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  • Rams Developing Identity

    Rams Developing Identity
    Friday, August 28, 2009


    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    The process of building a team nearly from scratch is a long and arduous task that can manifest over the course of multiple seasons. But the idea of building an identity begins right away and it can show itself at any given moment.

    Perhaps there is still plenty of growing to do for the new-look Rams but subtle signs of just what this team could look like in 2009 and beyond are starting to emerge.

    Never were those signs more imminent in this first year under coach Steve Spagnuolo than during Thursday night’s preseason victory against the Bengals in Cincinnati.

    The Rams emerged from that game with a 24-21 win on the strength of four turnovers, six sacks and a controlled offense that didn’t turn the ball over. Those are the qualities Spagnuolo is looking for as his first edition attempts to take Spagnuolo’s vision and make it a reality.

    “In a nut shell, I’d say a focused, disciplined, tough football team,” Spagnuolo said. “And we have certain measurements that we’ve talked about after every game on how we measure focus and discipline and how we measure physical toughness. I blurt them out to them after every game, did we meet it, did we not meet it? And I think the team’s embracing that I think they want to be that.”

    Signs of that team personality were evident in Thursday’s game. Whether it’s the hustle of Jason Smith to help quarterback Brock Berlin up after he took a particularly hard hit or the relentless attempts to pound the ball on the ground on offense or the trademark forced fumble by free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who the Rams are is beginning to come into focus.

    Even Spagnuolo took notice at halftime.

    “I would go back and say that I really thought the way they approached the game, the mindset,” Spagnuolo said. “I told them this morning – I was really impressed at halftime. You know the NFL gives you a 12-minute window and you go in and you make the adjustments and usually you’re kind of scrambling a little bit. Our guys were up, standing up ready to go back out there with five minutes to go. They just wanted to get back out and play. I thought that was pretty revealing about this group and this team.”

    That act might seem simple for most teams but for a group that a year ago might have reacted completely different after falling behind early, it’s a step in the right direction.

    “We couldn’t wait at all to get right back out there,” center Jason Brown said. “That’s how much enthusiasm we have.”
    In some ways, building a team personality is like a puzzle. For it all to come together as a team, it first must come together in parts. Usually those parts come by way of respective units.

    For anyone curious about the defensive part of that puzzle, the difference from last week’s game against Atlanta to Thursday night was the very definition of where the Rams are trying to go.

    The Rams defense came up with four takeaways, even going so far as to scoop and score on a 73-yard fumble return from safety James Butler. And while Butler made a big play finding the end zone; it was the effort of Atogwe, who forced the fumble, that shined brightest.

    After stripping the ball loose from Cincinnati running back Bernard Scott, Atogwe escorted Butler down the field, blocking no less than two Bengals on the way to clearing a path to the end zone.

    In three preseason games, the Rams have nine takeaways, eight more than they had in the 2008 preseason.

    In addition, the defense was in Cincinnati’s backfield all night, coming up with six sacks from six players. Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole, from his new perch in the upstairs box, unleashed some of the creative blitzes and packages that will become a part of the defensive fabric.

    “Our personality is to stop the run and pressure the passer,” Butler said. “We try to implement that in practice and scoop every ball up on the ground, fumbles and stripping the ball every day. And we just want to be a turnover hungry defense. Turn the ball over, stop the run and pressure the passer, that’s what we want to be.”

    Offensively, the Rams also flashed glimpses of the type of team they will be despite missing key components because of injury. After falling behind 7-0, the Rams promptly marched 71 yards to tie the game on Samkon Gado’s 16-yard touchdown run.

    That drive featured six runs and four passes as the Rams controlled the line of scrimmage in the run game and in protecting quarterback Kyle Boller.

    In working in tandem with the defensive mindset, it’s also imperative for the offense to turn those takeaways into points, preferably touchdowns. The Rams were able to do that on their second possession as Gado scored on a 2-yard shuffle pass from Boller to give the Rams a lead they would not relinquish.

    “We are definitely getting an attitude out there,” Brown said. “We definitely want to come out and start strong. That’s what we have to do this next game and get started in the regular season and start fast.”

    The Rams have converted eight of their nine takeaways into points in the three preseason games, resulting in 40 points on four touchdowns and four field goals. To put that in perspective, the Rams scored 45 points on takeaways in the entire 2008 season.

