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  • Rams Keep Effort Up

    Rams Keep Effort Up
    Monday, December 21, 2009


    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As the ball came shooting out of the hands of Houston running back Arian Foster following a 13-yard catch and run, the eyes of rookie Rams defensive tackle Darell Scott immediately got large.

    It was as though Scott was about to sit down to a big meal, which, coincidentally, was something he’d been physically unable to do even had he wanted to in the days leading up to Sunday’s 16-13 loss to the Texans.

    Scott reacted immediately and hauled all of his 6’3, 312 pound frame as fast as it could go from near the line of scrimmage the 20 or so yards required to pounce on the ball.

    Ultimately, Scott fell on it at the Rams’ 8 but the fact that Scott was well enough to chase it down at all was nothing short of a testament to the effort these Rams are still putting in despite the 1-13 record attached to their name.

    “You talk about an effort play from a game that I don’t know if he even ate anything the three days before it,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “That was a pretty good indicator of what those guys have inside of them.”

    Effort doesn’t amount to a whole heck of a lot in the NFL. In fact, it’s probably the minimum requirement for what it takes to win an NFL game. Most teams that find themselves playing into January start with effort as the baseline and build from there.

    As with most things in life, when something goes wrong, the easy thing to do is give up, regardless of how well compensated you are or whatever prestige might go with a particular endeavor.

    For the Rams, that opportunity to call it a day has presented itself time and again this season. Yet, for many reasons, they have refused to pack it in and go quietly into the offseason.

    “That’s what I expressed to them in the locker room,” Spagnuolo said. “That means a great deal to me, the staff. I know it’s not easy especially for the vets. It’s not an easy thing to go through, not for any of us and yet they are able to dust themselves off, come back to work on Wednesday and get ready to play a game.”

    While that hard work and effort has amounted to just one win and a whole lot of respect from Spagnuolo for the players, those efforts aren’t going completely unnoticed around the world of football.

    To wit:

    CBS analyst and former Steelers coach Bill Cowher on the Rams: “The Rams are playing hard every week, and that is a reflection of their coach. I've been watching film on them and they are playing hard. As coaches, we are judged on wins and losses, but at this time of year, you're tired and beat up, and if a team is still putting out a good effort it's a tribute to their coach.”

    Or this excerpt from Sports Illustrated’s Peter King in his Monday Morning Quarterback column on cnnsi.com: “I love how hard the Rams are playing. Sign of respect for Steve Spagnuolo.”

    Of the 14 games the Rams have played in 2009, never was there a more likely time for them to pack it up and call it a season than Sunday against Houston.

    Consider the following: entering Sunday’s game against the Texans, the Rams had 10 players on injured reserve, three normal starters on the pregame inactive list including the team’s top passer and pass rusher as well as the No. 2 pick in last year’s draft.

    Further, the Rams entered the game coming off a 47-7 loss to Tennessee the previous week with a rookie quarterback who had just thrown five interceptions.

    And oh by the way, the Rams actually had to cancel their Thursday practice after confirmed cases of swine flu hit the team and at least six players came down with flu-like symptoms.

    All of that said, and logic says Spagnuolo should have expected the Rams to come out with little passion, right?

    “No, only because the team has proven it to us week in, week out as a staff,” Spagnuolo said. “When all of those distractions were thrown in there, I wasn’t sure how that was going to play. Guys were ill, and when you are in the middle of it you just go on to the next day but if you really think back at it, you talk about health, energy levels being down.

    “I was proud of the resolve, effort and fight in our football team.”

    When the record is what it is, that’s not a familiar refrain that anybody wants to hear. Make no mistake, though, it’s not one that Spagnuolo wants to keep repeating, either.

    “I will follow up and say that we are in no way satisfied with that,” Spagnuolo said. “We are not here for that. We are here to win football games. Our hunger to win is still there. That will never change.”

    With two games left in the season, including a road trip to NFC West Division champion Arizona this week, Spagnuolo has enough of a sample size to know his team won’t look away now and stop working toward another victory.

    For the first time all season, Spagnuolo even openly admitted to looking for two wins in the final two games which is only a revelation because he is constantly so adamant about only looking at the next game.

