Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    RamFan_Til_I_Die's Avatar
    RamFan_Til_I_Die is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Bakersfield, CA
    Age
    38
    Posts
    2,155
    Rep Power
    69

    Help on the way: Rams new coach looks to bolster defense

    By Gerry Fraley, Special to USA TODAY
    ST. LOUIS — Five victories in the last two seasons and one winning record in the last seven convinced the St. Louis Rams it was time to try something different.
    The Rams put aside their obsession with offense and brought in former New York Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as head coach. He is the franchise's first head coach with a background firmly rooted in defense since Ray Malavasi more than a quarter-century ago.

    But anyone expecting a sudden and miraculous turnaround will likely be disappointed. The Rams are not a team that can be fixed quickly.

    "We're going to have to start at the beginning here," Spagnuolo says. "Take it one step at a time and build on it. We get the team-first (philosophy) together, and then we'll move on."

    Given Spagnuolo's background, it should not be surprising that defense will be the foundation of the rebuilding program.

    The Rams' undersized defense gave up more than 30 points in 15 of its 32 games over the last two seasons. The Giants allowed 30-plus points twice in Spagnuolo's last 21 games as their coordinator. That included the Super Bowl XLII upset of the New England Patriots and their high-powered offense.

    It is a long way from those Giants Defenses to what the Rams will field. Spagnuolo and new defensive coordinator Ken Flajole will try to fix the Rams' group with youth and a new philosophy.

    "Everybody's excited to try something new, to start over and forget about what happened last year," linebacker Will Witherspoon says. "You can't move on without learning from it, but we've all looked at it and said, 'Hey, OK, now we know exactly where we are. Now we're working towards a whole new ideal.' "

    The Rams brought in one significant free agent for the defense: strong safety James Butler, who had 26 starts with the Giants in the last two regular seasons.

    But the Rams were defense-conscious in the draft. Three of their first four picks were defenders who are likely to contribute immediately.

    "We were just hell-bent on bringing in as many good players that were going to be part of this process," general manager Billy Devaney says.

    Spagnuolo wants large defensive players who can beat up opponents, just as the Giants did.

    That's why he moved Witherspoon from the middle — now likely to be manned by 244-pound rookie James Laurinaitis— where he was often dwarfed, to the outside. That's why Flajole has told the linemen to ditch the passive style in which they moved laterally along the line and caught blockers. The new directive is to get upfield in a hurry, a switch that could help a pair of former first-round picks who have not met advance billing: tackle Adam Carriker and end Chris Long.

    The Rams will blitz just as Spagnuolo's defenses with the Giants did. The key is to keep the blitzes from confusing the Rams.

    Previous defensive coordinator Jim Haslett tried to use the blitz to make up for a lack of size, but it often undermined the Rams because players were out of position. Last season's group allowed 71 plays of 20 yards or more.

    "You're going to see whole different wrinkles from us on defense," defensive tackle Clifton Ryan says. "We're going to be more of an attack-style defense, more putting pressure on the quarterback. We're not going to be on our heels."

    As bad as the defense has been, the offense was worse in 2008. Perhaps the most telling statement: The winless Detroit Lions outscored the Rams for the season by 36 points. Only the Cincinnati Bengals scored fewer points than the Rams' 232.

    The offense will be without a pair of aging former Pro Bowlers who were cast aside because of salary-cap considerations: left tackle Orlando Pace and wide receiver Torry Holt. Battered running back Steven Jackson and shattered quarterback Marc Bulger will return.

    Jackson had his fourth consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season despite missing five games because of injuries. He had a high degree of difficulty attached to his accomplishment. Convinced that Bulger could not beat them, opponents often stacked the line with extra defenders to stop Jackson. Bulger never made them pay for that. He ranked 30th in the league with a passer rating of 71.4.

    It was Bulger's second consecutive subpar season. Showing the effects of multiple offensive coordinators and even more sacks, Bulger ranks 38th among qualifiers in passing rating over the last two seasons combined at 70.9. To put that in perspective, Bulger ranks one spot behind Daunte Culpepper and seven spots behind Joey Harrington.

    "Obviously, it has been two difficult years," Bulger says. "But with the team mentality the way it is now, I'd be selfish to start thinking about how rough it's been and feeling sorry for myself."

    If the refurbished defense improves, maybe things won't appear so bleak for Bulger and Co. going forward.

    AROUND THE FIELD IN ST. LOUIS

    Quarterback: Marc Bulger made the Pro Bowl in 2006, but he paid a price. Bulger absorbed 49 sacks in that season and has not been the same since. In the last two seasons, Bulger has thrown more aggregate interceptions than touchdowns (28 to 22) and missed five starts, mostly for physical reasons. Kyle Boller, whose last snap with the Baltimore Ravens a year ago came in the second exhibition, should be the backup with rookie Keith Null a project.

    Running back: Steven Jackson better be ready. The new coaching staff wants to feature an increased emphasis on the power running game. Jackson tended to fade in games last season. In his first 20 carries a game, he averaged 4.4 yards; after that it was 2.8 yards. The signing of fullback Mike Karney gives Jackson a needed lead blocker.

    Wide receiver: Torry Holt's departure leaves the Rams' thin and inexperienced here. Donnie Avery has speed but rarely showed it. He averaged 4.1 yards gained after the catch. The organization will be on the watch for a useful veteran.

    Tight end: The new offense, coordinated by Pat Shurmur, is designed to bring the tight end back into the passing game. That will please Randy McMichael, largely ignored in two seasons with the Rams despite historically being an effective intermediate option.

