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Thread: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

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    Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    Rams begin again with Finnegan

    7 hours ago BY JIM THOMAS

    The biggest play for the Rams in Sunday's 31-28 victory over Washington?

    Was it the Matthew Mulligan "Sequence" the blocked punt followed by a touchdown catch a few plays later?

    Maybe it was Daryl Richardson's 53-yard scamper to set up a score, the Rams' longest run from scrimmage since 2009.

    Or a big-play TD catch by Brandon Gibson for the second week in a row.

    Or maybe, just maybe, it was Washington wide receiver Josh Morgan angrily throwing a football at Cortland Finnegan in frustration. The resulting 15-yard penalty took the Redskins out of field goal range with just over a minute left to help preserve a Rams victory.

    Perhaps that "F" in Finnegan stands for "feisty." Because if you could pick the one Ram who most enjoys the "lawless country" (as one teammate put it) that is Replacement Refs football, it would be Finnegan.

    "They just let you play football," said Finnegan, his voice hoarse from a Sunday spent yelling encouragement to teammates and dare we say trash-talking opponents. "They let you play football out there, and that's one of those things you enjoy."

    In that sense, Finnegan is a throwback player caught on a 21st century gridiron.

    "I admire the old-school players," he said. "The (Jack) Tatums, you know, the Mean Joe Greenes. Those guys played football."

    Let's not forget Dick "Night Train" Lane, the Hall of Fame defensive back of the 1950s and '60s who all but decapitated wide receivers and ball-carriers with his vicious clothesline tackling style.

    "Yeah. That's what I'm (saying)," Finnegan said. "That was football. It's been watered down since, with the commissioner (Roger Goodell) and the rules."

    Finnegan takes things to the edge and beyond, at least according to the modern rulebook. Take the Washington game, for example. Who knows what took place all afternoon between Finnegan and Morgan. But Finnegan clearly baited Morgan into that costly football toss, with a quick shove at the end of the play.

    So where did all this attitude, this intensity, this style of play, come from? Long before he signed a $50 million free-agent contract with the Rams, Finnegan had a reputation as one of the league's, uh, bad boys due to his aggressive some would say overaggressive playing style.

    "I guess the simplest way I can put it," Finnegan explained, "(is) if you want to show somebody how much you love something, whatever it is you do, that's my one way to express how much I love what I'm doing.

    "If I'm on your team, you love it. If I'm not, you hate it."

    Growing up in Fayetteville, N.C., Finnegan always hung out with an older crowd, largely because his only sibling was an older sister. Little brothers are prone to get picked on; it's the way of the world.

    He was a scrawny kid to begin with, by his own admission. He weighed about 120 pounds 'soaking wet" in middle school, maybe 150 in high school.

    "I had to have some wits about me," Finnegan said. "Some moxie, so to speak. So it was just one of those things."

    None of that would matter much if Finnegan couldn't make plays, which is why Jeff Fisher made him the Rams' top free-agent priority.

    "(It's) exactly what you've seen out of his play the last couple of weeks," Fisher said. "The pass breakups, the tackles, the ability to play in different positions on the defense."

    And the interceptions. He returned one for a touchdown against Detroit. Then against Washington, he handed rookie sensation Robert Griffin III his first NFL interception to set up a Rams field goal late in the first half.

    "That was a great interception," Fisher said. "Right after a timeout, (the Redskins) clearly changed what they had going. We changed personnel grouping, changed the call, and Cort got himself in the position to make a big play. And that's what he does.

    "He studies things very hard. He knows how to put himself in position. In addition to that, it's just everything else he does in this (meeting) room and then in the locker room and on the practice field."

    Like monitoring Janoris Jenkins from a few locker stalls away, as Jenkins was peppered with media questions about the opening-day matchup with Calvin Johnson and the potent Detroit offense. Finnegan listened in just to make sure the rookie cornerback didn't make a rookie mistake.

    In the end, however, any discussion of Finnegan always gets back to his style of play. There's no doubt Fisher is trying to instill a physical, hard-nosed attitude in this Rams team. And teams usually reflect the personality of their head coach before all is said and done. But Finnegan in a sense is Fisher's disciple, because he brings it into the huddle and to the line of scrimmage.

    "I wanted to bring just a little more intensity," Finnegan said. "With Jo-Lonn (Dunbar) being here. James (Laurinaitis). Chris (Long). They had all the right pieces, they just needed an attitude, and it starts from the top and works its way down."


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    Re: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    I always said Finnegan was a great signing because he is a good role model. And his play is rubbing off on the team.

    In the Detroit game, Janoris Jenkins trash talked Titus Young and got Young to head butt him. 15 yard penalty, and Young was benched for the rest of the game. Jenkins just walked away after.

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    Re: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    Jenkins just walked away after.
    And that my friend, is where you nailed it. They start sh.., get the reaction and subsequent penalty that they want, and then just walk away.

    It's nothing personal, just mind games.

    And I freaking love it.
    THOLTFAN81, Torry Holt and ZiaRam like this.

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    Re: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    Wow, I missed the headbutt.

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    Re: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    Yeah, Finnegan is the ultimate provocateur, and he seems to be rubbing off on Jenkins. You just have to hope these guys have a good sense of where the line is. When "mind games" get the other team's stars to take stupid penalties, these guys look pretty sly, but if they're not careful, the penalties could start going the other way. If Finnegan had gotten called on that last play instead of Morgan, it could have been a 32-yard field goal attempt instead of a 63-yard attempt. Was it worth the risk? In that scenario, yes. But it won't always be.

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    Re: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    What would Finnegan get called for? pushing someone away from you isn't a penalty

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    Re: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    Quote Originally Posted by tomahawk247 View Post
    What would Finnegan get called for? pushing someone away from you isn't a penalty
    As Morgan was getting up, it looked like Finnegan gave his helmet a shove, which was why Morgan got angry and threw the ball at him.

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    Re: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece View Post
    As Morgan was getting up, it looked like Finnegan gave his helmet a shove, which was why Morgan got angry and threw the ball at him.
    Not a penalty though. And to be fair, Finnegan only pushed him because Morgan was standing up right into him.

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    Re: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    Whatever description is being used to describe Finnegan's play on the field doesn't matter to me. I say keep up the good work! His approach to the game is definitely rubbing off on the rest of our defense.

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    Re: Thomas: Rams Begin Again With Finnegan

    Quote Originally Posted by Goldenfleece View Post
    As Morgan was getting up, it looked like Finnegan gave his helmet a shove, which was why Morgan got angry and threw the ball at him.
    Watching the entire game, I think it was a pretty safe thing to try.

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