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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    New defense appears to be improved

    By Bill Coats
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    08/11/2006

    Should it be considered a harbinger of good things that the Rams' first points under new coach Scott Linehan were scored by the defense?

    Of course, one exhibition game is far too little upon which to base any conclusions. Still, the new-look defense, under the direction of former New Orleans Saints coach Jim Haslett, acquitted itself admirably in the Rams' 19-17 victory Thursday night at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "It's a new era, a new defensive staff and everybody is just getting things down. It's starting to click," said reserve cornerback DeJuan Groce, who snuffed a third-quarter Colts drive with an interception.

    The Colts mustered only 249 total yards, with a mere 38 coming on the ground. "We stopped the run well, which always makes it nice," second-team defensive end Brandon Green said. "If you keep them in third and long, your percentages will be pretty good."


    The Rams finished 31st in the 32-team NFL in total defense in 2005 and surrendered more points than all but two teams. That was with Mike Martz running the team and Larry Marmie in charge of the defense. Both were swept out after the 6-10 season, and one of Linehan's first hires was Haslett.

    They wasted little time in the offseason before shaking up personnel. They dipped heavily into the pool of veteran free agents, then grabbed another defensive player, cornerback Tye Hill, with the team's first-round pick in the draft.

    The 11 starters on defense Thursday included four free-agent acquisitions -- tackle La'Roi Glover, linebacker Will Witherspoon, strong safety Corey Chavous and cornerback Fakhir Brown.

    "That's our main focus this year," Brown said, "turn the defense around."

    Second-year pro Oshiomogho Atogwe started at free safety, and Travis Fisher, who missed about half of the 2005 season with a groin injury, was back at cornerback.

    After recovering an onside kick on the game's first play, the Colts marched 59 yards against the first-team defense. On the seventh play of the drive, quarterback Peyton Manning hit tight end Ben Utecht for an 8-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.



    The clamp-down came quickly, though. On the second play of Indy's next possession, a blitzing Brown stormed in from the right side and leveled unsuspecting quarterback Jim Sorgi in the end zone. Sorgi fumbled and the Colts recovered, but the safety made it 7-2.

    "That felt good, especially when I saw the ball came out and it looked like one of my teammates jumped on it," Brown said. "But it was a safety, and we were happy with that."

    The first unit was done after the first two possessions, with the exception of Atogwe, who played sparingly in 2005. He got some extra work with the second unit before the night was finished.

    The second-teamers were equally as stout, holding the Colts without a first down on three of four series. Despite a booming 53-yard field goal by Indy's Adam Vinatieri, the Rams led 19-10 at the half and boasted a 221-124 edge in total yards. It remained a nine-point advantage when the deep reserves took over on defense.

    The Colts scored their final points early in the fourth quarter on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Shaun King to wide receiver Levon Thomas, who beat cornerback Kevin Timothee. But with end Matthew Rice collecting three second-half sacks, the Rams held on.

    "That feels pretty good. It shows we're working hard and it's paying off," Hill said. "I know it's still early, but it's good to see those signs now."


  2. #2
    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: New defense appears to be improved

    Well, they didn't look all that improved when the Colts took the opening drive and scored.

  3. #3
    AvengerRam's Avatar
    AvengerRam is offline Moderator Emeritus
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    Re: New defense appears to be improved

    There is a lot of territory between last year's defense and a "good defense." Residing in that territory is an "improved defense."

  4. #4
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: New defense appears to be improved

    AV I will go with much improved scheme and play calling for now. The Colts got the first laugh with the onside kick in a preseason game but Haslett had the last with his very aggressive play calling. These guys will at least have a chance to make some plays.
    Last edited by Rambos; -08-11-2006 at 10:46 AM.

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