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Brown Embraces Role As Man In The Middle

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  • Brown Embraces Role As Man In The Middle

    Brown Embraces Role as Man in the Middle
    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Whether it’s a regular practice repetition during the week or an important play late in a crucial game, Jason Brown’s booming voice can often be heard barking at whoever it is that has the unfortunate job of spotting the football before a play.

    “I yell this out a lot and everybody looks at me like I am crazy but I do it to set the tempo,” Brown said. “We have to have an attitude in attacking every play with a passion. So one thing I do whenever we start a drill, one of our equipment guys, Matt, that lays the balls down for us, I yell at him ‘PUT THAT BALL DOWN’ and I repeat it and everybody is like ‘Yeah, where is the ball?’ Let’s get in the huddle and get fired up. Sometimes I do that in game situations as well and it’s funny because the ref is supposed to hurry up, spot the ball and get out of the way. I will yell at him too.”

    Don’t worry; Brown isn’t going to draw a flag for any of his pre snap antics. While he says it mostly in joking terms, Brown isn’t trying to make anyone laugh and he certainly isn’t trying to antagonize anyone.

    Instead, Brown is doing what he believes is an important part of one of the most responsibility-laden positions on the field. He’s setting the pace and the tone. He’s attacking the game with the verve and zest that comes with being with one of the league’s best centers and one of the Rams’ most respected leaders.

    Brown’s yelling about the ball is just one of many small things he can do to lead his teammates and establish a pace that he believes can translate into offensive success.

    “There are a lot of things I try to bring no matter how little they seem or how funny they seem,” Brown said.


    Since the departure of fan favorite Andy McCollum a few years ago, the Rams have found themselves in search of a center capable of bringing stability to the position.

    In the past few years, the center position has become one of the most important on the field. Offensively, only a quarterback has more responsibilities and needs to know more than the center.

    Like the evolution of the left tackle back in the 1980s when Lawrence Taylor and a new breed of pass rushers were wreaking havoc on quarterbacks all over the league, the center has become the new vogue position on the offensive line.

    So when the Rams hit the free agent market back in March, they quickly identified Brown as target No. 1 for their rebuilding offensive line.

    “You really want to be strong up the middle and he has brought stability to our offensive line,” offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. “He has done a nice job with the calls and the quarterback, the center, the tailback, those are important, key pieces to an offense and when you have a center that is accomplished like he is, it really gives you something to build from.”

    Indeed, the responsibilities that fall on a center on a given play are a bit daunting, with a wide variety of circumstances and issues that can come into play on a given down.

    Before he even gets into his stance, it is Brown’s job to be aware of the defense, get into position, bark out the line calls and point out potential blitzes or line changes to his fellow offensive linemen.

    The first thing Brown must do is identify whether the opposing defense is in a 3-4 or 4-3 defense. He quickly barks out how many down linemen there are and then scans the linebacker level to see how many of them are on the field. When that’s done, it’s on to the secondary where Brown must recognize if there’s an extra man, usually a safety, in the “box,” or closer to the line of scrimmage like a linebacker.

    After processing all of that knowledge in the time it takes to break the huddle then line up, Brown must decide who the middle linebacker is because most defensive packages base what they are doing off that player and the blocking scheme can adjust and assign duties accordingly.

    Brown will point at the middle linebacker and yell “Mike,” the designated call sign of the position.

    And all of that is just before the snap. When it’s time to go, Brown must snap the ball, know who to block, block that person, wash, rinse and repeat. And oh by the way, he usually has a 350-pound or so mass of humanity inches from his face ready to wallop him as soon as the ball is snapped.

    That doesn’t even take into account the factors out of Brown’s control. After spending most of his first four years in the league at guard, Brown shifted to center for the Ravens in 2008 and didn’t skip a beat.

