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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams players look for Spagnuolo to change the losing culture

    Columnist Jeff Gordon

    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    02/03/2009

    Piece by piece, the new Rams regime is taking form.

    New coach Steve Spagnuolo is busy hiring and deploying his new staff. All but a few openings have been filled at this point and most of the failed ’08 staff is long gone.

    Mike Williams, the new pro personnel director, is analyzing the still-developing free-agent marketplace.

    Kevin Demoff, the new money guy, is taking over the business side. As manager of the salary cap, he must assess the current payroll and seek ways to create more cap room for general manager Billy Devaney.

    The wheels are turning. The New Regime is preparing for the 2009 NFL Draft, which ought to yield several impact players for this team.

    But the most important change must come from within the core group of veterans returning from last year’s 2-14 fiasco. That was a hot discussion topic among the Rams down in Tampa last week for the Super Bowl extravaganza.

    There are more good players on the Rams than fans realize. Seriously, there are. Spagnuolo’s challenge is to prove that point.

    “We had a good team,” linebacker Chris Draft said.

    Excuse me?

    “We had the makings of a good team,” Draft said, correcting himself. “It’s just that we needed a little bit more. You can see that when we played against Seattle, against San Francisco, against Atlanta.

    “We do have it. It’s there. But we are going to need a little bit more.”

    The Rams will get more talent, via the draft and free agency. That will help. The real key, though, is getting more from the cornerstone players still under contract.

    There are still a lot of veterans making lots of money, former Pro Bowlers like Marc Bulger. And there are many younger players (Tye Hill, Alex Barron, Adam Carriker, et al) struggling to meet expectations.

    “That’s why we have a new coach,” Draft said. “That’s why we have a new staff, to add a little bit more and put us on the right direction.”

    Spagnuolo appears to be a fiery guy, unlike the mild-mannered Scott Linehan. (Interim coach Jim Haslett tried to rile up the guys, but apparently his message wasn’t fresh enough to inspire maximum effort.)

    As a position coach in Philadelphia, Spagnuolo learned how to assemble an aggressive defense. As coordinator of the Giants defense, he put those lessons to work.

    Rams veterans welcomed his hiring in St. Louis.

    “I’m definitely excited,” Draft said. “Not just what he’s done with the defense in New York, but he is going to come with a swagger. His guys have been playing well, have been playing with passion, playing with physical presence these last few years. That’s what we need. We need to have a swagger to us.

    “There were some games, those last three games, if we have that swagger, ‘you’re coming into our house, we’re going to beat you down’-type swagger, there is no way we lose those games. That’s what we have to gain.

    “In terms of the attacking defense that he has, that will definitely be good for us. We have to embrace it, accept it, whatever we have to do to get it done.”

    After watching Ken Whisenhunt lead the lamentable Cardinals into the Super Bowl -– and nearly win it -– the Rams realize that the right coach can transform a team.

    “You can just look at some of the teams that have been successful last year, you look at the Miami Dolphins, they almost didn’t win a game last year,” Draft said. “All of a sudden they’re in the playoffs. The Jets weren’t that good the year before and then Brett Favre comes and they are right there, ready to go to the playoffs.

    “Arizona, when Whisenhunt took over, they were perennial losers -- .500 was something to be excited about.

    “A coach can completely change the culture of a team. Maybe you have to add a couple of different pieces, but when you have the players, sometimes all you need is a culture change.”


  2. #2
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Rams players look for Spagnuolo to change the losing culture

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Columnist Jeff Gordon

    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    02/03/2009


    There are more good players on the Rams than fans realize. Seriously, there are. Spagnuolo’s challenge is to prove that point.

    “We had a good team,” linebacker Chris Draft said.

    I have a problem with both of those statements. You are what your record says you are 5 -27 over two years there has to be lack of talent at least talent not playing to its potentials. On the second, we need a MLB and depth at the LB spots.
    :ramlogo:

  3. #3
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Rams players look for Spagnuolo to change the losing culture

    When I think of the areas we need to improve. It brings me to a baseball analogy. Winning teams in baseball are strong up the middle. (Catcher, Shortstop, Second Base & Centerfield)

    IMO we need to beef up the following positions first and foremost.

    OFFENSE:
    Center

    DEFENSE:
    DT
    MLB
    SS

    I'm not ignoring the LT or any other position I just feel like if we can solidify the positions I've listed we will realize a very quick turnaround.
    Last edited by laram0; -02-03-2009 at 03:18 PM.

  4. #4
    Aussie Dave's Avatar
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    Re: Rams players look for Spagnuolo to change the losing culture

    i dont get why everyone is so high on the cardinals big turnaround.
    i do respect their playoff run but like they say "they got hot at the right time".
    arizona only won 3 games outside of the awful nfc west.

    being terrible for so many years, all those high draft picks will eventually turn into a pretty decent team. of course having the spirit of the lord posess kurt warners body again helped too.

  5. #5
    Mooselini Guest

    Re: Rams players look for Spagnuolo to change the losing culture

    I'm excited for the next season.

    However, to say Carriker hasn't lived up to expectations isn't fair. The guy played injured virtually all year.

