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  1. #1
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    Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/19/2005

    During the offseason, the Rams invested a potential $25 million in veteran linebackers Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley to help shore up their defense. Particularly the run defense.

    Trouble is, Claiborne and Coakley have spent more than half the time on the sidelines this season, watching while opponents have the football. All season long, when opponents go to three- and four-receiver sets, Claiborne and Coakley go to the bench.

    When opposing teams go to three wide receivers, the Rams bring in an extra defensive back and use Pisa Tinoisamoa and Brandon Chillar as their two linebackers. Against four-receiver sets, Tinoisamoa has been the lone linebacker.

    All of which has meant reduced playing time for Claiborne and Coakley. According to an unofficial participation count by the Post-Dispatch, both linebackers had been on the field for only 47 percent of the Rams' defensive plays through the first five games of the season.

    Their playing time was even more limited Monday night against Indianapolis, because the Colts' offense rarely is in anything other than the three-receiver set. Claiborne barely was on the field enough to break a sweat.

    "I think he had 12 plays," interim head coach Joe Vitt said. "Goal line, and at the end of the game when they were running the clock out."

    Coakley was on the field more often than Claiborne on Monday, but only because he subbed in for Chillar in what the Rams call their "quarter" package (two linebackers and five defensive backs).

    In theory, the packages with extra defensive backs and fewer linebackers are designed to defend the passing game. But here's the problem: Teams have been exploiting that alignment by running the ball with Claiborne and Coakley on the bench.

    "People have been attacking us (on the ground) with that package all year long," Vitt said. "It started in San Francisco. My only explanation is they probably want to try to keep Coakley and Claiborne off the field."

    It's working. It was particularly noticeable in the Seattle game, with the Seahawks frequently calling running plays out of three-receiver sets with Claiborne and Coakley standing on the sideline.

    There was more of the same Monday in the RCA Dome, when the Colts matched their season high with 38 rushing attempts. Twenty-three of those carries were by Edgerrin James, who gained a season-high 143 yards.

    "This is something this week that we're going to have to address," Vitt said. "You've got to keep your best players on the field."

    For example, Vitt said, "There are some teams in the National Football League that leave their three linebackers on (the field) vs. three-wide receiver sets, and limit their coverage, become real good at it, and try to keep their best players on the field."

    After a promising start this season, the Rams' rush defense has dropped like an anchor. Three games into the season, the Rams were yielding 3.3 yards a carry and only 67.7 yards a game on the ground. But in the next three games - against the New York Giants, Seattle, and Indy - those numbers have swollen to 4.9 yards a carry and 158 yards a game.

    "We played good run defense in the first three games, but I think that was a little skewed," Vitt said. "We were playing a lot of eight-man fronts. We started to go against some good passing attacks, like the Giants, like Seattle."

    And like the Colts.

    "Then, we've got to come out of those eight-man fronts and play some more Cover 2 and more 'designer' coverages, if you will," Vitt said. "Now, you've got to defend it with only seven men. And we've got to do a better job of that - with gap responsibility, gap control."

    And with better run support from the secondary.

    Despite the continued problems with the run defense, Vitt saw some good things in terms of pass defense and pass rush against the Colts.

    Indy quarterback Peyton Manning completed 22 passes and threw for two touchdowns against St. Louis, but the Colts didn't have a pass play go for more than 20 yards.

    "That was the key going in," Vitt said. "We knew we were going to bleed. That's a good (Colts) attack. That's probably as good as you're going to find in the National Football League with their skilled receivers, the running back and the quarterback. So the ability not to give up the big play was huge."

    It helped keep the Rams in the game - for three quarters, anyway.

    As for the pass rush, the Rams sacked Manning twice and got consistent pressure despite very little blitzing. Manning had been sacked only once all season entering the game.

    "We had as much success as anybody has had against them," Vitt said. "We had some good pressure."


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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    As for the pass rush, the Rams sacked Manning twice and got consistent pressure despite very little blitzing. Manning had been sacked only once all season entering the game.
    I can't believe this hasn't got more airtime. Through 5 games (145 attempts), he'd gone down only once. Our pass rush got to him twice in 32 attempts.
    "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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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    I can't believe this hasn't got more airtime. Through 5 games (145 attempts), he'd gone down only once. Our pass rush got to him twice in 32 attempts.
    If you watch ESPN then you know that this game was won by a dominant effort by the Colts defense...but if you're not a complete idiot you see that our D-Line is playing really well. The same problem from last season is showing up again though. No LB's. If someone ever puts Coakley and Claiborne on the field, I think this defense will play much better, especially with Hawthorne gone.

  4. #4
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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    Most of us complain and moan about Marmie and that he has to go, but what about Vitt? When was the last time any Rams LB's made any plays? Under Fletcher's reign? Why isn't Vitt held responsible for the absolutely horrendous LB play at any time during his tenure?

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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    1) Claiborne is not on the field because he's a Liability in pass coverage. That was the scouting report on him in Minnesota.

    2) The key to the stat is BOTH players on the field (together) is only 47%. Coakley is out there. I can't tell you how many runs where I've seen Coakley take the wrong angle or be out of position.

    3) This should be nothing new to the RAMS coaches.. It was 2 or 3 years ago, when the Steelers DEF COORD was fired when every team spread them out and pummeled them. It was the season where Tommy Maddox was brought in for Kordell Stewart and the Steelers were allowing around 30 pts a game.

