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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Rams expect better defense ..

    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    06/13/2010

    There's no comparison between the 2010 Rams defense and the '09 version, according to veteran cornerback Ron Bartell.

    "It's pretty much night and day from last year," Bartell said. "Guys are able to move around a lot faster because you know what you're doing. We've played together for a while. We have a core group of guys that have been here, been in the system. So I think it'll make a huge difference."

    It's a viewpoint shared by defensive coordinator Ken Flajole and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis, among others, at Rams Park.

    "I hope it's not ignorant optimism," Flajole said Saturday as the team concluded its three-day minicamp. "But I think we're playing faster."

    The players know the system better, so there's less thinking and more reacting. And the coaches have a better idea of what the players can and can't do entering the second year of Steve Spagnuolo's tenure with the Rams.

    "I'm not a big prediction person, I never have been," Laurinaitis said. "But I can say honestly that I think we're way more comfortable in this defense this year. And I predict it's going to be better."


    There's a lot more chatter on the field by the defense this year, Laurinaitis said. It's not just one player making the defensive call, with everyone else mulling it over and thinking about where they're supposed to line up.

    "This year, everyone's echoing it back and forth, and everyone's kind of on a better wavelength than where we were a year ago," he said.

    As a result, the defense is less robotic and more instinctive.

    "So I feel confident saying that we're better than we were a year ago," Laurinaitis said.

    Of course, "better" is a relative concept. Last season, the Rams finished 29th in total defense and 27th in rushing defense. Only Detroit (494) allowed more points than the Rams (436) in '09. Obviously, much better results were expected given Spagnuolo's defensive reputation when hired by the Rams.

    So it's possible the Rams could be improved in 2010 but still be in the lower third of NFL defenses. For now, just three practices remain before the veterans are dismissed. They don't return until training camp at the end of July. That's when the pads come on and the hitting begins.

    With no pads allowed and very little contact in the spring, Flajole has been around long enough not to be carried away by what he has seen so far.

    "This is practice in underwear," he said Saturday. "The pads haven't come on, we haven't hit anybody yet. That's always the telltale sign. But I just watch how our guys operate out there right now. It seems like we're playing faster and we get it."

    Playing faster and more instinctively helps, but at the end of the day it still comes down to talent and the ability to make plays in key situations. With a frugal spending approach in the offseason, the Rams made modest acquisitions defensively via free agency and trade. Three new starters were added in defensive tackle Fred Robbins and linebackers Na'il Diggs and Bobby Carpenter.

    "Fred has been great," Bartell said. "One great thing about Fred, he bats down a lot of balls at the line of scrimmage. He's been around. He knows the game. He knows the system. We have a lot of young guys, so he's able to get in that d-line room and bring some veteran leadership."

    One of the continuing tasks by Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney is to add size to a front seven that has gotten pushed around in recent seasons. Robbins (6-4, 325), Diggs (6-4, 240) and Carpenter (6-2, 249) all help in that area.

    In the draft, only one of the Rams' picks in the opening four rounds was a defensive player, third-round cornerback Jerome Murphy. So to a large degree, any defensive progress made in 2010 must come from returning players getting better.

    On that score, Spagnuolo says Laurinaitis sticks out.

    "The guy in the middle No. 55 knows (the defense) 100 times better than he did last year," Spagnuolo said. "And 100 times better than a lot of people that are doing it right now, because he's serious about it and he takes it seriously."

    It will take that and more for the Rams to show serious improvement in 2010.


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    All we need is a pass rush, If we can find that,,,,,,we're golden!!!
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    Quote Originally Posted by theodus69 View Post
    All we need is a pass rush, If we can find that,,,,,,we're golden!!!
    we have the pass rush, just no inside penetration.

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    Call me crazy if you want, but the Rams D is coming along, and with a little more time should be an effective unit.?
    At least they can stay healthy. Their young, ascending players, with good characters.
    The Offensive side is in deep water with the inexperience back there, they do have me worried.

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    Calm down guys, the DE position is still in question as is Barbie Carpenter. Not to mention our FS and CB spot opposite Ron B.; so let's not get carried away here.

    But I do like your optimism guys, way to stay positive!

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    Quote Originally Posted by ManofGod View Post
    Calm down guys, the DE position is still in question as is Barbie Carpenter.

    Awwww man, let's not start that here...(yet )

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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    Speaking of defensive ends...I think we need one of our 14 ends drafted to start contributing this year for our rush to remain successful. We just don't have the depth right now to keep it at a high level.

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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    Quote Originally Posted by thickandthin View Post
    we have the pass rush, just no inside penetration.
    I haven't seen it in a few years.
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

  9. #9
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    Quote Originally Posted by theodus69 View Post
    I haven't seen it in a few years.
    I think there's a "that's what she said" joke in there somewhere (See the commnt theodus was responding to)

    I do think there is some hope for getting a better push up front. Scott is the real wild card here. He has great natural talent. Hopefully, Spags can bring it out of him.

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    We have some good flashes at outside pass rushing, it's just that our DTs cannot get the necessary "collapse the pocket" leverage needed to force the QB into the hands of our DEs.

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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    Quote Originally Posted by GROUND DOG 39 View Post
    Call me crazy if you want, but the Rams D is coming along, and with a little more time should be an effective unit.?
    At least they can stay healthy. Their young, ascending players, with good characters.
    The Offensive side is in deep water with the inexperience back there, they do have me worried.
    Your not crazy I was defintely excited about our defense improvements. Our numbers on defense were servely hurt by the fact our offense was so horrible. This year with bradford and a remade offense our defense should shine especially if o.j. comes back.

  12. #12
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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    I don't see any reason why we can't crack the top 20 teams in terms of defense. If even one of the drafted DE's (Selvie, Davis, Sims) can catch on I think we're better than we were last year already. Not to mention improvement (on paper) of our LB corps and added depth to our secondary.

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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    I remain cautiously optimistic with the our future defensive improvement; however, I do recall a lot of this same sentiment being expressed with the Haslett D.

    Many believed that the Rams D would show marked improvement simply from more reps and familiarity in the Haz system. Didn't quite work out that way did it?

    Geez, I can still remember reading over and over again the "we need to maintain better gap discipline" mantra ad infinitum ad nauseum.

    WHAT SAY YE?

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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    We have Na'il and Carpenter so I guess Lauranitis nickname should be "HAMMER"?!

  15. #15
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    Re: Rams expect better defense ..

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMarkable View Post
    I remain cautiously optimistic with the our future defensive improvement; however, I do recall a lot of this same sentiment being expressed with the Haslett D.

    Many believed that the Rams D would show marked improvement simply from more reps and familiarity in the Haz system. Didn't quite work out that way did it?

    Geez, I can still remember reading over and over again the "we need to maintain better gap discipline" mantra ad infinitum ad nauseum.

    WHAT SAY YE?
    That's a fair point. I'm not a fan of comparing previous thoughts and sentiments to the thoughts and sentiments of now.

    Totally new defensive scheme, imo better players, better defensive coaches, and a defense that has been proven to be lights out when on point. I expect a top 23 defense in the least, anything less will be a bit of a disappointment.

    Injuries play a role here so we'll see who stays healthy. When Haslett was calling the plays, we didn't have JLau, Long (with experience), and a handful of other newly acquired players.

    This defense will also rely on how this offense does. Putting all of this into perspective, I do expect marked improvement.

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