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Thread: Rams Team Report

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    Rams Team Report

    USA TODAY



    Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis looked on intently Tuesday, listening as Jeff Fisher was introduced as the sixth head coach in the team's 18 seasons (including 2012) in St. Louis.
    So did quarterback Sam Bradford, who is still "not quite" healthy yet from the high ankle sprain that sabotaged his 2011 season.

    Watching those two players and then hearing them talk after Fisher was finished with his remarks, it was easy to see they can't wait to begin putting the misery of last season totally behind them and starting to prepare for a 2012 year that they are convinced can only bring better things.

    Even if, as is the case for Bradford, it will likely be a third offense in three years he will be learning.

    Bradford seems as if he is trying to convince himself that doing it twice already will make the third time easier.

    "Would I like to be in the same offense that I started in my rookie year going into year three? Yeah, but that's not the case," Bradford said. "I think going through the past two years will make this transition easier. I know what it's like. I know what it was like to learn an offense as a rookie, then last year having to learn (Josh) McDaniels' offense. I think both those experiences will make this easier and I'm looking forward to it."

    Mostly, though, Bradford likes what he is hearing from Fisher. Bradford met with the new coach on Jan. 8, four days before Fisher chose the Rams and then Tuesday morning, shortly before the press conference.

    As for the first meeting, Bradford was asked if he tried to sell Fisher on coming to St. Louis.

    He said, "No. I really just tried to be myself. I wasn't going to be anything other than who I am. I didn't want to give him a false impression of who I was. It was just time for us to meet to learn a little bit more about each other. If that helped along the process and helped get him here then I'm very happy that I was able to do that."

    What was music to Bradford's ears was hearing Fisher preach about the importance of protecting the quarterback.

    Fisher emphasized that during the press conference and in his talks with Bradford.

    Asked his coaching philosophy, Fisher said, "The philosophy is pretty simple: we want to do whatever it takes to win football games. We're going to have a disciplined, tough, physical football team that's going to first and foremost match up and be able to win games in the division. We've got quite a challenge ahead of us to be competitive once again in the division, but it won't take long. It's a team that's going to run the football and protect the quarterback and play good defense and get the ball back."

    When Bradford was asked about being excited to play for a coach where the priority is protecting the quarterback, he said, "Absolutely. That's something that he made a point of when I talked to him last week. That's something actually I talked to him about in his office this morning. We were just talking about a couple things and he said whoever he brings in here as the offensive coordinator that will be definitely a top priority. So anytime you can hear that and be reassured of that, it makes my job a lot easier."

    Mostly, everyone is enthused to be heading toward a normal offseason after last year's lockout.

    "This year was difficult," Fisher said, when asked his impressions of Bradford. "I think you have to look back at his success and his production in his first year. (Last season was) difficult for a lot of reasons, the lockout and lack of time together in the offense, but I think he has the chance to be a top quarterback in the National Football League very, very soon."

    Said Bradford, "Last year was not something I hope I ever go through again. It wasn't fun. Especially this year having a new coach, having to learn a new offense, I'm very grateful that we will have a full offseason spent with that offense."

    Noted Laurinaitis, "I'm excited for us to hire a defensive coordinator so as soon as he gets in here I have something to do. I can study a defense and get started. I'm getting bored already."

    While it will be a "full" offseason, it will be shorter than years past. New rules in the CBA have delayed the start of offseason programs from mid-March to April and the overall schedule has been reduced in length to no more than nine weeks.

    Because the Rams have a new coach, their conditioning program can start April 2 while other teams can't begin until two weeks later. In addition, OTAs, which have started in mid-May in previous years, have been slashed from 14 days of on-field work to 10.

    Fisher acknowledged that "it will be a challenge," but concluded, "We'll have plenty of time."

    What will be difficult for guys like Laurinaitis is that there can be no organized coaching or even meetings with players and coaches prior to April 2.

    When that was mentioned to him, Laurinaitis just broke into a smile, got that twinkle in his eye, and said, "You know me. I'll figure something out."

