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  1. #1
    RealRam's Avatar
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    St. Louis Rams hope for turning point

    St. Louis Rams hope for turning point


    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/17/2009

    You want rocky starts? Under new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, the New York Giants gave up 80 points in losses to Dallas and Green Bay to open the 2007 season.

    It looked like more of the same against Washington in Week 3 that season, with the visiting Giants down 17-3 at halftime. But the Giants clawed out a 24-17 lead, only to find the Redskins with a first-and-goal at the 1 with 58 seconds remaining in the game.

    That's as far as it got. There was a spike, then an incomplete pass, followed by two carries by Ladell Betts that fell short of the goal line. Safety James Butler helped clinch the victory with a tackle on fourth down.

    "Oh no, it wasn't my stop," Butler insisted. "It was a group effort. It was one of those great moments. Everybody worked together and worked hard. And everything came together at one time."

    It was a watershed moment for the '07 Giants, who went on to win the Super Bowl that season with a stifling defense.

    "It definitely was something where you look back and say that was a good momentum (builder) for our defense," Butler said. "But we were building from Day One. And just because we didn't do it that first game, or even halfway through the second game, it finally started clicking."

    After a rocky start last week in Seattle, will the Rams have their own watershed moment this season, be it in the form of a single play, a goal-line stand, or a breakout game?

    Spagnuolo and the Rams get another opportunity to do so this Sunday, against those same Redskins, and once again at FedEx Field. This game puts Spagnuolo in his element, against the NFC East and a Washington team he faced 20 times over the past decade, first as an assistant for Philadelphia and then as Giants coordinator.

    Spagnuolo is 14-6 against Washington over that span, with a 3-1 record against them as Giants defensive coordinator in '07 and '08. The only Redskins victory over Spagnuolo with the Giants came in Week 14 of the Super Bowl season, with Washington claiming a 22-10 victory behind 126 yards rushing and a touchdown by running back Clinton Portis.

    Before the '08 season, Spagnuolo interviewed for the Washington head-coaching job. But he opted to stay with the Giants for another season, and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder hired Jim Zorn instead.

    Zorn's Redskins had little success against the Giants last season, particularly against Spagnuolo's defense. The Giants won 16-7 and 23-7, and the Redskins never led in either game. Washington averaged only 264.5 yards in those contests, and Portis averaged a modest 53 yards a game, 3.1 yards a carry, and scored zero TDs.

    Butler followed Spagnuolo to St. Louis this season. Unfortunately for the Rams, the likes of Justin Tuck, Osi Umenyiora and Antonio Pierce did not. Even so, the familiarity with the Redskins should help the task this week.

    "I played against those guys four years, and some of those guys have been there for the same amount of years," Butler said. "It can help us out a lot. You know what to expect from those guys. Definitely it's going to be a physical game. And that's what you expect from an NFC East team."

    As expected, Spagnuolo played down any edge he might have preparing for a familiar foe.

    "I think it works both ways," he said. "They obviously have gone against (me). So there's familiarity on their end and our end. So I think it's probably a wash."


    Besides ...

    "I don't get wrapped up in that," Spagnuolo said. "We're playing a football team. Whether we've seen 'em before or not, the guys have gotta go out and play. It doesn't matter how many times I've seen 'em. The players have got to go out and play."

    The Rams may not have the personnel the Giants possessed when Spagnuolo was there. And they are coming off a 28-0 drubbing in Seattle. But Spagnuolo's résumé still resonates in the nation's capital.

    When asked on a conference call what he expected from the Rams' defense, Portis told St. Louis reporters: "The same thing we saw in the Giants last week. You know they're going to fly around, you know they're going to be prepared. The 'backers are going to get downhill and fill holes. So that's the same things we saw with (Spagnuolo) in New York. You can't expect anything less, having him in St. Louis."

    The Redskins lost their 2009 season opener 23-17 to the Giants. As Zorn sees it, that game was a convenient tool in preparing for the Rams this week. Zorn says he sees "a few of the same things" schematically.

    "(The Giants) do just what the Rams are doing now," Zorn said. "They 'mug' their linebackers — bring their linebackers, DBs, up into the line of scrimmage. Force you to account for them. Either bring 'em or drop 'em, and things like that. It makes it very difficult. It's very hard to prepare."

    But Zorn also expects the unexpected because he saw it in last week's game film. For example, after not blitzing their cornerbacks in the preseason, the Rams did so frequently against Seattle.

    "So that was a difference," Zorn said. "And I suspect there'll be things like that. ... I don't know what they are. That's what's great about a ballgame."


  2. #2
    rNemesis's Avatar
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    Re: St. Louis Rams hope for turning point

    If we dont compete well in this game I will come to the conclusion of Rams misfortunes of the fact that we lack good player personnel. If we succeed I will say " it doesnt matter so much the personnel but the coach" This is still the answer I wanna see from day one because I look at it this way:

    Justin Tuck, Antonio Pierce, Osi Umenyiora, kawika mitchell, and mathias kiwanuka all had to be drafted just like we drafted our players. Only difference is I cant see why they succeeded and ours didnt . Is it that Spagnuolo was able to turn them into good football players or is it that they were just good players coming out of college, which I refuse to believe.

  3. #3
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    Re: St. Louis Rams hope for turning point

    Quote Originally Posted by rNemesis View Post
    Is it that Spagnuolo was able to turn them into good football players or is it that they were just good players coming out of college, which I refuse to believe.
    These are my sentiments exactly. I think we got off to a rough start, it was our first game where all the first string O-line played together apparently. But from what I have seen last week, we won't make the same mistakes again in my opinion.

    During the Pre-season game against the bengals, they were running us over on ST. The next week the rams played against KC, all the special teams players flew to the ball before the play was over; and now from what i have seen in the Seattle game, Our Special Teams unit was our best.

    If this is in fact true and not just some lucky find. Spags is the type of guy to learn from his mistakes and makes adjustments. If this is a fact, then we are in for one hell of a ride.
    Last edited by hawaiianpunch; -09-17-2009 at 02:14 PM.

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    Re: St. Louis Rams hope for turning point

    As they say the biggest improvement from week one is week two. We are going to see better play.

    We stuck with the Hawks for the first half. We got beat in the second half because our defense was exhausted from being out there for so long. We need to avoid stupid penalties and move the ball well. The Skins will probably stack the box, but I'm sure Spags knows a way to figure things out.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

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