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    Jim Thomas: Oct 19 Tuesday Rams Chat Transcript

    Tuesday Rams chat transcript

    BY JIM THOMAS
    Tuesday, October 19, 2010 3:42 pm

    Here's a transcript of the questions and answers from Tuesday's live chat with Post-Dispatch football writer Jim Thomas:



    Encino: Yes, I know the Rams won. But shouldn't the coaching staff be soundly criticized for their ultra-conservative offensive plan in the second half? Since when do NFL teams elect to sit on a 14-point lead for two full quarters?


    Jim Thomas: Most of my Tuesday story in the Post-Dispatch was devoted to that topic. I guess when you win, a lot of sins are forgiven. I'm sure it would have been a huge issue had the team lost.

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    rams26: Hello Jim -

    Great win on Sunday. How concerned should we be over Denario's soreness in the knee?

    GO RAMS!!!!!


    Jim Thomas: I think it's something that could happen periodically with Alexander. After 4 knee surgeries, every game he plays in the NFL is a blessing.

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    rams26: Hi Jim -

    Tampa is a huge game for us because it is the next game which is Spag's philosophy which I completely agree with. Also, in order for us to take the next step, we have to prove we can win on the road. I really hope we bring the intensity and attitude we did on Sunday!!!

    GO RAMS!!!!!!


    Jim Thomas: If the Rams are to truly compete for the NFC West title, they must win at least a couple, three games on the road.

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    Greg Smith Jackson, Tennessee: Jim,
    I read where Danario Alexander has had 3 or 4 knee surgeries; where any of them reconstructive? What were the nature of the surgeries?


    Jim Thomas: Four surgeries _ all on left knee. 1.) Dec. '07, torn ACL in Big 12 title game vs. Oklahoma. 2.) June '08, re-torn ACL during workouts. 3.) KU game late in '08 season, torn ligament again; 4.) Senior Bowl workouts last January, torn cartilage.

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    Sledrock: Jim,

    I know it's way early, and presuming he can stay healthy, but do you think Danario's ability to "stretch the field" will keep defenses from crowding the LOS and open up plays for our other WRs and TEs?

    And - have you revised your W-L prediction for the Rams?

    Thanks...


    Jim Thomas: I'll bump the Rams up one victory _ to 5-11. (By the way, Kevin Demoff _ the Rams' exec VP of football operations, bet me a dinner that the Rams would win more than 4. I'm not looking too good on that bet right now.)

    Sure, teams will have to respect Danario's ability to get deep and to catch the fade pattern. That can only help the running game and the underneath stuff. But I'm sure Alexander wasn't even on San Diego's radar entering the game, and he surprised Cason on the TD play. He may surprise teams for a while, but with each catch he makes teams will start paying more attention to him.

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    jdylla: Did you see the block that Jackson made on a blitzing LB during the TD pass to Alexander? Jackson has matured into a team leader willing to do what ever it takes to win.


    Jim Thomas: You bring up a good point. Blitz pickup is such an important part of playing running back in this league, and Jackson has improved dramatically in that area since his rookie year in the league. It's the dirty work that needs to be done in order to win in this league.

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    jdylla: What is the major difference on the Defense between last year and this year? I know they have better health and addded a couple small pieces (Robbins, Diggs) but these are the only two new starters from last year and the defense is a LOT better.


    Jim Thomas: You know this is a hard one to figure out. Robbins has had a big impact on the interior, and that has helped the DEs. Diggs has been solid. But with the exception of Detroit, the play of the unit has been better than I guess the sum of its parts. I know the coaches and players keep saying it's because it's the second year in the system. Maybe so, but couldn't that be said of a lot of teams in their second year in a system. It just doesn't always happen that way. I do know the play of the corners has helped - Bartell and Fletcher. But it's been an interesting development. While realizing that Gates and Floyd got hurt Sunday, the Rams still held the Chargers to their lowest output of the season (287 yards), their lowest time of possession of the year (26 1/2 minutes), and Rivers' lowest passer rating of the season (77.4).

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    John in DC: Jim,

    Thanks for these chats, as always. A couple questions:

    1. What a great game Sunday. Do you think after Sunday that Flajole will finally committ to being aggressive every game? Seems to me that our 3 losses were due in large part to a passive defensive gameplan.

    2. What was the story with the botched snaps on Sunday?

    3. How would you rate Otogwe's play this season so far? For the first couple games, it looked like someone who had just cashed in. Better this week though - particularly that interception. But the Rams need a higher level of playmaking from OJ going forward. Thoughts?