    “It’s two NFC West opponents which I think is important going forward,” Spagnuolo said with a laugh. “We can only focus on one at a time. You did, you got it out of me.

    “We have another one to play and we hope we get the same kind of effort. Again, we are not here for effort, we are here to try to win the game so we are not going to be satisfied with that knowing that the only way to win is to have that (effort).”

  • #2
    Re: Rams Keep Effort Up

    Playing on a one win team under a rookie headoach. A headcoach that made alot of unpopular roster moves last offseason and even during the season. As a player they have to give it all. That's if they want to have a job with the St. Louis RAMS next season.
    sigpic :ram::helmet:

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams Keep Effort Up

      Thats true, he is not afraid to cut someone loose.

      Comment

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      • eldfan
        Spagnuolo's wish: 2 more wins
        by eldfan
        By Jim Thomas
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        12/22/2009

        It's the season for Christmas cards and holiday greetings, but Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo is getting more than that in his mailbag these days.

        "I get some great letters and some great comments" from fans, Spagnuolo said. "It makes me feel good. I'm human. And I hope they still feel that way. If they can just remain faithful, that will be appreciated."

        Of course, not all of the cards and letters are complimentary, and Spagnuolo gets more than a few suggestions as well.

        "I like the ones that I get with the designed plays on them," Spagnuolo said, laughing. "Oh, I get a lot of designed plays … (on) small little index cards. We've had a few in there — all the good ones we've run."

        Anything for a victory, right? With just two games to play in his rookie season as an NFL head coach, it's no secret what's on Spagnuolo's wish list.

        "Two wins," he said. "Two wins. And it's two NFC West opponents, which I think is important going forward — how you play against the people in your division."

        If the Rams are going to improve, there's no better place to start than their own division. Since the conclusion of the 2004 season — the Rams' last playoff campaign — they are 4-24 against the NFC West, which breaks down to 0-10 against Seattle and 2-7 against both Arizona and San Francisco.

        The Rams play their final road game of the season Sunday at Arizona and then close out with a Jan. 3 home game against San Francisco.

        Given the Rams' depleted roster, the team's troubles in the NFC West probably will spill over into next season. On Monday, tight end Daniel Fells became the 12th Rams player to go on the injured reserve list, with a fractured thigh bone. Three other Rams basically are out for the season, although they haven't been put on IR yet: quarterback Marc Bulger (shin bone), offensive tackle Jason Smith (concussion) and cornerback Quincy Butler (knee and ankle).

        The injuries to Fells and Butler took place in Sunday's 16-13 loss to Houston, which dropped the Rams' record to 1-13.

        The team's depth and talent are questionable, and Spagnuolo is running out of players.

        "Yeah, slowly but surely. Anybody have any eligibility left?" he asked reporters Monday. "We're pretty banged up. The list is long. But it just gives another guy an opportunity. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it does. It gave some guys an opportunity (against Houston). And that'll happen again this Sunday."

        At least it looks like the worst of last week's illnesses and swine flu is behind the Rams.

        "I believe so," Spagnuolo said. "... There's some normal cold and flu going around."

        They don't give medals for trying...
        -12-22-2009, 11:02 AM
      • Alec22
        Rams Staying the Course
        by Alec22
        By Nick Wagoner
        Senior Writer

        By his own admission Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo can often have the sound of a broken record.

        Each week, win or lose, rain or snow, no matter the circumstance, Spagnuolo squares his jaw, focuses on the task at hand and approaches every game the same way.

        More than halfway into his rookie season as a head coach, Spagnuolo has never strayed from the team-first ethos he installed from the day he arrived in St. Louis way back in January.

        In the face of plenty of adversity, Spagnuolo has uttered nary a discouraging word and anyone looking for a full-throated, raging outburst should look elsewhere. And a little prosperity hasn’t had the opposite effect, either as Spagnuolo hasn’t come close to any type of braggadocio.

        “I have had my moments (of frustration),” Spagnuolo said. “But I think there’s a professional way to do it. I think everybody in this business should be respected for the jobs they have. I think any business is about respecting each other. I don’t see any reason to go off the cuff. I keep that to myself. Part of what we talk about as a team is being a poised team. You can’t be a poised team if the head coach isn’t poised.”

