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Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander

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  • Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander

    Wednesday, November 9, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    There are few teams in the NFL that know Seattle running back Shaun Alexander better than the Rams.

    Of course, there are two conclusions to be drawn from that. One, that means St. Louis should have a good idea of what he is going to do when the Rams and Seahawks meet in Seattle on Sunday.

    No. 2, though, is that there is probably not a team in the league more tired of seeing Alexander than the Rams.

    That intrigue creates excitement on both sides of the ball. What can the Rams do to finally slow Alexander down? What can Alexander do to stay one step ahead?

    That part of the challenge has Alexander excited.

    “What I expect is for them to find different, creative ways to load the box and cover up some of their defensive protections for (quarterback) Matt [Hasselbeck] and the receivers,” Alexander said. “That’s football. It’s exciting because you feel like you’re watching film and you’re like, gosh, I know all of these guys. We have played them so many times. They get a new guy here, a new wrinkle there, but the heart of it is the same. And that’s the same way it is with us. They know us, and we know them.”

    Since Alexander’s arrival in the NFL, he has played the Rams eight times, racking up 756 yards on 150 carries for an average of just over 5 yards per attempt. Alexander has scored six touchdowns in those games as well, making him a huge thorn in the side of the Rams.

    Alexander as a rushing threat isn’t a problem exclusive to the Rams, though. He has been doing it to just about every team he plays.

    Eight games into the season, Alexander is having perhaps his best as a pro. He leads the NFL in rushing yards (949), average per attempt (5.4) and rushing touchdowns (14).

    Although Alexander doesn’t claim to be the fastest, the strongest or the most talented back in the league, it is clear that there are few backs or even players that produce as consistently as he does every year.

    ““You know what, for me I have done the same thing that I have done every year, which is I study and break myself down every year, and then I say, if I add this to my game I’m going to be a little better,” Alexander said. “And that’s what I have done. So if you look, every year I have got a little bit better in just about every category. And I think it’s just from me studying my own self, being real with myself, and saying this needs to be turned into this kind of play.”

    The scary part is that Alexander actually has gotten better every year. There are few aspects of the game that he doesn’t do well and he has made a point of improving in the few areas that he used to consider weaknesses.
    Alexander has even improved in areas that would seem to leave little room for improvement.

    After posting 16, 18, 16 and 20 touchdowns from 2001-2004, Alexander is on pace to best those numbers. In fact, he is on pace to set the record for most touchdowns in a season. If he keeps up at his current rate, he will finish with 28 for the season.

    “[He] loves the redzone,” Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he ratchets it up down there. He loves to score touchdowns, and that’s fine with me. He can score a million touchdowns. The thing is that our offensive line has done a nice job and I think we call runs down there instead of thinking four-and-a-half yards, which is a great run, we’re thinking of scoring. He has a real knack for that too.”

    Of the many deScriptions used to explain Alexander, most would probably stay away from “breakaway threat.” Alexander isn’t seen as the type of guy that will kill you with his speed, yet somehow, he has found ways to break off the big runs.
    Rams coach Joe Vitt says Alexander is always capable of going all the way.

    “He’s a rare back and when he gets to the second level and clears the linebackers he is gone,” Vitt said. “If he makes a linebacker miss, he can take it the distance. When he gets in the open field, he has a second gear. I think he does a great job of getting a presnap read on defenses and where the bubble or cutback may be. He plays with great anticipation and he’s done a much better job with his ball security.”

    Alexander is hitting the Rams at a good time. He was the second leg in the Tiki Barber, Edgerrin James, Alexander triumvirate that hit the Rams like a ton of bricks.

    St. Louis is 25th in the league in run defense, allowing 127.1 yards per contest. Things have only degenerated in recent weeks, as Fred Taylor added to the problems created by that trio.

    The things that Alexander has improved in would seem to play unfavorably against a Rams’ defense that has allowed a number if big plays on the ground. Taylor took one 71 yards for a touchdown against St. Louis.

    If not for those big plays, though, the run defense has been solid. It seems as though it has been all or nothing in that regard, with running backs either getting a big gain or next to nothing.

    “He’s been very, very good at making long runs and that’s something you definitely have to stop,” middle linebacker Chris Claiborne said. “Sometimes they may break us on the front seven, but we can’t allow the long run. It’s up to all of us to stop that.”

    While Alexander has had plenty of success based on his talent, he wouldn’t be where he is without the offensive line. The Seahawks are first in the league in offense and third in the league in rushing, mainly because of the strength of the offensive line.

    Walter Jones is one of the best left tackles in the NFL and is joined on that side by guard Steve Hutchinson. That line has paved the way for one of the league’s most balanced lines.

    “I think it’s one of the top three,” Vitt said. “They have been together for a long time. They have high round picks there. Hutchinson is a good player; Walter Jones is a great player. They are well coached. That whole offense has been together for a long time. That coaching staff has been together for a long time. They are really in sync.”

    There is one surefire way of not having to try to stop Alexander twice a year that could come up after this season. Alexander is a free agent after the year and he has been promised that Seattle won’t put the franchise tag on him, allowing him to go into the free agent market.

