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Nick's Mailbag - October 13

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  • Nick's Mailbag - October 13

    Nick's Mailbag - October 13
    Tuesday, October 13, 2009

    Lyndell Holmes

    Nick, thanks for all the info. My question this week is kind of disheartening. With the team as bad it is how do we expect to get better? We can draft high and get the best young players available but do we expect them to stay when they become free agents. I don't. The Rams can't expect to get the top free agents because players may want a big payday but they also want to win.
    One last question, why not start the rookie at QB? Neither vet can get the offense moving and he could use the work. What are your thoughts?

    NW: The Rams have already showed a more willing approach to keep accomplished young players and I would expect that to continue.

    As GM Billy Devaney said his chat last week, the Rams like Nullís potential but heís nowhere close to being ready to contribute at this point.

    Jimmy Christensen

    Do you think it would be worth while trying to get Vince Young from the Titans seeing as he is not playing for them? Or would they not want to trade him?

    NW: Young is likely to be back in the starting lineup for the Titans this week and I donít think thereíd be much interest anyway. He has to re-prove himself to Tennessee.

    Jonathan Joseph

    John Clayton of ESPN fame is reporting that the Rams are in preliminary talks with three teams concerning the possibility of trading Steven Jackson. The three teams are Dallas, San Francisco, and Miami. Billy is asking for two #1's, a #2, #3 and a second round quality WR or two #1's, a #2, and two #3's for Jackson. Clayton reported that San Francisco has offered Michael Crabtree, #2 and #3 in the 2010 draft and a #1 in the 2011 draft but Billy is holding out to entertain Dallas and Miami offers because he does not want the Rams to have to face Steven Jackson twice a year. There was no mention of what Dallas or Miami are offering but John stated that the packages would be something similar in mostly draft picks. How true is this Nick? Is it just a rumor?

    NW: To my knowledge, that is completely false and ridiculous. Salary cap issues alone make it implausible and remind me again where the need for a high-salaried running back is on teams that already have the running backs those teams have? I have my doubts that was ever reported by someone as plugged in as Clayton. Sounds like an internet rumor to me.

    Tyler Byers

    Hey Nick,

    I understand all the frustration surrounding the Rams season so far, and the pains that come with a franchise rebuilding. I just wanted to say I have faith in the Rams and the staff they have in place to turn things around for the future. I do have a quick question:

    Marshall Faulk was one of the most intelligent football players on the field, and knew the responsibility of every person on the field. Has he shown any interest in a coaching job in the NFL?

    NW: Faulk has stated before that he has no interest in becoming a coach. A more likely scenario should he elect to leave television is he could end up in a front office role for somebody somewhere down the line.

    John Ros

    Hi Nick! I'm a long time Rams fan from LA; back to the Vince Ferragamo days. I've notice that the team's biggest problem is taking themselves out of games with untimely penalties and turnovers. The defense is coming together well but the offense just can't seem to overcome these mistakes. Seems like the problem is more mental than physical. What's you insight on what the coaching staff are doing to rectify these mental errors? Thanks for your continued feedback.

    NW: Thereís no doubt that those are the issues that need correcting, coach Steve Spagnuolo has said so himself on many occasions. I can tell you this; the Rams work those things hard during the week. The defense is taught to try to get the ball out as much as possible in practice in an effort for them to get better at getting takeaways and make the offense better at protecting the ball. Officials work practices on Thursday and Friday to try to hammer home the point about not committing penalties. The coaching staff can only do so much and emphasize it so much, though. Ultimately itís up to the players to correct those errors.

    Gabriel Garza

    Hi Nick,
    I am a long time reader of your work but this is my first question. For the last few weeks there have been many questions and comments re talent level, and injuries, and this being a very young team. I feel this is a very competitive team for the first half; at least they are in the game. The second half is like watching a different team out there. My opinion on getting beat in the second half is coaching and stamina. What is being done to get this team into shape so they are not a step late on defense in the third and fourth quarter? And what is being done to prevent this young coaching staff from being out coached?
    Miami brought in Parcells as a consultant and it made a difference.