    Of course, not everything was perfect against the Bengals according to Spagnuolo. The Rams struggled on special teams as punter Donnie Jones had a couple of low line drive punts that helped lead to big returns and kicker Josh Brown just missed a couple of long field goal attempts.

    More disappointing to Spagnuolo was the team’s 10 penalties, something that goes against the idea of being a disciplined team. That doesn’t mean there aren’t some forms of discipline on the film of those first three contests.

    “We have to get better on special teams, we know we made some mistakes there and the penalties did kill us,” Spagnuolo said. “Had we not had the four turnovers, I don’t know if we could have overcome the 10 penalties – that’s tough. In the NFL you can’t give people free yardage. We’ll try to get those things ironed out this week.”

    In the next few days, the Rams will begin to nail down just who the players that will help form the team’s identity will be.

    Spagnuolo will meet with General Manager Billy Devaney as well as the coaching staff and personnel department to begin the process of chopping the roster down to the final 53 from the current 80.

    Teams are required to chop five players down to 75 by Tuesday and the final cuts come on Sept. 5 when the final rosters are set.

    And for as much as performance on the field comes into play in those decisions, it’s fair to say one of the deciding factors on those choices will come down to where those players fit into the shared vision of Spagnuolo, Devaney and the Rams’ ultimate blueprint.

    “I thought the approach to the game was really, really good,” Spagnuolo said. “I didn’t like the way the game started out, but we did recover from the adversity. I talked about that last night. That was very encouraging. I thought some of the things the offense did in running the football early was encouraging. I don’t know if the overall stats said that but there were some pieces in there, I’m talking about with the first groups now that kind of looked like we envisioned it. Running the football effectively, moving the offense down the field, finishing with a touchdown, the defense coming back out and stopping people, so all that was good…So some of those things are what we use to measure it, but we hone in on that every game.”

  • #2
    Re: Rams Developing Identity

    If we can keep doing well in getting takeaways and keep it down on our end I believe we may surprise some people this season. Most of the time teams beat themselves.
    :ramlogo:

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams Developing Identity

      this team is scoring points also,when is the last time this team has averaged 20 points per game,so there has been improvement all around.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Rams Developing Identity

        Originally posted by jkramsfan View Post
        this team is scoring points also,when is the last time this team has averaged 20 points per game,so there has been improvement all around.
        Has Bulger lead the starters on a touchdown drive yet? I'm already worried about him, not so much because of something he's done but because of what Boller has done. While Boller throws picks, it's because he takes chances and tries to make plays. I'm afraid that when Bulger gets back in there there will be that same boring offense that can't score TD's and in the redzone because he's unwilling to risk throws.

        If we see that crap again, I pray that Spags has the fortitude to pull him. I do not want to sit through another season, ruined by a gun shy QB.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Rams Developing Identity

          Originally posted by btimsah View Post
          Has Bulger lead the starters on a touchdown drive yet? I'm already worried about him, not so much because of something he's done but because of what Boller has done. While Boller throws picks, it's because he takes chances and tries to make plays. I'm afraid that when Bulger gets back in there there will be that same boring offense that can't score TD's and in the redzone because he's unwilling to risk throws.

          If we see that crap again, I pray that Spags has the fortitude to pull him. I do not want to sit through another season, ruined by a gun shy QB.
          Why do you want to continue with the Bulger topic?

          At least give the guy a chance to return so you can have some actual substance to critique.

          I agree with some of your issues inregards to Bulger. However, this is getting to be a little too much. It's starting to feel like kicking a guy when he's down. Why so much hostility towards the guy.

          If he continues to struggle then you will get your wish and then you can beat up the next starting QB.

          Go Rams

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Rams Developing Identity

            Originally posted by Dominating D View Post
            Why do you want to continue with the Bulger topic?

            At least give the guy a chance to return so you can have some actual substance to critique.

            I agree with some of your issues inregards to Bulger. However, this is getting to be a little too much. It's starting to feel like kicking a guy when he's down. Why so much hostility towards the guy.

            If he continues to struggle then you will get your wish and then you can beat up the next starting QB.

