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  1. #1
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    Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Wednesday, October 17, 2007

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    When rookie defensive tackles Adam Carriker and Clifton Ryan arrived in St. Louis following April’s NFL Draft, all they heard about was the desperate pleas for them to improve and reform the team’s ailing run defense.

    “We were brought in to do a job and that was to stop the run,” Ryan said. “Me and Adam put the onus on our shoulders and everybody on the defense to stop the run because we are tired of hearing that the Rams can’t stop the run.”

    While the Rams haven’t moved into the top tier of the league against the run, there’s no doubt that the run defense is on an upward trajectory and Carriker and Ryan are the driving forces behind an interior of the defensive line with an extremely bright future.

    “You can feel it,” defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. “We’re doing a very good job inside on the ball. Now they’re running the ball outside off-tackle. So, we’ve got to keep working in that area.”

    Through six games, the Rams have yet to allow a 100-yard rusher. In the past two weeks, the Rams have shut down top tier running backs such as Arizona’s Edgerrin James and Baltimore’s Willis McGahee.

    James finished with 88 yards on 26 carries, an average of just 3.4 yards per attempt. Last week against the Ravens, McGahee ran for 61 yards on 25 carries, an average of 2.4 yards per attempt.

    It’s no coincidence that the Rams have seemingly found their run defense groove now that they have settle into a more regular rotation at defensive tackle.

    Teams are having little to no success running the ball up the middle, especially when Carriker is working at the ‘three technique’ and Ryan is playing nose guard. That combination has done a solid job of tying up blockers and pushing the pocket, but has also found ways to get in the backfield and make tackles.

    “It’s helping us to have a rotation in there with those three tackles and it has enhanced Adam’s ability to play more three technique in that rotation,” coach Scott Linehan said. “So I think it’s really helped us.”

    As the highly-touted first round pick Carriker clearly entered the season with plenty of expectations on his shoulders. Fair or not, many expected him to be the missing link that would cure the run defense and make the Rams one of the best defenses in the league.

    Carriker embraced his move from college defensive end to NFL nose tackle, but it was clear that it would take time for him to fully adjust to the new position.

    Haslett said after some of the early games that Carriker didn’t perform as well as he could have in part because the team kept asking him to play both positions without focusing on one.

    While Carriker is still starting at nose tackle with La’Roi Glover next to him, there’s been a more steady rotation that has allowed Carriker to play the three technique and use his pass rushing skills.

    “There are things I like about the nose better and things I like about the three,” Carriker said. “Definitely at the three I have a lot better pass rush opportunity. At the nose, most people wouldn’t say this, but I would say playing the run at the nose might be a bit easier for me.”

    Ryan, meanwhile, wasn’t nearly as ballyhooed as Carriker coming in. Nonetheless, the need for help at defensive tackle went beyond just adding Carriker. With that in mind, the team used a fifth-round choice on Ryan.

    After going through a career at Michigan State that provided no positional or coaching stability, nobody was quite sure what the Rams were getting in the 6’3, 310 pound Ryan.

    Ryan says organized team activities and training camp were difficult for him and Carriker as they adjusted to the NFL. But there’s no doubt that Ryan has been the biggest and most pleasant surprise in this year’s draft class.

    “We are talking about a rookie, fifth round pick,” Linehan said. “There were not a lot of high expectations going in, but he has basically been one of our most productive defensive linemen. That’s hard to do from the tackle, spot especially the nose guard. He’s a real bright spot for us and he’s improved to the point where he has earned starters playing time.”

    Ryan played just 19 snaps in the season opener, but has started to get more repetitions as the season goes on and his production goes up. He played 33 snaps against Baltimore last week and finished with seven tackles.

    In week 2 against San Francisco, Ryan had eight tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. He had seven tackles and he racked up five stops against Dallas in week 4.

    For the season, Ryan has 27 tackles and Carriker has added 13. The duo has also combined for six quarterback pressures, proving that they can do more than simply stop the run.

    “Me and Adam are forming a special bond on the field,” Ryan said. “We are very encouraging of each other. We came into OTAs together and we had a rough patch in OTAs, had a rough patch in training camp. It’s fun to see us out there together making plays and we’ll be on the sideline telling each other to make big plays and make quarterback hits. We know where we came from and we know where we’re going and we are going to do it together.”

    Ryan and Carriker competed throughout training camp as they jockeyed for positions on the depth chart. That experience together brought the pair closer together and Ryan says they work closely now to make each other better.

    When Carriker starts the game, Ryan will be on the sideline paying close attention to find ways to help Carriker make a difference. Likewise, Carriker will come to the sideline and give Ryan pointers on what he’s seeing so the pair has a better idea of what to expect when the ball is snapped.

    Obviously, Ryan and Carriker have a long way to go in their first journey through an NFL season but they are doing everything they can to ensure that they continue to improve.

    “We can’t get caught up in our individual success because we are only six weeks in our NFL careers,” Ryan said. “I have heard a lot about that rookie wall and I’m not trying to hit that.”

    Assuming that Carriker and Ryan avoid hitting the wall, they will only continue to create one.


  2. #2
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    In a season of doom and gloom, the Ryan/Carriker duo has been the brightest of respites. Both sides of the ball start and end with the lines. Our D has sucked for years, and in no small part, from the lack of interior stability. It's still early, but maybe now we have some hope of that situation finally reaching a successful answer.
    "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: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Ryan may turn out to be our best "value" draft pick in 20 years. Who can name the last rams 5th round or lower pick that had any kind of long term impact? Setterstrom possibly.