    NW: You make a good point, Gabriel. The Rams have been right there for most of the first halves this year and then been unable to get it going in the second half. I donít think itís a conditioning issue so much as just being unable to piece it together for 60 minutes. When one area seems to be doing well, thereís a breakdown elsewhere. Essentially, it comes down to being consistent in all phases of the game for all 60 minutes. Devaney made reference to it last week and it remains true every week.

    Longtime Fan Callahan

    After turning over 60% of the roster, and being 0-4 with games ahead against the Saints, Vikings, and Colts, isn't it time to call this what it is: the continuation of the re-building process? Can we start Null and see what he has?

    NW: This is a rebuilding process. It has been called that many times before, in this space even. Itís going to take time. See earlier response on Null.

    Gene Oliver

    Hi Nick, Rams fan since Gabriel was the QB, It's hard to watch this rebuilding process again, I hope they know what they are doing it's killing us long time fans. Your best guess Nick when we might see a turn around? Old Rams fan running out of time!!! Thanks

    NW: Sooner, rather than later. But it will take some time.

    Justin Hernandez

    Iím going to try to help lighten the spirits of Rams fans as best as I can. What Iíve seen this season is the ability to run the ball effectively. Also the defense usually opens with great energy (of course losing by the end due to the fact that they are continuously on the field). Now for my question, will the rams go after a second back in the offseason to bring a one-two punch to the backfield? I personally see this as an added benefit to both sides of the football with time of possession and keeping Jackson alive, not to mention usually the most successful NFL teams run a two back system. Thanks for your insight and time nick.

    NW: Jackson is a franchise back and while the Rams would like to add some more depth at the position, this isnít going to become a two-back system where carries are shared like say the Giants. Jackson is and will remain the man and the Rams will fill in depth behind him.

    Rich Williams

    Hello Nick,

    Obviously we're re-building, and as a life-long fan I have all the patience needed to see this through. The reality is this season is pretty much lost unless we run the table. Then why don't we experiment a little and see what we have in the youth movement - Boller, Null, Scott, etc. and even consider changing some positions for next season (can't change mid-season, I'm not totally nuts). I wrote you earlier this year about considering Chris Long at MLB - this was before the draft and picking up Laurinaitis, also moving Carriker to his natural DE position...and you basically laughed at me for suggesting it. Easy for me to play arm chair coach from DC - I would just like to see all options on the table so that in 2011 we can really make a run at this thing. I don't see the "outside the box" mentality or creativity with this staff that someone like, say Mike Martz, would scheme-up.

    Your thoughts? I know - you think I'm crazy...go ahead and blast away.

    NW: No blasting here, Rich, I love the enthusiasm and passion. However, I think some of the ideas are a bit counterproductive. You want to move one player to his ďmore naturalĒ position but you want to move others to a position they have never played before. To me, thatís just going to slow down the rebuilding process. While many of these players are amazing athletes, itís asking a lot to have them begin doing something theyíve never done before against guys on other teams who have been playing a position their whole life. I think the best way to do a rebuild is indeed to give these guys a chance but letís let them have some time to learn and adjust at their own positions. Youíll probably find some gems and see some real improvement. That way, when the time comes to make some moves and draft in the offseason, you know exactly where you need help and where youíre going to be OK.

    Lyle Brief

    Nick, what ever happened to Adam Carriker? He was supposed to be an important piece; I haven't seen any news on him. Thanks.

    NW: Guess you missed it. He suffered a season ending shoulder injury before the season. He had surgery on it.

    Josh Diton

    Nick, I've always been a fan of the blue and yellow throwback jerseys. I was looking at the ones they have for sale on the site but they only had replicas listed. Are they going to have authentic versions of the jerseys for sale at any time, or are they just limiting it to replicas? As always, thank you for keeping us informed on the team as well as you do.

    NW: As far as I know, the ones available on the site right now are the only ones that will be available. On the pro shop on, there should be Laurinaitis and Jackson throwbacks available.

    Fred Woolf

    Dear nick,
    Wrote you a while ago about the offense spreading the ball around. You must have talked to the coaches, as the quarterbacks really had a good day against Minnesota. The Rams cannot play run, run, then throw, as the offensive line is going to need some time. Jackson has way too many no gain attempts, this demonstrates teams line up just to stop him and let the rest go. All of his big gains against the Vikings were set by the pass.
    Since we don't get any ram games on TV do the rams try shuffle passes like they did with Marshall Faulk? If not, why not?