    Surely a back of Alexander’s caliber will draw considerable interest on the open market, but it’s pretty obvious that the Seahawks would be wise to sign him as soon as possible.

    “I’m just out of it, let whatever happens happen,” Alexander said. “My football team is in a great place right now, so I’m just going to concentrate on football and let (management) do what they do.”

  • #2
    Re: Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander

    Given our past history dealing with alexander, i think we have a better chance of causing him to caugh the ball up at a key point in the game then we do of actually stopping him, at least without resorting to either a steel net or firearm of some kind.


    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel


    • #3
      Re: Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander

      it sounds simple gc, but your 100% right, give jackson the ball and keep alexander off the field.


      • #4
        Re: Rams Search for Ways to Slow Alexander

        Yep, ball control on offense, and don't give up the big play on D. Put eight in the box and try to strip the ball out.


        Adm. William "Bull" Halsey


        Related Topics


        • RamWraith
          Seattle offense clicks behind running back
          by RamWraith
          By Lori Shontz
          Of the Post-Dispatch
          Saturday, Nov. 13 2004

          It isn’t like Seattle running back Shaun Alexander is invisible, exactly. He
          has gained more than 1,000 yards every season since 2001. He went to the Pro
          Bowl last season. Headed into Sunday’s game with the Rams, he is the NFC’s
          leading rusher with 879 yards.

          But no, he’s not the league’s most prominent player, not the guy who’s all over
          television, endorsing products or breaking yet another run on the highlight
          shows. But that’s exactly what Alexander expected after he was drafted by the
          Seahawks in the first round of the 2000 draft.

          "It’s bittersweet both ways," Alexander said. "It would be great to be in a
          city where there’s bright lights and all the commercials, to be with the best
          of the best. And then, there’s times where you’re (thinking), ‘Man, you know
          what? Let’s just go out to the nicest restaurant in town and not be hassled.’"

          Alexander laughed. "I guess for me, the simplest way to take it is I enjoy
          wherever I am, and I’m going to have fun wherever I’m at."

          For the past two weeks, the best place for Alexander has been on the football
          field, as the focal point for the Seahawks’ offense. Seattle broke a three-game
          losing streak on Halloween, when Alexander rushed for 195 yards and a touchdown
          on 32 carries. A week ago, the Seahawks beat San Francisco thanks largely to
          Alexander, who carried 26 times for 160 yards and two touchdowns.

          Seattle coach Mike Holmgren, however, doesn’t think his team’s recent success
          is due solely to rediscovering Alexander, who rushed for only 77 and 65 yards,
          respectively, in losses to the New England Patriots and Arizona Cardinals.

          "It seems that way, I know it seems that way," Holmgren said. "But really, the
          games unfold the way they unfold. But ... having said that, yeah, I think we
          have a really good running back, and I’m going to hand him the ball as long as
          we’re gaining yards running the ball."

          But as Rams defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson observed, Seattle quarterback Matt
          Hasselbeck was struggling a bit, and it made sense for the Seahawks to balance
          out their offense. "They’re riding on his back, and that’s smart — he’s a heck
          of a player," Jackson said of Alexander. "They’re trying to be balanced, and as
          good as Hasselbeck is, he’s still a young quarterback."

          Holmgren agreed.

          "Yeah, our running game helps the quarterback, there’s no question about that,"
          he said. "The other thing, we considered some things, and we had a volume of
          offense that I think was unmanageable."

          -11-13-2004, 08:03 PM
        • MauiRam
          Alexander impacts Rams offense ..
          by MauiRam
          BY BILL COATS Friday, December 31, 2010 12:10 am

          After viewing film of wide receiver Danario Alexander, who was on the practice squad Oct. 3 when the Rams played Seattle, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll came to an unambiguous conclusion.

          "We've got some problems with him," Carroll said this week during a break in preparations for Sunday night's NFC West-title showdown at Qwest Field.

          The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Alexander has been creating problems for defenses since a growth spurt — he was 5-9 and 105 as a freshman — kick-started a breakout season his senior year at Marlin (Texas) High.

          Recruiters began to swoop into the town of about 6,000 near Waco, but Missouri got there first and earned Alexander's commitment. Alexander set a flock of records with the Tigers, toppling most of the sterling marks that All-American Jeremy Maclin had just established.

          MU quarterback Blaine Gabbert called Alexander, who has covered 40 yards in 4.4 seconds and topped 40 inches in a vertical leap, a "freak." Coach Gary Pinkel described him as "a creature."

          Which makes one wonder just how much Alexander could have accomplished for Mizzou had a succession of injuries not interfered. Most significant were the continuing problems with his left knee.

          Alexander underwent a fifth surgery on the knee in late October, a cartilage clean-up procedure. There was an upside to that operation, though: Alexander reports that his knee feels better than it has in a long, long time.

          "That's obviously a great thing," he said. "It doesn't hurt at all."

          Signed by the Rams on Aug. 22 as an undrafted rookie and promoted to the active roster Oct. 12, Alexander now is in a position to inflict pain rather than absorb it.