    “It takes a few years to get it down pat,” Brown said. “I’m still learning more and more by leaps and bounds. You can watch as much film as you want to but it really comes down to those actual live reps. If you are sitting there watching film, you’re in a chair relaxed and you can see it from a bird’s eye view. When you are down there on the ground, you are looking through your facemask, leaned over in your stance; you add fatigue to that because as the game wears down you have to be able to think while being physically exhausted. Plus that huge guy thisclose to your face. You have to know it by heart. You have to be a problem solver while you are out there. Fatigue is a factor, crowd noise is a factor. Communication has to be non verbal on the road. Some of these stadiums you play in are so loud. I could yell at the top of my lungs and Richie or Jacob can’t hear me. You have to be able to read lips and be able to understand my point and exactly why I am pointing at a particular man.”

    Considering the myriad responsibilities of a center, it’s no wonder it’s becoming one of the league’s vogue positions. It’s even less of a surprise that the Rams made Brown such a priority in the offseason, signing him to a five-year contract worth upwards of $37 million that placed him among the highest paid centers in the NFL.


    What Brown brings to the table in term of physical capabilities is undeniable. At 6’3, 320 pounds, he is an immovable object in the middle with the athleticism and nasty disposition to get to the second level and manhandle any defender in his way.

    But Brown’s value in the middle goes beyond the aforementioned physical skills and intelligence to handle the responsibilities of his position.

    When the Rams placed Brown at the top of their shopping list, they wanted someone who could not only play at a high level but take on a leadership role for a group that was sure to be going through some changes.

    “Jason is in the middle; he kind of runs the show and makes a lot of calls,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “I think it has been a real positive impact. I think the guys trust him. He has kind of taken a leadership role in that he does a lot of things off the field and outside to kind of bring those guys together. Everything I’ve seen has been positive.”

    Some might call it relentlessly positive. In fact, Brown says the first thing he does every day when he walks through the doors of the Russell Training Center is to clear his mind and come in with an attitude that will have an infectious and encouraging impact on the locker room.

    “I would see it last year and I see it this year in telling the guys and it kind of comes off as a joke but you have to say it enough and if you say it enough you start to believe,” Brown said. “And that is I look somebody dead in the eye and say ‘Today, you have an opportunity to get better.’ Preparation isn’t always fun. That’s just the truth. We come in here; we work hard to work out the game plan the coaches have put in front of us. No one likes practices but the thing is you can’t take practices for granted. You have to go out in the right frame of mind. You have to go out there focus on attention to detail.”

    Almost from the moment of his arrival in St. Louis, Brown has taken all of the necessary steps to fill any potential leadership void the offensive line might have. With impressionable youngsters such as Jason Smith around, Brown is conscious of his role on the team.

    That’s just one reason why, when he suffered a sprained knee earlier in the year, Brown made it a point to not only be ready to play in the following Sunday’s game but to be on the practice field taking most of the repetitions with the first unit.

    For some players, it’s easy to enjoy a day or two away but that’s not the example Brown wants to set and it’s why he has never missed a game or practice in his time in the NFL.

    “Everybody has different roles and responsibilities on this team,” Brown said. “I can’t be too prideful of my role but I have to understand my role in helping to direct the offensive line. It is important. It’s a tremendous responsibility. I am still taking it in stride. I am not perfect, not yet but it’s something I will continue to work at.”


    When Brown was a sophomore at the University of North Carolina, the Tar Heels were far from a national title contender. In fact, that team was in the midst of a two-year stretch in which it would win just five games.

    Upon his arrival to the NFL, Brown had already run the gamut of emotions and dealt with the difficulties of struggling to win. In Baltimore, Brown got a taste of both ends of it, perhaps best exemplified by the stretch from 2006 to 2008 when the Ravens went from 13-3 to 5-11 to 11-5.

    The rollercoaster that is football has perhaps not had a more frequent rider than Brown. And though anyone would prefer to be at the top of the hill for the majority of the time, Brown says it’s those experiences that have made him into the player and person he is today.

