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Thread: Rams Team Report
Rams Team Report
It's obvious what the focus will be for the Rams this week as they travel to Tampa Bay for a game against the Buccaneers. Even in the celebratory locker room Sunday afternoon following their 20-17 win over San Diego, the focus was already being directed ahead seven days.
Everyone knows the Rams won't be taken seriously as a legitimate threat to win the NFC West until they show they can win on the road.
Of course, entering this season, they first had to show they could win anywhere after totaling just six wins in three seasons. The Rams have now shown they can win at home, having won three straight after an opening-day loss to Arizona.
It's why within minutes after defeating the Chargers, the trip to Tampa Bay was already on everyone's mind.
Said running back Steven Jackson, "I think this is an example of what we can be. We're only going to get better as the season goes on, after weeks go by. We're going to celebrate. We're going to take this in today, but to be an elite team and to get ourselves in position to be in the playoffs, we have to learn how to win on the road. And I think that's our next challenge. That's the one good things about this team is we're always looking ahead. We're always looking for the next challenge."
When defensive end Chris Long was asked about rebounding from the previous week's 44-6 loss in Detroit, he said, "It's funny. You say you move past a game like that, and some teams might pay it lip service, but I really don't feel like anybody in here was thinking about Detroit. No one in here was looking back.
"I actually thought to myself right before the game when the ball was about to be kicked off, I said, 'Man, I haven't even thought about that game.' We're just moving forward. We won't be thinking about San Diego next week. We'll be trying to win a road game, which is a whole new challenge."
Of course, there might be lingering thoughts of the Detroit debacle now that another road game is ahead. Since 2007, the Rams have lost 22 of 26 road games, and the losses have mostly been ugly.
In 12 of the losses, the Rams have scored fewer than 10 points. In 13 of the losses, they have allowed 30 or more points, including four of 40 or more. Only six of the 22 losses have been within one score.
Last season, the seven losses were by a combined score of 190-53. In 2008, it was 245-88 in seven losses and 181-48 in six 2007 losses. This season, two losses have been by a 60-20 count, making the total score for the 22 defeats an astounding 676-209.
With a 3-3 record, the Rams are one-half game behind first-place Arizona and Seattle, both 3-2. After a home game Oct. 31 against Carolina, followed by the Rams' bye, the second half of the season features five road games, including three straight at Denver, Arizona and New Orleans. Four of the final eight games are in the division, including a road game against each of their division rivals.
"We're going to make it a focus," coach Steve Spagnuolo said of this week's approach in preparing for the Buccaneers. "In order to do the things you want to do, the goals you set at the beginning of the season, you have to win on the road, and that's what we're going to try to do this week."
Knowing there likely will be adversity at some point, Spagnuolo was asked about getting a young team to "weather the storm" on the road.
"To me, you do it by staying together," he said. "Do all the little things right, that's what we'll be preaching. Teams are always going to throw something at you new at the beginning of the game. They've got their first 15 offensive plays and they scheme up, so if they hit them, you just rally together, chip away and come back kind of like what we did — I know it was a preseason game — but kind of like we did up in New England, try to answer."
They weren't able to answer in Detroit. Very soon, we will see if they find the answer Sunday in Tampa.
SERIES HISTORY: 17th regular-season meeting. Rams lead series, 9-7. The Buccaneers have won five of the last six meetings in the regular season, with the Rams' only win at home in 2004. Four of those five Buccaneers wins have been in Tampa. The two teams also played 20 years apart in two NFC Championship Games, with the Rams winning 9-0 in the 1979 season and 11-6 in the 1999 season.
—In addition to playing 17 snaps on offense in his first NFL game, receiver Danario Alexander also played special teams. But he wasn't the only one going above and beyond.
Asked about Alexander on special teams, coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "Tom McMahon (special teams coordinator) has been excited about Danario for months now. So I had to not only deal with Danario screaming at me to get up but coach McMahon. We had seen some things. He's accepted that role. We need that out of everybody. Laurent Robinson hopped in there yesterday on a punt pressure team and did a great job. Sometimes when you get banged up in the middle of the game, guys got to step up. James Butler went in there and played a position on special teams that he hadn't, but he said, 'Hey I've got to go in and help the team.' "
—Spagnuolo doesn't take long to begin looking ahead to the next game. When he was asked Monday whether the play of the defense against San Diego reaffirmed the unit's progress following a poor performance the week before in Detroit, he said, "We reaffirmed it for a day. Tomorrow will be another day."
He then did acknowledge that "The credit goes to the players and the coaches. I do think it has a lot to do with second year, I do. In any scheme. I think you see that around the league. And a lot has to do with the players. I think they've embraced it. They're playing really good together because it is the second year and they've been around each other. And this group likes each other. I mentioned that the other day. For the first six games, which resulted in good defense, we'll see what happens going forward. I hope it continues."
