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Thread: Rams fostering a darker identity

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    Rams fostering a darker identity

    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ

    Remember the good old days of the Greatest Show on Turf? The Rams had a high-flying, high-scoring offense that confounded defenses. Frustrated opponents didn't have much success in stopping the Rams from 1999 through 2001, so they tried to hit Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt with insults.

    The Rams were accused of being a soft, pretty, finesse team that preferred flag football over tackle football. The Rams took umbrage at the depiction and used the zingers for extra motivation.

    Many years later, it's strange to see the Rams being portrayed as NFL bad boys. Talk about a dramatic change in identity. But did anyone really expect a Jeff Fisher team to invite an opposing team to join them in singing "Kumbaya"?

    Only two games into Fisher's first season, the 2012 Rams are gaining a rep for their chippy, edgy, aggressive play.

    You can add "dirty play" to the list.

    In comments reported by the Washington Post, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III accused the Rams of hitting him with cheap shots during Sunday's game.

    "They were definitely going after me," Griffin said. "They were doing a lot of dirty things."

    Griffin called the game "unprofessional" and claimed a Rams player warned him that he'd be hit on every play.

    "Some of the shots were cheap," RG III said.

    The Rams have a 1-1 record in the standings. But they are 2-0 in irritating opponents and baiting them into taking stupid penalties.

    In the season opener at Detroit, Lions coach Jim Schwartz benched wide receiver Titus Young for head-butting chirping rookie Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins. Young was flagged with a 15-yard penalty. This pleased Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan, a heckling co-conspirator who caused Young to snap.

    Young "didn't do a smart thing," Schwartz said. "We knew what was going to happen in some situations. He and a couple of guys (Jenkins and Finnegan) were going back and forth, and it looked like he was going to walk away but at the last second he turned and made a really dumb decision."

    In Sunday's 31-28 win over Washington, after a barking Finnegan shoved Redskins wide receiver Josh Morgan. Fed up after being razzed by Finnegan all afternoon, Morgan reacted by throwing the ball at his tormentor. The result: a costly 15-yard penalty that ruined Washington's last-drive opportunity to tie or win the game.

    Finnegan was Fisher's first free-agent signing, and that's no coincidence.

    Say hello to the new Rams.

    They are rather bristly — just like their coach's mustache.

    They are nothing like the feckless Rams of 2007-2011 who lost 65 of 80 games as the league's resident patsies.

    When Fisher took over, he had to transform this team's personality and give it a spine. You could say that Coach is making progress. We've watched two games filled with hard hits, taunting, jostling, skirmishing, and other fine "Longest Yard" tributes.

    As officials reviewed a replay Sunday, Redskins offensive tackle Trent Williams approached Rams quarterback Sam Bradford, his teammate and buddy at Oklahoma. When Williams playfully tapped Bradford's helmet, he probably didn't expect to be encircled by a herd of angry, snarling Rams. Officials had to rush in and pull Williams out of there.

    Another scene: Jenkins laying out Redskins tight end Fred Davis with a shoulder to the head. The incompetent officiating crew didn't penalize Jenkins, who should be fined, but the vicious hit had the Redskins boiling.

    Oh, and another thing: Redskins receivers seemed to become keenly aware of their surroundings after seeing Davis stagger to the bench. The visitors were, shall we say, a bit tentative in their pass routes over the middle.

    Whoa, boy. And just imagine what St. Louis football Sundays will look like after New Orleans Saints "Bounty" mastermind Gregg Williams rejoins the operation. Williams, hired by Fisher to run the defense, is in exile while serving an indefinite NFL suspension.

    I did a Google search to see how many times Fisher's Tennessee Titans were accused of cheap shots, misconduct, random violence and general rudeness during his years as coach.

    Google had no problem coming up with, oh, a million examples.

    A few jumped out, including this bitter comment made by then-Denver head coach Josh McDaniels after the Broncos faced the surly Titans in 2010.

    "I was proud of our team because we knew that was the kind of game it was going to be," McDaniels said. "You can put any tape you want to of Tennessee and there's going to be 10 penalties. You either coach it or you allow it to happen. There's a way to play tough and physical without being excessive and playing dirty after the snap."

    Countered the cool Fisher: “We did have six sacks against the quarterback and numerous other times they did have some difficulty with protection and blocking our defensive line. Maybe he’s referring to that."

    In another memorable 2010 game, Finnegan tangled with Houston wide receiver Andre Johnson, and the hostilities quickly escalated into a fight.

    A week later, on the Sunday network pregame shows, studio analysts offered these opinions on the Finnegan-Johnson scuffle.

    "This is no surprise," said NBC's Rodney Harrison, the retired hard-hitting NFL safety. "The Titans, this is their personality. They're dirty, they're cheap."

    Yeah, as if Harrison should talk. He was reviled during his playing days for hitting players late or diving at their knees. But I guess it takes a miscreant to know one. Harrison told a story about an incident in a 2006 game. Harrison claims he injured a knee because of a cut block executed by Titans receiver Bobby Wade. As Harrison writhed on the ground in pain, he alleges that he saw Fisher and several Titans laughing on the sideline.

