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  1. #1
    RockinRam's Avatar
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    Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    Dennis Dillon
    Monday, May. 31, 2010 - 2:24 p.m. ET




    ST. LOUIS That Rams defensive end Chris Long owns a pair of six-month-old English bulldogs Rambo and Chubbs, who can't last five minutes without getting some attention seems about right.


    Tenacity is one of the characteristics of a bulldog. And Long is nothing if not tenacious.
    The former Virginia lineman lines up and comes at you on every snap. In his first two NFL seasons, he has recorded 113 tackles, nine sacks and 31 quarterback pressures.
    "If he were a late first-round pick or a second-round pick, then I think you'd be very happy with where he is," Seahawks vice president of football operations Will Lewis said.
    But the Rams made Long the No. 2-overall pick in 2008, and with that selection came a lot of expectations. Big-time plays routinely. Double-digit sacks in a season. Pro Bowl berths.
    None of that has occurred, which doesn't mean Rams officials are unhappy with Long they're not but has left some skeptics wondering if Long is another in a procession of high Rams picks to disappoint. Long admits it has been a challenging road, both individually and as a team. The Rams have won only three games in his two NFL seasons.
    Asked which word best describes his first two seasons, Long replied: "Hectic. Frustrating and hectic. It's just been hard to get into a rhythm or a flow, but I feel finally that time is kind of coming."
    Since coming to St. Louis, Long has made the transition from a 3-4 defense in college to a 4-3 scheme, has had three head coaches (including interim head coach Jim Haslett) and has played in two different defenses.
    But the statute of limitations is running out on the explanations. It's time for Long to have a breakout season and it could happen in '10.
    "I know some guys come in and make a big splash right away and maybe don't get better or reach that level again," Long said. "I felt like I was solid for a rookie in my first year, and I've just continued to slowly get better. I've made a couple big jumps here and there, but I'd really like to make that really big jump this next year and I think that will happen."
    The light went on for Long midway through the '09 season, during the Rams' bye week. Until then, he felt like he had been playing under a yellow caution flag, wanting to avoid mistakes instead of playing aggressively. Finally, he thought the heck with that.
    "Once I was able to get back to that mentality, my game opened back up," said Long, who recorded a sack in three of the first four games after the bye.
    Long still hasn't carved a reputation as a sackmeister, but he has more sacks than any of the seven defensive ends drafted in the first two rounds in '08.
    "He may not be getting the sacks, but the effort and athleticism show up when he does rush," Lewis said. "He's got a good motor and he's relentless and he's playing hard all the time.
    "He's learning better pass-rush moves and better counter moves, so I think all those things are coming together."
    Long is one of several Rams who has worked with a martial arts expert this offseason. The techniques he learned should help him use his hands and hips more effectively to shed blockers.
    He also has switched from right end to left end, which he says is his more natural position.
    "I feel like I can do both, and I'll do whatever they ask me to do," he said, "but to be back primarily at the left is kind of exciting for me because I think I can do a lot more over there."
    Is this the year Chris Long becomes explosive?
    "That should be everybody's expectation," Lewis said. "When you're picked that high and you have the ability and athleticism and mindset to get better, if you've been coached hard and coached the right way, now it's just kind of up to you to take off and go to the next level. It's time to step up and make some plays."
    It's time for the bulldog to start playing like a pit bull.


    Ahead of his class

    Although Chris Long hasn't yet lived up to expectations as the No. 2-overall pick in the '08 draft, most of his statistics are better than the other six defensive ends selected in the first two rounds that year.


    Pick Player, team Tackles Sacks QBP FF
    2. Chris Long, Rams 113 ||| 9 ||| 31 ||| 2
    6. Vernon Gholston*, Jets 19 ||| 0 ||| 3 ||| 0
    8. Derrick Harvey*, Jaguars 104 |||| 5.5 ||| 49 ||| 0
    28. Lawrence Jackson, Seahawks 61 ||| 6.5 ||| 17 ||| 2
    32. Phillip Merling, Dolphins 59 ||| 3.5 ||| 11 ||| 0
    50. Calais Campbell, Cardinals 78 ||| 7 ||| 3 ||| 2
    52. Quentin Groves*, Jaguars 51 ||| 2.5 ||| 18 ||| 2

    (Notes: QBP - QB pressures; FF - Forced fumbles; * - Also has played outside linebacker.)

    Dennis Dillon is a writer for Sporting News.
    Last edited by RockinRam; -05-31-2010 at 06:40 PM.


  2. #2
    shower beers's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    I know stats don't tell the whole story, but you have to like those numbers, lined up beside his peers' like that.

  3. #3
    Mooselini Guest

    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    Exactly. He's played on a terrible defense the past few years. I think, with all the players coming back and another season under his belt, Long should come around. We all want probowl and sack leader, but that may not happen. The important thing is he contributes every play.

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    For a second there I was like, where did they get nine sacks from? Then I noticed that they added up 08 & 09. Still, a one sack improvement really doesn't impress me very much.
    Regardless, of the draft class stats I would like to see Long get up to 8 sacks a year. One for every two games. (Mostly considering how high he was drafted.
    He looked like he was really hitting his stride at the end of last year. Here's hoping he can keep it going.

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    Exactly. He's played on a terrible defense the past few years. I think, with all the players coming back and another season under his belt, Long should come around. We all want probowl and sack leader, but that may not happen. The important thing is he contributes every play.
    There we go again, making excuses for Lackluster performances from Rams players being paid and falling short of expectations.

    "He's played on a terrible defense the past few years"....

