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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard
    Tight end had a rough campaign last season
    BY STEVE KORTE
    News-Democrat

    ST. LOUIS -- No St. Louis Rams player may be more excited about Al Saunders being offensive coodinator than tight end Randy McMichael.

    "As soon as I found what was going on and they had hired Coach Saunders, I got really excited," McMichael said. "This is the kind of offense that I have dreamed my whole career of playing in. I'm having a good time right now, and hopefully I can extend my role and keep doing the things I like to do."

    McMichael likes to catch passes, though he didn't do much of that last year in his first season with the Rams. He tied a career-low in receptions with 39 and set a career-low in receiving yards with 429.

    Often, McMichael was asked to serve as an extra pass blocker on an offensive line that was decimated by injuries.

    "It was a miserable year, not just for me," McMichael said. "As a team, it was a miserable year. It seemed like everything that could go wrong did go wrong for us."

    Saunders has a reputation for making the tight end an integral part of his passing attack.

    Kansas City's Tony Gonzalez averaged 80 catches per season in his six seasons with Saunders calling the offensive plays.

    Under Saunders, Washington's Chris Cooley caught 57 passes for 734 yards and two touchdowns in 2006 and 66 passes for 786 yards and eight touchdowns in 2007.

    "He said the funniest thing to me the first time I met him," McMichael said of Saunders. "He said, 'I've had a Pro Bowl tight end eight straight years."'

    So the pressure is on McMichael to keep that streak going.

    "I'm just looking forward to the challenge," McMichael said. "I really think he is going to make me a better player. He really pushes you to be the best. He doesn't accept anything less than that, along with my tight end coach, Coach (Jim) Chaney."

    McMichael said Saunders has already brought a new energy to the Rams' offense during the team's minicamp this past weekend.

    "You could just tell from the first play on Friday afternoon, this is a new day around here," McMichael said. "The guys are excited to be here. It is going to be a fun year for everybody. I think Coach (Scott) Linehan really did a good job of changing the coaches and bringing in some new offensive minds and giving us a better chance of being successful."

    McMichael said the Rams must avoid injuries on the offensive line, like the torn labrum muscle in the season opener that knocked Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace out for the season, that they dealt with a year ago.

    "That is going to be the biggest thing for not only the offense, but this entire football team," McMichael said. "Keeping those guys up front healthy. Like I told 'Big O,' 'We don't want you to show up until that Sunday morning (for season-opener on Sept. 7 against Philadelphia). Just take it easy.'

    "It's really valuable that we keep those five guys in a rhythm. We need those give guys playing a lot of football together in order for us to be successful."

    McMichael also welcomed the addition of tight end Anthony Becht, a free agent from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers who is known for his blocking.

    "He is definitely going to help out a lot," McMichael said. "We have the same agent, and he was like, 'They're going to sign Becht and he is going to help you out a lot with the in-line blocking. He'll take some of that pressure off of you.' The thing about Becht -- I saw him so many years when he was with the Jets and I was with Miami -- he can surprise you with the way he catches the football."

    Becht said he could tell that McMichael was having fun catching passes during the minicamp.

    "He definitely wants to get down the field and catch the ball," Becht said. "He's a great receiver, and I think he's proven that over the years. I think last year was just a product of how that season went. The good thing that Coach Saunders brings to this offense is that there are no reads.

    "If you're running a route, then you have a chance to catch the ball. I think that gives everybody a little heightened awareness when they are running their routes. If Randy is out there running a route, then he has a great chance of getting the ball."


  2. #2
    shower beers's Avatar
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    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    Good. This guy needs to get excited. Let's see him make some plays this year.

  3. #3
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    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    I'm really starting to get excited about this upcoming season. The players' reaction to the changes Linehan has made to the staff and the FA/Draft moves is starting to get contagious. I am pleased to see the professional and determined mentality that the team is taking on. I feel better about this coming season than at anytime since last season. Go Rams!

  4. #4
    moloch41 Guest

    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    Wait, so he'd rather be in a dynamic, multi-faceted offense than just stay in an block? Really?

  5. #5
    Ramer Guest

    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    Great reply Chris58. I couldn't agree with you more. I am also excited about this up coming season. It looks like the players have some respect for the coach and like the things he has done this off season.