    On the CBS pregame show, retired tight end Shannon Sharpe said: "Why is it I can close my eyes, and if there's a team involved in a fight, I know it's the Titans? Jeff Fisher says, 'We don't coach this, we don't condone this,' but why is his team always involved in stuff like this?"

    Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher nodded in agreement.

    “They are the constant,” Cowher said.

    Retired Indianapolis coach Tony Dungy accused the Titans of putting a bounty on Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

    Former San Diego pass rusher Shawne Merriman once claimed that Fisher ordered a hit on him, to go after his knees.

    The "Greatest Show" Rams had their own special experience with Fisher and the Titans. Six months after St. Louis defeated the Titans 23-16 in an extremely physical Super Bowl, the teams gathered at the Rams' training camp for two days of organized practices.

    Coaches Fisher and Mike Martz agreed in advance: There would be no contact, no rough stuff, no reason to dial 911.

    Shockingly, this pleasant cooperative between rivals ended with two Rams rookies limping off with serious injuries. In the previous day's work the Titans defense was no match for the souped-up Rams offense. A fuming Fisher challenged his men to do something about it.

    They did. Rams running back Trung Canidate was shoved out of bounds by a Titans DB and and landed awkwardly; the subsequent high ankle sprain just about ruined Canidate's rookie year. Another rookie, offensive lineman Kaulana Noa, broke his arm while trying to tame assorted Titans and missed the entire season.

    For some odd reason, Martz never got around to scheduling another joint practice with the Titans.

    "When you scrimmage another team, you have to be very careful and selective of who it is," Martz said at the time. "Because they're going to take a different approach than you do, and you end up getting guys hurt."

    Fisher took a year off from coaching in 2011. In case you were worried that Fisher had lost his sharp edge during a relaxing and peaceful sabbatical, you may want to run that by Titus Young, Josh Morgan, Fred Davis, Trent Williams and RG III.

    For a football town that was raised on Air Coryell and taken to two NFC Championships by "The Greatest Show" Rams, this unfamiliar style of raw football is something of a culture shock.

    From 2001-2010, Fisher's Titans led the NFL in most personal foul penalties with 163. They were called for a league-high 67 penalties for unnecessary roughness, and flagged 46 times for roughing the passer. Moreover, the Titans were slapped with 18 unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.

    I suppose that was a preview of coming infractions.
    Last edited by Rambos; -09-20-2012 at 11:40 AM.


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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    Bad Boys, Bad Boys whatcha going to do when they come for you?

    LOVE IT!!!

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    When Fisher took over, he had to transform this team's personality and give it a spine. You could say that Coach is making progress. We've watched two games filled with hard hits, taunting, jostling, skirmishing, and other fine "Longest Yard" tributes.
    I wasn't a Spags hater, but this quote tells me everything I need to know about why the change was necessary.

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    I love the edginess that the Rams are showing. However, am I the only one that doesn't want the Rams to be known as dirty and cheap? This is something I hated about the Titans.

    I wish a line would be drawn. Where the Rams could be edgy and have an attitude, but not become that dirty/cheap team. However, I know that won't be the case.
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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    The great thing about Fisher is that he is able to coach teams known for their tough, in-your-face, approach, but he can still charm the media, who typically portray him as "one of the NFL's good guys."
    ManofGod and swatter555 like this.

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    Quote Originally Posted by supachump View Post
    I love the edginess that the Rams are showing. However, am I the only one that doesn't want the Rams to be known as dirty and cheap? This is something I hated about the Titans.

    I wish a line would be drawn. Where the Rams could be edgy and have an attitude, but not become that dirty/cheap team. However, I know that won't be the case.
    I think the Rams can balance the two because of the personalities of their defensive leaders. Guys like Long, Laurinaitis and Finnegan are great in interviews. They come accross as nice, civilized guys. Then, on the field, its a different story.

    There have been other guys like that in the past. Mike Singletary, for example, was viewed as a teddy bear off the field, but a demon on the field.

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    I knew Fisher would put his stamp on this team. But I thought it would take a year or so. TWO GAMES and we are already playing like his type of team. That is unreal that he could change the way we are perceived in two games!

    I could tell right away that JL was taking more during the games, he was making plays and enforcing it after the play. Jenkins in the first game was talking a lot when I watched the NFL replay, but he was standing his ground. That was the bad boys Lions we went head to head with!

    I can't wait to play the 9ers!

    I love it!

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    I find this article really divisive.

    On the one hand, I LOVE this new attitude. The idea that Jenkins and Finnegan especially have been able to bait opposing players into penalties and then walk away as if nothing happened is a mindset I haven't seen from ANY Rams player before. I think this is fantastic - there's nothing wrong with being chippy, as long as you don't cross the line.

