, I'm sick of these articles, we should try to find every article that says "We think the defense is getting better", "Defense Has Improved", #1, we get it, #2...PROVE IT ON THE FIELD (obviously they can't at the moment, I understand that, but eventually the time will come when they gotta show us how much better they actually are)


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    "Very cautiously optimistic" means I too will reserve judgement until something actually happens on the field of play, in games that matter. Praise at this time is baseless and meaningless. The value I get out of these articles is a little insight into the changes in style, scheme, aggresiveness and attitude of the defense under Haslett.

  6. #6
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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    I was thinking about this earlier. By the time the season opener rolls around there will probably be an article written about how all 53 players are poised for breakout seasons. LOL Oh well it is the offseason and time for optimism.

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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    it's the same story every off season just about this time of the year...i remember last off-season when ram defenders were saying similar accolades about the changes and opening up of marmie's super sophisticated defensive schemes...

    players can look good because they're doing repetitions and practicising against the same opponent players through out the duration of the camps...

    the preseason games should be a better indicator of how this bunch reacts to opponents with different strengths and weaknesses...and more importantly, if they have the character and will to keep playing hard when the chips are down...

  8. #8
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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    Go out find the ball and the lay the hit. I wanna see smash mouth. Simplistic as it sounds its what is needed. I dont want rb's excited to play the Rams knowing their stats will improve.

    marmie's super sophisticated defensive schemes...
    I hear you ramspete. The schemes were so sophisticated the defence did not seem to know them.
    LET'S GO DODGERS

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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    Rams | Defense to have more aggressive scheme
    Thu, 15 Jun 2006 16:16:27 -0700

    Nick Wagoner, of StLouisRams.com, reports with St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett handling the defensive side of the ball, the team will likely have a more aggressive scheme. "I love it," said CB Ron Bartell. "I think it's more aggressive which we need. You have to be a lot more responsible. You have to know what you are doing." Rams CB Jerametrius Butler added: "It's a lot more everything. In the past we just had Cover 2, Cover 4, man-to-man. There's a lot more. ... It's a lot more blitzing, you don't let the offense dictate the tempo of the game and it lets us make plays."
    RamsFan16

  10. #10
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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsFan16
    Rams | Defense to have more aggressive scheme
    Thu, 15 Jun 2006 16:16:27 -0700

    Nick Wagoner, of StLouisRams.com, reports with St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett handling the defensive side of the ball, the team will likely have a more aggressive scheme. "I love it," said CB Ron Bartell. "I think it's more aggressive which we need. You have to be a lot more responsible. You have to know what you are doing." Rams CB Jerametrius Butler added: "It's a lot more everything. In the past we just had Cover 2, Cover 4, man-to-man. There's a lot more. ... It's a lot more blitzing, you don't let the offense dictate the tempo of the game and it lets us make plays."
    After watching last year, any scheme we put in has to be more agressive. LOL
    BRUUUUUUUUCE


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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by ramsbruce
    After watching last year, any scheme we put in has to be more agressive. LOL
    amen to that!


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    "With the additions of coakley and Claiborne, the Rams LB corps is one of the elite in the NFC"

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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by RAM-BO
    "With the additions of coakley and Claiborne, the Rams LB corps is one of the elite in the NFC"
    what genius said that? Mel, maybe? If so, thanks Mel!


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  14. #14
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    Re: Defense Draws Rave Reviews

    Quote Originally Posted by Butler
    you don't let the offense dictate the tempo of the game and it lets us make plays.
    This summed up the past two seasons under Marmie. It was the same when he was in Arizona. Go watch the Steelers & Eagles (both similar to Haslett's proposed scheme) from last year, THEN watch the Rams from last year. You will see a tangible difference. With the Steelers/Eagles, you will see movement before the snap, and filled gaps after the snap. With us, you see stationary defenders waiting for the play to develop.

    You want to know why you always see the police draw their weapons when you're watching "Cops"? It's because they know action (drawing first) is a whole lot quicker than re-action (waiting for the criminal to draw first). Same is true with a defense. Last year, we sat back and waited. Marmie's theory was, if the play develops in a certain way, we have a certain answer (read: re-action) to their movement. It should be a safe way to go...less risk...less guessing. But, if your personnel aren't making the play in front of them, the result is a big gain for the offense. Voila, 2004-2005.

    That's where Haslett's scheme appears (at least what we read and hear) to be the exact opposite. Pre-snap motion, multiple blitzing assignments, versatile Ends, post-snap gap fills.........the extra aggression WILL lead to some mistakes, because the D can't guess right every time. But we should also see more big plays from the D.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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