    I'm hoping that there are some contract talks, try to make our cap space bigger. I'm telling you, Bulger and Bennett will be getting their contracts reworked.

  6. #6
    Tony Banks Guest

    Re: Rams players look for Spagnuolo to change the losing culture

    Quote Originally Posted by Aussie Dave View Post
    i dont get why everyone is so high on the cardinals big turnaround.
    i do respect their playoff run but like they say "they got hot at the right time".
    arizona only won 3 games outside of the awful nfc west.

    being terrible for so many years, all those high draft picks will eventually turn into a pretty decent team. of course having the spirit of the lord posess kurt warners body again helped too.
    They still made it to the Super Bowl, but you're right, they won the worst division in football with a 9-7 record. Being crappy for the last 2 years should get us some good drafted players, assuming we draft well. Also, I guess Kurt should have asked the lord to push Holmes out of bounds when he made that catch.

  7. #7
    Tony Banks Guest

    Re: Rams players look for Spagnuolo to change the losing culture

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    I'm excited for the next season.

    However, to say Carriker hasn't lived up to expectations isn't fair. The guy played injured virtually all year.

    I'm hoping that there are some contract talks, try to make our cap space bigger. I'm telling you, Bulger and Bennett will be getting their contracts reworked.
    I am also excited for next season! I think you're right, there are several contracts that could/should be reworked for next season (Bulger, Bennett, Holt, Pace, Little, etc.)

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    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams players look for Spagnuolo to change the losing culture

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    When I think of the areas we need to improve. It brings me to a baseball analogy. Winning teams in baseball are strong up the middle. (Catcher, Shortstop, Second Base & Centerfield)

    IMO we need to beef up the following positions first and foremost.

    OFFENSE:
    Center

    DEFENSE:
    DT
    MLB
    SS

    I'm not ignoring the LT or any other position I just feel like if we can solidify the positions I've listed we will realize a very quick turnaround.
    I strongly agree with this. I'd even go farther back on the roster schematic and add FB.

    FB; Weaver from The Hags solid guy who fits BD's FA profile. Versatile enough to be our version of McClain.Too important a spot for a gamble on a late round rookie if we want to build around SJ. Learn from the Kreider disaster,Billy.

    C: There will be much rolling of eyes at this but I don't think it's too crazy to consider Alex Mack for our first pick.Imo, he and Duke Robinson are the only slam dunks on OL in the draft.I'd prefer experience but Mack is a v. smart & committed student of the game so will learn quickly,like C.Long.

    Birk will not work. It rhymes and is true for us and him.Too old for a longterm solution & has had several sports hernia operations. If he moves,I think it will be for a ring,not money.This Harvard-educated guy OWNS restaurants; he's not likely to be a bouncer at the local Hooters post NFL career.

    The questions about Curry,Raji, and Crabtree are being & will continue to be chewed over.All potential stars but none as "safe" a bet as Mack at their respective positions in terms of short or longterm need, value, and impact for me.

    I could see DeSpags moving Barron to LT, drafting a road grader RT in RD2 or snagging Carey from the Fins & hoping Greco/Schuening develops.I don't see BD giving up on Bell but they may ask him to restructure.

    It's about as sexy as a granny in a thong to the casual fan but I bet SJ & MB would look twice at an OL of Barron Bell Mack Greco Carey.

    Whenever The Rams have been consistently successful, they have had strong stable interior OLers. Guys like T. Mack,R. Saul,Iman, Harrah,Doug Smith,Duval Love,Newberry,Timmerman,McCollum.

    The stronger the body's core, the better the limbs will function. Time to do some serious ab crunches,Ram Nation.

    For those who despair over Barron's penalties;they are worrisome but Pace has sucked relatively in that category as well. Compare him to W. Jones or Tra Thomas or Ogden on that stat alone and you can't even call him elite.

    Pace has 58 FS in 154 games, Jones:18 in 180,Tra Thomas: 34 in 165. Can't find Ogden's stats but I know he's one of the least penalized OTs in NFL history.

    Plus Barron's physique & temperament are better suited to LT.He is durable and young-ish and,of course, most importantly, still under contract.Monroe might be a better LT in the end but will he get MB killed as a side effect of his growing pains?

    A name I haven't heard here on D would be Yeremiah Bell; a tackling machine @ SS. I think a rotation of cheaper draftees & FAs can help improve the problems at DT & MLB and get the best out of Carriker and Spoon.
    Last edited by Azul e Oro; -02-04-2009 at 08:19 PM.

  9. #9
    PARamfan's Avatar
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    Re: Rams players look for Spagnuolo to change the losing culture

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    When I think of the areas we need to improve. It brings me to a baseball analogy. Winning teams in baseball are strong up the middle. (Catcher, Shortstop, Second Base & Centerfield)

    IMO we need to beef up the following positions first and foremost.

    OFFENSE:
    Center

    DEFENSE:
    DT
    MLB
    SS

    I'm not ignoring the LT or any other position I just feel like if we can solidify the positions I've listed we will realize a very quick turnaround.
    I totally agree with this assessment.

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