    P.S. I had a chance to catch the Mizzou game this weekend. What are the chances Kemp goes pro after this year? And where do you think he would fall draft-wise? He sure looks like a very good prospect (size, decent speed, catches everything)...

    Thanks

    John


    Jim Thomas: 1.) The Rams were very aggressive against Arizona. They blitzed about 30 times. They were less aggressive against Oakland and Detroit.
    2.) Don't know. Will try to find out.
    3.) Don't know what you're seeing with Atogwe, but I see a guy who always plays hard. He was playing through a thigh injury for a couple of weeks, so it may have looked like he wasn't running full speed. But you could tell he was hurting, particularly at times against Oakland.

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    averagej: Watching this last game, I noticed that SJ was hit (or at least touched) by a defender in the backfield almost every time he got the ball. I think it shows how good he is that he was able to get any yards at all. Do you think he's making the Rams run blocking look better than it actually is? Or was the play calling just too predictable?


    Jim Thomas: Throughout his career Jackson has consistently gotten a lot of yards after contact.

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    nevadariverranch: Jim, correct me if i'm wrong, did the NFL interview almost every Rams player last year while they were losing like they are with the Cowboys this year? Man are they just trying to prop up the boys so they get a home superbowl or what? Why can't the talking heads say what they really are, A Bad Team!


    Jim Thomas: Of course the Cowboys are overhyped.

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    Andrew from Toronto: Hello Jim,

    Thanks again for taking our questions each week. After the huge loss to the Lions, the team showed alot of character with the win against the Chargers. I now believe that Spags is the right coach for the Rams. The players are buying into his attitude both the vets and the newcomers. My question is being that we are the 2nd youngest team in the league, do you think we will pursue some vetrans to shore up our team next year? If so, with character being a key component, who do you think the Rams will look at?

    Thanks again for answering our questions.
    Andrew #1 fan in Canada


    Jim Thomas: According to Stats Inc, the Rams are only the 10th-youngest team in the league. So I'm not sure the Rams have to purposely look to add veterans.

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    Mick N.: Living in South Louisiana does not allow me to see any of the Ram's games -- a blessing I guess during the last few years. I hear and read that M. Gilyard is getting a bit more playing time recently, but nothing close to what would be expected from a fourth round pick on a team starved for production from receivers. How is it that D. Alexander can come aboard and in a short period of time learn some plays and put up decent numbers (just one game, I know), while Gilyard continues to play a minor roll? Some of the articles have suggested that the rookie cannot remember and/or run the plays. From your perspective is this the problem, and if it is, can he persevere?


    Jim Thomas: Gilyard has had problems getting lined up correctly, and running the right routes. He was starting to come around however, and made a very nice third-down catch against San Diego, but then suffered a hamstring injury and couldn't finish out the game.

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    Prof: Hi Mr. Thomas,

    How do you read the Rams' third quarter offense on Sunday? It reminded me more of Spagnuolo's years with the Giants -- tough defense, solid special teams, and enough offense to win -- rather than Shurmur's time at Philadelphia, which has had the most pass-oriented, pass-to-set-up-the-run offense in recent decades in the NFL.

    Simply put, despite Spagnuolo's deflection that he was concerned with the defense, it seems more his choice than Shurmur's.


    Jim Thomas: Spagnuolo is a hands-on, detailed-oriented coach. It's hard for me to believe that Shurmur wasn't following orders on this one.

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    nfcchamps2010: JT, in your opinion will the dome be packed with 66,000 fans for the Bruce ceremony game against Carolina?


    Jim Thomas: Well, I'm a big admirer of Isaac Bruce. If you can't sell it out for this one.....

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    MA Rams Fan: Jim- With 2 games left before the bye (both games we can win-albeit one on the road) do you expect any of our injured guys (ryan,scott,ect..) back before the bye? Also last week vs SD Bradford hit 9 different players with passes (targeted 10)and with the team 3-3 and playing well- what are the things that Spags and Co. are looking to see Bradford improve on as the season continus?


