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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
    RamWraith is offline Registered User
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    Rams Move Fast to Build Defense

    Monday, March 13, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Amid clouds of discontent at Rams Park, the Rams entered last offseason in hopes of improving, particularly on defense. This year, with the addition of coach Scott Linehan and a new staff, there is a newfound breath of fresh air sweeping through the building.

    From the first day of his arrival in St. Louis, Linehan has set forth certain ideas and characteristics of the direction he wants the team to take. With obvious areas of need on defense, Linehan wanted to address those as quickly as possible.

    In doing that, he clearly wanted the most talented players he could get, but just as important as talent was character. Linehan wanted to be surrounded by a staff and players that carry themselves in a certain way and set the tone for the entire franchise.

    “We said it from the beginning, I think I talked about it at my opening press conference, that we were going to work to re-tool this team,” Linehan said. “Hiring Jim (Haslett) and putting some key components into this defense was going to be a big part of the plan, especially with free agency, and we started to do that. We’ve still got a long way to go in putting our team together, but these are some pretty key pieces right now.”

    The changes in the staff and building were apparently clear to the free agent visitors that the Rams have brought in already. St. Louis is three-for-three in bringing in visitors and subsequently signing them before they leave town.

    The Rams started the period by adding defensive tackle La’Roi Glover last week and followed by adding safety Corey Chavous on Saturday and linebacker Will Witherspoon on Sunday.

    Those additions plus the contract extension for Isaac Bruce have created plenty of goodwill and hope around the team. Even the free agents can sense the excitement in their short visits.

    “For me, this is a first-time event and it’s overwhelming,” Witherspoon said of his free agent excursion. “The head coach coming there to meet you, the D-coordinator coming there to meet you, pick you up, and kind of talk and chit-chat with you. It was kind of surprising. I wasn’t expecting them to be as casual as they were. I thought that it would be right down to business right away, another reason that I like this staff. They are pretty down to earth. Business is going to be business, but we all are going to be friends at the end of the day.”

    Witherspoon was considered by many to be one of the top free agents available regardless of position. He will take over as the middle linebacker with Glover as the three technique tackle and Chavous as the strong safety. In addition to the coaching staff, Witherspoon might not have been a Ram were it not for the obvious dedication and aggressiveness the team showed earlier in free agency.

    “He’s a big piece, obviously, but part of the way to get him, in my opinion, was getting some of the other parts as well… getting La’Roi and Corey in, and even bringing a guy like Isaac back doesn’t hurt when you’re making commitments to these guys and telling them where you want to go with your program, it doesn’t hurt.”

    Of course, everything looks fine on paper in March, but it will all change in October and November when you get to the heart of the season. Even with the three additions, there is still plenty of work to do in reshaping the roster.

    At this point, there have been changes made (Chavous for Adam Archuleta and Witherspoon for Chris Claiborne), but it remains to be seen whether the changes equal upgrades.

    The Rams could use more help in the way of a veteran cornerback, a tight end, a third offensive tackle, some depth on the defensive line, a punter and maybe an interior offensive lineman capable of competing for a starting job. And though Chavous, Glover and Witherspoon are nice additions, there still has to be lingering concern about the run defense.

    Archuleta signed with Washington on Monday, ending his tenure with the team. Chavous will replace him at strong safety with Oshiomogho Atogwe stepping in at free safety.

    Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett is expected to leave Green Bay without a contract today and head to Buffalo for another visit. The Rams have an offer out to Pickett and remain interested in retaining him.

    “We haven’t closed the door on anybody,” Linehan said. “Obviously when you start making commitments at positions, it affects your overall budget, but I’m pretty high on that particular player. So if there was anything we could do to get him back, I would certainly entertain the idea.”

    Even with the moves, the Rams are believed to have about $10 million in cap room left, with about half of that to go toward signing a rookie class. That means the team could probably afford a fairly big-ticket item such as Pickett and fill out the other needs with low-end veterans or through the draft.

    No matter how the Rams fill out the remaining parts of the roster, it’s a safe bet that those brought in will fit the new mold that is being set.

    “I think character is a big factor with me and our staff,” Linehan said. “You couldn’t ask for three better character guys than the ones we’ve brought in so far. It’s got to go along with their ability to play the game. There are a lot of people in this world so obviously you’ve got to be able to do both. But I’m really proud of the evaluation our coaches have made in not only bringing in high-quality players, but I couldn’t be more happy with the types of individuals we have. It’s a great way to build your team.”


  2. #2
    sbramfan is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams Move Fast to Build Defense

    I think Martz was somewhat of an anomoly for the Rams. Linehan seems to have a lot of character, and integrity (so far), ala Dick Vermeil.

    “I think character is a big factor with me and our staff,” Linehan said. “You couldn’t ask for three better character guys than the ones we’ve brought in so far. It’s got to go along with their ability to play the game. There are a lot of people in this world so obviously you’ve got to be able to do both. But I’m really proud of the evaluation our coaches have made in not only bringing in high-quality players, but I couldn’t be more happy with the types of individuals we have. It’s a great way to build your team.”
    At this point, with Martz being gone, without knocking the positives he brought to the team, I say good riddence. His arrogance is not needed around here, and I am looking forward to the shaping this team with guys who have character, and coaches that have some humility, integrity, respect, etc... The whole "I don't care how many dinners Dick took these guys too"... I won't miss it. His arrogance cost them as many games as it won them.

  3. #3
    Fargo Ram Fan's Avatar
    Fargo Ram Fan is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams Move Fast to Build Defense

    Quote Originally Posted by sbramfan
    I think Martz was somewhat of an anomoly for the Rams. Linehan seems to have a lot of character, and integrity (so far), ala Dick Vermeil.



    At this point, with Martz being gone, without knocking the positives he brought to the team, I say good riddence. His arrogance is not needed around here, and I am looking forward to the shaping this team with guys who have character, and coaches that have some humility, integrity, respect, etc... The whole "I don't care how many dinners Dick took these guys too"... I won't miss it. His arrogance cost them as many games as it won them.
    Umm...WORD!!

  4. #4
    coy bacon is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams Move Fast to Build Defense

    If I remember correctly, Fargo Ram made a call somewhat early in the season about the season being a poor one.

    "Thus spake Zarathustra! But still do I lack my proper men!"


    As the season ended, Fargo was proved right.

    So Fargo, what say ye on the moves the team has made thus far?

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