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —Gregg Williams has agreed to leave the Saints to become Jeff Fisher's defensive coordinator in St. Louis.

    Williams' move has been rumored since Fisher began talking to St. Louis and Miami about their head coaching vacancies following the end of the regular season. Williams served as Fisher's defensive coordinator in Tennessee from 1990-96, before leaving to become the head coach in Buffalo.

    Since being fired by the Bills in 2000, Williams has spent three years as the defensive coordinator in Washington and four in Jacksonville before coming to New Orleans in 2008.

    With the Saints losing at San Francisco on Saturday, Williams became available to talk to other teams. He admitted last week that Fisher is "my best friend in coaching."

    "I love it here; this is a great organization," Williams told the New Orleans Times-Picayune last Thursday, the day before Fisher agreed to terms with the Rams. "I will tell you this about Jeff: he's my best friend in coaching. The National Football League needs him coaching, they need for him to be a head coach in this league, there's not very many people as good as he is at what he does. I'm anxious to see where he's going to go."

    The Saints could promote linebackers coach Joe Vitt, who is also the assistant head coach, and are also interested in former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

    —Linebacker James Laurinaitis will find himself hoping the ***** beat the Giants Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. He was voted an alternate at inside linebacker for the Pro Bowl behind Patrick Willis of the *****, Chicago's Brian Urlacher, Washington's London Fletcher and San Francisco's NaVorro Bowman.

    Fletcher has already been tabbed to replace the injured Urlacher. With the Pro Bowl to be played Jan. 29 in Hawaii in the off week between the conference championship games and the Super Bowl, all players in the Super Bowl can't participate. If the ***** win, both Willis and Bowman won't be able to play clearing the way for Laurinaitis.

    —The experience of Jeff Fisher was a big factor in the Rams considering him their first choice to be the new head coach.

    Club executive Kevin Demoff said, "I think someone who has been a head coach in the NFL as long as he has has seen everything. There are not a lot of situations that surprise him, and if you are looking for someone with experience, you are looking at someone who has taken a team to the Super Bowl, who has dealt with a disappointing year and who has built a consistent winner. When you look at Jeff's record, his teams were always competitive, they were always in the playoff hunt at the end, and that's something we would like to bring to St. Louis, a winning consistency.

    "(The Titans) had some really good years at the same times we did, but they never went through the disappointing times. And they had some difficulties, they had a salary-cap purge, they lost some guys and they went through a period where they had some struggles at the quarterback position, and all through it, they managed to redefine themselves a number of times. That's a great quality in a head coach to be able to win in a number of different ways."

    —There have been some questions about the fact that Fisher's winning percentage in 16-plus seasons was .538.

    By contrast, in the 17 seasons the Rams have been in St. Louis, their winning percentage is .429. Their 15-65 record since 2007 is a .188 percentage.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS

    QUARTERBACKS: Starter — Sam Bradford. Backups — A.J. Feeley, Kellen Clemens, Tom Brandstater.

    Bradford had a disappointing season for a variety of reasons. He and RB Steven Jackson played one game healthy together, and there was a learning curve involved in Josh McDaniels' offense without an offseason. Then, after passing for 321 yards against Green Bay in the fifth game of the season, Bradford suffered a high ankle sprain that affected him for the rest of the year. He ended up starting just 10 games. Feeley led the Rams to their signature win of the season over New Orleans, but then he suffered a broken thumb on Dec. 4 against San Francisco and missed the final four games of the season. Clemens did well, considering he didn't join the team until late November. With Feeley a free agent, the Rams have a decision to make whether to bring back both or just one to be Bradford's backup in 2012.

    RUNNING BACKS: Starter — Steven Jackson. Backups — Cadillac Williams, Jerious Norwood, Quinn Porter. Injured reserve — FB Brit Miller.