    Jim Thomas: Ryan and Scott were healthy scratches for San Diego. They practiced all week. Other than the latest batch of hamstring injuries (most notably King and Stewart), the only player the Rams are waiting on to get healthy is LB Chris Chamberlain, who is a good coverage linebacker and one of the team's best special teams players. Chamberlain could be a week or two away.
    As for Bradford, I don't know if there's any one thing. I think he has played better than anyone could expect, particularly when it comes to poise and presence. I'm sure they'd like him to be a little more accurate. Throw the ball away instead of taking sacks (see red zone sequence in 2nd quarter vs. San Diego) and cut down on his interceptions.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    steve: of all the players the rams released last year due to getting younger, cleaning house of 'non-winners', and traded for a player of a different position, whom would you like to see back in a rams uniform?


    Jim Thomas: Interesting question. The two names that come to mind are DE Leonard Little (who as a free agent wasn't signed) and LB Will Witherspoon (who was traded to Philly, and is now with Tennessee). But it does look like Long has benefited from the extra reps he's getting in Little's departure. And the Rams were desperate for receivers at the time of the Witherspoon trade (from Brandon Gibson), and Witherspoon hadn't done much last year at this time in the new system.

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    leftyisking103: Who's richer? T. Boone Pickens or Stan Kroenke?


    Jim Thomas: According to Forbes, Kroenke is ranked 130th at $2.7 billion on its list of America's 400 richest people; Pickens is at 290 at $1.4 billion. (And Kroenke's total doesn't include his wife Ann, who's ranked 98th at $3.2 billion.)

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    CierraRam: Hey Jim, I havent written since last season and I thought it was time to share a thought.

    Optimistic caution is the right phrase to use with Danario and even if he is not starting and only in during key situations the opposing defense has to honor that kind of a presence and it in turn it should open a myriad of other realistic possibilities for the play calling not previously possible, or unlikely, even when Mark Clayton was playing. Assuming good health I think Danario has at least Marques Colston ability and with the return to health of Avery and Clayton (if they resign him) I should think WR suddenly becomes much more of moot issue for the offseason agenda. With the other holes on the team being attended to early in the draft..Im going out on a limb and say this team makes the playoffs next year..and competes for the division title this year.I was with you on 4-6 wins; now I think 7-8 wins this year because of the teams apparent resolve. Your thoughts?

    Cierra


    Jim Thomas: I still think the Rams need a No.1 type receiver.

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    Newkirk: Jim,

    Danario Alexander might become an excellent receiver; the type of 'big man' that the Rams haven't had at WR in a long time. Yet, they seem pretty cavalier about his knee situation. Do you think they are taking an unnecessary risk by using him on special teams and even by playing down the pain in his knee that has been reported? It seems to me that they are being foolish, for the team and Danario, to rush him along and risk ruining his knee for good.


    Jim Thomas: I think the Rams have been very careful not to rush Alexander along. I do wonder about playing him on special teams, though.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    laramfan4life: Hey Jim, I like the direction we're headed in but there are some things that still have me scratching my head. First, I think we need to run the ball more once we get inside the red zone. Second, I understand Onubun is a project but he's 6'7, just throw a jump ball in the end zone, I'm almost positive he can out jump any defensive back in the league. Thirdly, can you please tell Shurmur to THROW THE BALL DOWN FIELD!!!!!!!! Thank you!!


    Jim Thomas: For all the moaning about the lack of the big play in the Rams passing game, did you know the Rams are tied for 5th - tied for 5th!!! - in pass plays of 30 yards or more this season in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats and Research.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    bfulton: I loved what Alexander brought to the game, Sunday. He was only targeted twice in the 2d half, however. Was it because of offensive design, adjustment by the defense or Alexander's fatigue?


    Jim Thomas: I don't know the reason. But nobody got targeted much in the second half. The Rams threw only 7 passes after halftime.

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    matt: How surprised were you at how much Danario helped the offense in his first game.I was so excited when we signed him I'm a huge Tigers fan and if he stays healthy he could be a huge WR for us.


    Jim Thomas: Very surprised. I am aware of Alexander's talents. And he looked very good in practice last week. But this is the NFL. Rookies - particularly rookies with four left knee surgeries - just don't walk out onto the field in mid-October, without even playing in a preseason game, and do what Alexander did Sunday against San Diego.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tackleberry: Jim,

    This may sound ridiculous, so I apologize in advance; but it feels like the Alexander signing was done more to appease a vocal fanbase then it was a real "strategic" decision on the part of Devaney. I just read your P-D asociate Bernie's column the other day and he was heaping praise on Devaney for that move, it feels more like it was a fan-driven move. Maybe I am crazy. But why did it take so long for the signing to go down?


