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  1. #1
    Aquitted Killer Guest

    A Little change for Leonard

    An artical I read regarding a potential flip on the D Line.

    I saw it as just a note toward the end of a Len Pasquarelli article on, but it stuck with me for some reason. ďCoordinator Jim Haslett and line coach Brian Baker are tinkering with the notion of flipping the two ends, with Leonard Little moving to the right side and Tony Hargrove switching to the left.Ē It might not seem like a big deal to some; after all, itís not like theyíre moving to new positions, right? A switch could be particularly significant for Little, though.

    Little took a bit to get going in the NFL. He totaled just 5.5 sacks through his first three seasons (five of which came in the third season), while playing in only 26 games overall. The next year (2001), though, Little broke through with 14.5 sacks in a mere 13 games for the Super Bowl runner-up Rams. The season after that he notched 12 more sacks and forced nine fumbles over a full season. The next brought more tremendous production, as Little racked up 12.5 sacks in 12 games and forced six more fumbles.

    That year, however, was the last in which Little consistently got to the quarterback. The past two seasons -- during which the Rams have been subpar overall, by the way -- saw him total just 16.5 sacks, despite appearing in more games (30) than during any other two-year stretch of his career.

    So? Maybe heís washed up, you might think. After all, he has played eight years now, on turf, no less. Maybe itís just a byproduct of a career played mostly on turf. Maybe heís showing the wear of playing season after season as a relatively undersized end. All those things could be factors, or even just outright true, but it may also be the case that a little change could do Leonard some good in 2006.

    The reason given for the coaches mulling the move is that getting Little on the right side would allow him to work in space more. In his current position on the left, Little regularly has to fight through the strong side of the offensive formation, meaning he often gets chipped by a tight end or works against a right tackle who might get a little help from the fullback. Besides the fact that even the slightest extra bump could knock him off stride, the mere step or two that navigating past additional blockers can take might be the difference between sacking Kurt Warner or waving hello after a touchdown pass has been thrown.

    From the right end spot, Little would be likely to go up against lone-working left tackles, which should help maximize the speed advantage that has made Little a successful defensive end at about 260 pounds. Of course, in facing left tackles, Little would also be facing most teamsí top linemen, but the one-on-one scenario would still improve his fantasy prospects. In any given game, he only really has to beat the tackle on one passing play. Do that an average of one time per game, and suddenly heís leading the league in sacks. Seems easier said than done, but Little already has two seasons behind him where he averaged more than a sack per game.

    What to expect

    OK, but against those monster left tackles? Well, playing in the NFC West, he will have to face Walter Jones twice, but heíll also square off twice apiece against the Ninersí Jonas Jennings -- whoís returning from a season-ending shoulder injury and has underwhelmed anyway -- and Arizonaís slow-footed Leonard Davis. Overall, the Rams will play six games against teams that ranked top-seven in the league in most sacks allowed last year. Eight of the teamís games will be against opponents with tackle tandems ranked 10th or lower in their respective conferences by the Sporting News.

    Still worried that Little might just be washed up? Well, he could be, but the fact that he attained career highs in total tackles (56) and solos (45) in 2005, forced four fumbles and recovered two, and sacked at a better rate than in 2004 (9.5 in 14 games compared with seven in 16), makes me think otherwise. With just two 16-game seasons to his credit, Littleís certainly far from a guarantee to finish the season, but his two most-productive pass-rushing campaigns came when he played 13 and 12 games.

    Now, with all of that said, I need to be honest. Iíll never draft Leonard Little because of his off-the-field trouble. Even for the sake of my fantasy team, I canít bring myself to pull for a guy who was convicted of killing a woman in a drunken driving accident, then got arrested for drunken driving again. If you donít pay attention to the off-field stuff when assembling your team, though (and thereís nothing wrong with that), a move to the right should bump Little up your rankings at least a few spots.

    By Matt Schauf, PFS Individual Defensive Player Specialist.

    Firstly, I sure most would agree when I say that Leonard is FAR from being washed up.

    He's had a rough last couple of years with the plague of Marmie and the murder of his brother. And while some may question the DWI in 2004, he was acquitted.