    Jackson was a warrior again, rushing for 1,145 yards and becoming the seventh player in history to reach 1,000 yards in seven consecutive seasons. He also added 42 receptions for 333 yards and was a leader on a team that managed to win just two games. Williams was solid, although he was involved in a bad play that swung the game to the Giants in Week 2. Williams failed to go after a backward pass, and the ball was recovered and run in for a touchdown. Norwood did little, and he missed some time with a hamstring injury. Porter contributed on special teams but never carried the ball from scrimmage.

    TIGHT ENDS: Starters — Billy Bajema, Lance Kendricks. Backups — Stephen Spach, Mike McNeill, Ben Guidugli. Injured reserve — Michael Hoomanawanui.

    Bajema's blocking tailed off, and he wasn't a threat as a receiver, catching only nine passes. Kendricks was a disappointment after being impressive in preseason games. He dropped what would have been a touchdown pass in the season opener, and he struggled with drops all season. Hoomanawanui had his second injury-filled season, playing in just eight games.

    WIDE RECEIVERS: Starters — Brandon Lloyd, Danario Alexander. Backups — Brandon Gibson, Nick Miller, Dominique Curry. Injured reserve — Danny Amendola, Mark Clayton, Greg Salas. Suspended — Austin Pettis.

    The loss of Amendola in the season opener especially hurt. He was Bradford's security blanket in 2010 and had already caught five passes in that first game when he suffered a dislocated elbow. Salas looked as if he would be a solid replacement after a slow start, but after catching 27 passes for 264 yards, he suffered a broken leg on Nov. 6 and missed the final eight games of the season. Lloyd was acquired in a trade from Denver in October, and he had 51 receptions for 683 yards and five touchdowns. It's difficult to imagine what the offense would have looked like without him. Alexander was making his presence felt in the first half of the season when a hamstring injury knocked him out for six games. He still averaged 16.6 yards per catch. Clayton came back from a 2010 knee injury but played just two games before going on injured reserve and undergoing another knee surgery. Gibson has never shown much improvement, while Curry played only on special teams. Pettis missed the final two games of the season for a violation of the league's policy on performance-enhancing drugs, and he will also miss the first two games of the 2012 season.

    OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — LT Mark LeVoir, LG Jason Brown, C Tony Wragge, RG Bryan Mattison, RT Harvey Dahl. Backups — G/T Adam Goldberg, G/T Kevin Hughes. Injured reserve — T Rodger Saffold, T Jason Smith, G Jacob Bell.

    By the final game of the season, three of the line starters — LeVoir, Wragge and Mattison — were players who weren't with the team in training camp. Dahl was the only offensive player to start all 16 games, and he did it at two positions. Brown was benched at center after eight games, but he returned to the starting lineup because of Bell's injury. Smith suffered the second serious concussion of his career on Oct. 23 against Dallas, and he didn't play again. Saffold missed the final seven games after suffering a torn pectoral muscle lifting weights. It wasn't only the line's fault, but Rams quarterbacks were sacked 55 times.

    DEFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — DLE Chris Long, DLT Fred Robbins, DRT Justin Bannan, DRE James Hall. Backups — DRE Robert Quinn, E C.J. Ah You, E/T Eugene Sims, T Gary Gibson, T Darell Scott. Injured reserve — T Jermelle Cudjo.

    Despite the losing and despite the Rams rarely playing with a lead, Long had a career-high 13.0 sacks and played at a Pro Bowl level. Hall and Robbins didn't play as well as they did in 2010, but they also played with bad backs all season. Quinn started playing well in the second half of the season and contributed 5.0 sacks and also blocked three punts. Bannan was solid in run support, as was Gibson. Sims showed improvement in his second season.

    LINEBACKERS: Starters — WLB Chris Chamberlain, MLB James Laurinaitis, SLB Brady Poppinga. Backups — Bryan Kehl, David Nixon, Justin Cole. Injured reserve — Josh Hull.

    Laurinaitis remains the anchor of the unit who calls all the defenses, but he needs help around him. Chamberlain actually did show improvement when he was given the chance to start because Ben Leber never came close to living up to expectations after he was signed at the start of training camp. Poppinga was solid once he became comfortable with the defense.