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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    In a season of doom and gloom, the Ryan/Carriker duo has been the brightest of respites. Both sides of the ball start and end with the lines. Our D has sucked for years, and in no small part, from the lack of interior stability. It's still early, but maybe now we have some hope of that situation finally reaching a successful answer.
    So true, both of them seem like solid individuals who will get better.

    I was looking at the depth chart on the Rams official site and noticed that we only have 3 DT's on the active roster. Am I missing something?
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMMAN68 View Post
    So true, both of them seem like solid individuals who will get better.

    I was looking at the depth chart on the Rams official site and noticed that we only have 3 DT's on the active roster. Am I missing something?
    They haven't updated the site to show Wroten's return yet.
    "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: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    It is nice to see this young duo enjoying some success in their rookie seasons. Too bad our rush defense is last in the NFC in yards yielded per game. Now is the time for someone to step in and tell me how misleading our 134 yards per game stats are. We are even slightly behind the Bears who yielded 311 yards rushing to Minnesota last week.

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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    We haven't given up a 100 yard rusher but we give up 134.5 rushing yards per game. Just cause the 100 didn't come from the premier rusher doesn't mean our run D is better.

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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Quote Originally Posted by RAM-BO View Post
    We haven't given up a 100 yard rusher but we give up 134.5 rushing yards per game. Just cause the 100 didn't come from the premier rusher doesn't mean our run D is better.
    Thats really not a fair statement. Our offense has repeatedly put our defense in a tough predicament and back into a tough predicament, drive after drive. (See Gus Feroettes eight interceptions in two games.) Once we up grade or safety's and the offensive can keep the defense off of the Field more than seventy five percent of the game, I think you will see a drastic improvement.

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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Mikhal, the Rams Time of poss. is over 29 minutes per game on offense, which is basically middle of the pack. The Patriots lead in top with 35 mins a game. If we can find safeties that will enable our O to be on the field for 45 minutes avg a game, we will be rolling for sure.

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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce=GOAT View Post
    Mikhal, the Rams Time of poss. is over 29 minutes per game on offense, which is basically middle of the pack. The Patriots lead in top with 35 mins a game. If we can find safeties that will enable our O to be on the field for 45 minutes avg a game, we will be rolling for sure.
    Given that a game is allegedly 60 minutes, (I've yet to see a 60 min game in my lifetime), and our Offense is on the field for over 29 that means our defense is allowing the opponents to score too quickly or we are severely losing the battle of field position.

    The longer our Offense can be on the field the more rested (and able to make plays) our Defense should be?

    But then this is a topic for Football 101. Maybe.:x
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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce=GOAT View Post
    Mikhal, the Rams Time of poss. is over 29 minutes per game on offense, which is basically middle of the pack. The Patriots lead in top with 35 mins a game. If we can find safeties that will enable our O to be on the field for 45 minutes avg a game, we will be rolling for sure.

    The reason the O isnt on the field for any length of time is because the O just keep going out and giving the ball back to the opposition. The Rams O have had so many 3 and outs and so many giveaways that the D is constantly being forced back out on the field with little or no rest.

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    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce=GOAT View Post
    It is nice to see this young duo enjoying some success in their rookie seasons. Too bad our rush defense is last in the NFC in yards yielded per game. Now is the time for someone to step in and tell me how misleading our 134 yards per game stats are. We are even slightly behind the Bears who yielded 311 yards rushing to Minnesota last week.
    Alright, I'll oblige. Our run D is the most attempted on in the league (32 carries/game), so it's not surprising to see them giving up 134 per game. However, their 4.3 ypc is less than their 4.9 from last year. As well, the 134 yards/game is 11 yards less than last year. To boot, they're generating 1.83 fumbles per game compared with 1.31 fumbles last year. They have improved, no matter how one were to slice it.

    The problem lies in the offenses "ability" to get off the field so quickly. The O has given up the ball 18 times so far this year. They gave it up 18 times all of last year.

    This D has been put in some pretty tough positions, by this faltering O; and so far, I'd say they have performed, at least, better than last year. We're not going to bring up memories of the 2000 Ravens, 2002 Bucs, or 1985 Bears............but not the 2006 Rams either.
    "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: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    Ryan may turn out to be our best "value" draft pick in 20 years. Who can name the last rams 5th round or lower pick that had any kind of long term impact? Setterstrom possibly.

    ramming speed to all

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    I believe Settersrom is the last but the Rams seems to always find some gems in the later rounds. The 5th round seems to be the best round where they find the gems.
    Some names like Brian Young, Jerametrius Butler, Robert Young, Kevin Greene, Fred Miller, Robert Delpino, Carl Ekern and now (hopefully) Clifton Ryan.

    There are also some good later round pick (Deacon Jones (14th))
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    Re: Rookie DTs Make a Difference

    One guy who is not surprised about Ryan is Gil Brandt. During draft season, here's what he had to say about him:

    He gave it up for his Michigan State team every time it asked him to. He was the one steady force on that team during a tumultuous season. He’s a utility D-lineman who will give you effort every time. If he gets a starting job, he will never lose it.

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