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  1. #1
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    Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    04/15/2010

    From the start of his tenure in St. Louis 15 months ago, coach Steve Spagnuolo was clear on his vision for the Rams. He wanted to build a winner on the foundation of a strong defense and a powerful running game.

    As recently as mid-February, not long before the NFL scouting combine, Spagnuolo reiterated a variation of that win-in-the-trenches philosophy.

    "I've said this from the beginning, you build from the inside out," Spagnuolo said. "You start with the linemen and move your way out."

    Which seemed like a pretty strong hint that the Rams were leaning toward defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh of Nebraska or Gerald McCoy of Oklahoma with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft April 22. By almost universal acclaim, both are regarded as rare talents for the position.

    "They're both going to be really good football players," veteran NFL scout Dave Razzano said. "You can't go wrong with either. There hasn't been two d-linemen like this in a while."

    That may be true, but all signs continue to point to the Rams taking quarterback Sam Bradford of Oklahoma with the first pick in the draft.

    Team sources recently told the Post-Dispatch that there was indeed a point during the offseason when Spagnuolo wanted to go defense with the first pick.

    But that no longer appears to be case. As early as late February, Spagnuolo insisted that despite his defensive background, he could pull the trigger on a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick.

    "I'm broadening my spectrum, my thought process," Spagnuolo joked at the combine. "I know we all get labeled as head coaches — defensive guy, offensive guy — but when you sit in this particular seat that I'm blessed to be in, you've got to look at it as a team."

    So if Spagnuolo as head coach says that quarterback is what's best for the team at No. 1 overall, then that's what will happen, trenches be damned.

    There are practical reasons to feel this way, as one veteran NFL coach bluntly points out.

    "Steven Jackson's a great player, but the Rams' issue is they have absolutely no game-changers on the football team," said the coach, speaking on the condition of anonymity. "Jackson's it. … They have no game-changers on offense. No game-changers on defense."

    It has taken years for the roster to deteriorate to this point, the coach said. "And there ain't a guy that's been there that isn't culpable to some degree for it, including the present group."

    Which feeds into why you take a talented quarterback prospect (Bradford) over a talented defensive tackle (Suh or McCoy). Simply stated, the quarterback position can change the game more than any other position.

    "Two of the best players in the draft are the two safeties — Eric Berry (Tennessee) and Earl Thomas (Texas)," the coach said. "They're two tremendous football players that are game-changers. But you're not going to take 'em up there (at the top of the draft) because you can't win the press conference."

    While it may be debatable whether you can thrill your fan base — or "win the press conference" — by taking Suh or McCoy at No. 1 overall, there's no doubt that both players will go very high in the draft. Both are projected as top five picks, and many mock drafts have Detroit taking Suh at No. 2 overall and Tampa Bay taking McCoy at No. 3.

    "When you're drafting at the top of the draft, you're looking for guys who aren't just a creation of the scheme, and you're looking for guys who have multidimensional skills — that can do a lot of different things," Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said.

    McCoy and Suh are considered three-down players who can play the run and rush the passer. By now, their differences are well documented. McCoy appears to be the more natural pass rusher but plays in an up-the-field system at Oklahoma designed to showcase such skills. Suh appears to be stronger and more of a power player, but he plays in a "two gap" system at Nebraska designed to highlight those skills.

    NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt takes it a step further. He says the weight training program at Nebraska is designed to build strength and power in defensive linemen, while Oklahoma's emphasizes developing quickness over raw strength.

    Take all that into account and Schwartz doesn't think there's as much difference between the two players' styles as most people think.

    "They're very similar in their skill set," Schwartz said. "If you took Suh to Oklahoma and you took McCoy to Nebraska, I think they'd both excel in the other person's defense. … Both guys are big, they're fast, have high character, and both are productive at a high level of competition."

    But neither, it appears, will be headed to St. Louis.

    Unless, of course, Spagnuolo wakes up on draft day and has a defensive epiphany.


  2. #2
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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Spags can have all the epiphanies he wants. If the rest of the guys in the draft room (There are more than just Devaney and Spags behind decisions reagrding the draft) then he can talk all day. Devaney is the final authority in the draft process and he ultimately decides the pick. The other guys just give their input and help guide the pick.

  3. #3
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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    I don't really see how this means he is leaning toward Sam?? seems to me like he was leaving it wide open like he is supposed to do...

  4. #4
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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Does anybody else find it a little hypocritical for the Rams to claim to be a "run first team", and then go out and draft a pocket passer like Sam Bradford?
    Last edited by The Optimistic Lamb; -04-15-2010 at 11:26 PM.

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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Only if the Jets are also hypocritical?

  6. #6
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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Yeah lets just not have a QB and let Jackson run it. Having a big running game is fine ( as long as its effective). Having a field general that can also take over games is nice too, don't ya think? To have an effective running game you also need a fairly effective passing game to let the defense know that you can do something else.

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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by The Optimistic Lamb View Post
    Does anybody else find it a little hypocritical for the Rams to claim to be a "run first team", and then go out and draft a pocket passer like Sam Bradford?
    As we have found out, we can be a run first team and lose 15 games. Even being a run first team you need a balanced attack. If you don't have a decent QB, run first isnt effective.

    A good QB will help our running game immensely.

  8. #8
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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by The Optimistic Lamb View Post
    Does anybody else find it a little hypocritical for the Rams to claim to be a "run first team", and then go out and draft a pocket passer like Sam Bradford?
    They haven't drafted him yet. And no, I don't find it hypocritical for the reasons stated the previous posts.

  9. #9
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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by swatter555 View Post
    A good QB with effective targets and protection will help our running game immensely.
    Fixed it for you.
    ClanRam ModCast: Episode Four
    Rams Discussion Right at Your Fingertips!



  10. #10
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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    My take on this is that Devaney is doing everything he can to orchestrate a trade. I don't think anyone other than Spags has a clue as to which way Billy D. is leaning, and that is exactly as it should be ..

    I also have a gut feeling that Bradford will not be a Ram ..

  11. #11
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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Hey People, I would love to be the "Greatest Show on Turf" again. I've got nothing against having a franchise QB and star WR's.

    But it's stupid to be looking for the next Payton Manning if you plan to run the ball more than throw it. Doesnt make sense. They're lying to us.
    Last edited by The Optimistic Lamb; -04-16-2010 at 01:07 PM.

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    Re: Defense-first Spagnuolo appears to be leaning toward Bradford

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    My take on this is that Devaney is doing everything he can to orchestrate a trade. I don't think anyone other than Spags has a clue as to which way Billy D. is leaning, and that is exactly as it should be ..

    I also have a gut feeling that Bradford will not be a Ram ..
    i hope your gut is right.

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