    DEFENSIVE BACKS: Starters — LCB Roderick Hood, RCB Josh Gordy, FS Quintin Mikell, SS Darian Stewart. Backups — CB Justin King, CB Nate Ness, CB Chris Smith, S Craig Dahl, S James Butler. Injured reserve — CB Ron Bartell, CB Bradley Fletcher, CB Jerome Murphy, CB Al Harris, CB Marquis Johnson, CB Brian Jackson.

    By the end of the season, with King sidelined due to a shoulder injury, none of the Rams' active corners had been with the team in training camp. Murphy was injured early in camp and was lost for the season. Bartell suffered a broken bone in his neck in the season opener. Fletcher suffered his second ACL injury in three years, this one happening during a bye-week practice. Harris was getting his legs back after missing most of the 2010 season because of a knee injury, and then he was lost for the season due to a torn ACL. Gordy competed, and led the team with three interceptions, but he struggled in run support. Stewart is an ascending player, but he, too, often takes bad angles in run support. Mikell was solid, although not quite what was expected when he signed as a free agent when the lockout ended. Dahl is a decent backup, nothing more.

    SPECIAL TEAMS: K Josh Brown, P Donnie Jones, LS Jake McQuaide, KR Jerious Norwood, PR Nick Miller.

    Brown missed some kicks he should have made, including one from 33 yards against Pittsburgh and a potential game-winner against Arizona that was blocked. Attrition on the coverage units resulted in Jones doing more directional kicking than he was accustomed to, and it seemed each time he missed, a big return was the result, especially the crushing 99-yard punt return for a touchdown by Arizona's Patrick Peterson in overtime. The return game was poor, with the lone exception an 88-yard punt-return touchdown by Miller against Seattle.
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    Re: Rams Team Report

    Want to know why we lost this season?

    Exhibit A:
    OFFENSIVE LINEMEN: Starters — LT Mark LeVoir, LG Jason Brown, C Tony Wragge, RG Bryan Mattison, RT Harvey Dahl.
    You don't win with that starting OL.

    Your honor, I rest my case.
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    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams Team Report

    Good team report. Reading through it, reminds me again how we got worked over by some Injuries. Also reminds me how badly we need upgrades at OLB, OL, DT especially OLB and OL.

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    Re: Rams Team Report

    I hope we didnt decrease Dahls skill by forcing him to play RT. But then again he is a veteran so he should easily adjust and go back to pllaying great RG next season

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    Re: Rams Team Report

    Jesus ... .188 winning percentage? I knew it was bad, but ...
    If a team won their division seven straight times, that would be a NFL record. Now add on that team did it with seven different QB's in seven straight years,that record is unbeatable. To do that feat, you must of had a great Defense. Jack Youngblood was the captain of that defense.

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    Re: Rams Team Report

    —Linebacker James Laurinaitis will find himself hoping the ***** beat the Giants Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. He was voted an alternate at inside linebacker for the Pro Bowl behind Patrick Willis of the *****, Chicago's Brian Urlacher, Washington's London Fletcher and San Francisco's NaVorro Bowman.
    This is an absolute travesty! Let me see if I have this right: Willis, Urlacher, Fletcher, Bowman....THEN Laurinaitis?! Unbelievable!

    Patrick Willis --- 97 tackles, 2 sacks, 13 PDs, 1 int.
    Brian Urlacher --- 102 tackles, 0 sacks, 10 PDs, 3 int.
    London Fletcher --- 166 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10 PDs, 2 int.
    Navarro Bowman --- 143 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 0 PDs, 0 int.
    James Laurinaitis --- 142 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 9 PDs, 2 int.

    More tackles than Willis and Urlacher.
    More sacks than Willis, Urlacher, Fletcher, & Bowman
    More passes defended than Bowman
    More interceptions than Willis and Bowman.....

    ......but he has to wait and see if the whiners win. That's horrible. Laurinaitis may not go to the Pro Bowl, but he's as good or better than those who do.
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    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams Team Report

    Being from southern Illinois I already hate Chicago.

    But I'll just add this to my list.

