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  • Rams' Spagnuolo ready for new challenge

    ST. LOUIS — New St. Louis Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo knows the easy part is over.

    "It's nice to be 3-1 after the preseason, but like I told the players last night, the score counted when we played the games," Spagnuolo said Friday, one day after the Rams beat the Kansas City Chiefs 17-9. "It doesn't matter now. We're moving on.

    "I'm perfectly aware that all of this is a honeymoon period. The real challenge is upcoming."

    That challenge begins for St. Louis on Sept. 13, when the Rams open the season in Seattle. The Seahawks have beaten the Rams eight straight times. Then again, a lot of people have beaten the Rams lately, as St. Louis has won just five games the past two seasons.

    No one is expecting Spagnuolo to change that overnight. He does like the way the team's mental approach heading into the season.

    "I think we got a bunch of hungry guys. I think it's good to be hungry. When you get complacent, that's not a good thing. I do think it's a hungry football team. We've talked a lot about it and I think the guy's have embraced it."

    However, plenty of question marks still remain. For instance, who will be under center when the Rams take the field in Seattle. Nine-year veteran Marc Bulger is the starter, but Bulger has been nursing a broken pinkie finger and has not played.

    Bulger says he will be ready to start the season and Spagnuolo is counting on him.

    "If he's ready to go, he goes," Spagnuolo said. "He threw in pregame last night. He felt comfortable throwing. It still comes down to taking the snap."

    Another newcomer to St. Louis, Kyle Boller has started in Bulger's absence.

    Another area of concern is the running game — on both sides of the ball. The Rams allowed more than 150 yards per game on the ground last season, and that area looked suspect during the preseason, particularly against Atlanta, when Falcons starters gouged Rams for two easy scores.

    "We know if we had to pick out one area that we need to improve on both sides, it's in the running game, whether it's running it or stopping the run," Spagnuolo said. "I thought Atlanta came out and really took it to us. I don't think anybody felt great about that. And yet when challenged, the team bounced back against Cincinnati."

    The Rams have yet to make any final roster moves. Spagnuolo said that he expects to make those by midday Saturday, but noted that the coaches were still evaluating players and positions.

    One roster spot that might open up is on the defensive line. Spagnuolo reported Friday that 2007 first-round pick Adam Carriker suffered a "significant" injury to his right shoulder. He expects to have a final determination on Carriker's status Saturday.

    Spagnuolo said the final cuts will be the toughest.

    "We could use two more preseason games to figure it out," he said. "But we have what we have and we'll have to evaluate it based on that."

  • #2
    Re: Rams' Spagnuolo ready for new challenge

    "If he's ready to go, he goes," Spagnuolo said. "He threw in pregame last night. He felt comfortable throwing. It still comes down to taking the snap."
    This worries me, and it's obviously something that's on Spags' mind too. Bulger has yet to take a snap since the injury and it could be a recipe for disaster if he doesn't get complete confidence in something that should be automatic, without having to think about.

    Hopefully I'm worrying about nothing. I'll feel much better when I hear that Bulger has taken plenty of snaps in practice and that there are no problems.


    Related Topics


    • r8rh8rmike
      Spagnuolo Puts Blame On Himself
      by r8rh8rmike
      Spagnuolo puts blame on himself

      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.


      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.


      As expected, Spagnuolo said wide receiver Donnie Avery (foot)...
      -08-23-2009, 03:52 PM
    • Rambos
      Rams Coach Steve Spagnuolo Takes Blame For Loss
      by Rambos
      Coach Steve Spagnuolo blamed himself for the St. Louis Rams' ugly first quarter Friday night, saying he was guilty of not having his team ready to play. The Rams (1-1) fell behind 14-0 and could never make up the lost ground as they fell 20-13 to the Atlanta Falcons at the Edward Jones Dome. "I think it's all on the head coach with the first quarter," Spagnuolo said. "I don't think I had the team ready to play in the first quarter. I'm going to take the onus on that. We need to start the game better, especially against a good football team." sked how he was going to make sure the Rams were ready when they travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals on Thursday, Spagnuolo said he didn't know. "I'm going to be evaluating myself all the time," Spagnuolo said, "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 is not ready early like that, it's on the head coach. So we'll figure out a way."

      Source: Belleville News Democrat
      -08-23-2009, 06:25 PM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Poor Tackling Concerns Spagnuolo
      by r8rh8rmike
      Poor tackling concerns Spagnuolo

      August 23, 2010

      As coach Steve Spagnuolo put it Sunday, a day after the Rams evened their preseason record at 1-1 by edging the Browns 19-17, "A win is a win." But the victory had its blemishes, Spagnuolo pointed out.

      "It's not all pretty," he said. "So there are things we've got to work on."

      Perhaps topping that list is tackling. The Rams whiffed on a bunch of them in the steady rain in Cleveland.

      "I did not like overall the way we tackled," Spagnuolo said. "Way too many missed tackles. And that can't happen. It doesn't matter what the elements are or what the field's like. Guys have got to make those tackles. …

      "I think the guys know exactly what the issues were, because we talk about it all the time. We're high on our tackles."

      After watching the game film, Spagnuolo put together a clip of five or six tackles that he said were executed perfectly. He plans to highlight those when he meets with his defense today.

      "I'm going to show them those first and say, 'Hey, let's just do this all the time,'" Spagnuolo said. "I don't think this is a major, major issue, because we have some prideful guys. We're doing things the right way; we've just got to do it all the time."
      -08-23-2010, 10:42 AM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Moving Ahead
      by r8rh8rmike
      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...
      -08-16-2009, 03:51 PM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Rams Are Ready: "They've done everything we've asked", Spagnuolo Says
      by r8rh8rmike
      09.11.2009 2:28 pm
      Rams are ready: “They’ve done everything we’ve asked,” Spagnuolo says
      By Bill Coats
      St. Louis Post-Dispatch

      Some six months after the start of the offseason conditioning program, the St. Louis Rams have arrived at the cusp of their season-opener. A relatively light 90-minute practice wrapped up on-the-field preparations for Sunday’s clash with the Seahawks in Seattle.

      Rookie coach Steve Spagnuolo said his club is ready.

      “They’ve done everything we’ve asked with a lot of enthusiasm,” he said. “There’s no guarantee that pays off in wins, but I’ll tell you what, I’d rather go in feeling that way than the other way.”

      Spagnuolo stressed that the credit for a strong ramp-up to the season should be shared.

      “All the coaches, all the players, the whole organization, everybody in this building I think has prepared really well,” he said. “It’s time to play a game here in 48 hours, and hopefully we’re where we need to be and we can win a football team.”

      Notes & quotes:

      *S Craig Dahl (hamstring) and G John Greco (wrist) won’t play Sunday. LB Larry Grant (knee), who Spagnuolo ruled out earlier in the week, has made a rapid recovery and is listed as “questionable.”

      *QB Marc Bulger took nearly all the first-team snaps and reported no ill effects from his broken right pinky finger. “I asked him how he felt,” Spagnuolo said, “and Marc said, ‘Coach, I’m ready to go.’”

      *Here’s a guess at the Rams inactives for Sunday: Dahl, Greco, Grant, G Roger Allen, T Eric Young, S Anthony Smith, DT LaJuan Ramsey and Keith Null (third quarterback).

      *The Rams (0-8) haven’t beaten the Seahawks since 2004, when they did so three times — twice in the regular season, and then in the playoffs.

      *The Rams haven’t won a season-opener on the road since 2001 (20-17 at Philadelphia).

      All for now . . .
      -09-11-2009, 02:15 PM