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  • Rams look to Rebound by Nick Wagoner

    Rams Look to Rebound

    By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer
    Posted 15 hours ago


    In a quiet and solemn locker room following Sunday’s loss to Baltimore, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo kept the message to his team as simple as possible.
    There was nothing profound there, no deep, introspective Sun-Tzu philosophical speech, no Lombardi-esque rah rah speech.
    No, it was a simple message delivered with the urgency that would be needed when your team just fell to 0-3 and you are doing your best to keep a season from slipping away.
    “I told the team when you get in a situation like this as a football team, all you worry about is winning a game,” Spagnuolo said. “That’s it. You don’t worry about stats or any of that stuff; you just worry about winning a game. This particular year the next team on the schedule is Washington so that’s what we’ll focus on.”
    In that message, Spagnuolo emphasized to his team that there is no reason to look at anything else right now. Three games into the season is way too soon to begin wondering about scenarios or playoff pictures or any of that kind of stuff.
    Anything beyond what happens this week is of little to no importance. The task right now at 0-3 is to fix the myriad mistakes that have plagued the Rams in the first three weeks and go back to work.
    As one of the team captains and the heart and soul of the team, running back Steven Jackson reiterated Spagnuolo’s message to his teammates and later to the media about focusing on the task at hand.
    “The season is not lost,” Jackson said. “First things first, we need to get a W. I wouldn’t lie to you. We definitely need to get a W and we need to get one fast. It’s not because of a lack of work ethic. I can rest assure you that. I give you my word as the captain of this team. Guys are working hard. To be competitive, you have to show up each and every Sunday, you have to do the little things right. You can’t continue to come in each game making mistakes in the red zone, making mistakes on special teams and different areas of the game, especially when you play good teams like we have these first three weeks.”

    Indeed, the Rams have faced three teams widely regarded to be among the league’s legitimate playoff contenders in the opening three weeks.
    In the first two weeks against the Eagles and Giants, the Rams suffered double digits losses largely via self inflicted wounds that seemed to be reasonably correctable. But Sunday’s 37-7 loss to the Ravens opened up some new wounds that raised more questions than already existed.
    The continued mistakes have left the Rams to wonder about finding solutions but not their current predicament.
    “It’s pretty easy to see to me,” defensive end Chris Long said. “We make a lot of mistakes, bottom line. And we are playing good teams. You can’t make mistakes against good teams. Last year there were some games where we weren’t playing as stiff a competition as this. If you want to be a good team, you’ve got to beat good teams. We make that many mistakes against a bad team you might not win a game. We’ve been making them against the Ravens, the Giants and the Eagles.”
    Unfortunately for the Rams, things aren’t going to lighten up anytime soon in terms of the schedule.
    Going into tonight’s game against Dallas, Washington is 2-0. After this weekend, the Rams head to the bye week and then face Green Bay and the Cowboys on the road followed by high-powered New Orleans at home.
    Since 1990, when the NFL expanded the playoffs to 12 teams, only three teams starting the season 0-3 have gone on to make the postseason. Only one 0-4 team, the 1992 Chargers, has gone on to play on the game’s biggest stage.
    Of course, none of those statistics are anything the Rams need to worry about at this juncture. They don’t care about making any kind of history, only about getting that first win in the books in hopes it will snowball into a winning streak.
    The question is how do you avoid falling into the traps that are inherent in such a disappointing start?
    “You don’t panic,” Laurinaitis said. “There has to be a sense of urgency. You just have to keep focus on getting that first W. That’s where it’s got to start. The next one is Washington but I’m not going to panic. I know the kind of guys we’ve got in our locker room. We have a bunch of tough individuals that are going to go to work and try to work on stuff and stay humble. That’s what you have got to do. This one definitely stings but as cliché as it sounds you have to move on to the next one. You can’t change what just happened, you’ve got to face it like a man and try to fix what we did wrong.”
    The fixes required this week and in the coming weeks are many. Against the Ravens, the Rams struggled in nearly all areas of the game.
    Offensively, there were breakdowns across the board with protection issues for the offensive line, the inability of receivers to get open and make catches and even quarterback Sam Bradford put the onus on himself for not getting rid of the ball quickly.
    “You just have to find a way to win,” Bradford said. “I think we’re all frustrated. I think everyone is disappointed and I think we know we’re better than 0-3. But at this point, it just becomes all about us coming together as a team and finding a way to win whether that’s running the football all day, throwing the football all day. As an offense, we’ve got to find a way to be better and help our defense and just find a way to get a win.”
    The Rams aren’t without their holes on defense also. While the Ravens had great success throwing the ball deep against the Rams secondary, it’s also not possible to hit those deep balls if the pass rush is getting home and forcing the quarterback to deliver the ball faster than he’d like.
    There isn’t any one solution to what ails the Rams right now but one thing that isn’t breaking down is the belief in the locker room in the talent that’s in place.
    “I know we don’t have that broken spirit because if we did, then we would continue to have loss after loss,” left tackle Rodger Saffold said. “Guys are still trying to say ‘Hey, you’ve got to pick it up, pick it up, pick it up.’ We need that. That’s something that wasn’t in this locker room years ago. So right now you might hear that people are down but you get to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, you will start hearing that positive talk again, people talking about how hard we’re working, hear people getting excited for that fourth game.”
    Jackson backs up what Saffold says and also doesn’t believe there is a large talent gap in place like there might have been in past year.
    “We are very disappointed,” Jackson said. “We have the talent, coach and (general manager Billy) Devaney have gone out and tried to make every position competitive so we can have the best guys on the field at all times and for these last three games for whatever reason we continue to stump ourselves, continue to turn the ball over, continue to execute and it is very frustrating. All we can do is look ourselves in the mirror and that’s where we can start. It’s very frustrating, especially as a team leader. You want more, especially because you see the grind, you see what guys are putting in but for whatever reason it’s just not happening for us on Sunday.”
    The good news is there is still time to dig out of the hole that’s been dug in the first three weeks. While this year’s team is a bit different in terms of personnel, the makeup of the locker room hasn’t changed.
    Last year’s team showed an uncanny ability to be resilient, consistently coming back after dropping a couple of games. Long, Laurinaitis and others that were here for that hope to draw from that experience moving forward.
    “It’s frustrating but the season is not over,” Long said. “The sun will rise tomorrow. We have been in worse situations than this. Maybe not with the “expectations” as high but our expectations are always high…we want to compete for a division title. That’s still our expectation. We want to compete for the NFC West championship. We are 0-3, we have 13 games left. You do the math. We are not out of anything.”