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    Re: Rams Team Report

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    This is an absolute travesty! Let me see if I have this right: Willis, Urlacher, Fletcher, Bowman....THEN Laurinaitis?! Unbelievable!

    Patrick Willis --- 97 tackles, 2 sacks, 13 PDs, 1 int.
    Brian Urlacher --- 102 tackles, 0 sacks, 10 PDs, 3 int.
    London Fletcher --- 166 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10 PDs, 2 int.
    Navarro Bowman --- 143 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 0 PDs, 0 int.
    James Laurinaitis --- 142 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 9 PDs, 2 int.

    More tackles than Willis and Urlacher.
    More sacks than Willis, Urlacher, Fletcher, & Bowman
    More passes defended than Bowman
    More interceptions than Willis and Bowman.....

    ......but he has to wait and see if the whiners win. That's horrible. Laurinaitis may not go to the Pro Bowl, but he's as good or better than those who do.

    I can understand Willis and Bowman, playing on a better team and putting up good stats. And i can understand Fletcher, who should have been the starter in the first place. But there is no way Brian Urlacher should be ahead of James Laurinaitis

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    Re: Rams Team Report

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    I can understand Willis and Bowman, playing on a better team and putting up good stats. And i can understand Fletcher, who should have been the starter in the first place. But there is no way Brian Urlacher should be ahead of James Laurinaitis
    Well, I can't.

    You're right, the "better team" thing always counts, but IMO, it shouldn't. Teams don't make the Pro Bowl; players do. And quite obviously Laurinaitis played as well or better than everyone of the NFC M/ILBs going to Hawaii.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams Team Report

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    This is an absolute travesty! Let me see if I have this right: Willis, Urlacher, Fletcher, Bowman....THEN Laurinaitis?! Unbelievable!

    Patrick Willis --- 97 tackles, 2 sacks, 13 PDs, 1 int.
    Brian Urlacher --- 102 tackles, 0 sacks, 10 PDs, 3 int.
    London Fletcher --- 166 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10 PDs, 2 int.
    Navarro Bowman --- 143 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 0 PDs, 0 int.
    James Laurinaitis --- 142 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 9 PDs, 2 int.

    More tackles than Willis and Urlacher.
    More sacks than Willis, Urlacher, Fletcher, & Bowman
    More passes defended than Bowman
    More interceptions than Willis and Bowman.....

    ......but he has to wait and see if the whiners win. That's horrible. Laurinaitis may not go to the Pro Bowl, but he's as good or better than those who do.
    Do tackles and the rest of the stats posted tell the whole story?

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    Re: Rams Team Report

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    This is an absolute travesty! Let me see if I have this right: Willis, Urlacher, Fletcher, Bowman....THEN Laurinaitis?! Unbelievable!

    Patrick Willis --- 97 tackles, 2 sacks, 13 PDs, 1 int.
    Brian Urlacher --- 102 tackles, 0 sacks, 10 PDs, 3 int.
    London Fletcher --- 166 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 10 PDs, 2 int.
    Navarro Bowman --- 143 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 0 PDs, 0 int.
    James Laurinaitis --- 142 tackles, 3.0 sacks, 9 PDs, 2 int.

    More tackles than Willis and Urlacher.
    More sacks than Willis, Urlacher, Fletcher, & Bowman
    More passes defended than Bowman
    More interceptions than Willis and Bowman.....

    ......but he has to wait and see if the whiners win. That's horrible. Laurinaitis may not go to the Pro Bowl, but he's as good or better than those who do.
    We should start a class action lawsuit to change the name from Pro Bowl to Popularity Bowl, as that is all that it has become since the NFL adopted the Democrats' voting policy - early and OFTEN.

    To convert the game back to a Pro Bowl, they need to remove fan voting. Or at the very least it should be a registered vote, where a person can only vote once.


    gap
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    Re: Rams Team Report

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Do tackles and the rest of the stats posted tell the whole story?
    Never the whole story; but enough of the story to know that James Laurinaitis has become a top-tier MLB in the NFL.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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