        Regardless of the record, if there’s one thing that has remained constant in this first year under Spagnuolo’s guidance it’s his and his team’s uncanny knack to remain unfazed by any possible distractions.

        Spagnuolo’s message reaches to the team, too. There have been no locker room or sideline blowups, only players staying relentlessly positive and focusing on the single goal of coming together as a team with the sole focus of finding ways to win football games.

        “Being a guy who has been here with the Rams now going for five years,” safety Oshiomogho Atogwe said. “Some of the younger guys and some of the vets need to see loyalty and faithfulness from the guys that have already been here and that’s going to carry over throughout the locker room so you just build a team that is really focused on one goal and one purpose and being one.”

        BUYING IN

        At Spagnuolo’s initial news conference when he was introduced as the head coach, he made it clear the way he and general manager Billy Devaney wanted to build the team back into a winner.

        Topping the list was finding a way to build a team that was all about team. A team that would fill the locker room with players that care as much about the guy next to them as they do themselves.

        Spagnuolo put the Rams through a rigorous training camp that had them tackling in full pads from day one and continued to put the emphasis on building the team concept every day.

        It was easy enough for the players to buy into the system then because they knew Spagnuolo’s impressive resume coming from winning programs in Philadelphia and New York.

        “I think...
        -11-04-2009, 12:32 PM
      • eldfan
        Rams Building Recipe for Late Season Success
        by eldfan
        Rams Building Recipe for Late Season Success
        By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer



        As one of the people in the Rams locker room with experience playing big games in December, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo knows plenty about what it takes not only to play in those contests but also what it takes to win them.

        And though the recipe for late season, playoff push success doesn’t require anyone to re-invent the wheel, it’s a recipe that not every team has.

        While Spagnuolo’s 2010 Rams are still putting all of those ingredients together, Sunday’s 19-6 win against the Cardinals in Arizona gave his team an idea of what it’s going to take down the stretch to reach the postseason.

        In a locker room that following wins has been alternately joyous, boisterous and downright giddy, the feeling after Sunday’s victory was much more businesslike and blue collar.

        “That’s a good sign,” Spagnuolo said. “That’s how it should be. Because as soon as you wake up the next day it’s on to the next one. That’s what this business is all about. You get too wrapped up in yesterday you miss out on today’s opportunity so the players have been good like that to their credit. That’s a big time compliment for this team.”

        Following Sunday’s win and all of the action that took place around the league on Sunday, the Rams remain in a tie for first place with Seattle at 6-6 and riding a two-game road winning streak heading into a difficult matchup this weekend at New Orleans.

        There’s no doubting that taking on the Saints will be a tall order, especially at the Superdome, but Spagnuolo believes that if you look closer at how his team won against the Cardinals, you can see the signs of a team that understands what it takes to win those types of games against good teams.

        Almost from the day he was named head coach, Spagnuolo has emphasized the fundamentals of the game and doing all of the little things necessary to get wins. That means limiting penalties, winning the turnover battle, converting on third down on offense and getting off the field on third down on defense.

        In Sunday’s win, all of those details broke the Rams way. They were penalized just twice for 15 yards. They turned the ball over just once and came up with a pair of takeaways. They converted six-of-17 on third down and held the Cardinals to just one third-down conversion in 11 tries.

        “We do always talk about winning the turnover ratio and protecting the football, especially at this time of year,” Spagnuolo said. “But I am probably most proud of the football team if the lack of penalties is a reflection of disciplined football that’s a good thing. Smart, tough football, when you play it together usually you have got a chance to win some football games.”

        Those are some of the more tangible elements needed to win, especially late in the season but there are...
        -12-07-2010, 02:11 PM
      • MauiRam
        Rams try self-analysis to stem their troubles ..
        by MauiRam
        By Jim Thomas Tuesday, October 4, 2011

        As the Rams' bye week begins, coach Steve Spagnuolo and his staff are in the midst of self-scouting. During a normal game week the focus almost entirely is on that week's opponent. But this week, the staff will look at its team from within.

        "I can tell you the things I know we're going to look at," Spagnuolo said Monday. "Certainly protections. Certainly third down on both sides. Certainly the run fronts on offense. These are the things that just stick out. You guys (in the media) can probably list another five or six of them."

