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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Replacing Little a Tough Task

    Thursday, November 8, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As if preparing to play Drew Brees and the New Orleans offense wasn’t difficult enough, the Rams are endeavoring this week to find a way to slow Brees and Co. without their best pass rusher.

    Defensive end Leonard Little, who is clearly the team’s top pass rushing threat, was officially placed on injured reserve Tuesday after it was confirmed that the torn ligament in his left big toe would require surgery.

    With Little’s season over, the Rams must now search to find alternate means to get after Brees and do everything they can to keep one of the league’s most dynamic passers in check.

    That job will fall to the combination of Victor Adeyanju and Trevor Johnson for the rest of the season. For now, the starting job belongs to Adeyanju.

    “It’s always exciting to get increased reps and be called upon to start,” Adeyanju said.

    Adeyanju started nine games for the Rams last year after the team traded starter Anthony Hargrove to Buffalo. In 12 games, Adeyanju had 43 tackles, a sack and returned a fumble 89 yards for a touchdown against Seattle. His emergence was a pleasant surprise before he suffered a season ending arm injury on Nov. 26 against San Francisco.

    “It was a surprise that he would be able to start and fill-in at that point in his career,” coach Scott Linehan said. “He’s a wonderful human being. He has a lot of passion for this game. We could fill this room up, in a team meeting, with a bunch of guys like Victor and our days ahead of us are going to be much brighter. Those are the kind of guys you want to get on your team.”

    After recovering from a broken forearm in the offseason, Adeyanju spent time in training camp learning the ropes at defensive tackle in case he would be needed there.

    As it turns out, the middle has been solidified by rookies Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan and end is now the position where Adeyanju is needed.

    Adeyanju has been stout against the run since his arrival, but knows he needs to continue to improve his pass rushing skills.

    “It’s another year, I’ve had better coaching and I am reading things a lot quicker and believing in myself and trying to get after it,” Adeyanju said. “I’m getting a little bit better. There are still a couple of things I need to work on angle wise. I need to get better angles. There are a few things I still need to improve.”

    Adeyanju is being asked to fill a big role with Little out, but Linehan believes the second year end out of Indiana is ready for primetime.

    “He’s become a more confident player,” Linehan said. “He’s definitely very good against the run. That’s his strength. He’s had to work on his ability to rush the passer. He’s not the same as Leonard (Little) as far as that goes. He does bring the ability to be an every down player. He has a really good knack and feel for the game. He has a lot of experience two years into his career. Had he not got hurt last year and missed a certain amount of games he would have had even more. Over time that will be a real benefit for us to have a young player like that, that’s played a lot of downs in the first two years.”

    Johnson doesn’t bring quite the experience or the run stopping ability of Adeyanju but is probably a bit more advanced as a pass rusher. While the Rams hope Adeyanju’s pass rush skills will blossom sooner than later, it’s a safe bet that Johnson will get his opportunities, especially in sure passing downs.

    “I am definitely preparing to play a lot,” Johnson said. “Who knows what can happen? I prepare to play the whole game. I try to get the mindset going into it to know everything. There’s an opportunity that I could play a lot and I am preparing myself to do that.”

    Entering his fourth season in the NFL, the Rams’ acquisition of Johnson at the end of the regular season in 2006 flew under the radar.

    Johnson won’t wow anyone with size, speed or strength, but his resume is impressive. He spent his first three seasons playing for the New York Jets, appearing in 26 games in just over two seasons. As a seventh-round choice of the Jets, Johnson played in every game in 2004.

    There he posted 15 tackles as a rookie before adding 19 stops in nine games in his second season. After a strong preseason last year in which he had three interceptions playing outside linebacker in coach Eric Mangini’s 3-4 defensive scheme, Johnson was released three games into the season.

    On Nov. 29, the Saints signed Johnson to a contract. He was placed on waivers just after the regular season and the Rams claimed him. He was finally awarded to the team on Feb. 5.

    Johnson was excited about the opportunity and, most of all, to move back to his natural defensive end position and get his weight back up around 270 pounds.

    “I feel a lot more comfortable at end than I did at outside linebacker,” Johnson said. “I had played defensive end since my sophomore year at Nebraska. I was a lot more familiar with the reads I got at defensive end. I was more undersized coming into the NFL at defensive end, but I gained some of that weight and that’s helped me out. Moving to outside linebacker, everything was new to me so it was a progression. Now that I am back at defensive end, I am comfortable again.”

    Johnson’s pass rushing abilities will be needed when the Rams face the Saints. Even in the midst of a rough start for the offensive line, it has been able to help keep Brees upright and provide plenty of time for him to throw. The Saints have allowed just five sacks in eight games and only a single sack in the past five contests.