    Jim Thomas: Trust me, Devaney is not into making moves to appeal to the fan base. It took so long because of Alexander's knee issues.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Marco: Hey Jim,

    Thanks for answering our questions.

    With the Rams heading in the right direction not only on the field, but as an entire organization, is it safe to assume that our new owner, Stan Kroenke will keep Billy D and Spagnuolo in place after the season?


    Jim Thomas: Well, I think he's got to be happy with the direction of the team. But there's still 10 games to go.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Ram-o-Rama: Hey Jim,

    I was at the game on Sunday and saw Alexander play. Wow, what a future this kid has. However, every time I saw him come on to the field I quietly asked for him to please not get hurt. I know the only way to find out if he can play is to play him, but I still think we're rushing him because of our lack of depth. I would hate to see his career end because we just didn't have the patience to let him get his knee in the best possible shape before we put him out there. What are your thoughts on this?


    Jim Thomas: I think the Rams have been very patient. And in an ideal world, maybe they would've waited longer. But the Clayton injury may have forced their hand.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Reggie Cunningham: Almost parade time...eh Jim?


    Jim Thomas: Almost. We have notified the band to make sure of their availibity. And are checking on the permit process for the parade ground.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    8081RIP: Any chance that the Rams are 5-3 at the break? And do you think we have a shot at the division? It's hard not to get excited, GO RAMS!!!


    Jim Thomas: If the Rams come back from Tampa with a victory, I think they have a good chance - maybe a very good chance - of being 5-3 at the break. As for winning the division, I no longer look at the players like they have two heads when they talk about competing for the division.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Mitch from San Diego: Hi Jim,

    First, it was great to see the Rams beat the Chargers as I got laughed at quite a bit here in SD whenever I predicted the Rams would win this game. On to my comment; I was listening on satellite radio at halftime to the Rams radio broadcast. The commentator said to Jim Hanifan that the Rams should go heavy on the run in the second half with a 14 point lead. Hanifan responded that the was exactly the wrong strategy and the Rams must continue to be agressive with the passing game as the Chargers will certainly come back in the second half. If Hanny knows this why doesn't Spags?

    Well, to start the second half the Rams immediately went in a shell with a dull, predictable three and out. If the Rams can start a game on the road with an ill advised, low percentage onside kick that only served to infuriate the already fired up Lions, why not start the second half at home with high tempo no huddle to keep the woozy, shell shocked Chargers on their heels?

    I used to joke that if former Rams coach Chuck Knox got a one score lead his preference would be to punt on first down so nothing bad would happen. Yes that was a joke but that is exactly what I saw on that opening drive on the second half.

    Thank you,

    Mitch from San Diego


    Jim Thomas: Well, this is a defensive-oriented head coach. And most defensive oriented head coaches are conservative when it comes to offense.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Tj in Virginia: Jim i live in VA but read everything you write on the Rams and listen to you via the internet on local radio. i love how you hard you work!
    Kroenke has been pretty silent, at least in the media, since taking over this team. How much involvement is he going to have? Has he made any suggestions or even inqueries as to players this team may need to continue to compete?
    Thanks!


    Jim Thomas: I had a pretty extensive Q&A with Kroenke that ran on opening day. (Sept. 12) I think you can still find it on-line in our stltoday.com rams archives. He addresses his philosophy, etc., in pretty direct form in the interview.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    kymizzou1: The Rams appear to play with a much higher degree of confidence at home vs. on the road. I assume youth has a lot to do with this. I personnally think the Rams are better than the Bucs. What must the Rams do in order to play with the same intensity and physicality on the road this Sun. @ Tampa in order to get their first road win?


    Jim Thomas: Well, that's the question. And the next challenge - winning on the road. I'm sure Spags hopes the team learned its lesson in Detroit in terms of coming out strong, taking advantage of opportunities, and not wilting when something bad happens.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Rick Perrin: Mr. Thomas;
    Is it my perception or do the Rams play the softest pass coverage?
    They start at the line & then droop about 10 yrds deep. The sidelines are a safe pass nearly every play. They basically play prevent , a defense that isn't very effective even in it's normal use.
    I've been a Ram's fan since the announcement of there move, but I've
    been a Sooner's fan all of my 60 yrs, from generations (over 100 yrs) of
    Sooners fans. Sooners 35 Missouri 17.
    Thanks
    Rick


    Jim Thomas: I think some of the soft coverage you're talking about has come because the Rams have had a two-score, and in the case of Seattle a thiree-score game. But I also think the Rams are making a concerted effort this season to avoid the big play by keeping the ball in front of them. The Rams are allowing only 57.3% of opponents' passes to be completed against them, the eighth-best total of the season.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    RAMphetamine: Who will lead the Rams in receiving yard by the end of the year?


