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New contract, fresh start for Dunbar ..
1 hour ago
By Jim Thomas
For Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, the 2013 season was like a bad dream. You know, the kind you try to forget.
For starters, he had a reduced role in the defense as the strong side linebacker. After playing almost every down at weak side in 2012, he wasn’t on the field in the nickel package last season.
There was a new defensive coordinator (Tim Walton), which meant the scheme was different.
“It was difficult adjusting to a role, to understanding a different defense,” Dunbar said.
And that was only the half of it. He was suspended for the first four games of the regular season for violating league policy on performance-enhancing substances. He was released by the team following the suspension and ended up re-signing for less money once the suspension ended.
All of which contributed to a slow start.
“It was a wacky year,” Dunbar said. “It’s kind of one of those things you just want to forget. So I’ve kind of erased it from my memory, and I’m just starting over. Let’s just move on and play some football, and get back to playing Jo-Lonn football.”
At its best, “Jo-Lonn football” is played with emotion and physicality.
For Dunbar, 2014 is off to a good start. For one, he has been reunited with defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who ran the New Orleans defense when Dunbar was with the Saints. That familiarity alone should help.
“It’s great to know he’s back,” Dunbar said. “He’s a dynamic coach. He’s fun. He’s demanding. But he’ll put you in position to win a game. He’ll put you in position to make a play. And when a coach can do that, you’re excited about it.”
For another, Dunbar has a new contract. An unrestricted free agent entering the offseason, he signed a two-year, $2 million deal last month that can max out at nearly $3.5 million if playing time and team success incentives are met.
The Rams indicated to Dunbar at the end of the season that they wanted to re-sign him. Dunbar’s agent talked to other teams, but that didn’t result in any visits. It all happened pretty quickly, because Dunbar was off the market in less than four days.
Dunbar’s signing didn’t attract much notice at the time because it came in the midst of the Rodger Saffold saga, when the Rams’ offensive lineman agreed to terms with Oakland, the Raiders voided the deal because of a failed physical, and Saffold immediately re-signed with the Rams.
Even so, Dunbar got congratulatory tweets, texts and phone calls from many of his teammates. The chemistry and bonding process is important in football, and it’s clear Dunbar is a popular teammate in the locker room and on the field.
Dunbar, who returned Thursday to St. Louis sporting what he described as a “curly Mohawk” hairstyle, appreciated the good wishes.
“You have that respect and bond,” he said. “I’m happy they have their respect for me and vice versa. We all care about winning. We all care about each other. Personal lives as well.
“I spoke to everyone after the signing, after it happened, so it’s just exciting to know that those guys care about me as much as I care about them.”
About a month and a half before re-upping with the Rams, Dunbar heard from most of those same teammates, at least the ones on the defensive side of the ball. They all wanted to know what it would be like playing for Williams.
“James (Laurinaitis) texted me all the time when they first hired him,” Dunbar said. “Me and James talk about it. Chris (Long) has texted me. Robert (Quinn)’s texted me. These guys just want to know what kind of guy he is, what kind of defense we can expect.”
So what can they expect?
“We’re gonna have fun and we’re gonna play hard,” Dunbar said. “We’re gonna get after it when we’re supposed to get after it, and lay back and chill when we’re supposed to. But it’s gonna be great.”
Practices will be a little different on that side of the ball. Williams can be a hard driver and has a reputation of being very vocal on the field.
“I think Jeff (Fisher) has a fun, work-hard kind of atmosphere,” Dunbar said. “Gregg is kind of demanding, a little bit. So I think they’re gonna mix. I mean, they’ve done this (worked together) before. So they know how to play off each other. They know how to work with each other.”
Dunbar said Williams has a knack for taking the talent at hand and making the most of it in terms of playing to strengths and hiding weaknesses.
“You can expect a dynamic defense in terms of showing different looks, showing different packages,” Dunbar said. “Having offensive coordinators and quarterbacks a little unsure about what they see. He’s very good at disguising. ... That’s just the way he is. He has a very good feel for calling the game.”
Re: New contract, fresh start for Dunbar ..
Great pick up Williams and good resign
Re: New contract, fresh start for Dunbar ..
All Looks well for the Rams...defense...there is some rumor I can't confirm yet that the Rams will pick up Quinn's contract in 2015.
So for the next couple of seasons the flanks (edge) with Long and Quinn are solid; that's a tandem duo that most NFL teams envy. Dunbar either weak side or strong side with G. Williams coaching can solidify the middle and bring pressure from any point of the field puts the potential Ram's defense in the top 5. That leaves the only question is the Ram's secondary. What if any pieces are the Rams looking for on defense--how will they be used and what will be the base cover scheme. Not much concern that Fisher/Williams will figure that out if they haven't already.
Just a few weeks from the DRAFT now There is still a lot of surprises the Rams could make. There is a notable sighting of a top prospect WR seen in Rams camp, Sammy Watkins. Smoke and mirrors to peddle that second or 13th spot in the draft, maybe; perhaps that is where the Rams might go despite all the "experts" thinking the Rams will go with Robinson. Or maybe none of the above
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