            Go Rams
            Well said. When the season begins, the starters should be afforded a clean slate, a chance to "develop an identity", and the opportunity to take a few snaps before anyone tries to tear them down.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Rams Developing Identity

              Originally posted by Dominating D View Post
              Why do you want to continue with the Bulger topic?

              At least give the guy a chance to return so you can have some actual substance to critique.

              I agree with some of your issues inregards to Bulger. However, this is getting to be a little too much. It's starting to feel like kicking a guy when he's down. Why so much hostility towards the guy.

              If he continues to struggle then you will get your wish and then you can beat up the next starting QB.

              Go Rams
              How Bulger performs at QB is essential to our supposed new identity, that's the only reason why I brought him up. I think we've seen a lot of good, positive changes on offense with a different QB at the helm. I fear that once Bulger is back in there the same problems will rear their ugly head. Our line will be the problem again. Make no mistake, the only reason the offensive line has looked better is because the backup get's the ball out much quicker, has a stronger arm, is more confident and mobile. I could be wrong but the negative, analytical person in me fears this reality.

              That's simply my opinion.

              It's a rather odd situation, when on a forum dedicated to the Rams it's "risky" to bring up the starting QB's name for fear of differing opinions. It's unreasonable to think we can discuss the ability of this team, and/or their new identity without it including our QB who's been struggling as of late.

              I'm a realist. I say it as I see it. If that hurts peoples feelings, then so be it. They will type things I don't agree with and then we're even. lol

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Rams Developing Identity

                Originally posted by btimsah View Post
                Has Bulger lead the starters on a touchdown drive yet?
                You mean in the one preseason game that he played in before getting hurt?


                The identity I want to see would be defined by Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Rams Developing Identity

                  Originally posted by btimsah View Post
                  How Bulger performs at QB is essential to our supposed new identity, that's the only reason why I brought him up. I think we've seen a lot of good, positive changes on offense with a different QB at the helm. I fear that once Bulger is back in there the same problems will rear their ugly head. Our line will be the problem again. Make no mistake, the only reason the offensive line has looked better is because the backup get's the ball out much quicker, has a stronger arm, is more confident and mobile. I could be wrong but the negative, analytical person in me fears this reality.

                  That's simply my opinion.

                  It's a rather odd situation, when on a forum dedicated to the Rams it's "risky" to bring up the starting QB's name for fear of differing opinions. It's unreasonable to think we can discuss the ability of this team, and/or their new identity without it including our QB who's been struggling as of late.

                  I'm a realist. I say it as I see it. If that hurts peoples feelings, then so be it. They will type things I don't agree with and then we're even. lol

                  The problem is you want to blame everything on Bulger.

                  Hey, my chocolate milk is sour. Damn Bulger. Hey, I stub my toe on the table. Damn it Bulger.

                  It's way too much in my opinion.

                  Like AV said why can they not be know as Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers.

                  Sounds good to me.
                  The identity I want to is Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers. 15 Minutes Ago 01:22 AM
                  The identity I want to is Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers. 15 Minutes Ago 01:22 AM
                  The identity I want to is Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers. 15 Minutes Ago 01:22 AM

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Rams Developing Identity

                    Originally posted by Dominating D View Post
                    The problem is you want to blame everything on Bulger.

                    Hey, my chocolate milk is sour. Damn Bulger. Hey, I stub my toe on the table. Damn it Bulger.

                    It's way too much in my opinion.

                    Like AV said why can they not be know as Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers.

                    Sounds good to me.
                    The identity I want to is Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers. 15 Minutes Ago 01:22 AM
                    The identity I want to is Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers. 15 Minutes Ago 01:22 AM
                    The identity I want to is Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers. 15 Minutes Ago 01:22 AM
                    So, saying our QB is responsible for the new identity our team takes is somehow blaming Bulger for everything?

                    That's a new one.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Rams Developing Identity

                      Originally posted by AvengerRam View Post
                      You mean in the one preseason game that he played in before getting hurt?


                      The identity I want to see would be defined by Steven Jackson pounding the ball on offense, and the defense forcing turnovers.
                      We'll see about Bulger, soon enough. But as for running the ball and defense - That's what everyone wants. But we (of course) need our QB to be a threat throwing the ball in order to open the lanes up for Action Jackson and Samkon (OHMY!) Gado.

