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  • Star running back relishing role with rebuilding Rams

    Star running back relishing role with rebuilding Rams
    By Steve Wyche | NFL.com
    Senior Writer






    As the losses have piled up around the NFL, so has the zaniness.

    Winless Tampa Bay is on its third quarterback. Kansas City running back Larry Johnson blasted his coach on Twitter, then zipped the same gay slur on back-to-back days for public consumption, leading to a suspension. Washington took everything but his title from coach Jim Zorn (pride included). Tennessee underwent an owner-ordered quarterback change.

    In Cleveland, owner Randy Lerner promised changes and started by bouncing the general manager this week. Fans met with the owner about their dissatisfaction with the team. The starting tailback said he'd rather retire after the season than come back to this, with this being a team that is the current leader in NFL dysfunction.

    In St. Louis, though, there hasn't been a peep. The Rams got their first win last week over, a 17-10 decision over Detroit after starting 0-7, but there hasn't been any uproar, firings, player outbursts or tales of coaching tyranny. It's not because of apathy or because they play in a small market, or anything like that.



    Things are moving along under the radar because first-time coach Steve Spagnuolo has been totally up front with his players and coaches about his plan and he's stuck to it with the backing of management and everyone else he's come into contact with. His forthrightness has allowed players on a roster with junior-varsity talent to compete without complaint.

    "All the way back in OTAs, coaches asked us to buy into the vision and that's building a high-character team," running back Steven Jackson said. "It's all about team. You put yourself behind the team. We're going through a transition of who fits the scheme, who are the guys the coaches feel they can build a solid foundation with.

    "What we have here is a strong leader as a head coach. Him and our GM (Billy Devaney) have a vision and there's no grey areas. They tell you this is where we're headed. Even if you dislike it, there's no question he knows what he's doing. That makes the road easier."

    That Jackson, 26, has bought in so thoroughly is huge, and is refreshing in this era of guys begging out of bad situations to coattail onto a better situation.

    I asked Jackson (who is second in rushing in the NFL, if you haven't noticed) if he felt he was wasting his prime years toiling for a franchise that has been among the worst in the league the past few years.

    "Not at all," he said. "I want to feel the momentum and enjoy it when we turn this thing around. I want to be able to look that guy in the eye and know we share common tears of joy or whatever that moment brings. I want to know me and this person have worked through this together. I don't want to go to another organization where I don't know anyone or hold the Lombardi Trophy where I didn't really build things. I don't think it would mean as much after I've put in so much work here."

    You can be as cynical as you want about his feelings on toiling through the futility, but his effort and production on the field seem to back up what he's saying. It's hard to be cynical about that.

    One more thing on the Rams
    There has been speculation as to whether this will be quarterback Marc Bulger's last year with the team, especially with him being owed $8.5 million next season. I've been told that Rams management hasn't begun that evaluation process yet.

    However, Bulger's retention could very well rest on the fact that St. Louis has so many other needs to fill that it could try to address those concerns before getting to the quarterback situation. Then again, if St. Louis feels the right quarterback is available, they could address those other needs after it replaces Bulger.
    :ramlogo:

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  • Varg6
    Star Running Back Relishes Role with Rebuilding Rams
    by Varg6
    NFL.com

    Steve Wyche

    As the losses have piled up around the NFL, so has the zaniness.

    Winless Tampa Bay is on its third quarterback. Kansas City running back Larry Johnson blasted his coach on Twitter, then zipped the same gay slur on back-to-back days for public consumption, leading to a suspension. Washington took everything but his title from coach Jim Zorn (pride included). Tennessee underwent an owner-ordered quarterback change.

    In Cleveland, owner Randy Lerner promised changes and started by bouncing the general manager this week. Fans met with the owner about their dissatisfaction with the team. The starting tailback said he'd rather retire after the season than come back to this, with this being a team that is the current leader in NFL dysfunction.

    In St. Louis, though, there hasn't been a peep. The Rams got their first win last week over, a 17-10 decision over Detroit after starting 0-7, but there hasn't been any uproar, firings, player outbursts or tales of coaching tyranny. It's not because of apathy or because they play in a small market, or anything like that.


    Tom Gannam / Associated Press
    First-year coach Steve Spagnuolo hasn't let the Rams get frustrated over a 1-7 start.
    Things are moving along under the radar because first-time coach Steve Spagnuolo has been totally up front with his players and coaches about his plan and he's stuck to it with the backing of management and everyone else he's come into contact with. His forthrightness has allowed players on a roster with junior-varsity talent to compete without complaint.

    "All the way back in OTAs, coaches asked us to buy into the vision and that's building a high-character team," running back Steven Jackson said. "It's all about team. You put yourself behind the team. We're going through a transition of who fits the scheme, who are the guys the coaches feel they can build a solid foundation with.

    "What we have here is a strong leader as a head coach. Him and our GM (Billy Devaney) have a vision and there's no grey areas. They tell you this is where we're headed. Even if you dislike it, there's no question he knows what he's doing. That makes the road easier."

