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    Rams Searching for Answers

    By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

    As Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo used the wee hours of Monday morning to watch the tape of Sunday’s loss at the hands of the Cowboys, he couldn’t help but find himself every bit as shocked and disappointed with his team’s inability to tackle as he figured he would be right after the game.

    “I will just sum it up this way,” Spagnuolo said, shaking his head. “We have got to solve the defensive issues. I think most of it can be solved by tackling. I added it up this morning, on the 11 plays we missed tackles, after the missed tackle there was a total of 183 yards given up. So you can do the math and figure out if we don’t tackle better that part is not going to get better.”

    In a confounding season that has seen the Rams start 0-6, there have been myriad issues cropping up every week; some of them have continued to rear their ugly heads while others seem to come more sporadically.

    But at the heart of the issue is the stuff that should be easy. In its purest form, blocking and tackling are the most basic tenets of the game. They are the things you are taught from the moment you step foot on a field back in pee wee football.

    On Sunday, blocking wasn’t actually much of the issue against the Cowboys as the offensive line had one of its better pass protection games of the season. No, this one boiled down to a basic lack of tackling.

    “We have got to get back to basics,” safety Quintin Mikell said. “That’s what it all boils down to. When you have a game like this, you just get back to basics. You stop worrying about schemes, you don’t worry about this or that, you just get back to basics and get back to what you do every week in football. I feel like we have just got to get back to that.”

    For the better part of the season, tackling had been one of the fundamentals the Rams hadn’t really struggled with much save for a few spurts here and there. As Dallas continued to pound away in the running game with DeMarco Murray, the missed tackles piled up.

    In an unofficial count, the Rams had about 13 blatant missed tackles against the Cowboys with the clear majority of those blanks coming from the secondary on plays that allowed Murray to hit on some big runs.

    When all was said and done, Murray had rushed for 253 yards on 25 carries, including a 91-yard jaunt in which he was untouched by the first of the baker’s dozen of whiffs.

    For a coach who emphasizes to his defense that stopping the run should always come first, Spagnuolo couldn’t help but remain disappointed by what he saw on the film.
    “It’s a team game but I can’t get past the run defense and I’m talking about the whole team,” Spagnuolo said. “Because I think it’s that important. I just think that a team that is able to run like that on any opponent, it makes it hard to win the game on offense, defense and special teams, all three phases because they’ve got the ball.”

    Indeed, the Rams didn’t help themselves much in terms of stopping the run by way of putting together their own long drives offensively.

    With veteran quarterback A.J. Feeley in for injured started Sam Bradford at quarterback, the Rams hoped to find ways to piece together a solid rushing attack of their own that could help them control the ball and the clock.

    But Dallas’ stout, top ranked run defense made it tough sledding for back Steven Jackson and the Rams managed just 70 rushing yards on an average of 3.3 yards per attempt.

    As the running game struggled to gain traction, the Rams struggled to consistently move the ball and keep the defense off the field. Feeley and Co. were five-of-13 on third down conversions and particularly ineffective in the final three quarters.

    In the closing 45 minutes, Dallas had a time of possession edge of 29:48 to 15:12 and the Rams managed just five first downs, including zero in a third quarter in which the team gained just 4 yards.

    “It’s tough, hats off to those guys,” Feeley said. “They had a good game plan. When you have a guy that’s on a roll like that, it’s tough. We have to take it and get some drives going, put points on the board and not put our defense in a bad situation. They have to play defense for long drives like that and they are on the field for a little bit, they wear down a little bit. So offensively we have to put points on the board and move the ball.”

    At 0-6 and coming off a loss that Spagnuolo called a step backward following Sunday’s game, the Rams must now find a way to regroup this week for the next in a line of seemingly neverending talented teams on the schedule.

    This week, it’s New Orleans, a team that was busy lighting up Indianapolis for a 62-7 win on Sunday Night Football while the Rams were traveling back from Dallas.

    Informed of the Saints’ dominance in that game, Spagnuolo acknowledged that things certainly won’t get any easier this week.

    “I didn’t even know that,” Spagnuolo said. “I haven’t looked at another score yet. That’s pretty impressive.”

    The mission this week will be for the Rams to again go back to basics and find ways to work on the tackling issues and simple fundamental problems that continue to recur.

    In the meantime, Spagnuolo’s message to the team remains focused on not worrying about the big picture and finding some way, any way to get its first victory.

    “I just got done telling the football team, in this business you have got to be very segmented,” Spagnuolo said. “It’s just a different way of saying what I’ve been saying – it’s 16 segments. Your thinking has to be that way. We are in the seventh segment. We can’t worry about the first six or what’s after that. You have to do it that way. I don’t know what other way to do it. If we were 6-0 and the record was different, Wednesday would be no different. It would feel a little different but the work we do would be the same.”


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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    When a football coach can identify the issues that plague his team yet cannot get his players to do things the right way despite having taught them, it is time to wonder whether that coach is the right person for the job. It's as simple as that.
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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    When a football coach can identify the issues that plague his team yet cannot get his players to do things the right way despite having taught them, it is time to wonder whether that coach is the right person for the job. It's as simple as that.
    If you look at where the missed tackles happened, "with the clear majority of those blanks coming from the secondary on plays that allowed Murray to hit on some big runs".