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  • ZiaRam
    Rams Have Bye Week to Put an End to Bad Football
    by ZiaRam
    by Howard Balzer

    The Rams won't be changing their schemes during their bye week. They won't be making any drastic changes.
    What they will be doing is examining closely what they are at this point. Many teams around the NFL are trying to figure that out right now, while establishing a personality.
    Aside from playing bad football, this Rams team doesn't have an identity.

    From an explosive beginning when running back Steven Jackson scored on a 47-yard run on the first offensive play of the season, the offense has quickly degenerated into a dysfunctional mess that has was fueled by the injury Jackson suffered on that run and the loss of wide receiver Danny Amendola, quarterback Sam Bradford's security blanket, also in that first game.

    The coaching staff wasted no time Monday beginning the self-scouting process that could also include some soul-searching. Players will practice Tuesday and Wednesday, but most of the coach's time will be spent being realistic assessing the talent on hand and figuring out the best way of utilizing it when the season resumes with an Oct. 16 game in Green Bay.

    As coach Steve Spagnuolo said Monday, "You never know when you get the schedule at the beginning of the year if the bye week comes at a good time. In this particular case I think it does."
    It wasn't difficult for Spagnuolo to list what will be scrutinized closely.

    "Certainly protections, certainly third down on both sides, certainly the run fronts on offense. These are the things that just stick out. You guys can probably list another five or six of them, but we'll look at them all. And the thing you do have to be careful with, with that, and I've learned this over the years, is 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."
    Ah, fundamentals. Like catching the ball. Like blocking somebody. Like lining up correctly or not starting too soon.

    Games can change when a team is simply opportunistic and fundamentally sound.
    "I think some of that is we're living through some growing pains there," he said. "We've got guys out there for the first time in NFL games. I know it's the fourth game and I'm not trying to make excuses, but if you don't catch the football ... both sides of the ball; if you don't catch the football, come up with it when it's on the ground it makes it hard to win. It changes everything when you get the turnovers on defense and when you catch those particular balls on offense. The whole thing changes."

    When asked about changing schemes (something that would be unrealistic anyway during a season), Spagnuolo said, "Both schemes offensively and defensively,...
    -10-04-2011, 10:19 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams Ready To Go Big Game Hunting
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams Ready to go Big Game Hunting
    By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer

    It’s been a long time since the Rams have played a meaningful football game with legitimate playoff implications this late in the season.