    That Jackson, 26, has bought in so thoroughly is huge, and is refreshing in this era of guys begging out of bad situations to coattail onto a better situation.

    I asked Jackson (who is second in rushing in the NFL, if you haven't noticed) if he felt he was wasting his prime years toiling for a franchise that has been among the worst in the league the past few years.

    "Not at all," he said. "I want to feel the momentum and enjoy it when we turn this thing around. I want to be able to look that guy in the eye and know we share common tears of joy or whatever that moment brings. I want to know me and this person...
    -11-05-2009, 04:47 PM
  • RamWraith
    Jackson need not apologize for speaking out truthfully
    by RamWraith
    By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Friday, Sep. 21 2007

    Leadership comes in many forms. It can be as subtle as a look, as complicated
    as a plan, as forceful as a sermon or as compelling as the cult of personality.

    In the simulated battlefield environment of pro football, leadership is most
    often identified in emotional men who rage wonderfully in the heat of battle.
    There is no place on the football field for anyone who cringes or panics in
    their athletic wars. So it strikes me a little odd that anyone would demand or
    quietly coax an apology from Rams running back Steven Jackson for baring his
    dissatisfaction with another fourth-quarter meltdown by his team in last
    Sunday's 17-16 loss to the San Francisco *****.

    I would never undercut the passion that Jackson shows on the field. I would
    never suggest for a second that he turn down his competitive fire even one
    notch. I would never discourage the intensity he carries in his gut and the
    will to win that he displays every time he steps on the field. In fact, I would
    stoke it so all his positive emotion spreads to some of his underachieving and
    nonchalant teammates.

    A year ago, quarterback Marc Bulger ripped into unnamed underachieving
    teammates, and he was hailed as a team leader. He exposed some unvarnished,
    inconvenient truths about the passion and commitment of some of his teammates,
    and Bulger was not convinced to tone down, smooth over or distill his outrage.

    There was no polite backtracking, and there never should have been. It was the
    last thing that struggling team needed at the time, and it's the last thing the
    Rams need now as they try to break out of this mistake-filled 0-2 start to the
    2007 regular season. Nearly 10 months ago, Bulger was trying to rattle a few
    cages and deliver a message that there were more than a few young, gifted and
    underachieving athletes on this squad who must learn, as Bulger put it, the
    difference between being a professional and being on scholarship.

    And here we are with another Rams team struggling to get its act together and
    another team leader expressing his outrage over the way things are going.
    That's what leaders are supposed to do, and he has no reason to apologize.

    Instead of questioning him, the folks at Rams Park ought to listen carefully to
    Jackson, mimick his desire and share his hatred of losing these close and
    winnable ball games.

    It has been a long time since the Rams have had such an athlete like Jackson, a
    rising star who wants to race full speed into the burning spotlight and take on
    all the joys and burdens of stardom: high performance, visibility, high
    character, role model and team leader.

    I don't...
    -09-21-2007, 05:41 AM
  • Rambos
    Rams Players Look Ahead
    by Rambos
    By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

    As Steve Spagnuolo addressed his team one final time Monday morning soon after learning he’d been dismissed as head coach, he didn’t relent and change who he was.

    Even on his way out, the relentlessly positive now former head coach of the Rams gave one final speech to the players with whom he’d grown so close.

    “He really thanked everyone for what they had done, the effort guys have given this year, told everyone he was proud of the way this team fought,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “One thing he did say is whoever they bring in, embrace the new head coach, don’t hold any judgment or bitterness toward him, embrace him and get to work as soon as possible.”

    As Rams owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement released Monday morning, no one person is to blame for the events that led to Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney being relieved of their duties after the team lost its final game of the 2011 season Sunday to drop to 2-14.

    But to a man, every player in the Rams locker room Monday took ownership of his role in what ultimately decided the fate of Spagnuolo and Devaney. And, in a business that’s as often unforgiving as it is exciting, nobody was surprised by the outcome.

    Perhaps nobody knows the ins and outs of it all better than Rams running back Steven Jackson.

    “In this business, you know pretty much a decision was going to be made one way or another,” Jackson said. “(I) wasn’t quite sure what it was going to be, but coach addressed the team this morning, let us know that he was terminated and he was sorry, especially for the guys that have been the entire three years he’s been head coach, that he didn’t get the job done. He took full responsibility, and really regret that he couldn’t turn this franchise back around.”

    Almost universally loved by his players for his unrelenting dedication to keeping an even keel and never throwing any of them under the bus, Rams players lamented the fact that they couldn’t do more to help Spagnuolo retain his job.

    Safety Quintin Mikell, who has a long standing relationship with Spagnuolo from their time together in Philadelphia, signed a long term contract with the Rams in the offseason in no small part because Spagnuolo was in place as head coach.

    “It’s tough,” Mikell said. “I feel like I let him down because he brought me in and obviously I am part of the reason. I take it seriously, this game. You feel like you are part of the reason this happened. It’s tough, man.”

    The sobering reality of Monday’s moves was not lost on the players in the locker room, either. Kroenke made it clear that accountability is the driving force behind this move and that accountability will almost certainly extend to a team that posted a 10-38 record and no postseason appearances over the past three seasons.

