Nick's Mailbag - September 15

Jacob DeWilde

Hey Nick, got a few questions regarding the reactions to Sunday's game against the Seahawks.
1. I saw Steven Jackson get very defensive when asked a question by a reporter in the locker room after the game. I really liked how he defended his teammates. Do you have any idea what he was asked to help me understand the reaction?
2. What was the mindset of the players and coaches after the loss? Were they dejected by their performance enough to put extra fire in them leading into the rest of the season?

NW: I was standing there when Jackson was doing his interviews. I donít think defensive is the right word. He was asked about the ďchippinessĒ of the game. In acknowledging that it was chippy, he was simply trying to make the point that football is a chippy game and thereís a lot that goes on in every play. He was happy with how his teammates stuck up for themselves and each other.

I think the players were upset with the loss but in all honesty, I donít think they were dejected. It seemed they knew exactly where they went wrong and they were all extremely confident that the issues could be corrected this week.

Eugene Bard

Is Incognito still gonna be the starting right guard after the two fouls he made Sunday?

NW: According to Spagnuolo, the answer is yes.

Robert Straley


I was not able to see a replay of one particular play at Seattle. It was the play in which Fells catches a second down pass; to me his forward momentum went past (at least 2 feet) the first down marker. But the official put the ball a good yard behind the marker. With the spot it made third down and one, then the rams got a penalty, then did not make the conversion so that's when Josh misses the field goal. My question is simple could you please look at the reply to see if I was correct! If I was correct I think this was very much the turning point for the rams, if the coaches up stairs would have seen this, then possibly there would have been a different out come. Just like Seattle's coaches seeing 12 men on the field!!! If I am wrong then I apologize for seeing something that was not there!

NW: Not to make any excuses, but there were a number of curious spots in Sundayís game, including the one you mention. I remember that play live thinking he was well past the marker and didnít get the spot. Granted, I was sitting at an angle in the press box but thatís how it looked. The most egregious one I saw came late in the game when a Seattle defender jumped offsides and clearly made contact with right guard Richie Incognito. That should have been an encroachment penalty but the defender jumped back onsides and the flag never came. Again, none of it was really major stuff but just some little things that were a bit curious.

Bob Meyer

Saw some really disappointing things, but also some good things Sunday against the Seahawks. The early takeaways, had they been turned into points, could have quieted the crowd, given the Rams some confidence and the game could have been totally different. But I also did not see a team rolling over and playing dead like last season. I saw a team that has some growing to do, but has potential. I'm looking forward to the rest of the season and watching this team grow!

NW: Thatís probably the best approach to take. Itís important for everyone to remember this is going to be a process. Itís not going to happen overnight and thereís a lot that still needs to happen. And you hit the nail on the head. If not for penalties in the first half, the Rams probably at least get some points, quiet the crowd and settle in. It could have been a different game but those mistakes were killers.

Anthony Ortega

Hey Nick, thanks for all the updates.

After Laurinaitis performance in Week 1 do you think the rams finally found that good middle linebacker?

I mean he was a tackling machine; he looked like a young version of Brian Urlacher!

NW: He certainly made a strong first impression. On the coachís review of tape, he had 14 tackles (nine solo), a fumble forced and a fumble recovery. Thatís a nice first day but he was the first to admit also that he has some work to do in coverage. Like the rest of the team, heíll improve as the weeks go by but definitely a lot to be happy about in terms of his first outing.

Don Riley

Hi Nick, I still believe in Spags, one game is nothing in my opinion. There were many bright spots in the game. I'm looking for marked improvement in this team by season's end. The Schedule if you look at it is very tough.

My question is what do you think we should realistically be looking for in the next two or three games that would show marked improvement? I for "one"... am with this coach, I believe in him and thing absolutely the Rams will be a winning team before he's done.

NW: Nice to hear a voice of reason in the wilderness, Don. To answer your question, itís really about getting back to basics. The most obvious thing is cutting back on the penalties. Offensively, the Rams were in some very difficult spots because of those and had trouble converting third downs. Some areas to monitor to see progress: less penalties, a better third down conversion rate (and more manageable third down situations), more rushing attempts (Jackson didnít get as many touches as the Rams would like because they fell behind so far and had to pass) and an improved pass rush. If the turnovers continue to come for the defense and the offense continues to take care of the ball, the Rams will be in plenty of games this year.

