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  • Rams Moving Ahead

    Rams Moving Ahead
    Saturday, August 15, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer


    After reviewing the film of his first game as a head coach, Steve Spagnuolo made sure, like always, to keep the big picture view as his main focus.

    While there were plenty of positives to take away from the team’s 23-20 win against the Jets on Friday night, there were also a few negatives. But the idea is to not get too high or too low based on either of those things, especially after just one preseason game.

    And that’s the message Spagnuolo conveyed late Saturday afternoon after he had finished watching the tape.

    “We have to do work in all different areas,” Spagnuolo said. “Like I said, this is a beginning, not an end. This wasn’t a final exam, this was just a – I’m not going to say a pop quiz because we knew this was coming – but we will take whatever we can out of it good and bad and hopefully get better. We have kind of been pushing that all the way through.”

    That didn’t change on Saturday and isn’t likely to anytime soon, either. In the meantime, Spagnuolo will have the opportunity to continue to evaluate his players. Of course, Spagnuolo and staff will not completely ignore what happened on the field on Friday night, either.

    Certainly, knee jerk reactions to a spectacular catch or forced fumble or long touchdown run will not be the order of the day for the Rams but there’s no doubt that making plays to stand out will earn certain players some opportunities they haven’t yet been afforded to this point.

    “There will be a little bit of juggling,” Spagnuolo said. “I don’t know that there was anything that drastic that you will go out there tomorrow and say ‘Oh my God, they have changed here and there.’ We have a long way to go. We still have two more games before we have to make any decisions and then that final game. There will be a little bit of juggling, maybe more some guys getting some reps with the ones that haven’t and vice versa but that’s about it.”

    Clearly, no player made a bigger impression on Friday night than running back Samkon Gado. Gado got his first action of the game working on special teams and also took first half snaps at fullback in place of Mike Karney.

    To open the third quarter, Gado had a 25-yard kickoff return followed two plays later by his 77-yard touchdown run off the left side.

    In a matter of an hour and a half, Gado showed the type of versatility that Spagnuolo seems to covet up and down the roster.

    “Anybody that can play two positions I think is valuable,” Spagnuolo said. “I think anybody with versatility gives you a leg up. You go to 53 and all of a sudden it’s 45 on gameday, versatility is big.”

    Gado wasn’t the only Rams running back making a strong impression. Antonio Pittman showed some juice, picking up 36 yards on four carries and rookie Chris Ogbonnaya got some tough yards to help salt the game away.

    Regardless of how it might shake up that competition, Spagnuolo was mostly pleased with the performance of his running backs.

    “I don’t think at this point,” Spagnuolo said. “Whether it changes or doesn’t change, they are all still hacking away and we have got some ways to go. Nothing will happen right away. Some guys shined and did a good job and I think all of them have worked extremely hard. It was encouraging to see some of those runs and some of the cuts those guys were making so it’s a good thing.”

    Beyond the running backs, Spagnuolo also had high praise for the Rams’ top two picks, linebacker James Laurinaitis and tackle Jason Smith. Both acquitted themselves well in their NFL debuts.

    Spagnuolo also liked the effort from the wide receiver group and receiving corps, mentioning Laurent Robinson’s 50-yard catch specifically.

    All that said, Spagnuolo was just as pleased with some of the details as what was going on between the sidelines.

    Spagnuolo has maintained that the first preseason game is a sort of extension of training camp and a great opportunity to work out all of the little things that go into making a gameday run smoothly.

    In addition, Spagnuolo wanted to get a look at how his team deals with one another on gameday, looking for spirit and competitiveness.

    For example, this was the first opportunity for the coaching staff to put on the headsets and communicate during the game. Both offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole have opted to stand on the field and do their work closer to the players rather than the pressbox.

    “I think that’s really their call,” Spagnuolo said. “We talked about that way back in the spring. Both wanted to be on the field. I know that’s where I always wanted to be as a coordinator. I think the interaction with the players on the field when you are trying to make adjustments and corrections is important.”

    Perhaps the most important aspect of any preseason contest is coming out of it relatively healthy, something the Rams apparently accomplished.
    Guard Jacob Bell took a blow to the head on the offense’s first play and did not return. He has a mild concussion and will be evaluated on a daily basis.

    Quarterback Brock Berlin had the wind knocked out of him and also suffered what Spagnuolo called a “mild” MCL sprain.

    Receivers Brooks Foster (ankle) and Tim Carter (groin) were banged up and will have MRIs according to Spagnuolo. Receiver Donnie Avery (foot) and defensive tackle Adam Carriker (ankle) will be out again this week.

    On the bright side, Spagnuolo said he expects to get fullback Mike Karney (ankle) and safety Craig Dahl (hamstring) back sooner than later.