        Sure can. Red zone offense, red zone defense, dropped passes, run defense, first-down offense, kickoff returns, false starts, slow starts all come to mind. If the Rams really wanted to self-scout all of their problems, they might need three bye weeks to work through everything.

        "I've learned this over the years," Spagnuolo said. "You can't go searching for things that are not there. And you can't knee-jerk react to things that you find. Because in a lot of instances, it just comes back to fundamentals. I know that's not the glorious answer that you want, but a lot of times that's what it comes down to."

        If true, the Rams must be about as fundamentally flawed as you can get, because they are at or near the bottom of the league in many categories. They are tied for second to last in points scored (46) and in points allowed (113). They're last in rushing defense, last in average yards gained on first down, and in the bottom quartile (or last eight teams) in red-zone offense, kickoff returns, total offense and total defense.

        So the Rams' 0-4 record isn't a fluke. But those expecting Spagnuolo and staff to reinvent the pigskin between now and the Green Bay game Oct. 16 will be disappointed. They aren't going to come out in a 3-4 defense, or switch to a run-and-shoot offense against the Packers. You simply can't make major scheme changes in a week or two.

        "I'll reiterate this," Spagnuolo said. "Both schemes — all three (counting special teams) — have been proven in this league at various places. So we believe in that. I know the players believe. What I do think we need to do is do it better. That's as simple as I can state it. And I believe in that.

        "Will we find a couple of wrinkles? Yeah. But you do that all the time. If we were 4-0, we'd find a couple of scheme wrinkles. But at the core, we're not going to abandon what we do. We're just going to do it better."

        Nonetheless, the staff already has talked about tweaking things. Spagnuolo, for example, said they have discussed rolling out quarterback Sam Bradford more to help the pass protection.

        "We could do that," Spagnuolo said. "Because Sam does throw the ball well on the run."

        And they've talked...
        -10-04-2011, 01:42 AM
      • RockinRam
        Spagnuolo, Rams Expect More Than Just Average
        by RockinRam
        By Jim Thomas, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

        Oct. 23--Every Wednesday when the Rams' practice week begins, coach Steve Spagnuolo strikes up a theme during the morning team meeting. This Wednesday, following the day's practice, Spagnuolo dropped it on the media almost casually.
        "I told the guys this morning we're 3-3, which means we're an average football team," Spagnuolo told reporters. "We're trying to get better -- 3-3 says average. Let me help you out with the injuries here ..."
        That's it? Your team registers a big victory, defeating four-time defending AFC West champion San Diego. And you tell them they're average?
        "I don't know what point he was trying to get across to the team by saying that we're average," running back Steven Jackson said. "But I do take this from the speech: We've put together two wins in a row before and we came out and laid an egg. Don't go and look at Tampa Bay as a gimme game. Go about it with the same approach that you prepared for the Chargers and other teams that you've played."

        Slowly but surely, Spagnuolo is trying to change how this team views itself and change its expectations. To wit, he didn't say a lot to the team in the locker room after that 20-17 victory over the Chargers. He didn't glow and gush about their effort, their progress, and that afternoon's achievement. It was more along the lines of: We expected to win, now on to Tampa Bay.
        "I think that just shows that the expectations around here have been set high," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "Obviously there have been some struggles in the past but there's no reason why this team can't have high expectations. He's right, 3-3 is an average team. We had a chance to win those first two games but we didn't, so we've got to continually get better and continue to set the bar high for ourselves."
        "We do not want to be average," center Jason Brown said. "Even though they're a few people out there that even if we finished out the season 8-8 would say, 'Oh yeah, they're rebuilding.' And give us a pat on the back for doing that."
        Actually, 8-8 would be quite an achievement considering the team's 1-15 mark a year ago and 6-42 ledger over the past three seasons. But Spagnuolo is pushing this team. He doesn't want it to settle; he doesn't want it to feel satisfied. Not in late October.
        "What he's trying to say is that regardless of how many games we've won (or lost) in the past, we're 3-3 right now," wide receiver Danny Amendola said. "And that's average. We didn't strive to be average. We're striving to be better than average. We're striving to be a great football team. And in order to get that we're going to have to win more games."
        The Rams were in a similar situation two weeks ago heading into Detroit. They had posted a couple of...
        -10-23-2010, 11:05 AM
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