    “This is the business...
    -01-02-2012, 03:40 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    St Louis Rams' Coach Steve Spagnuolo Makes Transition
    by r8rh8rmike
    St. Louis Rams' coach Steve Spagnuolo makes transition
    11/06/2009



    Catching his breath during the bye week, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo talks about the transition from NFL assistant to NFL head coach with Post-Dispatch football writer Jim Thomas.


    Q: Once you arrive at work, how hands-on have you been with the defense?

    A: "I'm in all of the meetings. (Defensive coordinator) Ken Flajole and I, toward the end of the week, we'll sit down by ourselves. We'll come up with what we want to do. And then, when we're on the 'phones' during the game, it's kind of a natural flow. I let him run with it most of the time. I usually chime in a lot on third down. So it's kind of a constant back and forth."

    Q: Often, when the Rams have the ball and there's a timeout, you're not involved in the sideline huddle with offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, quarterbacks coach Dick Curl, and the quarterback. Why is that?

    A: "Sometimes, I don't (participate) purposely because it's another voice in there. At that time, the less voices the better. Now, I'll step in there when I want something done a certain way. But when it's just a decision of what play to select — Pat, Dick and Marc (Bulger), that's their venue. I try not to step on their toes that way. That's why I physically step out, so that they don't feel like that."

    Q: During the week, how involved are you in the offense?

    A: "Pat and I visit every morning, so that if I haven't been in an offensive meeting, he updates me on what's going on and what they're doing. I trust those guys over there. So there'll be a suggestion here and there ... but never to throw it out of whack."

    Q: You have an inflatable bed in your office here at Rams Park. Are you putting it to use much by staying overnight?

    A: "Usually Monday and Tuesday. Every once in a while Wednesday, but I try not to do that because I like seeing my wife. I try every week to get home on Monday. Tuesday's a given that I'm sleeping here."

    Q: How long is the commute from your home in the Lafayette Square area?

    A: "It's 25 minutes. It's not bad. But you go 25 here, 25 back. And when I go home, I can't go right to bed, so that's another 30 minutes. So it ends up being an hour-and-a-half of lost sleep, whereas if I can just stay here (at Rams Park) — bang. You get an extra hour-and-a-half (sleep). Toward the end of the week, it adds up."

    Q: From Day One you've stressed togetherness with this team. Has it been tough to get that message across with so many personnel changes?

    A: "Because we're preaching 'team' and 'staying together,' it doesn't mean that we're talking out of two sides of our mouth. Some of the moves were forced because of injuries, and I think players understand that. With a couple of...
    -11-05-2009, 10:38 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    USA TODAY



    Steven Jackson has been through this before. He's getting to the point in his career where he doesn't want more change. He just wants to know the team's coaching staff gives him and the team the best opportunity to win.
    It would be an understatement to say Jackson believes owner Stan Kroenke got it right with the hiring of Jeff Fisher as head coach.

    Asked about the attitude of confidence that Fisher exudes, compared to the past, Jackson said. "It's quite a difference. Nothing against what I've had before coach Fisher, but you can definitely tell a difference in leadership, a difference in confidence. It's not so much of on-the-job training. I'm just impressed by what he's assembled with assistant coaches around him. We have very credible coaches that are teaching me and some of my teammates. It's just impressive, what they've been able to accomplish in some of their own careers.

    "It's very refreshing to have a coach that has that kind of resume and brings that kind of credibility. You can just feel it. It's quite a difference. I haven't felt this way since the 2004, 2005 years, where now it's more so 'when' is it going to turn around, not 'if' it's going to turn around."

    However, the one irony is that Jackson's position coach is a neophyte in his first season in the NFL after coaching at Rutgers.

    Of Ben Sirmans, Jackson said. "He has a fresh pair of eyes. Where some things that may have become a bad habit or something, he has fresh eyes, he can see. But it's definitely going to be a learning experience for both of us. He has to learn how long the NFL season is, what it takes to keep a guy fresh for 20-some odd weeks and hopefully prepare for a playoff run."

    The offense is another new one for Jackson, but he echoed the words of quarterback Sam Bradford, who has noted the similarities to the 2010 offense to the one now being installed by coordinator Brian Schottenheimer.

    Said Jackson, "This offense is very similar, not identical, but very similar to what we ran two years ago with Pat Shurmur and his offense. The learning curve has not been too harsh on myself. Sam is looking good, our receivers; we have a deep group that is very competitive that's going to not only help us, but is also going to bring the best out of each individual guy. All in all, as an offense we're looking good. And especially (offensive line) coach (Paul) Boudreau up front, what he's doing with the offensive line is very impressive as well."

    There is true optimism in Jackson's voice when he is asked if the team accomplished what it set out to do in the offseason.

    "I believe so," he said. "We have a lot of turnover from last season to this season. It's an entirely new team and new staff. But from what we've been able to accomplish from the draft, signing guys in free...
    -06-22-2012, 09:43 AM
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