    So long, in fact, that running back Steven Jackson, one of the most tenured players on the roster, says he himself isn’t even sure how he will react to being in one.

    But that’s exactly where Jackson and the Rams are as they head to San Francisco to take on the ***** on Sunday. Simply put, when all things are considered this is the most important regular season game the Rams have played since 2004.

    “Well, it’s something that I’m looking forward to learning,” Jackson said. “I’m being honest right now. To have a big game, to learn how to win as the stakes get higher, as the season goes by, it’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully we can keep ourselves in this position but everything goes back to what we’ve always been taught around here – one week at a time, one game at a time. But if you continue to win, the stakes get bigger.”

    The stakes this week probably won’t break the Rams’ season but it sure could make it. At 4-4, the Rams have yet to get over a couple of road bumps.

    First, they are winless in three tries away from the confines of the Edward Jones Dome. Second, they have yet to get over the .500 mark, a place they haven’t been since 2006.

    If the Rams can come away with a win against the *****, there’s a very real possibility they could be sitting alone in first place by Sunday evening.

    “We’ve been working hard to get to a point where in November and December, our games can put us in the postseason,” Jackson said. “So it’s really showing the hard work guys have been putting in, not only during the season, but OTAs and training camp. Guys are starting to come together, and guys are excited.”

    It’s only fitting that a game of such importance for this young, emerging group would come against long time division rival San Francisco.

    In the late 90s, the ***** were the gold standard for the NFC West Division and it wasn’t until the Rams were able to beat them that they truly arrived on the scene as a genuine threat to win the division, let alone go to the playoffs.

    The landscape within the division is a bit different now as the ***** sit with a 2-6 record going into Sunday. But make no mistake; San Francisco is as talented a team as there is in the division.

    “Early in the (season) when they stumbled, they lost three games by two or three points,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “This league, there’s a fine line in this league. That’s a talented, good football team. We’re not going to be blinded by the fact that they’re 2-6. They’ve won two out of their last three, and they’re on the rise. So that’s what we’re up against.”

    -11-12-2010, 05:45 PM
  • Nick
    Burwell: Dose of reality for Rams
    by Nick
    Burwell: Dose of reality for Rams
    BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist | Posted: Tuesday, November 16, 2010 12:30 am

    Because they have gone from zero to respectable faster than we expected, the Rams now find themselves in a rather enviable but slightly unfair circumstance.

    Fans of every stripe, from the unreasonable meatheads to the savvy cognoscenti, have decided to readjust their expectations. In September when considering the potential evolution of this franchise, who wouldn't have been satisfied if the young Rams had just shown us that they were simply capable of walking upright again?

    But now that they have shown us a glimpse of their true potential — a tantalizing little accelerated peek at what could be for a franchise that had been in the dumps for far too long — it's easy to forget what we're actually looking at.

    The 4-5 Rams are exactly what their record says they are. So it hurts to see this young team stumble on the winless road (0-4) the way it continues to do. But it helps because we're reminded why the road seems to be so difficult for them. (Simple answer: because they're still not quite good enough to take that next step on their evolutionary trek.)

    But it hurts to see these oh-so-close defeats because of the way they keep getting oh, so close. Yet it's time to understand exactly what these games mean. It doesn't mean the Rams stink or their coaches are idiots or that everyone should be fired as some Internet deep thinkers would suggest. Just because they flirt with moving up to that next tier does not mean they are ready to move up a notch or that it is a complete failure.

    Perspective, people, perspective.

    Stumbling like this is part of the frustrating but ultimately fruitful process of growing. It's not a guarantee that the Rams will take these hard lessons from the road and turn them into a fine championship blend by next season. But history does show us that while worst-to-first rapid ascents do happen in the NFL, the most common road to the Super Bowl is a slower journey paved by harsh lessons along the way.

    So as Sunday's latest maddening road show in San Francisco showed us, at 4-5, the Rams have improved so much from a year ago that we can see how much better things have gotten. This is the season of The Big Breakthrough.

    But the down side to The Big Breakthrough is that it also exposes the even bigger tease. Good enough to show you where they're going but flawed enough to remind you where they've just come from.

    On Monday afternoon at Rams Park, Steve Spagnuolo showed up at his normal day-after-game press briefing to rehash the frustrating aftermath of a 23-20 overtime loss in San Francisco. And if you listened to him talk, you could tell that he has not lost sight or perspective, even if too many people around this team have. "I'll hit you real quick...
    -11-16-2010, 07:42 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams Focus On Staying United
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams Focus on Staying United
    Monday, October 5, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    As the clock wound down on the Rams’ loss to San Francisco on Sunday, running back Steven Jackson made it a point to provide some obvious leadership to his young teammates.