                      Only time will tell.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Rams Developing Identity

                        Originally posted by btimsah View Post
                        So, saying our QB is responsible for the new identity our team takes is somehow blaming Bulger for everything?

                        That's a new one.
                        Dress it up anyway you want. Call it what you want. There is a right time and place for just about antything. But to open up a discussion regarding Bulger when the thread is about developing identity and insisting that his performance will decide the identity of the team is not one of those times IMHO. I just do not believe this is true and your vision is so limited to one guy. Why are you acting like you can not discuss your concerns about Bulger? You have had plenty of discussions regarding Bulger with just about anyone willing to join the debate. Just because some of us have grown tired of the same ole song and dance does not mean we are limiting your attempts it just means we see no value in it since Bulger has been sidelined for several weeks due to injury. Why keep revisiting the same concerns over and over? It gets real boring very to discuss the same concerns especially when you have no power to change it. All we fans can do is wait and see if the concerns carry into the season and then hope the coaching staff is ready and willing to address it. So for now I am going to take a break from the Bulger debate until we have new information.

                        Like I said I share some of the same concerns you have about Bulger. However, this team is much bigger than 1 player and Bulger could have a probowl year and the Rams still struggle to win games.

                        So my point is why not look at the big picture. "The entire team" This team can develop an identity no matter how Bulger plays. Let them build on the strenghts they have.

                        GO RAMS
                        Last edited by Dominating D; -08-31-2009, 07:29 AM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Rams Developing Identity

                          Originally posted by Dominating D View Post
                          Dress it up anyway you want. Call it what you want. There is a right time and place for just about antything. But to open up a discussion regarding Bulger when the thread is about developing identity and insisting that his performance will decide the identity of the team is not one of those times IMHO. I just do not believe this is true and your vision is so limited to one guy. Why are you acting like you can not discuss your concerns about Bulger? You have had plenty of discussions regarding Bulger with just about anyone willing to join the debate. Just because some of us have grown tired of the same ole song and dance does not mean we are limiting your attempts it just means we see no value in it since Bulger has been sidelined for several weeks due to injury. Why keep revisiting the same concerns over and over? It gets real boring very to discuss the same concerns especially when you have no power to change it. All we fans can do is wait and see if the concerns carry into the season and then hope the coaching staff is ready and willing to address it. So for now I am going to take a break from the Bulger debate until we have new information.

                          Like I said I share some of the same concerns you have about Bulger. However, this team is much bigger than 1 player and Bulger could have a probowl year and the Rams still struggle to win games.

                          So my point is why not look at the big picture. "The entire team" This team can develop an identity no matter how Bulger plays. Let them build on the strenghts they have.

                          GO RAMS
                          Bulger will be crucial in deciding the identity of our new west coast offense. Period. I am not going to ignore him. I disagree with how you interpreted my post and/or motives. It's rather sad that we have to tip toe around Bulger. I won't do it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Rams Developing Identity

                            Originally posted by btimsah View Post
                            Bulger will be crucial in deciding the identity of our new west coast offense. Period. I am not going to ignore him. I disagree with how you interpreted my post and/or motives. It's rather sad that we have to tip toe around Bulger. I won't do it.
                            Its not about ignoring Bulger, its about not ignoring everybody else because you feel the need to vent about Bulger all the time.

                            Whilst most of us (including Bulger himself) accept that Bulger has to step up this season, we're not quite convinced that he's quite the team-killing Jonah that you consistently make him out to be. Its fairly hard to interpret your comments any differently.

                            You misplaced your emphasis when you stated that Bulger would be instrumental in defining the west-coast offence. This thread was about the Rams as a team developing an ethos, an identity, which some of us have been praying they'd do for some time now. Bulger will undoubtedly be a part of that team and as our QB part of developing that identity but again, you're focusing on him to the exclusion of everything else.

                            I want to see a football team that hits hard, plays to the whistle, runs the ball and has a defence that can win games on its own and set the tone of a game in our own dome.

                            Bulger,Boller or Berlin trying to force the ball in order to 'make' something (usually the wrong thing) happen isn't on that menu. Can't imagine its on Shurmurs or Spagnuolo's either.

