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    Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    Rams Looking to Bolster Run Defense
    Saturday, January 20, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    For the better part of the past three seasons, the Rams defense has struggled with one perpetual problem: stopping the run.

    Given just one offseason to try to correct those problems after being hired as the head coach, Scott Linehan made as many moves as possible to do that. After bringing in Jim Haslett as defensive coordinator, there was only so much that could be done.

    Now, after finishing 31st of 32 teams in the league against the run, finding a way to improve in that area is the team’s top priority heading into free agency and the NFL Draft.

    “We’ve certainly got an area that we have prioritized and that’s to improve our run defense,” Linehan said. “Whether it’s in our front or our linebackers. Whatever it is that’s going to help us, we’re going to scour the league and see if there is somebody there that fits what we lack. I think it’d be too early to say that it is a certain position, but we will address that, if we can, right away in free agency.”

    The Rams made a couple of improvements as far as positions last offseason by bringing in middle linebacker Will Witherspoon and strong safety Corey Chavous. That duo was far more adept and sound as tacklers than their predecessors, Chris Claiborne and Adam Archuleta.

    But the defensive line did not make a similar improvement. Witherspoon, the linebackers, and the secondary’s job was difficult against the run.

    Finding a big body with experience and run stuffing ability is a priority for the Rams.

    “That’s the biggest disappointment,” Haslett said. “We did well the last three weeks, but in order to play really well in this league you have to stop the run. We have two issues here on that. We didn’t play well and when the offense cranks it up like they did at the end of the season, teams want to run the ball to keep the offense off the field and run the ball because it can be effective. That’s one issue we are going to have to address. We have to do a better job on the run next year.”

    Making improvements on the defensive line is easier said than done, particularly through free agency. The Rams spent three first-round choices on defensive tackles in recent seasons and only Kennedy remains.

    Last offseason, the team added La’Roi Glover, who brought experience and leadership to the group as the “three” technique defensive tackle. But a lack of depth forced Glover to play more than the Rams had anticipated.

    As it stands, only end Leonard Little seems set in stone in his position. In what was the team’s biggest move of the regular season, Little signed a contract extension that should allow him to finish his career in St. Louis.

    With rookie Victor Adeyanju proving to be a solid rotation end with plenty of potential, the team will enter the offseason in search of another end capable of improving the pass rush.

    “Anytime you have a guy with 13 sacks and you can keep a guy that has double digit sacks every year, they are hard to find and Leonard will tell you he has been double teamed and chipped all year,” Haslett said. “So we have to find another guy that can get some pressure, too.”

    The Rams’ tackle position is interesting.. The team drafted Claude Wroten in the third round last season and he showed signs of potential, but how soon that potential will be realized is unclear. Glover will return and there’s a chance that Kennedy will return to the rotation as a three technique rather than a nose tackle.Jason Fisk is also a free agent.

    At linebacker, the Rams solidified their starting group by re-signing Pisa Tinoisamoa during the season. Brandon Chillar is a restricted free agent and certain to be brought back.

    It’s possible the team could search for another linebacker with Chicago’s Lance Briggs, Baltimore’s Adalius Thomas and Buffalo’s London Fletcher-Baker the best of the bunch. Haslett has stated he would like to keep Witherspoon in the middle, but that could be dependent on adding a big tackle in up front.

    As for the secondary, the Rams made a number of solid moves last offseason that seem to have fortified that group. Travis Fisher is a free agent. Jerametrius Butler could be brought back for depth.

    That leaves Tye Hill, Ron Bartell and Fakhir Brown as the team’s top three corners. That trio came on strong at the end of the season and is in good shape for the foreseeable future.

    At safety, Chavous brought a stabilizing force and Oshiomogho Atogwe was maybe the team’s most improved player. Behind that duo is solid, young depth in the form of Jon Alston and Jerome Carter. A backup free safety might be a need, but it’s clear that the Rams need the most help up front.



    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

  2. #2
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    Re: Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    Jon Alston back up safety?......Hmmmm

    Seems like that's the answer to the question of how Alston will be used.

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    So Jimmy Kennedy--basically our only current nose tackle--might be going back to playing three technique? I wonder if that's idle speculation or if the writer is basing that on anything specific. If that's the case, you can pretty much guarantee signing a veteran NT will be the top priority this offseason.

    I think Alston has more upside as a safety than a linebacker (based on size concerns), so it's probably a good decision.

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    Re: Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    Whatever is needed to fix the run D. Personally, I think it's bigger players. It has seemed that for the past two or three years, we can stop smaller, quicker runnning backs. Whenever we go up against bigger, stronger backs, they run all over us. Bulk up that D-line, and it should help a lot.

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    Re: Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    If Kennedy is moving back to the 3 technique then who will we go after to play the nose ??? Drafting a Nose would be great for the future but could we expect him to come right in and start at the key position in this defense ???
    I've heard some names to go after for the other DE spot but I think there's slim pickings as far as true NT's in this years crop of free agents. Haslett has to be scratching his head looking for THE GUY, to make his system go.

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    Re: Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    If you look at every great run defense in the history of the league, they have one thing in common, and that is at least one 1-technique, run stopping DT. That is what we need......badly. Kennedy sucks.

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    Re: Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    I agree, I don't think Kennedy is that good or great either...he's been given enough time to prove himself, we need someone who can "hold it" down. Kennedy, while at times good, is not the answer.

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    Re: Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    Kennedy needs to be set out at the front of the driveway at the Garage sale!
    I stopped going to the dentist.......I got tired of the cavity searches!

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    Re: Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    Quote Originally Posted by theodus69 View Post
    Kennedy needs to be set out at the front of the driveway at the Garage sale!
    Actually he needs to wait in front of a garage door, lay on the floor, and let a car back out, hahaha
    Built RAM tough

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams looking to Bolster Run Defense...

    Hopefully, the Rams can get that big run stopping DT in FA, but if they do I still think that they should also draft one. I just don't like the idea of putting all of your eggs in one basket.

    No matter where the Rams pick up their players, in todays NFL you've got to have a backup plan or it's Kennedy at NT for the remainder of the season.

    I don't think that any of us want that...

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