    No, Jackson didn’t return to the sideline yelling and screaming. He didn’t get a silly penalty to try to prove some sort of toughness, either.

    Instead, Jackson did what he always does. When the ball was handed to him, he ran as hard as he could. Regardless of the score, Jackson kept grinding away against a San Francisco defense that had fully committed to trying to slow him down.

    In the process, Jackson knowingly sent a message to his teammates that quitting is never an option.

    “That last drive I was able to be in, I just tried to run with a different determination, not to say that I was holding anything back, but you have got to understand that when you are down like we were you don’t give up,” Jackson said. “We are professional football players and we are expected to execute. We are going to lose battles out there but within those battles you cannot lose yourself in the game. We have to continue to fight no matter what the scoreboard says.”

    Now four games in to the 2009 season, the Rams have reached the quarter pole of the first season under coach Steve Spagnuolo.

    While that opening stretch hasn’t resulted yet in a victory, Spagnuolo and locker room leaders such as Jackson are doing everything they can to keep the ship headed in the right direction.

    For the league’s fourth-youngest team (average age of right around 26), the rebuilding process can be slow and painful. And when dealing with youth and inexperience, it’s imperative for the people who have been around – the veterans and the coaching staff – to keep hammering away at the details until they become second nature.

    It’s a painstaking process but it must be done. And though Spagnuolo can’t send any messages with his play on the field, it is his job to continue to take the temperature of his team and find ways to keep everyone’s head focused on moving on to the next step and not allowing any losses to fester.

    “I believe in this group,” Spagnuolo said. We can get out of this and work our way out of this. It’s going to take a lot of work. Nothing I am going to say is going to be different than what I have been saying all year long. Those games are done, we move on to Minnesota. We try to learn from it and we try to get better as a football team.”

    Indeed, Spagnuolo has been true to his message from day one, never altering the tone or even the volume of what he wants to convey to his team even in the face of adversity.

    Following Sunday’s loss to San Francisco in which many of the problems that have plagued the Rams in the...
    -10-05-2009, 07:32 PM
  • evil disco man
    Steven Jackson Blog: A Week To Remember
    by evil disco man
    Steven Jackson | A Week to Remember | Official Website of Steven Jackson

    10/07/2010 - 02:02
    A Week to Remember
    by Steven Jackson

    Welcome back to my blog, everybody. It's been a great week for the Rams, and a great week to be a Rams fan.

    I have to start this out with a shoutout to all of my fans. The encouragement I've been receiving from you all has been very humbling. You have been there since day one, supporting me through the thick and thin, and acknowledging my efforts and my competitive spirit. It's something that I will always have and the support is something I'll never overlook. I'm greatly thankful for my fans and their kind words.

    The Rams fan base as a whole has been amazing. To give them something to cheer about has been special. The Dome is starting to get loud again. With the noise they're creating, offenses are picking up penalties, which are helping us. To be able to have them behind us, to support us and give us energy, it's been a blessing.

    It really does help a lot. It allows for the us to feed off the energy that the crowd is creating for us to give our team that extra boost and pull out whatever we have left in us. The win over Seattle was great for all of us and I just knew going in that I had to be in there with this team.

    I knew that this win could potentially propel us to turn this organization and this team around because Seattle has had our number for so long. Our last win against them was in a 2005 playoff game my rookie year. It's been quite some time since we had a chance to beat that organization and since then, the division has been going through either Seattle or Arizona for the title.

    Every year we set a goal to win our division and then hopefully to go on and win a Super Bowl, but in order to even get to the playoffs, you have to win your divisional games. It was a huge game that we all knew was going to be a tough task. They've had our number. They know our personnel really well. They're a team that matches up with us really well.

    So last week when I injured my groin and I had my MRI and everything came out to be a minor deal, I wanted to take every chance to leave the window of opportunity open to play in the game. I knew then that I was going to do everything in my power to make sure I could get out there and play.

    I worked like crazy to get myself back and be able to take part in that game. I felt like, even if I didn't have a lot of yards, or statistically my numbers weren't that impressive, my presence would draw enough attention that it would allow our other playmakers on the field to get open. I knew I could play that chess match with the other players and Seattle's defensive coordinator.

    I didn't go into the game thinking I was going to break an NFL record or anything but I knew that me at 80 percent or 90 percent was still going...
    -10-07-2010, 08:16 PM