    NW: There has been at least one shuffle pass attempt that I know of so you know itís in the playbook. The Rams have a variety of screens and misdirection plays, some of which you say work very well against the Vikings last week.

    Paul Hart

    Hey Nick, I agree with you on not pushing the panic button, but we need to start improving. My question is simple. What are you hearing from the coaching staff and players on what they are trying to improve on? These are areas that seem to be mental errors. I look forward to hearing your insight.

    NW: To a man, every person in the Ramsí locker room is staying upbeat and positive all while focusing on trying to improve and do the things necessary to get more wins. All they can do is stay committed to the system, believe in one another and stay positive that it will all come together. You canít re-invent the wheel; you can use it more efficiently.

    James Long

    Who is going to take Gary Gibson's place for the rest of the year? It sucks that we lost him, he stepped up in every game he played and with Adam Carriker and Mr. Irrelevant out, and our front seven is wearing pretty thin. Congrats to James Laurinaitis for his 1st interception by the way, he deserves it and despite the loss, he should still feel happy.

    NW: The Rams use a rotation on the defensive line so replacing Gibson will fall to a number of options. In terms of starting, it will likely be LaJuan Ramsey. Ramsey has showed promise in the early going. Leger Douzable and possibly Darell Scott could also figure in the mix.

    Jason Krutz

    Thanks for your time Nick!
    I have two questions:
    1) I keep hearing talk about the team building from the ground up with young players. What concerns me is the Rams of the past have gotten plenty of good young talent but fail to re-sign them after the original contract runs out, will this change with the new staff?

    2) After 5 games my disappointment is focusing on Pat Shurmur's play calling, is he the man of the future for the team?

    NW: 1. You make a good point but it certainly seems that those days are over. The Rams re-signed Ron Bartell in the offseason when many thought he would get away as he enters his prime. Oshiomogho Atogwe will almost certainly be around for the long haul. The guys that the Rams hit on that they deem valuable to the future will likely be retained henceforth.

    2. Not sure what you didnít like against Minnesota but it seemed Shurmur and the Rams offense found a groove against perhaps the best defense the team has seen this year. Heís in his first year in the job and thereís a learning curve involved but progress was evident offensively last week.

    Roger Koopman

    Watching the Minnesota game reminded me how much I preferred the more bold, vibrant colors of the old uniforms over the muted, understated Rams duds of the new millennium. Coincidentally no doubt, but they were also a more dynamic (and successful) team when they had a brighter, more aggressive color scheme. And minus the muffs, the Vikings contest was the best, most dynamic game they've played this year. My question, Nick, is this. Any chance the Rams could run a poll of some sort, surveying fan preference on uniforms? I know switching back the color scheme would be a major undertaking, but I'd love to see it happen. Hey, maybe we can petition our brilliant politicians in Washington for some "stimulus" money. Call it "cash for clunker uniforms." Rams fans could turn their all their old stuff, and get a federal voucher to buy new, thus "stimulating" new sales. Okay. Bad joke. But I am serious about considering a return to the more bold, "out there" uniforms of the 90s. Any possibility that we can give that idea some legs?

    NW: I donít know about a return to the old uniforms on a permanent basis but I do know the players liked them and it seems so did the fans. Iíll pass along your thoughts and if nothing else, I wouldnít be surprised if the throwbacks at least make it into some sort of a yearly rotation like many teams do.

    Don Riley

    Hi Nick, was the performance by the offensive line, against the Vikings, the best they've shown as a unit in the past two seasons? Also, who's Craig Dahl (I thought he showed the kind of stuff we need) tough and gutsy, but I don't know who he is? Is he one of players Spags will build around or did he just have a good game?

    NW: I think you could certainly make the case that it was the offensive lineís best performance in some time. Alex Barron did well against Jared Allen and the pressure on Boller was limited. Jason Brown really caught my eye, doing an excellent job against Kevin and Pat Williams.