    That kind of protection and time has helped New Orleans win four in a row and move the offense to seventh in the league in total offense.

    While defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will surely have some exotic blitz schemes to try to get to Brees, the ultimate onus will fall on Adeyanju and Johnson to get after Brees and at least hurry his throws.

    "Hopefully we can do it with the two guys we've got playing," Linehan said. "We bring a lot of pressure so that's one way. But we have got to do it with a four man rush. The guys that are playing are going to have to get it done."


  2. #2
    RAMMAN68's Avatar
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    [QUOTE]While defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will surely have some exotic blitz schemes to try to get to Brees/QUOTE]


    Really? I seriously doubt that. If he blitzes consistently it would be a surprise.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


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  3. #3
    keith m. klink Guest

    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    i actually like johnson , he seems too be a gamer , has a nose for the ball . i think he could do o.k. , but the saints are just going too light up the rams sunday . unless our secondary play out of their minds .

  4. #4
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    [quote=RAMMAN68;197692]
    While defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will surely have some exotic blitz schemes to try to get to Brees/QUOTE]


    Really? I seriously doubt that. If he blitzes consistently it would be a surprise.

    Really, can we just try blitzing at all before we move to exotic schemes, lol?

  5. #5
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    Here's my exotic scheme for you: Hall Glover, Ryan, AC. Let's see how well their tackles do against the fury of Adam Carriker!

    Might as well rush Chavous too, he won't do anything in coverage.

  6. #6
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    Last year we blitzed way too much, this year hardly at all. A strange coaching strategy shift indeed.

  7. #7
    moloch41's Avatar
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    Quote Originally Posted by RamFan_Til_I_Die View Post
    Last year we blitzed way too much, this year hardly at all. A strange coaching strategy shift indeed.
    I didn't think we blitzed too much last year, but a similarity I've noticed is that teams seem to pick up our blitzes relatively easily. I think that's for 4 reasons:

    1.) Our guys are just not used to blitzing and have not become adept at it

    2.) We only blitz in obvious situations

    3.) We use the same kind of blitzes and they generally come from way outside

    4.) Our D-line are not commanding double teams, which usually free up lineman to come out and pick them up

    The only game I really saw this year where we blitzed was the Cowboys game and they seemed to know when and where it was coming from every single time. Haslett has become as boring and predictable as Linehan. The fact that Lenny Walls couldn't cover Patrick Crayton's grandmother also didn't help much.
    Last edited by moloch41; -11-09-2007 at 08:07 PM.

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    Javaman is offline Registered User
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    Last year Haslett blitzed alot. Possibly too much!!! He has a reputation of blitzing alot(being over aggressive). Do you think that Linehan (as head coach) tightened the reins on him. Is this possibly a good thing as the defense is definitely playing better than it has in about 4 or 5 years. If someone would have told me before the season started that we would have the 19th ranked defense and we would be 0-8, I would have laughed at them. With a record of 0-8 tho shouldn't everyone take the fall? What if the defense ends the season as a top 16 defense(top half of league - quite an improvement from the last few years)? Do they keep Haslett or give Linehan credit for defensive improvements? Do they keep Linehan and let Haslett and Olsen(under the assumption he is gone no matter what) take the fall for the season? In other words, if the defense improves over 15 other NFL teams - do you fire the coach for it.

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    moloch41's Avatar
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    Quote Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
    Last year Haslett blitzed alot. Possibly too much!!! He has a reputation of blitzing alot(being over aggressive). Do you think that Linehan (as head coach) tightened the reins on him. Is this possibly a good thing as the defense is definitely playing better than it has in about 4 or 5 years. If someone would have told me before the season started that we would have the 19th ranked defense and we would be 0-8, I would have laughed at them. With a record of 0-8 tho shouldn't everyone take the fall? What if the defense ends the season as a top 16 defense(top half of league - quite an improvement from the last few years)? Do they keep Haslett or give Linehan credit for defensive improvements? Do they keep Linehan and let Haslett and Olsen(under the assumption he is gone no matter what) take the fall for the season? In other words, if the defense improves over 15 other NFL teams - do you fire the coach for it.

    I know I've been down this road with other posters before, but here we go again. We're 19th in ypg, which the NFL uses as the overall defense stat and 13th against the pass, however, teams are not throwing the ball against us. They are only making 28.8 pass attempt per game, which leaves us at 27th in the league. That means only 5 other teams have had the ball thrown less against them. They have also thrown 12 passing TDs against us and only 7 teams have given up more. We've also only picked the ball off 5 times and have a pedestrian 12 sacks. Now, the reason teams aren't throwing the ball against us is because they are averaging 31.8 rushing attempts per game and gaining 4.1 yards per carry. That puts us at 25th in the league against the run. We have also surrended 9 rushing TDs. Only three other teams in the league have given up more rushing TDs than the Rams. We are also giving up 28.8 pts per game- which lands us at 28th in the league. Do you think stats like that should save your job? Those are close to Larry Marmie type numbers.