    I know this is getting old but in all fairness this is a bunch of fill in players after we have lost I think 8 DB this year. It is what it is.

    I think Spags is saying we as coaches have the player in the right spots to make a play, they have to make a tackle. It's not like the starters or even the back ups are missing tackles, we are talking about guys that where not here during camp and are having to play. It is what it is and yeah Spags can lose his job over it.

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    If you look at where the missed tackles happened, "with the clear majority of those blanks coming from the secondary on plays that allowed Murray to hit on some big runs".

    I know this is getting old but in all fairness this is a bunch of fill in players after we have lost I think 8 DB this year. It is what it is.

    I think Spags is saying we as coaches have the player in the right spots to make a play, they have to make a tackle. It's not like the starters or even the back ups are missing tackles, we are talking about guys that where not here during camp and are not having to play. It is what it is and yeah Spags can lose his job over it.
    Fair point. Still mind-boggling to me that even 2nd string players cannot apply the lessons they've been taught and tackle properly- something you learn how to do when you first start playing football.

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    I It's not like the starters or even the back ups are missing tackles, we are talking about guys that where not here during camp and are having to play.
    If guys are running untouched for touchdowns, where are the linebackers? How are they getting off the hook this year? All 3 have been total non factors all year. If it's up to the secondary to make all the tackles defending the run then the rams have way bigger problems on that side of the ball other than injuries to the d-backs.
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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by mh-i View Post
    If guys are running untouched for touchdowns, where are the linebackers? How are they getting off the hook this year? All 3 have been total non factors all year. If it's up to the secondary to make all the tackles defending the run then the rams have way bigger problems on that side of the ball other than injuries to the d-backs.
    We cut diggs and Vrobora (SP?) Carpenter is playing elsewhere ......I really thought we had upgraded at the LB position. The front 7 of the Rams are really where the run should be diminished for our opponents. I believe all of those folks (Long excluded) are on DeSpags talent. In addition, the front 7 has been one are where we have not suffered injuries

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by mh-i View Post
    If guys are running untouched for touchdowns, where are the linebackers? How are they getting off the hook this year? All 3 have been total non factors all year. If it's up to the secondary to make all the tackles defending the run then the rams have way bigger problems on that side of the ball other than injuries to the d-backs.
    I don't have copies of the game film so all I can do is take Spags word for it that the secondary missed most of the tackles that caused the unreal amount of yards.

    If it's up to the secondary to make all the tackles defending the run then the rams have way bigger problems on that side of the ball other than injuries to the d-backs.
    No one is saying they need to make all the tackles but they do need to make tackles... SS needs to provide run support right?


    As far as the LB the Rams brought in three, one did not make the roster... Ben Leber has been benched so the coach has made a move there does not sound like he got off the hook. Brady Poppinga has played ok not great.

    Laurinaitis is tied for 5th in tackles with all the MLB in the NFL... same total as Patrick Willis,,, so how do you make that statement about all three being non factors. Also Laurinaitis has an INT, which by the way inside the 20 of the opponents.

    I read recently and not sure if I agree.. but Laurinaitis is not doing a good job of getting the front 7 lined up right at times.. Not sure about that one.

    So the coach cut one FA and benched another, what more can he do?

    MSW we brought him in and he did not work, the coaching staff did the right thing and got Lloyd and cut him, what more can they do?

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    I dont see how you can say that its not starters missing tackles in the secondary. Sure, our corners have been decimated, but not the safeties. Mickail looked like Rich Coady on Sunday-the master of the matador defense. I love Laurainitis, but i think our other two linebackers are, and have been for years, way below nfl average. At the defensive tackle spot, where it all starts in terms of stopping the run, we are the worst in the nfl. We are getting absolutly NOTHING out of the defensive tackle spot. We have a collection of below average guys and vets past their prime. Fred Robbins aged five years during the lockout.

    I understand the issues in pass coverage. No NFL team can survive the injuries we have had at corner. However, our horrible performance against the run is a different story.

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Interesting on NFL radio, a Ramsfan called in venting about our "team play", he was talking about the penalties, coaching, Wr's, etc, and was stopped abruptly by the radio personality, and was reminded that the team has been decimated by injuries, as in "we have a bunch of 3rd stringers or scrubs" at key positions, and yes, he did mention that the schedule did NOT help. Not anything new that hasn't been discussed here on Clanram, but just saying. Still ticked off that we have been Cursed this year.

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    I dont see how you can say that its not starters missing tackles in the secondary. Sure, our corners have been decimated, but not the safeties. Mickail looked like Rich Coady on Sunday-the master of the matador defense. I love Laurainitis, but i think our other two linebackers are, and have been for years, way below nfl average. At the defensive tackle spot, where it all starts in terms of stopping the run, we are the worst in the nfl. We are getting absolutly NOTHING out of the defensive tackle spot. We have a collection of below average guys and vets past their prime. Fred Robbins aged five years during the lockout.

