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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    What the niner coordinators think of the Rams

    Coordinators' Corner: ***** vs Rams

    Chrissy Mauck

    The St. Louis Rams are like the ***** were a year ago. They've got a new coaching staff with new philosophies and several new players lining up on both sides of the ball. In week one, the new look Rams showed a dramatic improvement on the defensive side of the ball, shutting down one of the more talented offenses in the league in the Denver Broncos. The ***** bested the Rams twice last year but they face a more aggressive defense and a more balanced offense. Find out what the ***** coordinators had to say about this key divisional matchup.

    ***** Offense/Saints Defense Overview withOffensive Coordinator Norv Turner

    The Rams made several strategic additions to their defense this off-season in free agency, picking up La'Roi Glover to plug the interior of the line, an active linebacker in Will Witherspoon and veteran starters at safety and corner in Corey Chavous and Fakhir Brown.

    "Those guys have really made a difference," said Turner. "They've become a lot more active and a lot more aggressive. It's a multiple defense. There's a lot of an eight-man front and they do have an extensive blitz package. They create doubt and we have to do a good job offensively of eliminating that doubt and being aggressive in our own right."

    Against Denver, the Rams sent the house after quarterback Jake Plummer. Plummer had an awful day, throwing three picks and getting dropped for four sacks. Pass rush specialist Leonard Little accounted for two of those sacks.

    "Leonard is a very good pass rusher but we saw two good pass rushers last week and that's the name of the game," said Turner. "It seems like every time you turn around, there's a good player at end. We've got to rise to the occasion. We've got to win when we are matched up one on one and then we want to give our tackles help. We could be without Jonas Jennings and I'm sure they'll try to exploit that position if he is out and we've got to have something to counter that."

    New defensive coordinator Jim Haslett obviously felt the key to besting Denver was to take away their powerful running attack. In doing so, he heavily stacked the box. If he brings the same game plan to San Francisco, the ***** receivers should see plenty of single coverage, and those are battles they must win quickly.

    "We are going to see some man-to-man coverage on the outside and we've got to be physical and win those," said Turner. "We'll also probably see linebackers on our tight ends and we'll need to see production out of Vernon Davis an Eric Johnson."

    The Rams best cover player is Brown who will likely line up over Antonio Bryant who had a 100-yard game in Arizona. Brown had one interception, broke up another, and notched a sack against Denver.

    "He's physical," said Turner. "He gets after it, and he's very aggressive."

    The ***** will need another solid performance out of Alex Smith and will require patience in the run game.

    "I think when you play a team that is playing an 8-man front and over committing you have to have some patience," said Turner. "You have to give your backs a chance and you have to stick with it."

    Ball security is also integral. The Rams came up with five defensive turnovers against the Broncos while the ***** put two balls on the ground in the first quarter against Arizona.

    "The two turnovers in Arizona dug a deep hole for us and it was too much for us to get out of," said Turner. "We've got to take care of the ball. A couple of the Rams turnovers that they got came because of their pass rush and the pressure they were getting and then the fumbles just came from Denver's lack of ball security. If you are on the offensive side, you say you fumbled the ball. When you are on defense you say you forced a turnover. However you say it, we've got to take care of the ball."

    ***** Defense/Rams Offense Overview with Defensive Coordinator Billy Davis

    Head coach Scott Linehan brings a different philosophy to the Rams offense than their former coach Mike Martz. No longer an overloaded passing team, aka "The Greatest Show on Turf", the Rams have the potential to be just as dangerous.

    "I think it's the same weapons making plays only they showed a real balanced attack in week one," said Davis. "It makes it a chess match all the way through in terms of how often they are running and how often they are throwing the ball. They'll come out balanced and that's harder to defend."

    With Linehan stressing the run, the ***** can expect running back Steven Jackson to see more carries than in past years. The ***** contained Edgerrin James a week ago, but Jackson is a different style of runner.

    "Jackson makes quick decisions and goes," said Davis. "He's downhill. Edgerrin is one of the more patient runners you'll ever see. He'll glide and slide and find the mistake and then hit it where Jackson is a big, strong fast run you over, stiff arm you type of player. Jackson is more hit and go."

    The Rams, even without longtime center Andy McCollum, present a tougher challenge than Arizona did up front. Bookend tackles Orlando Pace and Alex Barron are both first-round selections and Adam Timmerman is a two-time Pro Bowl selection.

    "Since they lost the center, they'll rely on vets like Timmerman and Pace to keep the line together," said Davis. "The best o-lines play five guys like one and play together as one and those are the ones that are tough to beat. With vets like Timmerman in there, they'll play together."

    Stopping the run and forcing the Rams back into a one-dimensional offense is the primary goal of Davis and the ***** D. But that then brings the challenge of stopping the Rams through the air which is not an easy assignment with a very accurate passer in Marc Bulger and his talented receiving trio of Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Kevin Curtis.

    "We've got some challenges in the secondary because they've got a veteran group of wide receivers who have had success," said Davis. "We feel we are better than we were a year ago in the secondary and we do match up better with them now. All of those battles are important because they've got three wide receivers who can make a play on any ball, so all three have to be handled and accounted for. All three have got to be handled."

    Curtis was surprisingly held without a catch against Denver and Davis expects the Rams to make a point to involve him more in the passing game this week.

    "He was a lot more involved a year ago and we expect him to get his opportunities and touches. He's a top notch weapon and they'll get him the ball."

    The Rams' passing game relies heavily on timing. Bulger can make all of the throws and is extremely accurate.

    "We've got to get after the quarterback and get in his face," said Davis. "We had three sacks last week and we'll continue working in that area."

