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    Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    While with the Carolina Panthers, Will Witherspoon spent most of his time at weak side linebacker. When he signed with the Rams on March 11, Witherspoon instantly became the key cog in the Rams’ revamped defense.

    Now, Witherspoon has spent the organized team activities and minicamps adjusting to being the middle linebacker in new defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s attacking, aggressive defensive scheme.

    And Witherspoon says that transition has gone well.

    “I’m feeling good,” Witherspoon said. “It’s nothing I have never done before. It’s just something I have to adjust to and adapt to and make that change again. It’s just shifting my mindset from outside to inside.”

    One part of that adjustment of moving inside is handling the responsibilities that go with the position. Most middle linebackers take the signals from the sidelines and relay the plays in the huddle. Pisa Tinoisamoa has done that in the past for the Rams, but Witherspoon could be seen breaking the huddle during last weekend’s veteran minicamp.

    While that’s a small part of what the Rams are asking Witherspoon to do, it’s significant to note that he will be expected to be one of the defensive leaders for the Rams’ new-look defense.

    Within that defense, coach Scott Linehan and Haslett have acquired talent capable of getting to the quarterback and making plays. Fast, athletic players were the order of the day and Linehan expects Witherspoon and Tinoisamoa to be excellent complements to each other on the defense.

    “It's a good spot for a guy who runs around and makes all the tackles,” Linehan said. “In the scheme we're going to run, both of them (weakside and middle linebacker) need to basically be mirror images of each other.”

    Witherspoon’s transition shouldn’t be too difficult, though, considering his previous experience inside. When Witherspoon was with the Panthers, he got plenty of opportunities to slide inside when Dan Morgan missed time because of injury.

    Witherspoon started seven games in the middle as a rookie in 2002 and four more in 2003. And though the bulk of his time has been spent on the weak side, Witherspoon had no reservations about moving inside.

    While Witherspoon wasn’t asked to blitz much in Carolina, he has had some success in that realm. In addition, he has the ability to play in sub packages and stay on the field for all downs. That was one major hurdle the team never cleared with last year’s starting middle linebacker Chris Claiborne, who was often on the sideline when opponents went to three-receiver sets.

    “I think one appealing thing (about St. Louis) was it was a team moving in the right direction and with the new people in here, I knew the system was going to be installed in a way that I knew guys would perform and guys would want to participate in part of a unit that turns it around,” Witherspoon said.

    In addition to his normal duties in the middle, Witherspoon is athletic enough to stay on the field in nickel and dime packages and cover tight ends and running backs out of the back field.

    Those are all aspects of his game that made Witherspoon appealing to the Rams during free agency.

    “That increases somebody’s value when you know he can stay on the field when you go nickel and dime, and not come off,” Linehan said. “That certainly adds to that versatility I was talking about.”


    Source= stlouisrams.com
    Last edited by Nick; -06-14-2006 at 09:13 PM.



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    Re: Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    Jim Haslett’s attacking, aggressive defensive scheme.
    I sure hope this isn't just media hype. If Haslett's scheme here really is more aggressive, this will be a complete 180 degree turn for our D. To get from Marmie's "wait, wait some more, wait a little longer, then react" defense to Haslett's "go, get'em" scheme has to be a breath of fresh air for those guys on D.
    “It's a good spot for a guy who runs around and makes all the tackles,” Linehan said. “In the scheme we're going to run, both of them (weakside and middle linebacker) need to basically be mirror images of each other.”
    I, for one, am very intrigued to see exactly how this is going to work. Haslett hasn't shown twin Mike/Will sets in the past, so I think he and Linehan are doing some experimentation with the personnel. There's got to be an effect on SOLB, both S's, and the line. It should be interesting to say the least.
    "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: Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    My observation with glass half full.

    What If the offense can continue to score? What if the O scores early and often? WHat if the D playes aggressive and fast? What if they create alot of turnovers and 3 in outs.

    Does this remind you of any past Rams team?

    Hargrove, Little, WItherspoon, Pisa, Hill, Butler, Fisher, are some of the fastest players at their respective positions.

    This Rams team can surprise the NFL if they play to their strength.....

    The glass half empty

    Witherspoon can not fill the middle as hoped. Not enough depth and LB. No provern Safties and corners continue to struggle. The new offense starts out slow and Jackson is no Faulk.....

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    Re: Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    Quote Originally Posted by CRAZYHORNS
    My observation with glass half full.

    What If the offense can continue to score? What if the O scores early and often? WHat if the D playes aggressive and fast? What if they create alot of turnovers and 3 in outs.

    Does this remind you of any past Rams team?

    Hargrove, Little, WItherspoon, Pisa, Hill, Butler, Fisher, are some of the fastest players at their respective positions.

    This Rams team can surprise the NFL if they play to their strength.....

    The glass half empty

    Witherspoon can not fill the middle as hoped. Not enough depth and LB. No provern Safties and corners continue to struggle. The new offense starts out slow and Jackson is no Faulk.....


    The rams will surprise ME if they can actually tackle this year


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    Re: Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    LOL

    Question regarding last years poor Defensive play.

    Was it really poor tackling technique OR

    Was it poor scheming and poor positioning????

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    Re: Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    Quote Originally Posted by CRAZYHORNS
    LOL

    Question regarding last years poor Defensive play.

    Was it really poor tackling technique OR

    Was it poor scheming and poor positioning????
    No offense CrazyHorns but c'mon man, and you aren't the only one, we have to quit blaming Marmie for everything that was wrong with the defense. They just weren't that talented in my opinion. Outside of Pickett, who could tackle? Hell, Arch was at his worst in Minnesota. When a player makes it to the level of the NFL, does anyone actually really think that the scheme a defense plays dictates tackling?

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    Re: Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    No doubt about it, tackling was the biggest problem we had on defense last year. Marmie's inability to engineer any improvement was also a critical factor IMO.

    For me, the extremes between the last two teams that Marmie lead as DC makes a strong statement. In 2003 with Marmie, Arizona ranked 26th in total defense, in 2004 without Marmie they improved drastically to 12th, and in 2005 to 8th. In contrast, the 2003 Rams ranked 16th in total defense, then with the addition of Marmie in 2004 slipped slightly to 17th, then dramatically to 30th in 2005. In my mind, Marmie was a big part of our defensive woes.

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    Re: Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    I agree the players have to take some of the responsibility. However, the talent is there they need to play to the overall teams strength. Use the team overall speed as a weapon. Do not make the players play in a scheme that sits back and waits.....

    I think as players roles become more aggressive and when the Rams D has success then you will see a better attitude and thus better tackling......

    Just my 2 cents

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    Re: Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    Well, there is some talent there now but we were somewhat talent deficient last year. C'mon, Coakley and Clairborne? Losing both Fisher and Butler before the season starts? That would have put any DC in a tough situation. Not defending Marmie, some of the stuff he did made even me scratch my head. However, where was the talent last year and where is the "proven" talent outside of LB's this year? Glover is good, but he's getting old. Little is good but coming off a rough year last year. Kennedy hasn't proven anything.

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    Re: Witherspoon Adjusting Well in Middle...

    Quote Originally Posted by CRAZYHORNS
    LOL

    Question regarding last years poor Defensive play.

    Was it really poor tackling technique OR

    Was it poor scheming and poor positioning????
    The answer is.........YES!
    "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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