    “I tell you what, I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world,” Brown said. “I know a lot of people would say ‘Are you crazy? You’d rather be a loser than winner?’ no, I am not saying that. What I am saying is I gained so much wisdom and I learned so much from those losses and my failures. I learned more than I ever would have from winning.”

    What, exactly, did Brown learn from those experiences? Quite a bit, actually.

    Brown learned how to take the highs with the lows and to make sure that he prepares the same way each week regardless of outcome. That helped prepare him to take on a leadership role with the Rams, a team that has been on a rollercoaster ride of its own in recent years. Most of all, he gained perspective.

    “The thing is I feel the situation I am in right now I am prepared for it because I have learned through past experiences how to handle adversity and how to handle situations like this,” Brown said.

    It’s that perspective that causes him to make sure that even in the heat of the battle that every player on the field – even opponents – remember to have fun because they get to play a game for a living.

    It’s the same reason he makes sure to take part in the prayer circle that immediately follows every game.

    More than anything, it’s the reason he was the right player for the Rams at this time and, more important, the right choice to be the centerpiece of the offensive line and the locker room for years to come.

  • #2
    Re: Brown Embraces Role As Man In The Middle

    It also helps that he's one of the league's biggest, if not the biggest, center.

    I am very happy we got this guy. So far, he's been playing outstanding.


    • #3
      Re: Brown Embraces Role As Man In The Middle

      Nice article, I really like this guy !
      Si vous croyez en vous, que vous avez de la fierté, et que vous ne lâchez jamais, vous serez un gagnant.
      Le prix de la victoire est chère, mais la récompense en vaut la peine.


      Related Topics


      • lostsoul
        Good Article on Jason Brown
        by lostsoul
        NFL - Rams center Jason Brown grieves his brother's death in Iraq - ESPN The Magazine - ESPN

        Good Article on Jason Brown

        last a beat longer. It doesn't happen often. Brown, the Rams center, shakes a lot of hands -- those of fans, reporters, sponsors, marketers, anyone who wants a minute. Today, after an August practice, a group of soldiers dressed in fatigues and holding cameras and Sharpies waits to meet the team. Brown enters the line, filthy and wet, with dried blood on his knuckles and grass stuck to his limbs. Other Rams quickly cycle though the soldiers. After a decade of wars, most athletes have the routine down: grip, pump, pose, thank the "real heroes" for "keeping our country safe" and move on. That's not how Brown operates. He extends his right hand to the first soldier in line, an Air Force vet who's in his 20s. "It's an honor to meet you," the soldier says. Brown's left hand secures the troop's shoulder, and he smiles. "Thank you for your service," he says. Before Brown releases his grip, he spends a moment looking into the soldier's eyes, and his mind slips very far away.

        A FOOTBALL TEAM is not a haven of worldly perspective. Most of the guys in the locker room are perfectly aware that their work is insignificant compared with that of those who fight wars. But to do their jobs, to keep from losing focus, they have to bury this awareness, the same way New Yorkers learn to walk past the homeless on their way to work. Football, after all, is an instrument that helps both players and fans forget about the real world.

        Jason Brown's problem? Football only makes him remember.

        On the surface, Brown has much to celebrate. At 28, he's one of the NFL's best centers on a young, playoff-ready team. He's in the third season of a five-year, $37.5 million contract, which drew him away from the Ravens in 2009. At 6'3", 328 pounds, he is stout with a low center of gravity, but he's also lithe enough to pull on runs and smart enough to read fronts and coverages.

        Plus, Brown has great teeth. His wife, Tay, whom Jason married before his junior year at North Carolina, is a dentist. To his teammates, Brown is known as a good man, a man of God, a man whose deep voice and ruffled beard earned him the nickname Chef, after the character from South Park. But he's perhaps best known for flossing. Brown brings a bag of floss picks to meetings, and the linemen analyze video to the snap and pop of tartar-stained nylon. "They've got the best dental hygiene on the team," says running back Steven Jackson.

        All in all, as he prepares for his seventh season, Brown can't quibble with the life football has given to him. "You want your cup to overflow," he says as he sits on a bench near the Rams' practice fields. "My cup is causing a flood."