    All things considered, the result was positive and a step in the right direction. But it won’t take long for Spagnuolo to get his team to begin working on the next step and putting the initial preseason success in the rearview mirror.

    The Rams return to the practice field for an open practice on Sunday at 2:30 p.m.

    “I thought overall as a team I thought they did some good things,” Spagnuolo said. “I was as much looking forward to the sideline and team interacting as I was what was going on on the field and I thought that was pretty good. I thought guys responded to each other. The young guys came in when we were down and responded. Certainly we have got to clean some things up, there were some big plays we gave up defensively, the sacks on offense but that’s what these preseason games are for. After having watched it, we will piece it all together and get back to work tomorrow.”

  • #2
    Re: Rams Moving Ahead

    I was also impressed with Pittman. I could see a large improvement over Darby when he came in. I'll wait on Gado though only because I haven't seen him play as much as Pittman. But definitely a good performance from the two of them.

    Joe
    "The disappointment of losing is huge!"

    Jack Youngblood

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams Moving Ahead

      I really like that both coordinators have opted to be on the field. I think it reinforces that idea of team and the ongoing teaching part of coaching.

      It's Spags The Teacher and his likeminded staff that I'm putting my faith in and glad to hear that all the football brainiacs are going to be in close contact on game day so the Rams' edumakation in the ways of winning is a constant.

      Comment

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      • r8rh8rmike
        Spagnuolo Puts Blame On Himself
        by r8rh8rmike
        Spagnuolo puts blame on himself
        BY JIM THOMAS
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        08/23/2009

        The score was 14-0, Atlanta, before most spectators had a chance to dig into their popcorn Friday at the Edward Jones Dome. For a Rams franchise intent on showing the fan base that things will be different this season, it was the last thing they wanted to happen.

        On Saturday, after reviewing game tape, coach Steve Spagnuolo blamed himself.

        "Personally, I think it's all on the head coach," Spagnuolo said. "The first quarter, I don't think I had the team ready to play. I'm going to take the onus on that. We need to start the game better, especially against a good football team."

        So what can Spagnuolo do differently to make sure his team gets out of the gate quicker?
        "I don't know," he said. "Just like we evaluate the players, I'm going to evaluate myself all the time. I'll sit back this week, and if I think there's something we can do differently in practice we'll do it.

        "If I think there's something we can say or approach (differently) the day before the game, we'll do that. But right now, if the team's not ready early like that, it's on the head coach. So we'll figure out a way."

        Besides being outscored 14-0, the Rams were outgained 147 yards to 56 by Atlanta in the opening quarter. Spagnuolo said it's impossible to gauge whether or not a team is ready to play based on pregame warm-up or really anything else leading up to the game.

        "I've stopped doing that in football," he said. "Sometimes you walk in there and say, 'This team's not ready to play.' And they go out and beat a team by 30 points. That's hard to assess."

        Granted it came once the starters were done for the night and the reserves had taken over, but Spagnuolo was pleased with the fact that the team chipped away at the early deficit and was in position to tie or win the game in the fourth quarter.

        SURGERY FOR FOSTER

        The Rams' draft class of '09 took its first major injury hit, with Spagnuolo announcing Saturday that wide receiver Brooks Foster will be out six to eight weeks following ankle surgery.

        Foster suffered what originally was termed a sprained ankle in the Aug. 14 preseason opener against the New York Jets. But additional testing revealed additional problems, so Foster underwent surgery on Friday.

        The Rams must decide whether to place Foster on the injured reserve list. The fifth-round pick from North Carolina had some good moments on the practice field during training camp as well as in the scrimmage at Lindenwood University. But he had no catches in the Jets' game, and faced an uphill struggle on making the 53-man roster.

