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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
    MauiRam is offline Pro Bowl Ram
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    Meet the Coaches: Steve Loney ..

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    There’s a lot of uncertainty that is inherent in being a football coach. At any level, job security is only as safe as the number of tallies your team puts in the wins column.

    And so it was that Rams offensive line coach Steve Loney found himself in the state of flux that is almost a ritual for professional football coaches in January.

    Upon the dismissal of the previous staff and the addition of new coach Steve Spagnuolo, Loney was part of a coaching staff left to wonder about its future. More often than not, the bulk of the previous staff is let go when a new coach comes in, that’s just part of the deal.

    But a few guys get to stay based on merit or previous relationships with the incoming staff. While it can be a head spinning time waiting for word to come on your professional future, Loney took it in stride.

    After all, he’d been through it before.

    “In my younger years it would have been a very anxious time,” Loney said. “If you are a person of faith, you know that there’s a perfect plan out there for you. You are not always sure what that is. I didn’t know if it would be in St. Louis or some other place but it gets to be more anxious because everybody is coming up and asking you about it. During all of those times where you are still under contract with a particular team, you can’t go out and see about other jobs. The only thing you really hope for is a quick resolution to things so you can get on with your life.”

    Like the rest of the previous coaching staff, Loney set out for Mobile, Alabama and the Senior Bowl. That entire week is one of the first real job fairs for players heading to the NFL but it doubles as an opportunity for coaches to network and land new gigs.

    In fact, Spagnuolo spent his entire week holed up in his hotel room interviewing potential staff members.

    Spagnuolo asked the remaining staff to be patient as he wanted to give each of them an opportunity to interview for their jobs and then come to a decision on each person.

    Loney did what anyone going on a job interview would do; he prepared to sell himself to Spagnuolo by highlighting the positive steps the offensive line had made in his one season as the man in charge of that group and pointed out the benefits that go with having some continuity not only among the players but in the relationship the line coach has with them.

    “I had tried to present things that we had accomplished as an offensive line and show that I had a plan for those guys, the progress they made during the year and I think most of the credit goes to those individuals but you hope you had some impact that allows people to improve during the year and I think they did that,” Loney said. “You try to do some things to exhibit those things to him. I spent a lot of my limbo time studying other people’s offenses and found that sometimes perception might be reality but it isn’t always the whole truth. The number of times our quarterback was hit last year was much, much less than a lot of other teams. You try to present facts. I think football people look at film and don’t really read the blogs and all those things. He knew a lot about our football team and I think he recognized some of the things those guys were able to improve on throughout the year.”

    Somewhat quietly, there were some positive steps in the right direction as a whole in 2008. Although injuries hit hard again, the line improved in a number of areas, once again helping running back Steven Jackson crack the 1,000-yard mark and keeping the sacks allowed total to its lowest point since 2003.

    By the time Spagnuolo had the opportunity to look at the big picture and evaluate the remaining members of the coaching staff; he decided that Loney would be one of his “keepers.”

    On Jan. 27, Spagnuolo announced that Loney would be retained as offensive line coach and brought back for a second season.

    Loney was the first of just three holdovers to be retained. Art Valero, another of the three, was also brought back and is ironically enough now helping Loney with the offensive line.

    In his long coaching career, Loney had never before been put in a position where he remained and everything around him changed. But he says the transition has been good and he’s already settled and focused on doing everything he can to help his group of guys make strides again in 2009.

    “I think there’s always some anxiety whenever you are a holdover,” Loney said. “This is my first experience with it but I know I have gone into new situations with guys that have been held over and I have empathy for them. I would say that coach Spags and I talked coming in that it’s important I be treated just like anybody else and he has done that. He’s treated me great so any anxiety was not well founded. Everything has gone pretty smooth.”

    Loney and Valero have plenty of young linemen to work with and that’s why says he won’t stray too far from his coaching philosophy which is based on solid fundamentals and technique.

    In addition, Loney has had some homework of his own to do in making the transition to the new coaching staff. New offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur’s offense is different from ones he has worked with previously and Loney has had to familiarize himself with the verbiage and protections so he can properly convey that information to his players.
    “I think the No. 1 thing is technique,” Loney said. “I think you can help improve a player most by helping on technique. On the offensive line, if you are poor with technique, you are going to be a poor player. There’s too much talent on the other side that if you are using bad technique I don’t care how much talent you have, you are going to struggle. So I think that’s my No. 1 job to teach them proper technique. Secondly, it’s my job to present schemes to them so they have five people who know exactly who to go to with blitzes and so on so they can play off one another, it’s about getting five guys to play together. You try on those two things to blend them together so that it will give you a well coached, performing front.”

    On the positive side of being a holdover, Loney already has a good working knowledge of most of his group. He knows personalities, strengths and weaknesses which should allow him to have a bit of an edge in continuing the development of the players already in place.

    “I think that’s terribly important because communication is important,” Loney said. “Between the coach and the players and amongst each other, I think continuity, not just on the offensive line, but if you look at programs that have had continued success, in most cases they have had continued continuity so I think that’s important and it has a positive effect on everybody.”


  2. #2
    TekeRam's Avatar
    TekeRam is offline Registered User
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    Re: Meet the Coaches: Steve Loney ..

    Wait... the sacks were the lowest since 2003? I never realized that before. Maybe it's less the line's fault than I thought it was. Still a strange statistic assuming that it's true. My question now is, where was the breakdown in the offense, was it the line? Was it Bulger? Or the receivers/Jax?

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    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: Meet the Coaches: Steve Loney ..

    Quote Originally Posted by TekeRam View Post
    Wait... the sacks were the lowest since 2003? I never realized that before. Maybe it's less the line's fault than I thought it was. Still a strange statistic assuming that it's true. My question now is, where was the breakdown in the offense, was it the line? Was it Bulger? Or the receivers/Jax?
    Maybe the sacks were somewhat lower, but Bulger still took way too many hits and played for most of the year like a punch-drunk prizefighter.

    As for the breakdown in the offense, it was more a case of the wrong philosophy for the wrong team. I.E. the Rams did not have the assets or talent to run the Don Coryell Vertical-stretch-get-your-quarterback-killed-Offense.

    OBTW has anyone else noticed that neither Mike Martz nor Al Saunders is employed in the NFL anymore? Guess everyone else is also tired of scraping their QB off the field on any given Suns-Day.

    WHAT SAY YE?

  4. #4
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Meet the Coaches: Steve Loney ..

    Quote Originally Posted by TekeRam View Post
    Wait... the sacks were the lowest since 2003? I never realized that before. Maybe it's less the line's fault than I thought it was. Still a strange statistic assuming that it's true. My question now is, where was the breakdown in the offense, was it the line? Was it Bulger? Or the receivers/Jax?
    All of the above.

    The Line is "sometimes" at fault when the quaterback gets sacked. Not always though.

    1. QB holding onto the ball to long. Trying to make a positive play when the ball should probably be thrown away. (Can you really blame him?)

    2. RB's missing their assignment or not recognizing and picking up the blitzer.

    3. The wide receivers not recognizing the blitz and cutting off their routes.

    4. TE's not reading the defense and staying home instead going out into the pass route.

    The question in my mind is just how much control does/did Marc Bulger have at the line of scrimmage?

  5. #5
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Meet the Coaches: Steve Loney ..

    Quite true laram0. And everyone knows that Bulger does have the penchant for holding onto the ball to try to make something happen. Unfortunately he's not made of teflon like Big Ben was in the super bowl.

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