    4) Running isn't our ONLY problem. How about the roughly 105.0 Passer rating of QBs facing us.


    We can't cover anyone on the pass either. This is an over simplification of our DEF problems. Whether it be the scheme or the players, our DEF LINE doesn't get penetration to interrupt the run either. I go back to last year's game versus ATLANTA - Watch that game and then watch the game 6 days later Atlanta played against Philly and tell me what you see. Philly's DEF line consistently disrupted the Falcons running game with penetrations into the backfield. And there's a reason Claiborne comes out in pass packages - he's had trouble with the pass during his career.

    .
    Last edited by Tony Soprano; -10-20-2005 at 01:15 PM.

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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    Soprano do you ever have anything positive to say? It seems like most of your posts(that I've read) are all critical of a coach or player. :clanram:

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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    3) This should be nothing new to the RAMS coaches.. It was 2 or 3 years ago, when the Steelers DEF COORD was fired when every team spread them out and pummeled them. It was the season where Tommy Maddox was brought in for Kordell Stewart and the Steelers were allowing around 30 pts a game.
    Tony, I guess I'm confused on this one. Didn't they win their division (10-5-1) that year? And I don't believe they've ever had a season under Cowher where they've given up more than 20 per game.

    Maybe I'm just confused on the point here.
    "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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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    Hubison,

    2003 Steelers
    Sort of.. Tim Lewis was their DEF COORD in 2003. They had mucho talent on DEF. They went 6-10. Lewis was fired at the end of that season.

    In 2002, the Patriots (Belichick) opened against the Steelers. The Steelers were picked to go to the Super Bowl as they were loaded with Talent. Belichick opened them up to 3 and 4 wide receiver sets and had great success, the PATS won the opener 30-14.

    The Raiders watched the tape and the VERY next week, the Raiders ran the same sets against them (spread them out) and scored 30. The Raiders won 30-17.

    In the 4th Game, the Saints (it's a copy-cat league) spread them out and ran 3 and 4 widereciever sets.
    The Saints beat them 32-29.

    So, the Mighty Steelers started our 1-3 and 30 or more points were scored against them in those games.
    The same year they closed the season by giving up
    30 points in Game 15 (against Carolina).
    31 points to the Ravens to in Game 17.
    33 points in a wildcard game to the Browns
    34 points in a heartbreaking loss to the Titans 34-31.

    The Steelers were playing a soft read and react type Defense (keeping everything in front of them). The never adapted to being spread out with 3 and 4 wideouts. You can see they gave up a lot of points.

    Cowher eventually gave up (fired) on Lewis in favor of a more aggressive scheme (more blitzing too). Essentially the same players were much improved when their new scheme was instituted by new DEF COORD Dick Lebeau.

    This is a blurb on Dick Lebeau:
    Considered the architect of the Steelers’ famed “zone blitz,” LeBeau was named the Steelers’ defensive coordinator Jan. 16, 2004, after spending the 2003 season with the Buffalo Bills.

    His impact on the coaching staff was profound as the Steelers returned to the top of the NFL in total defense and rushing defense.

    .

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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadesofgrey
    Soprano do you ever have anything positive to say? It seems like most of your posts(that I've read) are all critical of a coach or player. :clanram:
    I guess I'm a different kind of fan.

    I think I speak of problems because simply touting a player is like preaching to choir around here. I'm focusing on what we have to do to get better. Have you ever seen a critical post I've made of Mark Bulger? or Torry Holt?

    .

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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    So, the Mighty Steelers started our 1-3 and 30 or more points were scored against them in those games.
    The same year they closed the season by giving up
    30 points in Game 15 (against Carolina).
    31 points to the Ravens to in Game 17.
    33 points in a wildcard game to the Browns
    34 points in a heartbreaking loss to the Titans 34-31.
    Kind of a Jekyl-and-Hyde defense. They give up several points in these games, but held half a dozen other teams, including the Ravens and Browns under 18. The Steelers are to football what the Braves are to baseball. Always in the start of the playoffs, but never in the end.
    "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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    Re: Foes run on Rams by showing the pass

    This from some point in the 2002 Steeler's Season:

    THIRD-DOWN WOES — If there's one continuous sore spot for the Pittsburgh defense, it's the inability of the Steelers to get off the field on third down. Pittsburgh has faced 152 third-down situations this season — the second highest total in the NFL — and has allowed opponents to convert 74 times for a league-worst 48.7 percent. Dallas has been in 153 third-down situations but has allowed only 55 first downs (35.9).

    Last week, Tennessee converted 12 of its 19 third-down opportunities in a 31-23 win against the Steelers.

    AND This from By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Chris Hope was a rookie in 2002, a third-round draft choice from Florida State, and he remembers his first game in the NFL because it was a Monday night rematch of the AFC championship game.

    He was not with the Steelers in 2001, when they lost to the New England Patriots in the conference championship at Heinz Field, but what he saw in the season opener at Gillette Stadium didn't differ a lot from what happened to the Steelers the year before.

    "They ran the spread all the way down the field," said Hope, a starting free safety. "They were just picking it up and throwing it and running and getting first down after first down."

    EnD quote .. It's nothing New, the Rams shouldn't be surprised.

    .
    Last edited by Tony Soprano; -10-20-2005 at 04:33 PM.

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