—After having his purchase of the Rams approved in August, Stan Kroenke officially became the team's majority owner when the deal was closed and money exchanged in early October.
Kroenke now owns 70 percent of the team, while Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez own the remaining 30 percent. At a later time, Kroenke will acquire most of the other 30 percent, with Rosenbloom and Rodriguez retaining an unknown small percentage.
—QB Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) and WR Danario Alexander (Missouri) have been doing some friendly trash-talking with their two undefeated schools playing this Saturday. Oklahoma is currently No. 1 in the BCS rankings, while Missouri is 11th.
Said Alexander, "Let's just say I don't expect to be wearing Sooner stuff next week."
When Bradford was told Alexander said he'd look good in a Missouri black and gold T-shirt, he responded, "I don't think that's happening. I think he'll look good in crimson."
—DE Chris Long was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his play in last Sunday's win over San Diego. Long had two of the team's seven sacks of QB Philip Rivers.
Said Long, "I look at this as a group award."
Added coach Steve Spagnuolo, "He said it best. I told the players in meetings this morning that I didn't get a chance to congratulate him until out on the field, and he kind of shook his head and said, 'Coach, that's everybody's award.' That's how he feels, so credit to him. But he played a good game. He was recognized for it, and that's good."
BY THE NUMBERS: 1 — Road wins the Rams have in September or October since 2007. In 2008, the Rams won in Washington on Oct. 12. Their other three road wins since '07 have all been in November. Since the start of the '07 season, the Rams are 4-22 on the road, including two losses this season.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I told 'Jack' after the game that he has unbelievable ability, but even greater willpower and effort. To see the way he strives to compete and to win — it fuels us. It fuels the line. It fuels the offense. I mean, I was beyond impressed with him today." — OG Jacob Bell, on the play of RB Steven Jackson against San Diego.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—DT Clifton Ryan had another setback when he experienced another migraine this week and did not practice Wednesday. He was kept inside during practice.
—CB Ron Bartell did not practice Wednesday because of a sore quad.
—CB Justin King did not practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.
—S Darian Stewart did not practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.
—CB Kevin Dockery, who has played in just two games because of a hamstring injury, participated fully in practice Wednesday.
—DT Darell Scott, who has been sidelined since suffering a high ankle sprain in Week 2, fully participated in practice Wednesday.
—LB Chris Chamberlain was limited Wednesday as he recovers from a toe injury. He did do work on special teams, and it is hoped he will be active Sunday against Tampa Bay.
—LB Curtis Johnson was signed to the active roster from the practice squad.
—LB Na'il Diggs was limited because of a knee injury Wednesday, but is expected to play Sunday against the Buccaneers.
—WR Mardy Gilyard was limited in practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.
—WR Danario Alexander said he had nothing more than normal soreness after Sunday's game and practiced Wednesday.
—CB Jerome Murphy was limited in practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.
—LB David Vobora was limited in practice Wednesday because of a hamstring injury.
GAME PLAN: Protect the ball. At first glance, it's difficult to figure out how the Buccaneers are 3-2. They are ranked 23rd on offense (27th running) and 26th on defense (31st against the run). The defense has just four sacks and the run defense has allowed 157.0 yards per game and 5.3 yards per rush.
However, the Bucs are tied for fifth in the league with a plus-5 turnover differential and their 13 takeaways are the third-most in the league. The Rams will look to run the ball with Steven Jackson against that defense.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams DTs Fred Robbins and Gary Gibson vs. Buccaneers interior line of OGs Keydrick Vincent and Davin Joseph and C Jeremy Zuttah. Robbins has been string against the run and also has gotten push inside that has helped create sacks. He has two sacks and six quarterback hits. Zuttah has replaced the usual center, Jeff Faine.
—Rams RB Steven Jackson vs. Buccaneers run defense. The Buccaneers are young at defensive tackle with rookie Gerald McCoy and second-year man Roy Miller. Middle linebacker Barrett Ruud did not practice Wednesday because of a toe injury. Jackson needs 32 yards to pass Eric Dickerson and become the franchise's all-time leading rusher.
INJURY IMPACT: The latest position group to be hit by the injury bug is the linebackers. Earlier in the season, Chris Chamberlain was sidelined by a fractured toe and Josh Hull went on injured reserve because of a knee injury. Chamberlain returned to practice Wednesday, but limited were strong-side starter Na'il Diggs (knee) and David Vobora (hamstring). Curtis Johnson was added to the roster from the practice squad.
Re: Rams Team Report
It's good to see Chris Long's play recognized. Right on time. Good work.St. Louis, "The Gateway to the West".
Re: Rams Team Report
Different year, different team.....the talking heads will learn eventually.
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