    But no matter what your opinions are about his off-field conduct, it's an absolute fact that Little has been, and will continue to be, one the cornerstones in the Rams D. IMHO, he's one of the most underated talents on D in the league.

    Personally, I really like the idea of giving Leonard more room to attack, but regardless of which end he's on, I expect we'll see another "breakout" year for Little.

  2. #2
    RamsFanSam's Avatar
    RamsFanSam is offline Pro Bowl Ram
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    Re: A Little change for Leonard

    I'm going from memory here, so I might make a mistake...

    I believe Little may end up doing better this year for some of the reasons stated above. In addition, if he is training to be on the right, he'll be close enough to feel Pace's breath in training camp...and this cannot be a bad thing for either of them. And, as an added bonus, it means Hargrove will be looking at the 7-foot wingspan of Barron a lot. Either way, they will be learning how to face the unknown.
    In addition, there is the 'contract year' factor. Little will have to show he still has what it takes in order to get the big bucks next year...unless he finds a team that likes to throw away money, like the Redskins did on Arch...

    Having Marmie gone is probably the biggest factor in all of this. Little has got to love having a DC in there that likes agressiveness. Instead of being shoved aside for the latest "French Defense" (also known as the surrender early defense) scheme of Marmie's, he will now be allowed to do what he does best.

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  3. #3
    RamsFan4ever's Avatar
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    Re: A Little change for Leonard

    Wow!! I cant wait how he does if this really happens. I cant wait to see if Hargrove will do well. and Little VS Jones.... Awesome!! Sounds like a Boxing match
    Last edited by RamsFan4ever; -07-03-2006 at 06:44 PM.

  4. #4
    bigredman Guest

    Re: A Little change for Leonard

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Schauf
    Now, with all of that said, I need to be honest. Iíll never draft Leonard Little because of his off-the-field trouble. Even for the sake of my fantasy team, I canít bring myself to pull for a guy who was convicted of killing a woman in a drunken driving accident, then got arrested for drunken driving again.
    By Matt Schauf, PFS Individual Defensive Player Specialist.

    Ok...I would like a second source to substantiate this. I'm also suspect of any opinion from someone who has an ax to grind with the person they are reporting on, and self proclaims himself an "Individual Defensive Player Specialist".

  5. #5
    Aquitted Killer Guest

    Re: A Little change for Leonard

    Here's the link:[/url]

    I will say that these guys usually know their stuff. As far as having a beef with a player and then writting an optimistic report, well, that struck me as a little odd as well. Like I said though, most everything on their site is solid, and sometimes pretty insightful.

  6. #6
    supachump is online now Registered User
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    Re: A Little change for Leonard

    This was an interesting article until I realized it was a fantasy thing. ugg

  7. #7
    RamsFan16 Guest

    Re: A Little change for Leonard

    Fantasy or not, I believe given a full season with no issues off the field Little will have an outstanding year, last year he was double teamed and still managed 8.5 Sacks and 4 Forced Fumbles missing two games. He and Hargrove both caught fire at the end of the Season.

    Next year Little will have 14.5 sacks and 7 Forced Fumbles.

  8. #8
    Rampage39 Guest

    Re: A Little change for Leonard

    Thats a bold prediction for Little next year, RF16. If he gets those kind of stats he can make a case for Defensive MVP. I'll go with 70 tackles, 12 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. I do believe Haslett will dramatically turn around this defense in his first year. Unlike Marmie, Haslett will demand the player's respect and hopefully will bring out the best in everyone.

  9. #9
    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: A Little change for Leonard

    16 has plenty of bold predictions when it comes to the Rams. He's a fan, no doubt about that.

    Now, back to Little. I think this is more for Hargrove than Little. Hargrove hasn't really produced like everyone thought he should, and maybe switching sides would give him a better chance at success.

  10. #10
    AugustaRamFan Guest

    Re: A Little change for Leonard

    Thanks folks! LL has been through a lot, granted he was his own worst enemy. I like is work ethic and think that for the Rams to take a run a Seattle (win the Div) that he will be needed for at least 10-14 sacks and create at least 5-7 fumbles. If he does shift to the LDE, coming in on the blind side may lead to a couple extra fumbles...


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