    Jim Thomas: Now that's a good one. Amendola has a 172-yard lead over anybody who's still on the active roster. If Danario Alexander is as effective as he was against San Diego and stays healthy, he could catch him. I'd say the only other candidate might be Brandon Gibson, who has 150 yards in four games after being on the game day inactive list in Games 1 and 2. The return of Hoomanawanui and Bajema will cut into Fells' production.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    rams2050: About Danario -- if the Rams are so concerned about his knee, why are they exposing him to unnecessary hits by playing him on special teams?

    It would seem to me that his potential worth as a 6'5" wide receiver of significant talent would transcend any possible contributions he might be able to make as a special teamer, especially since he has a recently reconstructed knee that has been injured on numerous occasions.

    Wouldn't it make more sense to stockpile DX for receiving duties, period?

    Or does he have to 'earn' his way into elite status -- like Torrey and Isaac did, bum knee or not?


    Jim Thomas: Isaac Bruce began the 1995 season - his second as a Ram, and the team's first in St. Louis - playing special teams. Remember that blocked punt in Green Bay?

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    gldnbuddy: I can't figure this team out--one week they look like a superbowl team and the next week they look like the worst team in the league !


    Jim Thomas: Welcome to the NFL, 2010. San Diego is 0-4 on the road, and 2-0 at home (outscoring its opponents 79 to 23 at home).

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    stl4evr: Have DT's ryan and scott been productive this year? I know they were out a few games.


    Jim Thomas: Two small a sample size. Ryan hasn't played since the opener. Scott hasn't played since Week 2.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    RamDynasty: Is John Greco now the primary right guard on the Rams? Him and Jason Smith have been doing a good job run blocking lately. Havent seen Adam Goldberg as much.


    Jim Thomas: Goldberg is still playing more than Greco.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    HWPR: Thanks Jim.

    Read the article this morning explaning DX's most recent surgury. Any idea of the three that preceeded the latest (type and severity)?


    Jim Thomas: See earlier post.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    centaur: what are areas of need that the rams need to draft for next year?


    Jim Thomas: In no particular order, No. 1 WR, strong backup RB, pass-rushing DE, fast OLB.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Indian: Hi Jim,
    With the Rams proving that they are a competitve team that is on its way up; do you anticipate the remaining home games to be sold out or will it be a week to week thing needing help from the corporate community? By the way the atmosphere has been great at the dome this year. Funny how winning and being competive cures alot of the warts at the dome.


    Jim Thomas: I still think it'll be a week to week thing. Maybe a win on the road at Tampa would spur ticket sales.

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    TimJim: Jim -- Leading up to the game we heard a lot about the Chargers "maximum protect" strategy to keep people away from Rivers. Did they not use it? Or how did the Rams counter it so effectively? Also, the CBS crew seemed pretty clueless about Alexander, as did the Chargers. Did the Rams intentionally downplay him to media so they could better surprise the other guys?


    Jim Thomas: Good question. A couple of thoughts. It was Marcus McNeill's first game back at LT, and he might have been a little rusty. (2 sacks by Hall playing over McNeill most of the day. It was interesting to see Turner's commments after the game about the Rams' defensive showing San Diego a couple of new looks. As for CBS and Chargers being clueless about Alexander, it's understandable. He wasn't even on the active roster until Tuesday. Alexander told me Friday (and I reported in Saturday's editions) that he was in the game plan for San Diego. But I don't think anyone could've predicted his impact against the Chargers. With that, I've got to go. See you all next week.


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    Re: Jim Thomas: Oct 19 Tuesday Rams Chat Transcript

    I think JT didn't give his full effort in this chat....he answering quickly and shortly at times, For Example, when asked about SJax always getting touched in the backfield he said that Sjax always gets through contact and avoiding the question about why the defensive is more successful getting thru the Rams OLine on Run plays.

    Secondly, he didn't expand much when not knowing the answer. When we ask a question we want YOUR OPINION if you don't know the answer, since you are there everyday....Not just an answer of IDK...

    Overall I think he didn't expand much and didn't provide insight and opinions that the hardcore fan didn't already see...

    I grade his answers and effort a C-...SMH @ JT --- He gave 2008 Ram effort there

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