    Offensive line: Orlando Pace, the seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle, departed in a salary purge. Penalty-plagued Alex Barron will move from the right side to replace Pace, but that could change if top draft pick Jason Smith shines this summer. Center Jason Brown, a free agent addition, brings needed bulk. Right guard Richie Incognito tends to become overly emotional and take bad penalties.

    Defensive line: The first order of business is to determine which tackle, Adam Carriker or Clifton Ryan, is better suited to play over the center. Chris Long, the second pick in the 2008 draft, had four sacks last season as he learned that bull-rushing alone does not work in the NFL. At 34, end Leonard Little is nearing the end of his career.

    Linebacker: Will Witherspoon, miscast in the middle for the last two seasons, returns to the outside to take advantage of his playmaking abilities. Run-stuffing rookie James Laurinaitis should man the middle with Chris Draft on the other side.

    Secondary: Strong safety James Butler arrived from the New York Giants along with new head coach Steve Spagnuolo. Butler pairs with Oshiomogho Atogwe, who forced six fumbles and had five interceptions last season, to form what could be a top safety tandem. Ron Bartell and Tye Hill, who has not lived up to advance billing, are the leading corners.

    Special teams: Punter Donnie Jones has a big leg but too often outkicks his middling coverage unit. Opponents averaged 10.4 yards a return, third highest in the league. Josh Brown was 6-for-8 on field goal tries from 50 yards and beyond.

    Coaching staff: Shurmur, the new offensive coordinator, spent the last 10 seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles and will implement many of the West Coast offense principles favored by Eagles coach Andy Reid. Spagnuolo will have a hand in the defense, but he will defer on play calls to coordinator Ken Flajole. Look for Flajole, who coached with the Carolina Panthers the last six seasons, to blitz often.

    Outlook: Spagnuolo is taking over a dilapidated franchise. The Rams have five wins spanning the last two years, have not had a winning record since 2003 and play home games in perhaps the league's most sterile atmosphere. Spagnuolo's first goal is to rid the locker room of the losing atmosphere and get the club to play with a physical style. It may take awhile.


  2. #2
    hawaiianpunch's Avatar
    hawaiianpunch is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Las Vegas
    Posts
    401
    Rep Power
    9

    Re: Help on the way: Rams new coach looks to bolster defense

    Quote Originally Posted by RamFan_Til_I_Die View Post
    Penalty-plagued Alex Barron will move from the right side to replace Pace, but that could change if top draft pick Jason Smith shines this summer. Center Jason Brown, a free agent addition, brings needed bulk. Right guard Richie Incognito tends to become overly emotional and take bad penalties.
    first i wanna say this article is a nice find Till i die.

    Really though Incognito ive seen knock up some bonehead penalties. But with his temper all i remember is the redskins game when he got hot headed, and made josh brown kick a 49 yarder. Other than that i don't remember any." Roid rage, without roids... that's perpostuous!" Brown saved incognito that day.

    But seriously This overhaul could mean the future. But i Think Incognito should've taken a backseat to Greco, who seemed more reliable in pass coverage.

    On other things, i have a really Optimistic outlook on this season. Im going to laugh when we bounce unsuspecting teams out of our way through our rebuilding, i have faith in spags, and i trust his judgment on sizing up our linebackers for run support. so in the end....

    --I bleed Blue and Gold. But it used to be blue and yellow.

  3. #3
    laram0's Avatar
    laram0 is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Age
    57
    Posts
    9,281
    Rep Power
    109

    Re: Help on the way: Rams new coach looks to bolster defense

    Battered and Shattered...Jackson and Bulger!

    If that ain't the truth.

    The slate is wiped clean in more ways than one.

    Better days are coming for our team and us the fans!!!!

  4. #4
    RebelYell's Avatar
    RebelYell is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    St. Louis ,Missouri
    Posts
    2,397
    Rep Power
    45

    Re: Help on the way: Rams new coach looks to bolster defense

    The new style should help Carriker and Long.

    I like the direction but the Rams are paper thin in quality depth all over the field. That is going to haunt us all season long.

    Incognito has had multiple bone headed games. As Jim Thomas says, "if you are in a heated debate with everyone on the defensive line all game long, you really aren't able to make line calls" when referencing whether he could be moved to center. I think the guy just loses all concentration on the field and forgets what he is supposed to be doing at times. All the talent in the world though.

    I like the direction things are going but this team is going to need some time to rise from the depths we saw last year.

  5. #5
    RealRam's Avatar
    RealRam is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    Mexico
    Posts
    8,470
    Rep Power
    68

    Re: Help on the way: Rams new coach looks to bolster defense

    Defensive line: The first order of business is to determine which tackle, Adam Carriker or Clifton Ryan, is better suited to play over the center.
    With these two players, I like the way our DT stock is building. And rookie Dorell Scott seems promising as well.

    All in all, I too look forward to an improved team on all units. GO RAMS!!!


    PS: I really think the Cog has grown and will be fine.

Similar Threads

  1. Rams Playoff History
    By OldRamsfan in forum RAM TALK
    Replies: 17
    Last Post: -02-09-2009, 10:14 AM
  2. Gordo Post Game Chat
    By RamWraith in forum RAM TALK
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: -09-08-2008, 08:23 AM
  3. J. Thomas Live, 12-27
    By RamWraith in forum RAM TALK
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: -12-28-2007, 11:46 AM
  4. Postgame With Gordo
    By RamWraith in forum RAM TALK
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: -09-30-2007, 07:16 PM
  5. Thomas Live
    By RamWraith in forum RAM TALK
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: -09-19-2007, 01:06 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •