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Rams Team Report - Oct 29

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  • Rams Team Report - Oct 29

    Rams Team Report
    Yahoo! Sports - Oct 29, 2:56 am EDT


    It surely hasn't been the start of his NFL head coaching career that Steve Spagnuolo envisioned.

    The Rams have lost their first seven games and now face for the second straight week a team coming off their bye. Last week, it was the 5-0 Colts at home, and this week it's the 1-5 Lions on the road.

    Teams playing after their bye have won 52.5 percent of the time since byes were added to the schedule in 1990.

    In addition, the way the schedule has worked for the Rams has had the better teams at home and the arguably more winnable games on the road. The current combined records of the home games -- Green Bay (4-2), Minnesota (6-1) and Indianapolis (6-0) -- is 16-3.

    Conversely, the total record for the road games -- Seattle (2-4), Washington (2-5), San Francisco (3-3) and Jacksonville (3-3) -- is 10-15.

    The trend continues this week with Detroit on the road and New Orleans (6-0) at home on Nov. 8 after the Rams' bye.

    By(e) the way, the Rams are one of only five teams that have two consecutive games against teams coming off their bye. They are one of only two teams that opened the season with two games on the road, and one of four teams that played four of their first six games on the road.

    When those numbers were presented to Spagnuolo on Monday, he smiled and said, "I appreciate all your info. It's enlightening in a way, but it doesn't change what we've got to do."

    He later added, "I don't get wrapped up in (scheduling). And I really learned that from (Philadelphia coach) Andy Reid. Andy had a unique way when the schedules came out ... there would always be positives about the way he looked at the schedule."

    Perhaps the only positive are the three straight home games in November after the bye, but the best the Rams will be then is 1-7.

    Asked if he gets advice from fans in emails or at the gas station, Spagnuolo said, "When you're winning, you get a lot of phone calls. When you're not, everybody is afraid (to call). But really that's when you want them. That's when you need them. It works the other way. I don't know why. I have some very good people that will hang in there. It's much appreciated. As long as I have my wife still on my side, I'll be OK."

    Spagnuolo has managed to maintain an even-keel attitude despite the gloom and doom, and seemingly has his players battling and not pointing fingers at each other.

    Said free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, "We stay together. In tough times like this the only thing you can do is stay together and continue to press on forward and that's what we're going to do because we have guys of character in here. Things will turn around and that's what we're fighting for."

    Rookie middle linebacker James Laurinaitis echoed that sentiment, "You just have to keep fighting. When you lose a game, you have to correct it. There's a fine line about just saying forget about it and moving on and there's a fine line about letting it linger on too long. You have to correct it and get in the film room and really see what you need to do better. As soon as you do that, tomorrow, you have to look at that, put it behind you, and keep moving forward. If you keep looking back too much, you'll never have any progress. It's frustrating but you just have to keep going and keep fighting."

    SERIES HISTORY: 80th regular-season meeting. Rams lead the series, 41-37-1. In the old days of the NFL, these teams met twice a year from 1937 through 1966. This decade, they have played three times, with the Rams winning twice.


    —Linebacker David Vobora returned from a four-game suspension, and was working with the first unit at strong-side linebacker.

    Vobora was suspended for violating the NFL policy on performance enhancing substances even though the supplement he claimed he took was approved by an NFL hotline. He plans a lawsuit against the company for not including the banned substance on the list of ingredients.

    "We expect to be made right," Vobora said. "But this experience showed me that you can't be careful enough. You take anything at your own risk."

    Vobora said the last four weeks have been "the hardest thing I've ever gone through."

    After recovering from a concussion he suffered in the last game he played (Sept. 27 against Green Bay), Vobora worked out at least twice a day, and went crazy watching games on Sunday.

    "It was a humbling experience," he concluded. I learned a lot, especially how much I love the game."

    LS Ryan Neill participated in his first practice with the team after signing Tuesday to replace Chris Massey, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

    Neill was Buffalo's long snapper for two seasons before being released in August and replaced by rookie Garrison Sanborn. Neill had previous tryouts in Tennessee, San Diego and Cincinnati.

    He figures the Bills made the move because they wouldn't want to tender him as a restricted free agent after the season.

    "Now, they have another rookie for two years, and don't have to worry about it," he said.

    Neill was one of four long snappers that tried out Monday - Nathan Hodel, Bryan Pittman and Joe Zelenka were the others - and kicker Josh Brown and punter/holder Donnie Jones participated.

    "I was happy with the decision," Jones said. "(Ryan) was closest to Chris on the speed of his snaps. He had speed and touch. The other guys were faster, but on placements, too fast that can make it hard on the holder."

    Neill has also played defensive line, and his coverage ability contributed to the Rams' decision to sign him.

    Third-round pick Bradley Fletcher was beginning to make significant progress, but then suffered a serious knee injury Sunday that could potentially have him miss as much as a full year.

    Fletcher tore the ACL and lateral meniscus cartilage in his knee.

    Asked his assessment on how well the rookie cornerback was playing, coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "Great. I thought he played outstanding (Sunday). What was really encouraging on the play he got hurt on, if we all go back to earlier in the year and some other games. I can't tell you how hard that young man has worked at getting to where he is. I stepped in 15-20 minutes after practice last week and Bradley Fletcher was working on exactly what happened in the game. Where in prior weeks he never had turned and looked for the ball and got a penalty. He plays the ball perfect and gets the ball out and then unfortunately gets the injury."

    Researchers would be hard-pressed to find a roster that has had more changes from one year to the next than the 2008-2009 Rams.

    Of the 45 players that dressed the last time the Rams won - on Oct. 19, 2008 against Dallas - 23 players are not on the current roster. Twelve of the 23 are not on NFL rosters. Two - defensive tackle Adam Carriker and long snapper Chris Massey - are on the Rams' injured reserve list. Of the eight inactive players that day, none are currently with the Rams and six of the eight are out of the league.

    Of the 73 players with the Rams when the 2008 season ended, including 12 on injured reserve and eight on the practice squad, just 30 are on the current 53-man roster.

    By The Numbers:

    7—Total number of games the Rams (5-26) and Lions (2-28) have won since the halfway point of the 2007 season. Since the start of the 2008 season, the Rams are 2-21 and the Lions 1-21.

    Quote To Note:

    "I'm glad you asked that. I do believe in this and it's why I usually wait a day, maybe I shouldn't have said that (Sunday). I felt that way at the end of the game that maybe it was a whole quarter that we just weren't … but you know what? When I went back and looked at it that was not the case. It was probably three minutes of not quite the intensity that we had had. I addressed that. I don't know why that is, but that has not been this team. For six games and three and a half quarters, that has not been this team. I'm banking on these guys to make sure that doesn't happen again."

    —Coach Steve Spagnuolo, when asked about the lack of intensity in the fourth quarter against Indianapolis.


    Player Notes

    OL Adam Goldberg worked at right guard in practice Wednesday with Richie Incognito out because of a foot injury.

    OT Jason Smith worked with the first unit at practice Wednesday with Adam Goldberg moving to right guard because of Richie Incognito's foot injury.

    LB David Vobora, back from a four-game suspension, was with the first team on the strong side in practice Wednesday. Vobora is still under a roster exemption.

    CB Quincy Butler took a lot of reps with the first unit at cornerback with Bradley Fletcher lost for the season.

    DE James Hall (groin) returned to practice after missing Sunday's game against Indianapolis, but was limited.

    DE C.J. Ah You did not practice Wednesday because of an ankle injury.

    WR Ruvell Martin (hamstring) had full participation in practice Wednesday for the first time in a few weeks

    OG John Greco did not practice Wednesday because of a family matter but is expected back Thursday.

    WR Keenan Burton was hit in the jaw during practice Wednesday, but is said to be OK.

    CB Bradley Fletcher had surgery Tuesday on the lateral meniscus cartilage in his knee. The ACL surgery will be in about one month.

    Game Plan:

    The Rams' plan won't change from what it has been, feeding the ball to RB Steven Jackson and trying to get in manageable second- and third-down situations. Lack of production on first down has been a large part of the Rams' struggles. The Rams rank 24th in the NFL averaging 4.68 yards on first down.

    Defensively, they will look to stop the big play, which should give them a solid chance of limiting Detroit's offense.

    Matchups To Watch:

    Rams DEs Leonard Little, James Hall and Chris Long vs. Lions OTs Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherilus. Lions quarterbacks have been sacked 22 times in six games, but the Rams have just 12 sacks in seven games, four by Little. Long is still looking for his first sack.

    Rams RB Steven Jackson vs. Lions LBs Larry Foote, Julian Peterson and Ernie Sims. The Lions are allowing 4.6 yards per rush, and will try and slow down Jackson, who is the focal point of the Rams' offense.

    Injury Impact:

    The Rams now have seven players on injured reserve, with four suffering injuries after the start of the season. Three were starters: WR Laurent Robinson, DT Gary Gibson and CB Bradley Fletcher, with the other being LS Chris Massey. The Rams currently have 10 players on their roster added after the cutdown to 53 players.

Related Topics


  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan

    It's obvious what the focus will be for the Rams this week as they travel to Tampa Bay for a game against the Buccaneers. Even in the celebratory locker room Sunday afternoon following their 20-17 win over San Diego, the focus was already being directed ahead seven days.
    Everyone knows the Rams won't be taken seriously as a legitimate threat to win the NFC West until they show they can win on the road.

    Of course, entering this season, they first had to show they could win anywhere after totaling just six wins in three seasons. The Rams have now shown they can win at home, having won three straight after an opening-day loss to Arizona.

    It's why within minutes after defeating the Chargers, the trip to Tampa Bay was already on everyone's mind.

    Said running back Steven Jackson, "I think this is an example of what we can be. We're only going to get better as the season goes on, after weeks go by. We're going to celebrate. We're going to take this in today, but to be an elite team and to get ourselves in position to be in the playoffs, we have to learn how to win on the road. And I think that's our next challenge. That's the one good things about this team is we're always looking ahead. We're always looking for the next challenge."

    When defensive end Chris Long was asked about rebounding from the previous week's 44-6 loss in Detroit, he said, "It's funny. You say you move past a game like that, and some teams might pay it lip service, but I really don't feel like anybody in here was thinking about Detroit. No one in here was looking back.

    "I actually thought to myself right before the game when the ball was about to be kicked off, I said, 'Man, I haven't even thought about that game.' We're just moving forward. We won't be thinking about San Diego next week. We'll be trying to win a road game, which is a whole new challenge."

    Of course, there might be lingering thoughts of the Detroit debacle now that another road game is ahead. Since 2007, the Rams have lost 22 of 26 road games, and the losses have mostly been ugly.

    In 12 of the losses, the Rams have scored fewer than 10 points. In 13 of the losses, they have allowed 30 or more points, including four of 40 or more. Only six of the 22 losses have been within one score.

    Last season, the seven losses were by a combined score of 190-53. In 2008, it was 245-88 in seven losses and 181-48 in six 2007 losses. This season, two losses have been by a 60-20 count, making the total score for the 22 defeats an astounding 676-209.

    With a 3-3 record, the Rams are one-half game behind first-place Arizona and Seattle, both 3-2. After a home game Oct. 31 against Carolina, followed by the Rams' bye, the second half of the season features five road games, including three straight at Denver, Arizona and New Orleans. Four of the...
    -10-21-2010, 09:45 AM
  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo always has a single-minded purpose like most coaches as another game approaches. No matter what the record, he is intent on trying to figure out a way to win.
    It's no different this week as the Rams enter the season finale at home against the ***** with a 1-14 record. Spagnuolo had another message this week for the fans he hopes show up.

    The last two home games have had announced attendances under 50,000, the two lowest since the team moved to St. Louis in 1995.

    "Sunday is a special day," Spagnuolo said. "Not only is it the last game, but it is fan appreciation day. We do appreciate the fans that are behind us and that have hung in there in a tough, tough year. It's tough for us, tough for the players, and tough for the fans. Just know that we'll continue to work to try to get this thing straightened out. We're going to do everything we can to win this football game."

    Asked about fans that boo when the team doesn't play well, Spagnuolo said he understands.

    "Absolutely," he said. "I love to have them there. When I was in Philadelphia, of course the Philadelphia fan is a passionate fan. I've always felt good, better, and indifferent. When the fans are there and they're passionate and care, I'm OK with that, I really am. That means they care. I'm OK with that."

    While some fans hope the Rams lose so they will be assured of the first overall pick in the draft, the fans that were there for the Dec. 20 Houston game were cheering for a victory in what turned out to be a 16-13 loss. They weren't thinking about draft picks.

    Worrying about draft picks is nowhere near Spagnuolo's thinking.

    Asked this week if he had given any thought to the draft, Spagnuolo said chuckling, "No. You're way ahead of me there. Way, way ahead of me. No. Absolutely not."

    When it was pointed out that the Rams currently have the first pick in the draft with one less win than Detroit and are "neck and neck" with the Lions, Spagnuolo said, "I'll worry about that in a couple of weeks. We're 'neck and neck' in trying to win a football game this Sunday. I'm knee-deep, or whatever you want to say, in trying to win a game. It's the last one, and we're going to play it to win it."

    The Rams have played a large number of young players this season, and in recent weeks. Rookie guard Roger Allen III will start his first game of his career Sunday, on the left side, in place of the injured Mark Setterstrom. When asked about playing other young players that haven't seen action, he said, "We're going to make all the decisions based on winning the game. Should it head that way for guys like that, that's what we'll do. If not, we won't. It'll still be about winning the game."

    SERIES HISTORY: 120th regular-season meeting. Rams lead, 60-57-2. The...
    -12-31-2009, 10:56 AM
  • eldfan
    St Louis Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    As the Rams prepare to play Washington Sunday, while trying to put last week's loss to Seattle behind them, they will go on the field again with a young linebacking corps that will try and find a way to support the run and prevent tight end Chris Cooley from making big plays.
    Against the Seahawks, the defense, and linebackers in particular, were generally solid against the run, except for a 62-yard run by Julius Jones that gave the Seahawks their final points. In addition, tight end John Carlson burned the Rams for two touchdowns, and his second score on a 38-yard play came immediately following a 33-yard pickup.

    "They did things we haven't seen before, and that hurt us," said second-year linebacker David Vobora. "We definitely have to do better this week."

    Vobora, a seventh-round pick in 2008, was making his first start on the strong side. He started one game at middle linebacker last season. Alongside him is rookie middle linebacker James Laurinaitis.

    The veteran of the group, weak-side starter Will Witherspoon, said of his young cohorts, "I think they did well. There were a few bumps here and there, but that's the ebb and flow of the game. Every play, every snap means one more notch in their belts.

    "They learned some things, they got to see some things, and that's what's great about it. You can't ask them to do any more than that."

    Acknowledged Laurinaitis, "There were some ups and downs. They say the best improvement is from Week 1 to Week 2. It's important for us to keep our heads up, to learn from this, and keep that feeling of a loss right there and really work that much harder this week in practice."

    Laurinaitis accepted responsibility for Carlson's first touchdown, a play that began on the 1-yard line. Hooked by a play fake, he said, "I was being overly aggressive. You're down there on the 1-yard line and you're thinking, 'Let's go after it.' ... I'm definitely at fault for that."

    Asked about the rookie's play, coach Steve Spagnuolo said of Laurinaitis, "Overall he played a real productive game. That's what he is. He's a productive guy. If he continues to have that production, it's going to help the defense."

    SERIES HISTORY: 30th meeting. Redskins lead, 20-8-1. The Rams have won two consecutive games in the series, an overtime win in St. Louis in 2006 and a last-second 19-17 victory last year in Washington. The win in 2008 was in Jim Haslett's first game as the team's interim coach.


    —One twist that coach Steve Spagnuolo has added to the team's schedule is a Monday corrections walk-through after watching tape of the previous day's game.

    Said safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, "It's important to correct the mistakes from last game and the more times you walk through it and get visual reps at it, it...
    -09-17-2009, 08:36 AM
  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    As the regular season begins, and with the division-rival Seattle Seahawks on the horizon, coach Steve Spagnuolo knows the team's 3-1 preseason record doesn't count for much.
    "I'm perfectly aware that all of this is a honeymoon period," he said. "The real challenge is upcoming.

    "It's nice to be 3-1 after the preseason, but like I told the players, the score counted when we played the games. It doesn't matter now. We're moving on. We came in and did what we thought as a group were the right things to do. But the real test is the regular season, winning and losing."

    Even though Spagnuolo realizes building this team's roster in his image is a work in progress, he does like the team's mindset so far.

    He said, "I think we've got a bunch of hungry guys. I think it's good to be hungry. It's a hungry football team that wants to be a team. We've talked a lot about it and I think the guys have embraced it. At least their actions and the attitudes and what comes out verbally says that to me. So if we can rally around that, that would be good."

    Asked what he expects from his team, Spagnuolo said, "In a nutshell, I want a focused, disciplined, tough football team. We have certain measurements that we have after games that measure that focus, discipline and toughness. I blurt them out after every game and let them know if we met them. I think the team is starting to embrace that, too. We talk about it all the time."

    "If you're a physically tough team, you're able to run the ball and stop the run."

    Said guard Richie Incognito, "That's the identity we're trying to create. Physical up front, and get the running game going ... The coaches are calling it up, dialing it up and they're keeping it coming. We're pumped up, we're excited."

    Former Rams coach Dick Vermeil would often say a coach "has to be believed to be heard." Spagnuolo sees a team that is listening and accepting leadership.

    "That means a great deal," he said. "I thanked them the other night (before the final preseason game). The night before the game for what they did. Back in the offseason program, right through training camp, it was a new training camp. It was a different hotel and we're here. New staff, new this or that, and they didn't skip a beat. They really bought into it."

    How much will the team improve from a two-win season? While Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney know there is a lot of work to do, they aren't willing to accept just minimal improvement.

    "I don't think anybody here is saying, 'Boy, if we just double our win total, we'll be happy about that,'" Devaney said. "If we win four games, then we still stink.

    "We're thinking we have a pretty good team. How fast it meshes and comes together, we're...
    -09-11-2009, 06:59 AM
  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    There's no question the Rams' offense is built around running back Steven Jackson.
    As Redskins defensive coordinator Greg Blache said before last week's game, "They have one of the best backs in the business. The guy at Minnesota (Adrian Peterson) is off the chart. I put Jackson just right underneath him. He is big, strong and fast and he can go the distance every time he touches the football. If the hole is not there inside, he will bounce it outside. He can catch passes out of the backfield. I think this guy is a home-run hitting type of back."

    The Rams need Jackson to start hitting more home runs, starting with Sunday's home opener against Green Bay.

    In two games so far, Jackson has 171 yards on 33 carries, a 5.2-yard average per attempt. His total rushing yards projects to 1,368 yards for the season. Those are excellent numbers.

    However, they are also somewhat misleading. Jackson had a long run of 22 yards in Week 1 and 58 in Week 2. Those are the home runs the team wants him to hit. The problem is that too many of his other carries weren't productive.

    Jackson's 31 other attempts totaled just 91 yards for a 2.9-yard average. Against Seattle, 11 of Jackson's 16 carries were for three yards or less and 10 gained two yards or less. Against Washington, eight attempts were for three yards or less and six of those were either zero (five) or minus-1 (1).

    When those plays occur on first down, it often results in long-yardage situations on second and third down.

    Against Seattle, he had 19 yards on eight first-down attempts. Against Washington it was 10 carries for 25 yards on first down with four no-yardage attempts and one for minus-1. However, he did have runs of 6, 6 and 5 on his final three first-down runs, so not giving up on trying also has to be avoided.

    Because the Rams' passing game is suspect, defenses will routinely play eight men in the box.

    After the Seattle game, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said, "There were eight down there quite a bit. With a running back like we have, I think that's something we're going to see."

    Jackson understands it, too. "That's just going to be my mindset for all 16 games that we have. I anticipate for the rest of the year that defenses are going to put eight men in the box because we're just so young at the wide receiver position."

    Said tight end Randy McMichael, "I mean, right now he's our best football player on offense. A lot of teams know that, and they want to take him away. We've got to find a way as receivers and tight ends to make plays.

    "And even if they do have eight-man fronts, we need to get seven guys (blocked), and let Steven make the one guy miss. It's all about just staying on your man a little bit longer and helping 'Jack' find somewhere to run."

    -09-24-2009, 09:30 PM