    The Rams picked up Dahl from the Giants as a free agent in the offseason. Heís had injury issues in the past but thereís no denying when heís been healthy for the Rams, heís showed a knack for being around the ball. Nice, quiet find who will continue to get playing time in the nickel even when James Butler returns.

    Chris B.

    Nick, I don't think anybody expected the Rams to beat the Vikings, but I strongly believe that they can beat the Jaguars. What do you think?

    NW: Iím not much for the prediction business but I certainly think itís possible.

Related Topics


  • r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag - July 8
    by r8rh8rmike
    Nickís Mailbag Ė July 8, 2009


    Nick, one simple question for ya, what are the chances of Ian Campbell making the team, and if so, any possible playing time and Special teams or D-Line??

    NW: It would seem there is an opportunity for a defensive lineman to potentially squeeze his way on to the roster. Havenít seen enough of these guys to know who could emerge but if you figure the team keeps eight defensive linemen, you have Leonard Little, Chris Long, Victor Adeyanju, James Hall, Adam Carriker, Clifton Ryan and Darrell Scott seemingly in the best position to land on the roster. That would leave an opening for another end like Campbell or possibly a tackle like Gary Gibson or Orien Harris. Regardless, Spagnuolo likes his players to be versatile so the guy that emerges there will likely need to be able to contribute inside and out as well as on special teams.

    Miguel Iniguez

    Hopefully you can answer one of my questions Nick. I read a story on the internet that stated the Rams are looking into playing some games with throwback jerseys. Is that true? And if so when? Also which colors will they be the blue and white? Or the Blue and yellow?

    NW: Indeed, the Rams will be wearing the blue and gold throwbacks to mark the 10-year anniversary of the Super Bowl championship team. The games have not yet been determined but apparently, it will happen on three occasions this year. Iíll be sure to get the information out there when that determination is made.

    Dennis Quijadas

    Hey Nick. First off I want to thank you for the great insight for all us RAMS Fans. I see that Billy D. has finally brought over Renardo Foster from Atlanta. How does he pan out for the Rams? Is he just a big back up or a possible replacement if they can't sign Alex Barron at the end of the year? Saying that, would Alex Barron most likely be tagged after the season?

    NW: I havenít seen Foster play in person but I met him when he was here recently and I do know heís a large man. Because he has some experience and has been in the league, one would think he has a legitimate shot to stick on the roster and provide some depth at tackle but without having seen him, itís hard to make that determination right now. If nothing else, heíll provide some depth and competition at the spot. As for Barron, the approach is to wait and see how he performs when the lights come on this year before anything is decided on his future. This is a big year for him.

    Jeff Jordan

    I recently discovered "Nick's Mailbag" and really appreciate the info. Thanks. I am a transplanted Rams fan living in the Bay Area of California and all I hear is ***** this and ***** that. And no, nobody here really cares about the Raiders. Or at least believes in them. What in your opinion is the area of improvement most needed that will put the Rams back above the *****...
    -07-09-2009, 01:06 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag - May 20
    by r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag: May 20

    Scott Bundren

    Hey, Nick. I was just wondering if the Rams could be interested in trading for Roscoe Parrish. The Bills have had him on the trading block since early April. He's an excellent returner (which we need) and would add more depth (and speed) to our WR corps (which we also need). I'm sure they've considered it, but if not, maybe you could leave a note under Devaney or Spagnuolo's doors. I, for one, would love to have him on the team. Thanks for the great work!

    NW: Itís an interesting idea. Not sure if there is interest from the Rams side but a receiver with return capabilities would be intriguing. As it stands, only Derek Stanley had any significant return experience in the NFL among the receivers on the roster.

    Richard A. Morton

    Nick. Great job keeping us informed. Love to read the mailbag and can't wait for Wed to roll around. Lifetime Rams fan here. Since 57. Thanks to our new coach, I'm excited about the coming season and especially the next. I'm thinking he's a real coach, who knows how to take young players and get the max out of them. If I recall correctly. Deacon Jones was drafted in the 14th round. Undrafted now a days! Go Rams!

    NW: Indeed, hidden gems are there to be found. In fact, there are usually two or three guys every year that go undrafted and go on to long and productive careers. Maybe those guys donít go on to become Deacon Jones (who I think is the best pass rusher of all time) but finding those guys is like finding gold. As for your point about Spagnuoloís success getting the most out of young players, Iíd say his track record would support your theory.

