throwback week



Results 1 to 4 of 4
  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
    RamWraith is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    Mar 2001
    Location
    Minnesota
    Age
    44
    Posts
    8,230
    Rep Power
    61

    Rams' defense is mixed bag

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Friday, Jan. 05 2007

    The defensive shortcomings were obvious for the 2006 Rams. Namely, porous run
    defense and the lack of a consistent pass rush from anyone other than Leonard
    Little.

    But there was at least one silver lining for defensive coordinator Jim Haslett:
    the development of several young players, particularly in the secondary.

    "Obviously, we're disappointed we didn't make the playoffs and disappointed we
    didn't rank a little higher in defense," Haslett said. "But I thought the young
    guys the O.J.s (Atogwe) and the Tye Hills of the world really improved.
    They're going to be good players in the future."

    The Rams finished eighth in the NFL in pass defense, which ranks teams
    according to fewest yards allowed. They were a respectable 13th in opponent's
    completion percentage (59.0) and tied for 13th in interceptions (17). They
    seemed to play their best pass defense over the second half of the season, when
    they got younger in the secondary. Hill was elevated from the fifth defensive
    back

    in the nickel package to starter for the final seven games following Travis
    Fisher's season-ending forearm injury. Similarly, second-year player Ron
    Bartell came off the bench to man the nickel back spot for the final five games
    of 2006.

    Bartell had never played the nickel spot before, covering slot receivers. But
    he finished with three interceptions to share the team lead with Atogwe, Hill
    and Fakhir Brown.

    "He's a guy that we're trying to find a spot for," Haslett said. "And I don't
    know if that's his spot or not right now. He made some nice plays. ... But it's
    a learning process. He did some things that weren't real clean (against
    Minnesota). But he's a big kid, who can run. He's willing to learn, and he's
    willing to be a good player."

    Haslett thinks Hill has the potential to be "outstanding" at cornerback.
    Atogwe, who answers to the "O.J." but prefers to be called by his given name
    Oshiomogho was perhaps the team's most-improved player from start to finish.
    Strong safety Corey Chavous and cornerback Brown were steady, consistent
    starters. Backup safety Jerome Carter had some moments in the nickel and dime
    packages before being slowed by a late-season ankle injury.

    "So I think you have the nucleus of a secondary to be pretty good," Haslett
    said. "You have a chance to build on something."

    The issue at linebacker among media and fans seems to be whether to keep Will
    Witherspoon in the middle or move him outside and sign more of a "thumper" in
    the middle. But as far as Haslett is concerned, it's no issue.

    "Will played that weakside linebacker spot in Carolina, so he wasn't a
    'big-picture' guy," Haslett said. "He didn't see the whole thing. You don't
    have to, when you're playing one side. Now, he has to be that guy. He's got to
    be more of a leader.

    "I thought he made great strides, and we still have a way to go with him. But I
    think the more he stays in there, the more he sees, the better he gets. You
    look for guys like that to play in the middle in this league, because he can
    run sideline to sideline. He can cover receivers. He can run the middle of the
    field. Athletically, he can do almost anything you want."

    Witherspoon, at 6-feet-1 and 234 pounds, led the Rams in tackles with 136,
    according to coaches' review of game film. He also had three sacks, 14
    quarterback hurries, nine pass breakups, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble.

    "Is he a thumper? No, because he's not 255 pounds," Haslett said.

    But Haslett feels Witherspoon's assets in coverage, pursuit and speed far
    outweigh any shortcomings in size. As for the linebacker unit as a whole, a
    healthy Pisa Tinoisamoa obviously would be a plus in 2007. Tinoisamoa finished
    with 47 tackles, easily a career low, after breaking both hands and suffering a
    dislocated elbow.

    "As long as he can stay healthy, you're going to be better on defense," Haslett
    said. "But he's going to have to take care of himself. I don't know if he's not
    drinking enough milk, or something."

    The defensive line is the main area that needs the biggest personnel upgrade,
    particularly after a season in which the Rams finished 31st in run defense and
    30th in yards allowed per carry. Haslett wouldn't go into specifics on
    personnel needs up front. But at minimum, the Rams need a space-eating,
    run-stuffing nose tackle. And a pass-rushing complement to Little at end.
    Little produced 13 sacks; the other Rams who played end got two more.

    As for Haslett, it sounds as if he's intent on staying in St. Louis, although
    he'll listen if any team looking for a head coach expresses interest.

    "If it happens some day, and it's the right situation and the right time, then
    there'd be interest," Haslett said. "But right now, I'm enjoying my time here.
    ... I think I'd like to spend time with the family, and see if we can improve
    this team."


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
    Nick is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Morgantown, WV
    Age
    32
    Posts
    19,868
    Rep Power
    154

    Re: Rams' defense is mixed bag

    Bartell had never played the nickel spot before, covering slot receivers. But
    he finished with three interceptions to share the team lead with Atogwe, Hill
    and Fakhir Brown.

    "He's a guy that we're trying to find a spot for," Haslett said. "And I don't
    know if that's his spot or not right now."
    Letter to Haslett: IT WORKS, SO LEAVE HIM THERE!!


    The issue at linebacker among media and fans seems to be whether to keep Will
    Witherspoon in the middle or move him outside and sign more of a "thumper" in
    the middle. But as far as Haslett is concerned, it's no issue.

    "Will played that weakside linebacker spot in Carolina, so he wasn't a
    'big-picture' guy," Haslett said. "He didn't see the whole thing. You don't
    have to, when you're playing one side. Now, he has to be that guy. He's got to
    be more of a leader.

    "I thought he made great strides, and we still have a way to go with him. But I
    think the more he stays in there, the more he sees, the better he gets. You
    look for guys like that to play in the middle in this league, because he can
    run sideline to sideline. He can cover receivers. He can run the middle of the
    field. Athletically, he can do almost anything you want."
    Doesn't sound like Haslett has any interest in moving WW back outside.
    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Four
    Rams Discussion Right at Your Fingertips!



  3. #3
    Rambos's Avatar
    Rambos is offline Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Cali
    Age
    50
    Posts
    9,574
    Rep Power
    75

    Re: Rams' defense is mixed bag

    Haslett wouldn't go into specifics on
    personnel needs up front. But at minimum, the Rams need a space-eating,
    run-stuffing nose tackle. And a pass-rushing complement to Little at end.
    Little produced 13 sacks; the other Rams who played end got two more.
    We might see three new starters on the D line and the same LB's. Sounds like we are set in the secondary.

  4. #4
    laram0's Avatar
    laram0 is offline Superbowl MVP
    Join Date
    Jul 2005
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Age
    57
    Posts
    9,312
    Rep Power
    109

    Re: Rams' defense is mixed bag

    We started out the season with basically the same players on the offense side of the ball. They had to learn the Linehan way, a whole new system. Well the same can be said for the defense (the Haslett way) but what has made it tougher is all the new faces. Now they have 1 season under their belts and an entire offseason and preseason to get used to each other. Should be interesting in 2007.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •