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  • Connor Barwin holding out for Super Bowl contender

    Connor Barwin holding out for Super Bowl contender
    • By Chris Wesseling
    • Around the NFL Writer
    • Published: July 11, 2018 at 02:45 p.m.
    After starting 109 of a possible 112 games with the Texans, Eagles and Rams over the past seven years, veteran pass rusher Connor Barwin has been left to languish on the free-agent market this offseason. The 31-year-old is in no rush to find a new team, however, biding his time until the perfect opportunity arises.
    In a Tuesday interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio, Barwin revealed that he's had multiple offers on the table and will likely sign in time to join a training camp "in a couple weeks." While he's seeking a defensive scheme that matches his skill set, the top priority is chasing a Super Bowl ring before he hangs up his cleats.
    "I think it's how much you believe they can compete," Barwin told Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on Movin' the Chains. "I'm not going to go play anywhere that I don't think they've got a chance to win a Super Bowl. That's always the way I've felt, but obviously the older you get, the more and more urgency you have.
    "And then money. Money is always part of it, too. Your whole career, you've got to take that as part of the equation."
    Relatively injury-free for the bulk of his career, Barwin envisions playing a "couple of more years."
    While he neglected to disclose which teams have shown the most interest, Barwin sounds amenable to rejoining a Rams outfit that has the unproven tandem of Samson Ebukam and Matt Longacre penciled in as the outside linebackers in Wade Phillips' defense.
    "That was fun to be a part of last year," Barwin explained. "I think Sean [McVay] is going to be a great coach in this league for a long time. He partnered up with Wade, who has been a great coach in this league for a very long time, and they're going to do great this year.
    "Sean is just a great leader, and he's gotten everybody to buy in and he's going to do great again this year. I'm excited to see what they do."
    Will McVay and Phillips come calling for a familiar veteran to bolster the edge-rushing rotation? Stay tuned for the opening of camps later this month.

  • #2
    He has signed a two-year deal with the New York Giants, who went 3-13 last year and are being given 50-1 odds of winning the Super Bowl according to Vegas.


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      Rams rookies quickly warm to ‘old dude’ coordinator Wade Phillips
      by Nick
      Rams rookies quickly warm to ‘old dude’ coordinator Wade Phillips
      By Rich Hammond, [email protected],, @Rich_Hammond on Twitter
      POSTED: 05/12/17, 7:25 PM PDT | UPDATED: 6 HRS AGO 0 COMMENTS

      THOUSAND OAKS >> Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who is old enough to be the grandfather of the rookies he met this week, quickly bridged the generation gap.

      “I thought he was going to be kind of a hard (personality),” linebacker Samson Ebukam said Friday. “Because he’s an old dude; you know what I’m saying? He’s an old dude, and I thought he was going to be one of those hard-ass dudes, who was like, ‘Do this, do this, do this.’ But he’s chill. He’s just right there trying to get you better, and that’s what I like about him. He’s just trying to get us better.”

      Don’t blame the rookies for being intimidated by the spectre of Phillips. He’s 69 years old with a recently minted Super Bowl ring, and he’s been coaching in the NFL since the mid-1970s, which must seem like the dark ages to a 22-year-old player such as Ebukam, and his peers.

      Old and young seem to have melded together. The Rams on Friday opened their two-day rookie mini-camp for players recently drafted and signed, and while much of the recent focus has been on the Rams’ well-regarded offensive prospects, Phillips brings the potential for immediate defensive improvement.

      Phillips now has his first chance to work with Ebukam, a fourth-round draft pick of the Rams last month, safety John Johnson (a third-round pick) and many other undrafted free agents.

      “I’m pleased with all of them,” Phillips said. “Their effort is really good. They’re running around like chickens with their heads cut off, but that’s a good thing. That’s what we want, that kind of mood.”

      Rams rookies certainly knew Phillips by reputation, and thus far, he seems to be a good complement to first-year coach Sean McVay and his nonstop energy. Phillips is far from lethargic, but he speaks slowly, with a Texas drawl and plenty of dry wit. Then there’s the resume.

      Phillips won the Super Bowl two years ago as Denver’s defensive coordinator, and he’s known as something of a turnaround artist. That’s good news for the Rams’ defense, which is talented but underachieved last season.

      Phillips, who worked with Rams veterans at a mini-camp last month, said he has been impressed with their work ethic. Phillips estimated that he already has installed 70 percent of his defense.

      “Like any coach, it’s, ‘What have you done for me lately?’” Phillips said. “We’re going to try to do something right now. We’ve been successful doing that over the years.”

      Phillips already seems to be growing on the youngest Rams. Johnson said Phillips reminded him of his former college defensive coordinator, and players seemed pleasantly surprised by Phillips’ relatability.

      “So I’m kind of comfortable...
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    • Nick
      After Strong Offseason, Ebukam in Line to Start at OLB
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      After Strong Offseason, Ebukam in Line to Start at OLB
      By Kristen Lago
      Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018 12:10 PM

      Heading into the Rams offseason program, the club’s defensive lineup appeared to be pretty settled.

      From the new additions of cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, to the acquisition of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, those outside of the building had a good idea of which players would be starting in the secondary and on the front line. The Rams linebackers, however, was a different story, given the departures of former starters Alec Ogletree, Robert Quinn, and Connor Barwin.

      But as the team looks toward training camp, it seems that at least one question mark from the group has been answered at outside linebacker.

      “I think Samson Ebukam has had a tremendous spring,” defensive coordinator Wade Phillips said recently. “I just think he’s learned more and more about what he can do and how to do what he does… [He] certainly will have one of the starting positions.”

      Ebukam made a name for himself last season early on as a dominant force on special teams. He also developed quickly as an important depth piece on the outside — recording 31 tackles, 2.0 sacks, and one forced fumble in 2017, having appeared in all 16 games.

      While the coaching staff has been open with Ebukam about their plans for him this fall, the Eastern Washington product has maintained a humble attitude throughout the offseason.

      “They’ve told me that and all that good stuff, but I don’t really pay attention to it,” Ebukam admitted. “I’m just here to earn my spot. It’s another year and I just have to earn it just like everybody else."

      For that reason, he has been focused on delving deeper into the intricacies of the defense and working on his ability to rush the passer more effectively.

      “Definitely the playbook,” Ebukam said of his growth, “being able to play faster on the field and not thinking as much as I did last year. I just feel more loose and more confident now that I know the playbook more because I didn’t have this last year.”

      “I wasn’t here in OTAs [in 2017], so this is all kind of like a learning experience for me and I’ve loved it every step of the way,” he continued.

      Phillips and head coach Sean McVay have been impressed with the young linebacker’s overall development.

      Both mentioned the strides they’ve seen in Ebukam this offseason have given them confidence in his ability to be a starter in 2018.

      “He’s got tremendous speed and he’s learning to utilize that,” Phillips said. “You’ve got to hone in on what you do well [and] he’s kinda found his niche there.”

      “Samson has been a great player for us where you see the bursts, just the way that he’s consistently able to get in and out of different things whether it’s bursting [or] pursuing the football,” McVay...
      -06-20-2018, 05:18 AM
    • MauiRam
      Wade Phillips brings quick-fix wizardry to Los Angeles Rams' D
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      • By Gregg Rosenthal
      Bum Phillips loved to watch his son work. Near the end of a life spanning football's explosive growth, the legendary leader of the "Love ya Blue" Houston Oilers would regularly show up to Texans practice, wife by his side, to see Wade Phillips coordinate Houston's defense.

      "Wade was 65 years old at the time," Los Angeles Rams linebacker Connor Barwin said in an interview this summer, recalling the image of his days playing for Phillips in Houston. "It was so cool to watch his parents come watch him coach. You just saw that love between them, that respect, that love for the game all in one."

      Now 70 years old and ready to embark on his 40th NFL season after joining the 10th pro organization of his career, the Rams' newest defensive coordinator wears that love of sport as conspicuously as his late father once wore a 10-gallon hat. Phillips emerged as the preeminent quick-fix defensive coach of the last quarter-century by honoring his father's principles even when they cut against the NFL norms of the day. When a team needs a defensive boost, they call Phillips, and he delivers every time.

      Phillips and Barwin are more than just coach and player -- the two men regularly grabbed meals together even when Barwin was playing with the Eagles and Phillips was coaching elsewhere. In this era of free agency, cold professionalism and emotion-free press conferences, Phillips believes that coaches and players can be friends. He believes that yelling at players for mistakes amounts to "bitching" and not coaching. He believes that too many staffs overcoach players in an effort to make them all the same. The Son of Bum identifies with players who don't follow all his orders, knowing well that a little independent thinking goes a long way.

      "You don't want players that do exactly what you say because they have no initiative themselves," Phillips told me. "You get some guys who are great young men that want to do everything you say, but they get carried away with that. When you need to make a play, you need to have the initiative to say, 'Hey, Coach told me to do this, but the ball's right there. I got to make the play.' "

      Like so much of Phillips' football philosophy, this sounds deceptively straightforward. Rams players extol Phillips' ability to simplify concepts and teach with clarity so they can learn fast and play even faster. Introduction to Wade Phillips 101 is a defensive self-help course with proven results that rival those of any defensive coach of his lifetime. In Los Angeles, he takes over a defense that had a better reputation than results over the last four seasons, failing to ever finish in the top 10 in points allowed and bottoming out last season, ranking 23rd in that category. Phillips' track record is one reason why Rams fans should expect this defense -- and the 2017 team as a whole -- to...
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      As for the Rams, the Sean McVay hire makes all the sense in the world on paper. Take the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL and put it in the hands of the man who helped Kirk Cousins grow into one of the most prolific and accurate quarterbacks in the NFL. (If that sounds like an exaggeration, recall that Cousins passed for 4,917 yards last season in Washington, third-most in the NFL, and completed 67% of his passes, good for seventh.)

      The bigger unknown when it came to McVay,s hiring was how his age (31) would translate into ability to lead and manage a football team of 53 egos and personalities on a middling franchise one year into relocating to the second-most populous city in the United States.

      Andrew Whitworth took the leap of faith when he left the team that drafted him in 2006, the Bengals, to join the Rams at 35 years old on a three-year, $36 million contract to anchor an offensive line that allowed 49 sacks in 2016. Whitworth is one of two players on the roster who is older than McVay, who was a high school freshman quarterback running the triple option at Marist School in Atlanta when Whitworth was a redshirt freshman at LSU in 2001. Adding Whitworth may prove to be the best decision McVay and GM Les Snead have made early in the process of turning around the Rams, not simply for his pass blocking but for his experience in McVay's offense. The scheme Whitworth learned under Jay Gruden in Cincinnati is, with slight variations, the same one McVay learned under Gruden in Washington. Former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff spends much of his time with Whitworth quizzing him on how Andy Dalton handled certain situations in the offense.

      In Whitworth's estimation, the message McVay would deliver this summer would resonate and had the potential to set a permanent tone for the season, good or bad.

      You listen to him talk about defense, offense, special teams and you realize this guy knows football like no other. He's special in that way, Whitworth says. But there's something else that makes him special. I would imagine its very hard for a coach of his age to be as assertive as he has and cover the topics he has in a team meeting setting. Talking about character, about being accountable to one another, focus, discipline, the way we communicate with other.

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