    On the other hand, I am overwhelmingly against this kind of journalism:

    Quote Originally Posted by bernie
    And just imagine what St. Louis football Sundays will look like after New Orleans Saints "Bounty" mastermind Gregg Williams rejoins the operation.
    .

    Piss. Off.

    The article goes on to reference pride - which is a fantastic and necessary thing to have if you're going to win football games - but I wouldn't be proud if the Rams were to become a 'dirty' football team, as Bernie implies with this quote. This paragraph in particular seems to be written with a gleeful, sh*t-eating-grin. I don't know how I feel about that.

    In my opinion, if you're eating sh*t, you're probably not having a very good day to begin with.
    Rammed and shower beers like this.

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    Quote Originally Posted by Bar-bq View Post
    I find this article really divisive.
    I agree. Bernie, in his typical "drama queen" manner of writing, has made this more than it is. I never thought the Titans crossed the line in the way that the Patriots have (i.e. actual cheating). They just play a brand of football that the officials, at times, try to reign in with personal foul calls.

    As long as its winning football, I'm okay with that.

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    I don't think any of us want to have a dirty football team. If Fishers teams where just dirty football teams, I don't think he would have the respect he does throughout the NFL.

    For me it's what Fisher will brings and that's a tough and physical team. To be honest I thought Billy Devaney would do that for us. When the Rams where in the last years of LA. I lived 10 min from where they held camp. I went every day after work. I will never forget one scrimmage, San Diego Chargers came in and just beat us down like we where a high school team. They where in a different league when it came to how the game was played, they where just way more physical and a nasty team and it showed.

    I don't want to be known as a dirty team, but I do want other teams to know they will be in for a physical game.

    I like the part about the Rams getting Bradford old college buddy away from him, we are in the middle of the game. It's not time to reflect or say hi how do you like playing in the NFL Sam. The Skins fans assume we are being dirty when this shuffle is about the Rams staying focused on the prize and not letting their guard down for one second.
    Last edited by Rambos; -09-20-2012 at 01:11 PM.

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    Have to agree with most here. I want a tough team, not a "dirty" team. ...and I think you can have that, and I think Fisher does bring that to the Rams.

    I LOVE WHAT I SEE.

    For years, I've said the Rams were too soft. They won't be saying that anymore, not while Fisher is in charge. The beautiful thing about the new style of play is it gets in opposing players heads, and if they're thinking about that, they're not thinking about what they should be focusing on. It works. The Redskin's game was a perfect example of that. Does anyone think the old "soft" Rams would have had the cajones to come back and steal that game like that? Not a chance.

    This new attitude is a welcome change, as long as it doesn't cross into dirty tactics, cheap shots and unsportsmanlike behavior.
    thoey likes this.
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMFANRAIDERHATER View Post
    Have to agree with most here. I want a tough team, not a "dirty" team. ...and I think you can have that, and I think Fisher does bring that to the Rams.

    I LOVE WHAT I SEE.

    For years, I've said the Rams were too soft. They won't be saying that anymore, not while Fisher is in charge. The beautiful thing about the new style of play is it gets in opposing players heads, and if they're thinking about that, they're not thinking about what they should be focusing on. It works. The Redskin's game was a perfect example of that. Does anyone think the old "soft" Rams would have had the cajones to come back and steal that game like that? Not a chance.

    This new attitude is a welcome change, as long as it doesn't cross into dirty tactics, cheap shots and unsportsmanlike behavior.
    Well said and my feelings exactly. cheap shots dirty tactics should not be tolerated but chippy no back down mentality.....nice to see

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    Have we seen Trumane Johnson or our other corners trash talking too yet? Would be amazing to have 5-6 'Cortland Finnegans' running around getting into the heads of every offensive player

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    Re: Rams fostering a darker identity

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie
    Another scene: Jenkins laying out Redskins tight end Fred Davis with a shoulder to the head. The incompetent officiating crew didn't penalize Jenkins, who should be fined, but the vicious hit had the Redskins boiling.
    Interesting that a league that is hell bent on cracking down on illegal hits, didn't fine Jenkins or even say a word about the hit that I've seen. Could it be that the hit was just a clean, hard-nosed football play?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernie
    Whoa, boy. And just imagine what St. Louis football Sundays will look like after New Orleans Saints "Bounty" mastermind Gregg Williams rejoins the operation. Williams, hired by Fisher to run the defense, is in exile while serving an indefinite NFL suspension.
    Simply an asinine statement to make.

    Quote Originally Posted by supachump
    However, am I the only one that doesn't want the Rams to be known as dirty and cheap?
    I don't think anyone wants the Rams to be known as dirty or cheap. and as far as I can see, they're not. I saw one play that could be classified as dirty against Washington, and those types of plays are going to be seen from players of every team from time to time. The only reason this "dirty" narrative is out there is because the darling of the NFL is crying and making that claim to anyone who'll listen.
    Last edited by r8rh8rmike; -09-20-2012 at 03:08 PM. Reason: horrible spelling
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    Rams fostering a darker identity

    You hit it on the nail mike.


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