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    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    The players are buying into the offense alright, and we have a good personal on offense to make this work. The Fast slot, the BIG GAME in Torry, the receiving tight end, the hurdler in Leonard, and don't forget about the large target Bennett. I just can't wait till the season comes.

  7. #7
    RANDYRAM Guest

    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    The think what vermill did was bring in coaches that had super bowl experience !!!
    I think they had more experience than any other team that year!!
    Not sure how many ? I think 9 coaches ?

    I feel that was a key to the success of the 99 Rams that gets over looked by many !!
    Was the great amount of super bowl experience in the coaching staff !!

    I'm not sure how many coaches the Rams have with super bowl experience now ??
    anyone know ??

  8. #8
    moloch41 Guest

    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    Quote Originally Posted by RANDYRAM View Post
    I'm not sure how many coaches the Rams have with super bowl experience now ??
    anyone know ??
    As far as I know, Saunders was a receivers coach with the Rams in '99. Not sure who else has any...

  9. #9
    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    [B] The good thing that Coach Saunders brings to this offense is that there are no reads.
    Does anyone know what he is talking about? I can't imagine a modern complex (and I've heard that Saunders offense is just that) NFL offense doesn't have any "reads". I hope that there is a logical explanation for this comment.

    WHAT SAY YE?

  10. #10
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    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    I think it means that there's no set progression for recievers. Meaning that it's up to Bulger to determine in the presnap what will be his progression for that play, based on who looks like they'll be open according to what the defense is showing.

    In other words, as opposed to a certain play's progression always being Holt, McMichael, Jackson, there's no order and whoever is open should get the pass, as long as Bulger sees him.

  11. #11
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMarkable View Post
    Does anyone know what he is talking about? I can't imagine a modern complex (and I've heard that Saunders offense is just that) NFL offense doesn't have any "reads". I hope that there is a logical explanation for this comment.

    WHAT SAY YE?
    Based on the quote after that comment, it sounds as if Becht means there are no pre-designed plays where one guys is basically the target from the get-go. You hear quite a bit about guys taking plays off when they aren't going to get the ball (Randy Moss), but Becht makes it sound like on every play every guy has a chance of getting the ball.

  12. #12
    moloch41 Guest

    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    And really- how often did Linehan's offense send out more than 2 receivers on the play? Not much in the way of reading there.

  13. #13
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    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    "He said the funniest thing to me the first time I met him," McMichael said of Saunders. "He said, 'I've had a Pro Bowl tight end eight straight years."'
    I see no overwhelming reason why the streak can't continue .. Randy paid his dues last year by having to block most of the time instead of catch passes. This year should be alot different !!!

  14. #14
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    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    The players are buying into the offense alright, and we have a good personal on offense to make this work. The Fast slot, the BIG GAME in Torry, the receiving tight end, the hurdler in Leonard, and don't forget about the large target Bennett. I just can't wait till the season comes.

    SJ and Marc we will roll....

  15. #15
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    Re: McMichael glad to have Saunders aboard

    Originally Posted by RAMarkable
    Does anyone know what he is talking about? I can't imagine a modern complex (and I've heard that Saunders offense is just that) NFL offense doesn't have any "reads". I hope that there is a logical explanation for this comment.

    WHAT SAY YE?
    "When people say, 'Get the ball to Santana Moss,' that's OK, and that's great. We're going to put Santana in one position on the field."

    Saunders turns over a sheet of paper, takes the mechanical pencil from over his ear and draws the offensive line (O O X O O), the receivers/tight end (X Y Z), the running backs (H F) and the quarterback (O).

    "Santana is going to run an '8' route down the field. But, oops, look at this: The corner rolled up in coverage, and the safety has come across to cover the top of the field. Now we have to go to another receiver."

    With Moss out of the equation, Saunders draws patterns for receiver Brandon Lloyd and tight end Chris Cooley and backs Clinton Portis and Mike Sellers - straight lines, squiggly lines, dashed lines. There are no "primary" receivers in his offense; every player could get the ball.
    "But, oops again - look at this, the linebacker jammed Chris at the line of scrimmage instead of moving back to a different depth, and he's not allowed to cross over the middle. Now we have to throw to other guys."

    Saunders could go on and on.
    No 1st,2nd or 3rd progression...

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