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  1. #1
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    Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander

    Wednesday, November 9, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    There are few teams in the NFL that know Seattle running back Shaun Alexander better than the Rams.

    Of course, there are two conclusions to be drawn from that. One, that means St. Louis should have a good idea of what he is going to do when the Rams and Seahawks meet in Seattle on Sunday.

    No. 2, though, is that there is probably not a team in the league more tired of seeing Alexander than the Rams.

    That intrigue creates excitement on both sides of the ball. What can the Rams do to finally slow Alexander down? What can Alexander do to stay one step ahead?

    That part of the challenge has Alexander excited.

    “What I expect is for them to find different, creative ways to load the box and cover up some of their defensive protections for (quarterback) Matt [Hasselbeck] and the receivers,” Alexander said. “That’s football. It’s exciting because you feel like you’re watching film and you’re like, gosh, I know all of these guys. We have played them so many times. They get a new guy here, a new wrinkle there, but the heart of it is the same. And that’s the same way it is with us. They know us, and we know them.”

    Since Alexander’s arrival in the NFL, he has played the Rams eight times, racking up 756 yards on 150 carries for an average of just over 5 yards per attempt. Alexander has scored six touchdowns in those games as well, making him a huge thorn in the side of the Rams.

    Alexander as a rushing threat isn’t a problem exclusive to the Rams, though. He has been doing it to just about every team he plays.

    Eight games into the season, Alexander is having perhaps his best as a pro. He leads the NFL in rushing yards (949), average per attempt (5.4) and rushing touchdowns (14).

    Although Alexander doesn’t claim to be the fastest, the strongest or the most talented back in the league, it is clear that there are few backs or even players that produce as consistently as he does every year.

    ““You know what, for me I have done the same thing that I have done every year, which is I study and break myself down every year, and then I say, if I add this to my game I’m going to be a little better,” Alexander said. “And that’s what I have done. So if you look, every year I have got a little bit better in just about every category. And I think it’s just from me studying my own self, being real with myself, and saying this needs to be turned into this kind of play.”

    The scary part is that Alexander actually has gotten better every year. There are few aspects of the game that he doesn’t do well and he has made a point of improving in the few areas that he used to consider weaknesses.
    Alexander has even improved in areas that would seem to leave little room for improvement.

    After posting 16, 18, 16 and 20 touchdowns from 2001-2004, Alexander is on pace to best those numbers. In fact, he is on pace to set the record for most touchdowns in a season. If he keeps up at his current rate, he will finish with 28 for the season.

    “[He] loves the redzone,” Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he ratchets it up down there. He loves to score touchdowns, and that’s fine with me. He can score a million touchdowns. The thing is that our offensive line has done a nice job and I think we call runs down there instead of thinking four-and-a-half yards, which is a great run, we’re thinking of scoring. He has a real knack for that too.”

    Of the many deScriptions used to explain Alexander, most would probably stay away from “breakaway threat.” Alexander isn’t seen as the type of guy that will kill you with his speed, yet somehow, he has found ways to break off the big runs.
    Rams coach Joe Vitt says Alexander is always capable of going all the way.

    “He’s a rare back and when he gets to the second level and clears the linebackers he is gone,” Vitt said. “If he makes a linebacker miss, he can take it the distance. When he gets in the open field, he has a second gear. I think he does a great job of getting a presnap read on defenses and where the bubble or cutback may be. He plays with great anticipation and he’s done a much better job with his ball security.”

    Alexander is hitting the Rams at a good time. He was the second leg in the Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James, Alexander triumvirate that hit the Rams like a ton of bricks.

    St. Louis is 25th in the league in run defense, allowing 127.1 yards per contest. Things have only degenerated in recent weeks, as Fred Taylor added to the problems created by that trio.

    The things that Alexander has improved in would seem to play unfavorably against a Rams’ defense that has allowed a number if big plays on the ground. Taylor took one 71 yards for a touchdown against St. Louis.

    If not for those big plays, though, the run defense has been solid. It seems as though it has been all or nothing in that regard, with running backs either getting a big gain or next to nothing.

    “He’s been very, very good at making long runs and that’s something you definitely have to stop,” middle linebacker Chris Claiborne said. “Sometimes they may break us on the front seven, but we can’t allow the long run. It’s up to all of us to stop that.”

    While Alexander has had plenty of success based on his talent, he wouldn’t be where he is without the offensive line. The Seahawks are first in the league in offense and third in the league in rushing, mainly because of the strength of the offensive line.

    Walter Jones is one of the best left tackles in the NFL and is joined on that side by guard Steve Hutchinson. That line has paved the way for one of the league’s most balanced lines.

    “I think it’s one of the top three,” Vitt said. “They have been together for a long time. They have high round picks there. Hutchinson is a good player; Walter Jones is a great player. They are well coached. That whole offense has been together for a long time. That coaching staff has been together for a long time. They are really in sync.”

    There is one surefire way of not having to try to stop Alexander twice a year that could come up after this season. Alexander is a free agent after the year and he has been promised that Seattle won’t put the franchise tag on him, allowing him to go into the free agent market.

    Surely a back of Alexander’s caliber will draw considerable interest on the open market, but it’s pretty obvious that the Seahawks would be wise to sign him as soon as possible.

    “I’m just out of it, let whatever happens happen,” Alexander said. “My football team is in a great place right now, so I’m just going to concentrate on football and let (management) do what they do.”

  2. #2
    general counsel's Avatar
    general counsel is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander

    Given our past history dealing with alexander, i think we have a better chance of causing him to caugh the ball up at a key point in the game then we do of actually stopping him, at least without resorting to either a steel net or firearm of some kind.


    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel

  3. #3
    jkramsfan Guest

    Re: Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander

    it sounds simple gc, but your 100% right, give jackson the ball and keep alexander off the field.

  4. #4
    RAMMAN68's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander

    Yep, ball control on offense, and don't give up the big play on D. Put eight in the box and try to strip the ball out.


    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey


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