          When Alexander, the club's only true deep threat, is on the field and contributing, the effect on the Rams' offense is obvious.

          "It just gives us the ability to stretch the field a little bit more," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "It seems like when he's showed up and had big games for us, we've been able to create some explosive plays with him. And I think that's one of the big reasons that our offense seems to click a little bit better when he's on."

          The results, as well as the statistics, support Bradford's assertion. The Rams are 4-3 in games in which Alexander has appeared. More impressively, they're 3-0 in those is which he's had a significant role in the offense:

          • On Oct. 17, Alexander caught four passes for 72 yards, including a diving, 38-yard touchdown grab, in a 20-17 victory over San Diego.

          • On Nov. 26, Alexander had four catches for 95 yards in a 36-33 triumph at Denver.

          • Last Sunday, Alexander produced six receptions and 99 yards as the Rams turned back San Francisco 25-17....
          -12-31-2010, 11:56 AM
        • AvengerRam_old
          Alexander will get his yards; Its when he gets them that matters.
          by AvengerRam_old
          Look at Shaun Alexander's stats from the first two meetings with the Rams:

          Game 1: 23 carries, 150 yards
          Game 2: 22 carries, 176 yards

          You would think that, given these stats, the Hawks had won both games. Typically, success on the ground translates to wins. But, as we all know, this was not the case.

          I think the key is when Alexander got his yards.

          In the first game, Alexander had great success early. Then, as the Rams began their comeback, Holmgren inexplicably decided not to pound him and eat the clock, but rather to try to keep scoring by passing the ball. This gave the Rams sufficient time for their comeback.

          In the second game, Alexander had 148 of his 176 yards after the Rams had taken a 17-0 lead. While he was very successful in moving the ball, the Rams were able to keep the Hawks out of the end zone, and Alexander ultimately had a key fumble on his longest run of the day.

          The lesson learned is that the Rams can absorb big rushing totals by Alexander, as long as he is not able to dominate during key points of the game. In both games, when the Rams had their big scoring runs, Alexander was not able (or not given the opportunity) to stop them by controlling the ball and getting scores for the Hawks.
          -01-05-2005, 10:53 AM
        • MauiRam
          St. Louis Rams: Danario Alexander Believes Knee Issues Are A Thing Of The Past ..
          by MauiRam
          By Shane Gray
          St. Louis, MO

          Danario Alexander made his first appearance in 11 on 11 training camp drills Monday, a week later than he had hoped due to a hamstring issue, something that also slowed him down earlier in the offseason.

          “My hamstring kind of bothered me,” Alexander acknowledged. “Not really sure how it happened but I’m just trying to stay healthy, just trying to keep everything together, keep it going.”

          It seems that staying healthy and keeping it going is always the pressing issue with Alexander, better known as DX.

          Alexander, who was actually ahead of 2009 first round pick Jeremy Maclin on the depth chart at the University of Missouri in 2007 before a wrist injury derailed him, has overcome three dreaded ACL tears in his left knee.

          Alexander suffered all of his ACL injuries between 2007 and 2008.

          Overcoming one ACL tear, once a career ending injury, is no small feat. Overcoming two is remarkable. Overcoming three is all but unheard of.

          In spite of all the aforementioned injuries, Alexander still managed to lead the nation in receiving yards during his senior season at Mizzou.

          However, Alexander hurt his knee again prior to the 2010 NFL Draft during Senior Bowl practices, leading him to his fourth left knee surgery, this time for cartilage repair. Although nothing near as severe as an ACL injury, it raised enough of a red flag, especially with the previous three ACL tears considered, to keep him from being drafted.

          Of course, that eventually led him to signing with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent.

          In 2010, Alexander played in eight games, hauling in a touchdown and a total of 20 receptions at 15.3 yards per catch.

          In contrast, the rest of the St. Louis offense averaged just 9.9 yards per catch, less than 65 percent of Alexander’s per catch average.

          In 2011, DX appeared in 10 games, hauling in two touchdowns and a total of 26 catches at an even better 16.6 yards each.

          Again, in contrast, the remainder of the offense averaged 11.2 yards per reception, well under 70 percent of DX’s per catch norm.

          So, for those asking why wait on Alexander, the answer can be seen above: he provides the ability to make big plays, a dimension that this offense desperately needs, at least until another deep threat develops, such as rookie Brian Quick or rookie Chris Givens, perhaps.

          Jeff Fisher knows that Alexander can make plays, as he stated this Spring, via CBS Sports.

          He can elevate and make those plays,” Fisher said. “It’s good to see it.”

          Today, when asked if the athletic 6’5″ wideout who possesses a 40 plus inch vertical could theoretically help this offense, Fisher shared more.

          “Absolutely, he’s got some talent and we just got to keep him out there,” Fisher...
          -08-08-2012, 01:15 PM
        • r8rh8rmike
          Shaun Alexander
          by r8rh8rmike
          Shaun Alexander is a great back, but he's got to be the biggest goofball in the NFL. No offence to our Seahawk friends, but his television interviews, like his MNF promo, are embarrassing to watch. Being in the limelight is not his specialty.
          -12-05-2005, 07:19 PM