                            I think we're headed the right way.
                            Last edited by Fat Pang; -08-31-2009, 10:14 PM. Reason: Less Bulger, more identity and spelling.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Rams Developing Identity

                              Everybody knows that the new Rams identity is going to be defined by a aggressive defense and the running of Steven Jackson. Yes Bulger obviously has a part to play being the QB, but just because he is the QB doesnt mean he defines the identity of the team. Do you think the QB is important in defining, say, the Ravens? Of course not, its the defense that defines the Ravens.
                              @EssexRam_

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                                While that opening stretch hasn’t resulted yet in a victory, Spagnuolo and locker room leaders such as Jackson are doing everything they can to keep the ship headed in the right direction.

                                For the league’s fourth-youngest team (average age of right around 26), the rebuilding process can be slow and painful. And when dealing with youth and inexperience, it’s imperative for the people who have been around – the veterans and the coaching staff – to keep hammering away at the details until they become second nature.

                                It’s a painstaking process but it must be done. And though Spagnuolo can’t send any messages with his play on the field, it is his job to continue to take the temperature of his team and find ways to keep everyone’s head focused on moving on to the next step and not allowing any losses to fester.

                                “I believe in this group,” Spagnuolo said. We can get out of this and work our way out of this. It’s going to take a lot of work. Nothing I am going to say is going to be different than what I have been saying all year long. Those games are done, we move on to Minnesota. We try to learn from it and we try to get better as a football team.”

                                Indeed, Spagnuolo has been true to his message from day one, never altering the tone or even the volume of what he wants to convey to his team even in the face of adversity.

                                Following Sunday’s loss to San Francisco in which many of the problems that have plagued the Rams in the...
                                -10-05-2009, 07:32 PM
                              • r8rh8rmike
                                Rams Keep Effort Up
                                by r8rh8rmike
                                Rams Keep Effort Up
                                Monday, December 21, 2009


                                By Nick Wagoner
                                Senior Writer

                                As the ball came shooting out of the hands of Houston running back Arian Foster following a 13-yard catch and run, the eyes of rookie Rams defensive tackle Darell Scott immediately got large.

                                It was as though Scott was about to sit down to a big meal, which, coincidentally, was something he’d been physically unable to do even had he wanted to in the days leading up to Sunday’s 16-13 loss to the Texans.

                                Scott reacted immediately and hauled all of his 6’3, 312 pound frame as fast as it could go from near the line of scrimmage the 20 or so yards required to pounce on the ball.

                                Ultimately, Scott fell on it at the Rams’ 8 but the fact that Scott was well enough to chase it down at all was nothing short of a testament to the effort these Rams are still putting in despite the 1-13 record attached to their name.

                                “You talk about an effort play from a game that I don’t know if he even ate anything the three days before it,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “That was a pretty good indicator of what those guys have inside of them.”

                                Effort doesn’t amount to a whole heck of a lot in the NFL. In fact, it’s probably the minimum requirement for what it takes to win an NFL game. Most teams that find themselves playing into January start with effort as the baseline and build from there.

                                As with most things in life, when something goes wrong, the easy thing to do is give up, regardless of how well compensated you are or whatever prestige might go with a particular endeavor.

                                For the Rams, that opportunity to call it a day has presented itself time and again this season. Yet, for many reasons, they have refused to pack it in and go quietly into the offseason.

                                “That’s what I expressed to them in the locker room,” Spagnuolo said. “That means a great deal to me, the staff. I know it’s not easy especially for the vets. It’s not an easy thing to go through, not for any of us and yet they are able to dust themselves off, come back to work on Wednesday and get ready to play a game.”

                                While that hard work and effort has amounted to just one win and a whole lot of respect from Spagnuolo for the players, those efforts aren’t going completely unnoticed around the world of football.

                                To wit:

                                CBS analyst and former Steelers coach Bill Cowher on the Rams: “The Rams are playing hard every week, and that is a reflection of their coach. I've been watching film on them and they are playing hard. As coaches, we are judged on wins and losses, but at this time of year, you're tired and beat up, and if a team is still putting out a good effort it's a tribute to their coach.”

                                Or this excerpt from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback column on cnnsi.com: “I love...
                                -12-22-2009, 06:23 PM
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