        Yet it's...
        -09-09-2011, 12:31 PM
      • Nick
        Brown Hopes to be the Right Choice at Tackle
        by Nick
        Brown Hopes to be the Right Choice at Tackle
        Friday, April 15, 2005
        By Nick Wagoner
        Staff Writer

        Jammal Brown always knew that one day he would be lining up in the trenches in the NFL. According to Brown, it was predestined that one day he would be going head to head with someone about his size on Sundays.

        Of course, Brown always thought he would be doing his business on the defensive side of the ball. Coming out of McArthur High in Lawton, Okla., Brown was one of the top defensive tackles in the nation. After committing to the home-state Sooners, Brown arrived ready to put pressure on the quarterback.

        When Oklahoma asked him to protect the signal-caller instead, Brown thought about transferring. All he ever wanted was to play defense and nearly moved to Miami to become a Hurricane.

        Four years later, here Brown sits as one of the top offensive tackles awaiting his fate in the April 23 NFL Draft. Standing 6-feet-6 and 313 pounds, Brown possesses excellent quickness and burst off the ball. But it is his mean, nasty streak that sets him apart from other tackles.

        In his final two years at Oklahoma, Brown allowed just one sack, a testament to his spiteful disposition on the football field.

        “I just know that I was always taught to not let anybody get near your quarterback, so that’s what I did,” Brown said. “It’s a personal thing because you don’t want those guys just to beat you and all of the fingers will be pointing at you. So, I just make sure that no one comes close to him.”

        Brown’s quarterback, Jason White, was so well protected that he won the Heisman Trophy two seasons ago and finished in the top five last year. In fact, Brown and the rest of the offensive line were so dominant this past season that running back Adrian Peterson was also a Heisman finalist. Brown earned the Outland Trophy as the nation’s top interior lineman for his efforts in 2004.

        Things haven’t been easy for Brown throughout his college career, though. He suffered a serious knee sprain in fall camp before the 2000 season. He missed the entire year. Then, in his final college game, against USC in the Orange Bowl, Brown suffered a left shoulder strain. The injury wasn’t serious, but also came in the middle of a shellacking by the Trojans adding insult to injury.

        Since that final game, Brown has done nothing to hurt his draft stock. He is clearly one of the three best tackles in the draft after having an impressive pro day at Oklahoma and running a solid 5.01 in the 40-yard dash at the combine.

        One thing Brown has going for him is the fact that he is pretty much built to play right tackle because of his run blocking ability. He will probably be the second offensive tackle off the board after Florida State’s Alex Barron. One team that could have its eyes on Brown is St. Louis.

        In need of a right...
        -04-18-2005, 03:41 AM
      • RamWraith
        Brown Happy to Be Back
        by RamWraith
        Thursday, October 4, 2007

        By Nick Wagoner
        Senior Writer

        Like any other Rams fan watching the team the past four weeks, Fakhir Brown couldn’t help but be frustrated as he watched his team fall to 0-4.

        And Brown knows exactly what it was like to be a Rams fan the past four weeks. After a suspension for violation of the league’s substance abuse policy, Brown was forced to miss the first four games. At least in terms of playing in the games.

        But Brown wasn’t about to let a suspension force him to miss the games altogether. Brown attended all four games and did it like any other fan. He walked up to the ticket office, forked over face value for seats for he and his brother and watched the games from the stands.

        “It was hard to sit back, wanting to be out there,” Brown said. “I learned a whole lot and saw a whole lot different things than being out there on the field. In a way I got something out of it. I really wanted to be out there playing.”

        While Brown felt the frustration of the team’s difficult start like any fan, he is different from them. He can actually do something about it.

        Brown returned to the practice field Wednesday morning for the first time since the conclusion of the preseason. After a plethora of injuries and a pair of suspensions, getting back any healthy starters is a plus for the banged up Rams.

        Coach Scott Linehan said he could tell Brown was back immediately and Brown was instantly plugged back into the lineup as a starter.

        “It was noticeable having him back out there, getting hands on balls, and tight on coverage,” Linehan said. “It’s nice to have him back out there. My message to the football team was, ‘we started our climb back into being healthy and getting our roster back into place with Fakhir being out there and Richie (Incognito) being out there today.’ Hopefully we’ve turned a corner.”

        The timing of Brown’s return could probably have been a little better considering the success someone named Patrick Crayton had last week against the St. Louis secondary. But in Brown’s absence, young Ron Bartell has played well and established himself as a player capable of handling a starting job.

        Also in Brown’s absence, the Rams lost fellow starter Tye Hill to a back injury that has kept him on the sideline since the opener against Carolina.

        That injury left Bartell, Lenny Walls and Jonathan Wade as the team’s primary cornerbacks. Upon Brown’s return, though, Linehan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett wasted no time in putting him back in the starting lineup opposite Bartell and in place of Walls.

        Considering Arizona’s talent at wide receiver with the likes of Anquan Boldin (though he’s injured and might not play), Larry Fitzgerald and Bryant Johnson, Brown’s return to form will have to be expedited.

        “He’s a big guy with...
        -10-04-2007, 02:43 PM
      • hawaiianpunch
        Can Brown go to town?
        by hawaiianpunch
        I never really got to watch jason brown, can he be effective for the rams? anyone?
        Hes alright, over hyped.
        Brown Is one of the most underrated centers, he will clear the way
        He just sucks
        -05-28-2009, 03:40 PM
      • ramsplaya16
        Brown Hoping for Reduced Suspension
        by ramsplaya16
        Brown Hoping for Reduced Suspension
        Monday, July 30, 2007

        By Nick Wagoner
        Senior Writer

        For all of his football playing life, Fakhir Brown has
        spent his preseasons preparing for the season opener.
        This year, things are a bit different and the
        adjustment has been tough for the Rams’ cornerback.

        “I had been thinking about it and I just kind of
        prepared myself for it,” Brown said. “It’s been a long
        time going into a camp knowing that I wasn’t going to
        be able to play so it’s kind of difficult.”

        Brown’s training camp difficulties stem from a July 13
        suspension from the league for what was termed a
        “violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy.” The
        suspension has Brown scheduled to miss the first four
        games of the NFL season.

        But Brown has appealed the suspension and is hopeful
        that his side of the story will be enough to get it
        reduced or, best case scenario, eliminated altogether.
        At the time of the suspension, the league did not give
        details on the suspension, but Brown says he did not
        fail any kind of drug test.

        Rather, Brown says a miscommunication between he and
        the NFL’s testing services led to a missed test which
        in turn resulted in a suspension.

        “I was out of town and things get mixed up, there’s
        new guys working and they are just doing what they are
        told,” Brown said. “It’s just a misunderstanding.”

        The NFL drug testing policy allows the testers to come
        to a player’s home and administer a test to players in
        the program without warning or notice. If a player is
        out on vacation or somewhere other than the address he
        has given the testing service, he must call and tell
        the testers at what address he can be found.

        In Brown’s case, he says he informed the testers he
        would be out of town for the Fakhir Brown Football
        Camp in his hometown of Mansfield, Louisiana. Brown
        says he gave an address in Shreveport, where he was
        staying while the camp was in Mansfield.

        When the testers came, Brown was nowhere to be found
        and says he was suspended for missing the test.
        Because Brown was already in the program, the missed
        test is a suspendable offense.

        “It’s tough,” Brown said. “But that’s just how life
        is. Sometimes when you are in the right you get
        accused of doing something wrong and there are times
        when you are wrong and you get away with it. That’s
        life. You just have to deal with it.”

        While the Rams are moving forward as though they will
        be without Brown for the first four games, he is
        maintaining hope that he will be allowed back. He is
        practicing with the team during training camp, but his
        -07-30-2007, 08:15 PM