    Rich Merchant

    If the Rams had been better at the draft, do you think they might not be in this mess?

    NW: Clearly, the draft is supposed to be the backbone and basis for how you build a team. There was a period at the beginning of the decade until about 2005 where there wasnít much gained through the draft. The past few drafts have been much more fruitful and the current setup seems to have the Rams headed in the right direction.

    Scott Rhoads

    Hey Nick,
    I've been a fan since 1968. I'd like to know your feelings on the starting "D", and how the changes have affected the Rams chances to make the play-offs.

    NW: Itís going to be interesting to see how the defense improves under the guidance of Spagnuolo and Flajole. As it stands, only James Laurinaitis and James Butler will be new starters but there have been some changes that could lead to more success as well. If nothing else, Iíd expect this defense to be more aggressive and more disciplined. Those two ideas might seem to run counter to each other but every defensive player Iíve talked to has said that this defensive scheme isnít as hit or miss as the old one. In other words, if a player misses...
    -05-21-2009, 09:58 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag: July 22
    by r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag: July 22
    Tuesday, July 21, 2009

    Bill Hundt

    Will there be any accommodations set up for handicap fans at training camp?
    (Parking, wheelchair access, etc)

    NW: Any specific questions about camp can be answered right here at the site on our training camp page. But yes, there will be accommodations for anyone and everyone to attend practices.

    Gerry Kettler

    Do you see the rams carrying two legitimate fullbacks with the offensive emphasis on the ground game? Karney and Johnson or Fells?

    NW: Itís not likely that they would carry two fullbacks. Karney will be the guy. Fells qualifies at tight end, where they will likely keep three.

    Jared McMahon

    Is there anyway to ever have a chance to try and become pro if you didnít play college ball?

    NW: There are lots of circuitous routes to get to the NFL. But most NFL teams donít simply have open tryouts or anything. The best way I can think of would be to tryout for a semi-pro team or a lower-level arena team, play really well and hope to work your way up. Itís been done before, see: Warner, Kurt.

    Sam Thomas

    As a someone who is interested in the turf industry, I was wondering if the new turf going in the dome is going to be a portable system, as I know that the Rams have wanted to install a FieldTurf tray system since 2005, but haven't because it was deemed not ready.

    NW: To the best of my knowledge, no. The turf installed will be the same stuff that has been used in recent years and will be brought in for the season and then replaced with a new one in 2010.

    Don Riley

    I'm in Jersey and suffered through watching the Rams against the Giants, Jets and Eagles last year. Also, what people in St. Louis may not know, the Super Bowl Giants with Spags, in what I believe was his first year, looked like the worst team in football after the first two weeks. Then Spags was able to work his magic. The Giants were a defensive powerhouse. I believe the Rams may be the most improved team in the NFL by season's end. Do you think that could be a possibility, Nick? Remember the Giants defense wasn't exactly scaring people when Spags took over in Jersey. They were in disarray and everybody wanted Coughlin Ė out! I'm not sure the players in St. Louis aren't about to go from the outhouse to the Penthouse, quicker than anybody thinks.

    NW: I love the enthusiasm, Don. Nobody knows better than Rams fans how fast you can go from the bottom to the top. Letís temper that by not expecting it to happen and letís focus on making gains weekly in terms of better performance but remember this is a process.

    Eric B.


    A friend and I were discussing the two best Rams RB's, in our humble opinions. Obviously they were Eric Dickerson and...
    -07-23-2009, 02:53 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag - June 10
    by r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag: June 10
    Tuesday, June 9, 2009

    Pedro Canjura

    How does ďAnimal Jr.Ē look to you? Will he be ready to start from day 1? If you had to compare him to another MLB in the NFL today, who would it be? Tatupu?

    NW: Havenít had a chance to see him with the pads on but best I can tell so far, heís everything heís been advertised. He has outstanding instincts and seems to be around the ball a lot. Thereís a good chance he will be the opening day starter in the middle. Interesting question on the comparison but if forced to compare him; Iíd say heís a bigger version of Zach Thomas. He has those type of read and react skills but heís not a terrific athlete or a huge hitter. He just finds the ball and makes the tackle.