    I understand the issues in pass coverage. No NFL team can survive the injuries we have had at corner. However, our horrible performance against the run is a different story.

    ramming speed to all

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    I dont see how you can say that its not starters missing tackles in the secondary.
    Spags did not name the players but I'm sure Quintin Mikell was one of them,,, but my statement saying these players are not starters. Without the injuries these guys would not be starting and we have been so decimated by injuries, that they players are starters by default. The did not come in and beat player out.

    I do agree that Fred Robbins and Hall IMO have not played as well as last year.

    I would play Quinn a lot more he needs to knock the rust off and i would get Jabara Williams in the games going forward. He had a decent camp and preseason lets find out if he can play, before we draft.


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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers
    Interesting on NFL radio, a Ramsfan called in venting about our "team play", he was talking about the penalties, coaching, Wr's, etc, and was stopped abruptly by the radio personality, and was reminded that the team has been decimated by injuries, as in "we have a bunch of 3rd stringers or scrubs" at key positions, and yes, he did mention that the schedule did NOT help. Not anything new that hasn't been discussed here on Clanram, but just saying. Still ticked off that we have been Cursed this year.

    I know fans as so sick of the we are injured but that's football. Your season can be over before its starts. We all remember when Trent
    Green went down, i can still see Bruce pound his hand into the field because he thought the season was over.

    The circumstances may get Spags fired, it's possible or Stand may say these are real factors let stay the course only time will tell.
    Last edited by Rambos; -10-25-2011 at 02:29 PM.

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    If we were 6-0 and the record was different, Wednesday would be no different. It would feel a little different but the work we do would be the same.”
    I do not agree with this quote. If you were 6-0, obviously what you are doing is working, so there is no reason to change it.

    However, if you're riding on a 0-6 record with a team that's playing at an awful level like us, you DO NOT keep practicing the same way. Something must be changed. We are doing the same thing over and over and producing the same God awful results.
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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by RockinRam View Post
    I do not agree with this quote. If you were 6-0, obviously what you are doing is working, so there is no reason to change it.

    However, if you're riding on a 0-6 record with a team that's playing at an awful level like us, you DO NOT keep practicing the same way. Something must be changed. We are doing the same thing over and over and producing the same God awful results.
    He just saying one game at a time weather you are winning or losing... you are only as good as your last game and you can't think about the game after the next. Once you have lost as many key players it really not about how you practice... what must change is you hope next year come fast and if your the coach you still have a job period.

    Do the players that a team has on the field matter at all?

    lets try this one... if the Lakers lost Kobe and Pau Gasol, do you just add two backs ups and expect the same results?

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    He just saying one game at a time weather you are winning or losing... you are only as good as your last game and you can't think about the game after the next. Once you have lost as many key players it really not about how you practice... what must change is you hope next year come fast and if your the coach you still have a job period.

    Do the players that a team has on the field matter at all?

    lets try this one... if the Lakers lost Kobe and Pau Gasol, do you just add two backs ups and expect the same results?

    If the Lakers lost Kobe and Gasol, I would expect them to add two back-ups, and continue to try to win with a changed gameplan.


    Obviously when your team is decimated with injuries, you're going to have to change your gameplan. Do you just lay down and die and hope for next year? No. You change the way you play, you adapt to the new players, and you try to play a damn good game of football for 60mins.

    No good team in this league quits after they lost players to injuries. Even the Colts. They're not doing too hot, but are they at least trying to adapt to Painter and trying to win? Yes. They're putting up better numbers than us.

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by RockinRam View Post
    If the Lakers lost Kobe and Gasol, I would expect them to add two back-ups, and continue to try to win with a changed gameplan.


    Obviously when your team is decimated with injuries, you're going to have to change your gameplan. Do you just lay down and die and hope for next year? No. You change the way you play, you adapt to the new players, and you try to play a damn good game of football for 60mins.

    No good team in this league quits after they lost players to injuries. Even the Colts. They're not doing too hot, but are they at least trying to adapt to Painter and trying to win? Yes. They're putting up better numbers than us.
    add two back-ups, and continue to try to win
    No one is saying we quit, don't think the Rams have quit. I just think the talent difference is hard to over come. Do you know something I don't are the Rams not trying to win, you know this for a fact?

    They're putting up better numbers than us
    What did they give up this week 62 and Manning did not play D.. Not sure if they have lost a lot of defensive players, but 62 point come on man.

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    Re: Rams Searching for Answers

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    No one is saying we quit, don't think the Rams have quit. I just think the talent difference is hard to over come. Do you know something I don't are the Rams not trying to win, you know this for a fact?
    Looks like to me that Spags is playing not to lose, instead of playing to win. A lot of the decisions he makes question his leadership and his fortitude and confidence. It seems to me that some of the players stop giving maximum effort. The team is a mess.



    What did they give up this week 62 and Manning did not play D.. Not sure if they have lost a lot of defensive players, but 62 point come on man.
    And we played D? We gave up 250+ yards to a rookie running back that previously had less than 100 yards for the whole season. We made him look better than Emmit Smith. I'm not sure if our defense can keep the Saint's below 62 points at this rate.

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