    The Rams moved the ball consistently between the 20s but faltered in their four trips inside the red zone.

    "Denver really did a nice job of playing team defense down there and the Rams had one or two opportunities to make a play and they didn't make it, but the rest of the time Denver's defense did a great job," said Davis. "It was a little bit of both though, the offense not executing when they had a guy open and the defense playing pretty tight coverage. Team defense is really the key any week and that's what we've got to have this Sunday. Eleven guys to the ball and being where they are supposed to be."

    Special Teams Overview with Coach Larry Mac Duff

    Although the Rams hired a new coaching staff, they maintained continuity in their special teams by retaining Bob Ligashesky. With his aggressive style along with support from the top to utilize more starters and veterans on their coverage teams, the Rams should be an improved unit in 2006.

    "The early indication is that they've made a strong statement in upgrading their special teams," said Mac Duff. "They've got more experience on special teams with their young guys and more veteran players out there too."

    It's early but the commitment seems to have paid off with the Rams tying for first in the league after week one in their kickoff coverage.

    The Rams rotated punters last year and lacked consistency but they've altered that with the free agency pickup of Matt Turk.

    A 12-year NFL vet, Turk sat out the 2005 season with a groin injury. In his first regular season game, he had three punts for a 42.3 net average, a long of 59 and one inside the 20.

    "He's a solid addition for them," said Mac Duff. "He's a very experienced punter and he got the season off to a good start against Denver."

    Nobody got off to a better start in the special teams area for St. Louis though than their kicker, Jeff Wilkins. Wilkins accounted for all of St. Louis' scoring with six field goals with one miss from 44 yards out.

    "Wilkins has been an outstanding place kicker in this league," said Mac Duff, "He's been like Joe Nedney performance wise in that he does a very good job as a kickoff specialist and he's been very consistent as a place kicker. He's also like Joe in his onside kick ability."

    On the Rams coverage units, the ***** can expect plays from Madison Hedgecock who led the unit a year ago with 19 tackles. Former ***** fullback Paul Smith is their fastest cover guy and had 2 tackles against Denver.

    Shaun McDonald remains at punt returner with the Rams signing J.R. Reed away from the Eagles to handle kickoff return duties. Reed had two returns last week for 51 yards and a long of 29.

    "Reed did a good job in Philly before he got injured and so he should be an upgrade for the Rams in that area," said Mac Duff.

    Kickoff coverage is an area that Mac Duff would like to see improvement upon for the *****.

    "We had a lot of positives from last week," said Mac Duff. "Our ball security was good, we didn't have any penalties, but our kickoff coverage wasn't as good as it has been in the past and that's an area we need to do a better job in."

    Mac Duff would like to continue to see the productivity witnessed last week in the punt return game. Arnaz Battle handled the punt return duties and broke one for 60 yards. Battle or Brandon Williams could be featured this Sunday, either of which Mac Duff said he's confident in.

    "Arnaz has demonstrated in past years that when called upon he's capable of making big plays," said Mac Duff. "He did it in this last game and also before when he was our primary punt returner. Based on Brandon's college performance, he was one of the very best dual returners in the draft and we felt very good about him. In the preseason, he had some real solid returns and he's very good at catching the ball and being productive. That's an area we feel strong in."

    Kicker Joe Nedney also converted on an onside kick against Arizona, something he did last year on a surprise call against the Rams in week one.

    "Joe does a very good job of it and he has the ability to do it in either direction and it certainly forces a team to account for that," said Mac Duff. "We have a certain group of special plays that we have up every week. They are tools in the tool box that Coach Nolan has at his disposal to manage the game and can be used at any time."


  2. #2
    Brain Daddy's Avatar
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    Re: What the niner coordinators think of the Rams

    Head coach Scott Linehan brings a different philosophy to the Rams offense than their former coach Mike Martz. No longer an overloaded passing team, aka "The Greatest Show on Turf", the Rams have the potential to be just as dangerous.

    "I think it's the same weapons making plays only they showed a real balanced attack in week one," said Davis. "It makes it a chess match all the way through in terms of how often they are running and how often they are throwing the ball. They'll come out balanced and that's harder to defend."
    I really agree with what Davis says here. I don't care what the Rams did (or rather didn't do) last week, they've still got guys who can put points on the board and I would be surprised if they didn't this week. I'm more concerned about the Rams passing game more than any other area of their team.

    I didn't buy him as a quarterback. He's just so stiff, especially when he drops back to pass. Really stiff. He reminds me of Kurt Warner.
    -- Kevan Barlow on Adam Sandler's performance in The Longest Yard

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    Re: What the niner coordinators think of the Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by Brain Daddy View Post
    I really agree with what Davis says here. I don't care what the Rams did (or rather didn't do) last week, they've still got guys who can put points on the board and I would be surprised if they didn't this week. I'm more concerned about the Rams passing game more than any other area of their team.
    It's just the system, I mean you have a QB who threw TD's last year (obviously), he sure as hell can do it again, so I really think it's the miscommunication of the team we have right now. I don't think it's a big deal at all, but it is our biggest concern right now imo. You're absolutely right I never thought I'd say that about a niners fan haha, jk lol


    Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams

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    viper's Avatar
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    Re: What the niner coordinators think of the Rams

    Quote: It's early but the commitment seems to have paid off with the Rams tying for first in the league after week one in their kickoff coverage.

    That's great news! I knew we had a solid performance by our special teams, but, I didn't realize that we were tied for 1st. Good coverage, solid punting, improving returns and Money! Let's hope they keep that up!

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