        MORE ON INJURIES

        As expected, Spagnuolo said wide receiver Donnie Avery (foot)...
        -08-23-2009, 03:52 PM
      • Bralidore(RAMMODE)
        Spagnuolo Sees Different Senior Bowl
        by Bralidore(RAMMODE)
        Wednesday, January 27, 2010
        By Nick Wagoner
        Senior Writer
        MOBILE, Ala. – Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo has been coaching in the NFL for 11 years. Of the many things that profession entails for the majority of coaches, one is an annual trip here for Senior Bowl week.
        That trip can only be skipped by a select few, those fortunate enough to have helped lead their teams to the final weekend or two of the NFL playoffs. Those are the coaches playing for championships and they gladly miss out on the opportunity to come to Ladd-Peebles Stadium to try to find the guys who could help them someday skip said event.
        Before traveling down here this week, Spagnuolo reflected on this very idea and came to the conclusion that he has been quite blessed in his coaching career.
        “I have been very, very lucky in this league,” Spagnuolo said. “This is year 11 for me and this is only I want to say like the fourth time I have been here because I have been lucky enough to be on teams that were in the playoffs.”
        Obviously, Spagnuolo and the Rams weren’t so fortunate this season but that doesn’t mean he’s upset about coming to Mobile to get acquainted with some of the players in this year’s draft class.
        Last week, Spagnuolo hit the one-year mark of his tenure as the head coach of the Rams. A lot has changed in that time.
        At last year’s Senior Bowl, Spagnuolo was holed up in a room at the Renaissance Battle House Hotel interviewing candidates for various spots on his coaching staff. He attended no practices and got no feel for any of the players in attendance at last year’s game.
        This year, Spagnuolo has had to, in some ways, re-learn the Senior Bowl process.
        In the early days of the week, Spagnuolo sat anonymously with the NFL masses in the stands next to General Manager Billy Devaney. There, Spagnuolo picked Devaney’s brain about the players on the field in an effort to get to know some of them.
        After a couple of days of that, Spagnuolo spent Wednesday morning standing on the sideline with Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin and his trusty pencil and notebook in hand.
        “I was picking his brain a little bit about his first couple of years and time as a defensive coordinator so we shared some thoughts there but we both stood there and said ‘You do realize we keep moving with the defensive guys,’” Spagnuolo said, laughing. “We do have our eyes on everyone, though.”
        Although the Spagnuolo and his staff were offered the opportunity to be one of the coaching staffs here this week, the invitation was declined. Detroit is coaching the North team while Miami is coaching the South squad.
        Spagnuolo said he put a lot of thought into the decision but ultimately didn’t feel like the time was right for his staff to take on the task.
        “I just felt like this year it was more advantageous for...
        -01-27-2010, 06:44 PM
      • RamWraith
        Rams minicamp with a plan
        by RamWraith
        BY Jim Thomas
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        Thursday, Apr. 02 2009
        For Steve Spagnuolo, it's never too early to look for leaders. His first
        minicamp as Rams head coach is as good a time to start as any.

        "We'll try to identify those leaders on our team, and hopefully, they'll step
        to the forefront in those tough times that you know you're going to have — no
        matter what team — in a 16-game season," Spagnuolo said. "I remember vividly
        going through it in Philadelphia. And I remember Brian Dawkins and Jeremiah
        Trotter, Donovan McNabb at a certain point in the season deciding that, 'Hey
        guys.' ... They did little things with the other players. Very unseen things,
        but it made a big difference."

        There certainly is a leadership void to be filled with the 2009 Rams. Veterans
        Torry Holt, Orlando Pace, Corey Chavous and Trent Green have been released.
        Other veterans, such as La'Roi Glover and Dane Looker, are free agents who have
        not been re-signed by the club. (The Rams may revisit signing Looker after the
        draft.)

        "I believe that the underlying leaders surface once there's no leadership in
        front of them," Spagnuolo said. "Hopefully, there's some undiscovered secret
        leaders on this roster right now."

        Perhaps it's newly re-signed cornerback Ron Bartell. New center Jason Brown. Or
        safety Oshiomogho Atogwe.

        But over the course of five minicamp practices over the next three days at Rams
        Park, Spagnuolo will be looking for leaders. (The Rams practice twice today,
        twice Friday, and once Saturday.)

        "You'll look to see which guys jump in front (of the lines), which guys are
        encouraging other people," Spagnuolo said. "When I'm sitting in the back of the
        meetings, I'm going to be looking for who's taking notes — actually sitting and
        writing notes. The best players that I've worked with are great note-takers."

        During his decade of coaching in the NFL, Spagnuolo has observed that the
        players who are meticulous in their preparation are the ones who last the
        longest in the league.

        "Because they've figured it out — that it's as much from the chin to the
        hairline as it is anything that they do with their body," Spagnuolo said.

        In trying to foster an atmosphere of togetherness and teamwork, Spagnuolo said
        leadership has to come from several sources.

        "No matter what, it's never going to be about one person," Spagnuolo said.
        "It's always going to be about the makeup of the whole team. Sometimes I think
        we all make mistakes when we focus on one position. We know the glory position
        and the one that's out in the forefront is the quarterback position, but...
        -04-02-2009, 04:12 AM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Rams' Spagnuolo Not Second-Guessing Decisions
        by r8rh8rmike
        Rams’ Spagnuolo not second-guessing decisions

        By R.B. FALLSTROM, AP Sports Writer
        13 hours, 16 minutes ago

        ST. LOUIS (AP)—A day after a three-point loss to the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo declined to second-guess decisions that factored into the defeat.