    Mark Mercurio

    Is there any chance the Rams have interest in linebacker Brock Christopher from Mizzou who just got dropped by the Falcons.

    NW: Suppose itís a possibility as the Rams are always looking to add to the roster but I havenít heard his name mentioned. He had a nice career for the Tigers; just not sure heíd be an upgrade over what is already on the roster.

    Marvin Williams

    Hi nick, Iíve been a ram fan for over 30 years. I am wondering do you think the ram defense will be aggressive and get after the QBs or will they play conservative style of defense?

    NW: I can answer this with absolute certainty. This defense will be nowhere close to conservative unless the situation absolutely dictates it (preseason, big lead, etc.). Steve Spagnuoloís defenses in New York were always extremely aggressive and he believes in getting after the quarterback and putting the press on with his corners on the outside. This defense has other parts to it but thereís little doubt that it will be an aggressive scheme.

    JM Black

    Hey Nick, I have seen the plan of Spag's and BD come into play in our free agent pick up's and our draft! Get bigger, stronger, faster, younger and more athletic on both sides of the ball! Use the running game to keep the defense off the field and the defense can attack with a purpose to help keep the offense churning the ball! I think there is plenty of potential to turn the losses of the past into wins for the future!

    We have probably the best punter/kicker combo in all of football! How do we turn around the poor play we have received from our special teams over the last five or more years? How does the new wedge rule help or hurt our return or coverage units? There is no way we can keep giving up the huge returns we have in the past and expect to compete! We need to also be able to establish great field position from the return teams to take pressure off the offense. Who are some of the players you see as special teams standouts? ~JMB

    NW: The special teams showed signs of improvement last year and were consistently better in...
    -06-11-2009, 11:34 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag - June 3
    by r8rh8rmike
    Nick's Mailbag: June 3
    Wednesday, June 3, 2009

    Richard Layne

    Nick, with the end of the 2009 NFL Draft and the upcoming 2009 Rams Training Camp around mid-July, will the Rams signed any unsigned free agents that can help the team for the upcoming 2009 season for offense or defense or both and do the Rams have anyone in particular in mind? Also, when will the Rams start signing their draft picks from the 2009 NFL Draft?

    NW: Iím going to stick with the usual response here based on everything Iíve been told in recent weeks and months. The Rams will continue to explore any and all possible ways to upgrade the roster and that includes keeping tabs on current free agents and ones that might shake loose as we get into training camp. Donít expect anything earth-shattering, though.

    Draft picks donít usually start signing until July. Itís starting to trend toward that happening sooner around the league this year so itís possible some of the lower-round guys might ink earlier than anticipated.

    Justin Stine

    Lots of reports coming out about the Rams being very interested in Michael Vick if he gets reinstated. What are you hearing from people in the organization? Seems like he could help us out, but with all the problems with ownership right now it seems like a headache we don't need.

    NW: Once again, itís just not likely. I know there are reports out there that say the contrary but itís a long shot at absolute best.

    Bryan Sipes

    With the recent news about the Rams being up for sale what will that mean for the team? And if they do sell where could they go? Also does Spags have something in his contract where he could leave is the team is relocated? Also I head Deuce McAllister is interested in signing with the team. What is the news on that? Thank you for all the good info for a Ram fan in New Mexico.

    NW: Obviously, a lot of questions this week about the potential sale of the team. Not going to get too far into it in this space but none of this should come as a surprise to anyone who has paid attention to this from the beginning. The team is focused on winning games. Spagnuolo said it on Tuesday and thereís no reason for anyone to worry about anything other than that right now because itís not a 2009 issue. No reasons to speculate on any hypotheticals that may occur because right now that all it is: hypothetical.

    Have heard nothing on Deuce McAlister and Iíd be surprised, given his age and injury history, if he was a consideration.

    John Ricotta

    Nick, how much do you think the additions of Karney and Jason Smith will improve the Rams running game and SJack? Also, are you concerned about SJack staying healthy? And what do you project SJackís stats being in 09?

    NW: You always have to be concerned about a running...
    -06-04-2009, 09:34 AM