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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Haslett sees better tackling as key to 2006 defense

    He expects boost from team's new roster additions
    BY STEVE KORTE
    News-Democrat
    ST. LOUIS - Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett knows that if the St. Louis Rams are going to be better defensively in the 2006 season, they'll have to tackle better than they did in the 2005 season.

    "I want our defense to be tough-minded, I want our defense to be physical, but I also want them to be good technique guys and I want them to be good tacklers," Haslett said Tuesday during a press luncheon at Rams Park.

    "I don't think it was a good tackling football team last year. We're going to try to be a good tackling football team. I don't know if you can teach somebody to be tough. I don't know if you can teach somebody to be fast. I think you can teach somebody to be a good tackler."

    Haslett takes over a defense that ranked 30th out of the NFL's 32 teams last season. They were 28th in rush defense, allowing a 100-yard rusher in seven games last season.

    Haslett said he thought the four unrestricted free agents added to the roster this season -- defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, middle linebacker Will Witherspoon, strong safety Corey Chavous and cornerback Fakhir Brown -- would bring some toughness to the Rams' defense.

    "I think the four guys we brought in as free agents, No. 1, they're all tough," Haslett said. "I'm not saying we were lacking any of that, but they're tough individuals, they're tough-minded, they love football and they are going to be good for this team."

    Haslett also liked the five defensive players chosen by the Rams in the 2006 NFL Draft, especially Clemson cornerback Tye Hill, the team's first-round pick.

    "I think Tye Hill can help us," Haslett said. "The thing that flashed about him was his great speed. He's not a big guy (5-foot-9), but when you watch him on film, if you didn't know his height, you'd think he was 6-foot. He's tough. He's a well-built guy. He has all the qualities to be a heck of a corner in the league."

    Haslett thinks LSU defensive tackle Claude Wroten, taken in the third round, also could make an immediate impact.

    "We thought he had first-round potential," Haslett said. "He's a guy who can get after the quarterback, probably the best pass rusher in the draft from that spot."

    Wroten was arrested earlier this year and charged with charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

    Those charges were dropped, and Haslett believes that having Glover as a mentor will help keep Wroten out of further trouble.

    "La'Roi already has done that with Jimmy Kennedy," Haslett said. "They've formed a good relationship. La'Roi is a guy who doesn't care about anything but winning games. The guy has been to the Pro Bowl five or six times, and you'd think he'd have a little bit of ego, but he has none of that. He's the ultimate team player. He's tough as nails. He practices hard. He works hard. I think it is going to filter down to the whole team, not just Claude or Jimmy Kennedy."

    Haslett said he's confident that Kennedy will be able to handle being the Rams' starting nose tackle.

    "First of all, he has impressed me in his work ethic," Haslett said. "I wasn't one of his staunchest supporters coming out in the draft, to be honest with you. He has changed me with what I've seen. That guys works hard. He wants to be a good football player."

    Haslett said what he doesn't know is how Kennedy will hold up under the strain of playing one of the most physically and mentally draining positions in the NFL.

    "The thing that I don't know is when he puts the pads on, can he hang in there on double teams," Haslett said. "Mentally, can he take the beating every day? That's a position where you get two bodies on you, probably 600 pounds, every play. That's my only question."

    Despite his optimism, Has-lett admits the Rams head into the 2006 season with a lot of unanswered questions on defense.

    "We still have question marks like everybody else in this league," Haslett said.

    "Can Witherspoon play in the middle? I think he can. He did it before. Can Pisa (Tinoisamoa) play better? Can (Brandon) Chillar stay healthy, because I thought he improved from Year 1 to Year 2 very well? We're going to move Leonard (Little) around. He's been on the left side his whole career. Can he handle it? Can Anthony Hargrove pick up his game to the next level? Can O.J. (Atogwe) step in and be the starter (at free safety), or is it (Jerome) Carter?"


  2. #2
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    Re: Haslett sees better tackling as key to 2006 defense

    Wow....really Jim? You think tackling would improve a defense? Thanks Mr. Obvious.

    I guess I shouldn't be so hard on him. He did get rid of some dead weight (Arch and DLew) and the Rams have brought in some guys who are tough. However, my concern is the pass rush. The secondary is only as good as the amount of pressure you put on a QB. I don't see how the Rams have addressed that problem and that is going to be a very big concern for Haslett going into this season.

    Defensively, Tye Hill may be a good corner but if the Rams would have improved the pass rush I think Fisher could have been just as good this year as Hill. I still think it was a mistake not taking one of the DE's with pass rushing skills. This is Hargrove's last year to prove to everyone on the Rams he can play. He hasn't shown consistency at all and there really isn't anyone behind him to force him to play harder.

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    Re: Haslett sees better tackling as key to 2006 defense

    I guess I shouldn't be so hard on him. He did get rid of some dead weight (Arch and DLew) and the Rams have brought in some guys who are tough. However, my concern is the pass rush. The secondary is only as good as the amount of pressure you put on a QB. I don't see how the Rams have addressed that problem and that is going to be a very big concern for Haslett going into this season.
    Claude Wroten and La'Roi Glover are both great pass rushers. The Rams drafted a DE in the 5th round who should do well in passing situations. Obviously, Hargrove impressed them enough in the Mini Camps to make them think that we'll be alright with the guys we have.
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    Re: Haslett sees better tackling as key to 2006 defense

    good post....... i cant believe i read all of that.... i dont like reading long stuff but yea those are big questions that will be figured out when the season starts

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    coy bacon is offline Registered User
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    Re: Haslett sees better tackling as key to 2006 defense

    I'm getting a bad feeling about this year.


    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith
    "I want our defense to be tough-minded, I want our defense to be physical, but I also want them to be good technique guys and I want them to be good tacklers," Haslett said Tuesday during a press luncheon at Rams Park.

    "I don't think it was a good tackling football team last year. We're going to try to be a good tackling football team.

    Gee, I'd thought that's page one of playing defense. Duh. I want all of that too. Wanting that and 50 cents might get you a cup o Joe.

    He doesn't think, he doesn't think, da Rams were a good tackling team. Take a guess, look at the stats. Not much left to thinking. Just come out and say it, be as straightforward as you expect your players to play.

    Sorry, I'm not as impressed with his rhetoric as I am with Linehan's. Like Tx said, he's made an eloquent attempt at stating the obvious. He's gonna have to do a hell of a lot better than that, otherwise, ouch, it's going to be another long season.


    And ya'll, don't expect much of anything from Wroten this year. Sages say that it takes a few years for a DT to develop. So, don't get your hopes up. Give him a couple to get it.

    OTOH, if Kennedy don't cut it this year...


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    I'm getting a bad feeling bout this year.....

  6. #6
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    Re: Haslett sees better tackling as key to 2006 defense

    What Haslett says now shouldn't get anyone too bent out of shape, it's all about what he produces on the field. Until we actually see what happens, I'm certainly not going to second guess him.

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