        Spagnuolo said on Monday that he still would have burned more than a half-minute off the clock at the end of the first half and settled for a field goal, and he still would have punted on fourth-and-1 late in the fourth quarter and counted on a defense that had given up huge chunks of yards on the ground to get the ball back.

        Instead of going for the big plays, the Rams played not to lose.

        Spagnuolo is 10-33 with five games to go in his third season. It’s a challenging stretch that could determine whether he keeps his job.

        The Rams (2-9) are 13-point underdogs at San Francisco this week and, counting the rematch in the season finale against the *****, the next five opponents are a combined 38-17.

        “Do you mean, how do I handle this San Francisco game right here this week?” Spagnuolo said. “You guys know how I’m wired.”

        The coach believes players are still buying in, if a bit beat down.

        “You have to forget about it and move on, but as a competitor they’re going to really get under your skin,” middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “I hate losing, I hate losing, and am never going to get used to losing.

        “Nobody should in this locker room, in this organization.”

        There’s no looking back for Spagnuolo. He wouldn’t have taken a few more shots at the end zone and tried to give the Rams a 14-3 cushion before halftime. He had to be talked into allowing one try before bringing on the field goal unit.

        “It was a conservative approach, no question,” Spagnuolo said. “And you could have gone another way.”

        In this case, Spagnuolo got the sense the offense was reeling. After Brandon Lloyd’s 26-yard reception to the 3 with 43 seconds left in the first half, the Rams went in reverse with a botched play call that resulted in a false-start penalty but easily could have been whistled for delay of game, and Sam Bradford was sacked for a 9-yard loss the next play.

        “Obviously, we put ourselves in a pretty bad situation,” Bradford said.

        Spagnuolo wouldn’t say what happened on the play from the 3, but indicated a lot had gone wrong.

        “There were a lot of things going on,” the coach said. “There were too many issues. We need to get that play off.”

        Spagnuolo also revealed he was thinking field goal right after Lloyd’s catch, going through “what if” scenarios in his mind that only got reinforced after two failures.

        “Do we want to get a touchdown? Yeah,” Spagnuolo said. “I was going to bring it all the way down...
        -11-29-2011, 03:06 PM
      • r8rh8rmike
        Spagnuolo Denies Exercising Caution
        by r8rh8rmike
        Spagnuolo denies exercising caution

        BY JIM THOMAS
        Tuesday, October 19, 2010

        Ineffective? Sure. Conservative? Not so. At least that's how coach Steve Spagnuolo viewed the Rams' offensive approach to start the second half Sunday against San Diego.

        "I know what you want me to do, you want me to dissect the play-calling," Spagnuolo said Monday. "I think we mixed it up fairly well. The only one that Pat (Shurmur) and I talked about that we might have wanted back was the third-and-2."

        That was a reference to the Rams' second possession of the second half. On third-and-2 from the St. Louis 28, running back Steven Jackson was limited to a 1-yard gain and the Rams had to punt.

        "But other than that, we're always going to try to establish the run and get Steven going," Spagnuolo said. "Sometimes it happens. Sometimes it doesn't. There were a couple third downs we would've liked to have converted. But we didn't.

        "What we were hoping for coming out of the locker room was to do something with that first drive. We had an incompletion on the first down. So now you're second-and-10, we just never recovered from that. But fortunately for the football team, the defense kept us in the game while the offense kind of got on track, and then the offense did what they did in the fourth quarter."

        Other than his obvious people skills and leadership traits, Spagnuolo is a head coach in large part because of his defensive acumen, particularly in two seasons as the New York Giants' defensive coordinator. He's much more hands-on when it comes to the defensive side of the ball. But that doesn't mean he doesn't make a suggestion now and then for Shurmur — the Rams' offensive coordinator — or convey an overall offensive philosophy that he wants carried out on that side of the ball.

        But at his Monday media session, Spagnuolo said he did not instruct Shurmur to throttle it down on offense during the halftime intermission.

        "No," Spagnuolo said. "That conversation did not occur. We were staying aggressive, and the game was the game. It was 17-3, correct? It was a two-score game. So the game was not out of hand by any means. What you really want to do is get it to three scores, and then I think things change in the second half."

        As far as any offensive input he might have had as the third quarter unfolded, Spagnuolo indicated that he was heavily involved with the defense at that time. What was he doing with the defense?

        "Just hanging out," Spagnuolo joked. "Talking about summer jobs and stuff. I don't even remember but I know I was over there. I was probably yapping about something."

        In terms of run-pass ratio, the Rams have been tilted decidedly toward the pass this season, with 61 percent of their offensive plays...
        -10-19-2010, 01:20 PM
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