    The same was said for Bulger, excusing him for a sub par offensive line.
    Maybe Bulger and Long were part of the problem by failing to live up the expectations, adding nothing new to the table, thus becoming apart of a miserable situation for the Rams.

    Just like Bulger, Chris Long has shown sparks and flashes form time to time, but just like Bulger, Long is starting to run out of excuses.

    Finally the Rams came to the conclusion that Marc Bulger was not the answer for the future moving forward, hopefully Chris will learn from this.
    Now is the time to live up to expectations, bring out the full potential and produce positive results on a more consistant basis.

    If not, it maybe time, as with Bulger, to show Chris the door.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    Quote Originally Posted by dgr828 View Post
    There we go again, making excuses for Lackluster performances from Rams players being paid and falling short of expectations.
    Besides Jlau Chris long is about the only guy I can garuntee gives his all ever single down. Lackluster is not the word you use for that kind of player
    Quote Originally Posted by dgr828


    The same was said for Bulger, excusing him for a sub par offensive line.
    The man is not on the team anymore so can you please give up your vendetta against him.

  7. #7
    Warner4prez Guest

    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    Yeah, I'm going to have to assume that we'll all see Long step up and become a leader of this defense this year. It's his third year with the team, he's feeling confident in the scheme and there's a lot of presumed pressure on him to succeed (which I'm confident he will).

    Long and Cliff Ryan are as good of a duo you could hope to have on a d-line and I think they're far too undervalued by the rest of the NFL. Hopefully a few of the players we've added on that side of the ball this offseason will add a bit of depth and help to open peoples' eyes as to just how hard these guys play.

  8. #8
    Bralidore(RAMMODE) Guest

    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    Ever consider that Bulger had 8 years with the Rams and 10 all together. Chris Long has had 2 in the league total. Whether you want to make excuses or not. The lack of pressure up the middle from the Rams defensive line plays a big part in whether or not Long makes the sack.

    Third times the charm. Barring injury I can't see Long not having a better season than either of the past two years. Same defense for the second consecutive year, two years of experience under his belt, notable defensive coach, and improvements to the line's interior. Seems it will be up to Long how he does this go around, more so than before.

  9. #9
    thickandthin Guest

    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    I think he'll do well against a "less" talented RT and maybe Selvie can get in on the RE spot and take on the LT with his speed. and Robbins from the middle will make the QB not step up and gain 3 seconds of time this year.

  10. #10
    Bralidore(RAMMODE) Guest

    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    Quote Originally Posted by thickandthin View Post
    I think he'll do well against a "less" talented RT and maybe Selvie can get in on the RE spot and take on the LT with his speed. and Robbins from the middle will make the QB not step up and gain 3 seconds of time this year.
    You mean Selvie's 250 pound 4.9 speed? People are getting way too over their ehads with Selvie. If he fails to make the team I'll only be mildly surprised honestly (though god knows i want him to come in and dominate).

  11. #11
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    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    Quote Originally Posted by dgr828 View Post
    There we go again, making excuses for Lackluster performances from Rams players being paid and falling short of expectations.

    "He's played on a terrible defense the past few years"....

    There we go again, making blatantly false statements based on unrealistic expectations.

    He's doing better than any other DE in his class, which is more than you could have said for Bulger. What's more, he's doing it with pretty much no help around him. Certainly, Laurinaitis and Atogwe and Bartell are key pieces and hopefully will be for a long time, but look at who else Long is playing with up front: Ryan, Robbins, Scott, Adeyanju and Hall.

    None of these players are particularly bad, but none of them have really done anything to distinguish themselves in the past two seasons. I guess the notable exception could be Robbins, but we'll have to wait and see what he's capable of. In other words, Long is doing really well considering who he's playing with. In his breakout season, Mario Williams had Amobi Okoye, Travis Johnston and Antonio Smith supporting him. That's a pretty strong quartet.

    My point is this: it's not wrong to expect big things of Chris Long. I know I do. But until we surround him with some talent, he's going to be targeted by opposing offenses as the best player along our DL. If nobody else can apply consistent pressure, opposing teams will be able to double team Long routinely. Watch him. He'll still give 100% on every play and I'll bet that in the end he'll still put himself in position to play the ball carrier. All that I'm saying is that it might be wise to think about who else is playing before you take aim at arguably our best and most durable defensive lineman.

  12. #12
    sosa39rams's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    Im feeling for a breakout year for Chris. He has an incredible motor and goes his hardest every play. I think the rest of our Dline has been improved this off season which gives a good edge to Long. Now they can stop double teaming him. That allows him or even the rest of the Line to do well.

  13. #13
    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    I think deja vu has kicked in because I remember reading something similar last year. He had a decent year, and comparing him to others taken in that draft just ticks me off because I think differently than most. I keep thinking we could have got a better playmaker at that spot then drafted a DE in Round 2 and been just as frickin happy.

  14. #14
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    You also can't forget that Chris has been playing on a defense that is constantly behind in games, and is facing constant runs trying to kill the clock. Of course he's not going to rack up sacks when there's no chance to.
    I believe!

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    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' Chris Long ready to live up to expectations

    I'm not given up on him, it's more of a positional thing for me. We are so lacking playmakers that it's sickening. I don't know who I would have taken at that position other than Long or Dorsey but it just makes me sick to think that we don't have anyone who can stretch the field, back up Jackson, make OC's shiver because of match up problems. I know, regime blah blah blah. Bad coaching blah blah blah. Martz sucks blah blah blah. Linehan was terrible blah blah blah. I'll take a playmaker anywhere and if Long becomes one this season I'll say great.

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