Frank Jabido

Hi Nick,
The killer "Too many men on the field" penalty was the game changer! What happened there? Who was the extra man? Did someone line up and they weren't supposed to?? How could that happen?

NW: Well, what happened is the Rams had an extra man on the field. Defensive end C.J. Ah You, who blocked the kick, took the blame in the locker room after the game saying he was not supposed to be out there. The crazy thing is that nobody noticed. Not the officials, not the Rams, not the Seahawks. Thereís one person in the review booth who in the final two minutes has the sole responsibility of counting the players on the field. He was the first to notice on the replay.

Ji Cottrill

Hi Nick! Ji from Australia again.

Just wanted to say I am quite excited to see David Vobora has been picked as a starter. Since he got picked last year I have made him a favorite (besides Little, my favorite since he was drafted!) and believed once he added size he would be a perfect fit for Outside linebacker, he has brains (I hear he scored quite high on the IQ testing they do for the draft), and probably best of all, he has that up the guts and full of smoke attitude that he carried in college, a born tackling machine! Unfortunately they aren't broadcasting the game down here, but I will be looking forward to hearing a report that he has exceeded some people's expectations. Kudos go to Spagnuolo for allowing the young ones to have a shot. Go Rams!

NW: Vobora had a nice opening week, coming up with eight tackles. Much like Laurinaitis, he admits he has some work to do in coverage but he acquitted himself pretty well overall.

Roger Schutt

Nick, you recently stated you don't feel 2010 will be an uncapped year in the NFL. I sure hope you're correct! I'm guessing MOST NFL Fans love the parity derived from the salary cap. What's your thinking, please?

NW: Simply put, I just canít imagine a scenario in which the owners would allow it to happen. Think about the repercussions of that. Once the players and their agents got a taste of the money available in an uncapped situation, itís hard to imagine they would ever want to go back. Beyond that, the owners also know that the beauty of the NFL is the parity. It would water down the product if there were teams (like Dallas, Washington, etc) who could spend as much as they want and smaller market teams coming nowhere close. Then you get into a baseball like situation where you have a few teams running the show and others with little chance to compete. I just donít see it happening.

Jamir Jenkins

Nick thanks for keeping us fans sane with all the insightful information you provide us with. My question is sort of in the form of questions I've seen you answer maybe 100 times. My question involves Bobby Wade. In the past week or so rumors have been speculating that the rams would pick up Hank Baskett or Reggie Brown if either of the two were released from Philadelphia. I can understand the reasons why, being that Pat Shurmur is an Andy Reid disciple. What I want to know though is, by Brad Childress also being a Reid disciple, would Wade make sense to pursue? If so, what do you see or know about him that would be an upgrade or POSITIVE addition to what we already have. And of the three, who makes the most sense signing.

NW: Wade signed with Kansas City.

Alan Gibson

First off, with the release of Chris Draft, I just wanted to wish him the best of luck and hope he can catch on somewhere to finish his career with the same class he has had throughout it. A true class act in times when the NFL has a lot of players creating high-profile black eyes, it's too bad the classier guys don't generate the same media attention.
My question regards Jason Smith. Is there any concern about his switch to Right Tackle affecting his future as a franchise left tackle? I recall the Rams originally brought in Barron under the same pretense, and the conversion didn't take well for him. I would hate to see Smith's development hindered by switching sides and techniques, when the clear long term goal is for him to protect the QB's blind side for the next decade. Is Smith taking any practice reps on the left side?

NW: Indeed, Smith is regularly working reps on both sides. Spagnuolo values versatility and thereís no doubt that Smith is developing that. I wouldnít worry much about Smithís development. The kid gets it and he knows how to work. Heíll be fine wherever he plays for the next decade or so.

Tyler Duff

Is there any chance of the rams picking up WR Marvin Harrison? I know he is old and canít really play anymore but I think he can be used as a good teacher for our young WR's. What do you Think Nick?

NW: One last time, all together now, NOT GOING TO HAPPEN. If the Rams wanted a teacher for their receivers as Billy Devaney says, theyíd hire Art Monk.

Anthony Natarelli

What kind of relationship do you see Avery and Robinson making on the field, do you think they will work as well together as the young Holt and Bruce did?

NW: Thatís lofty territory youíre talking about with those two. Robinson and Avery are trying to create their own thing and they have plenty of work to do to get on that level. The pair is extremely talented, though.

Thatís all for this week. Thanks for the questions.