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    Javaman is offline Registered User
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    "I know I've been down this road with other posters before, but here we go again. We're 19th in ypg, which the NFL uses as the overall defense stat and 13th against the pass, however, teams are not throwing the ball against us. They are only making 28.8 pass attempt per game, which leaves us at 27th in the league. That means only 5 other teams have had the ball thrown less against them. They have also thrown 12 passing TDs against us and only 7 teams have given up more. We've also only picked the ball off 5 times and have a pedestrian 12 sacks. Now, the reason teams aren't throwing the ball against us is because they are averaging 31.8 rushing attempts per game and gaining 4.1 yards per carry. That puts us at 25th in the league against the run. We have also surrended 9 rushing TDs. Only three other teams in the league have given up more rushing TDs than the Rams. We are also giving up 28.8 pts per game- which lands us at 28th in the league. Do you think stats like that should save your job? Those are close to Larry Marmie type numbers."
    _______________________________________________________________________
    Sorry, I don't get on here as much.
    Hmm! The team is 0-8 and I am not saying anyone should keep their job. I can tell by your post that you don't think the defense has improved. Using similar logic tho,the 4.1 yards per carry is 18th in the league. Just ahead of the Patriots, Jaguars and Giants (all 4.2 yards per carry). The reason teams are running so much is because they are starting in such great field position. This also gives them more opportunities to score(both rushing and passing). The defense doesn't blitz as much(hard to stunt alot when the other team keeps running at you). The opponents offense doesn't have to take risks creating less opportunities for turnovers. The defense has continuously been put in situations where they try to create turnovers causing sloppy tackling. I am not saying this is a great defense. They have little depth as demonstrated when the starting corners weren't playing. I do believe they are a middle of the road NFL defense. A good offense will beat them (Saints scare me this week)but they will hold their own against the others which is an improvement over the last couple of years. You can read the statistics anyway you want (the last couple of years I was screaming about the defense). But this is no Marmie defense. The NFL currently ranks them as the 19th ranked defense and I agree but I also(call me a homer) think by the end of the year that they will be ranked higher. If the Rams end up 0-16 then everyone must go but I do see an improvement in the defense which gives me something to look toward. It wouldn't bother me if they kept Haslett as a d-coordinator if he is the one responsible for the improvement.

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    moloch41's Avatar
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    Quote Originally Posted by Javaman View Post
    Sorry, I don't get on here as much.
    Hmm! The team is 0-8 and I am not saying anyone should keep their job. I can tell by your post that you don't think the defense has improved. Using similar logic tho,the 4.1 yards per carry is 18th in the league. Just ahead of the Patriots, Jaguars and Giants (all 4.2 yards per carry). The reason teams are running so much is because they are starting in such great field position. This also gives them more opportunities to score(both rushing and passing). The defense doesn't blitz as much(hard to stunt alot when the other team keeps running at you). The opponents offense doesn't have to take risks creating less opportunities for turnovers. The defense has continuously been put in situations where they try to create turnovers causing sloppy tackling. I am not saying this is a great defense. They have little depth as demonstrated when the starting corners weren't playing. I do believe they are a middle of the road NFL defense. A good offense will beat them (Saints scare me this week)but they will hold their own against the others which is an improvement over the last couple of years. You can read the statistics anyway you want (the last couple of years I was screaming about the defense). But this is no Marmie defense. The NFL currently ranks them as the 19th ranked defense and I agree but I also(call me a homer) think by the end of the year that they will be ranked higher. If the Rams end up 0-16 then everyone must go but I do see an improvement in the defense which gives me something to look toward. It wouldn't bother me if they kept Haslett as a d-coordinator if he is the one responsible for the improvement.
    All good points you make, except I just don't agree that this defense is that much improved. I wouldn't even say we're middle of the pack- I think we're probably just below that. And lastly, I just don't see this defense getting better- I think we'll get worse- although we do have some games coming up against lousy offenses to "pad our stats". It's going to be interesting seeing how this defense does against New Orleans tomorrow. You would think that Haslett would have some added incentive to design some super aggressive scheme, but I'm sure he'll just send the front four on thier barely perceptible passrush, drop everyone else back in a zone, and hope recievers drop balls on big downs.

  12. #12
    Guam rammer's Avatar
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    Re: Replacing Little a Tough Task

    Little's production is at a career low, hopefully its just the bad toe and he can come back next year with good numbers but, I think its time for the younger guys to start to make names for themselves. Hopefully it starts against the Saints.

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