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  • Defense turns up intensity

    Defense turns up intensity
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Dec. 05 2004

    San Francisco running back Kevan Barlow had slipped through a small opening on
    the left side when Rams linebacker Robert Thomas roared in from his right. A
    split- second later, Barlow lay flat on the Edward Jones Dome turf, the victim
    of a ferocious blast that not only sent Thomas' teammates into an
    adrenaline-fueled frenzy but also epitomized the Rams' newfound intensity on

    "I enjoyed that," defensive end Tyoka Jackson said, adding that Thomas was
    "coming off an (ankle) injury, and he's had a tough time of it. It was great to
    see that guy get an opportunity to do something that fired the whole defense
    up. We need more of that."

    Although first-year defensive coordinator Larry Marmie has preached
    aggressiveness since training camp, the Rams have been slow to adapt. Often
    appearing tentative and confused, they were ranked 28th in the 32-team NFL in
    total defense - 31st vs. the run.
    Yet on Sunday, this beleaguered group limited the ***** to a pair of field
    goals in a crucial 16-6 victory that kept the Rams' playoff hopes percolating.
    San Francisco (1-11) hardly qualifies as an offensive juggernaut. Still, the
    Rams (6-6) displayed assertiveness, coordination and enthusiasm that has been
    missing all season.

    "It just shows that we definitely have it in us," Thomas said.

    Coach Mike Martz noted that at long last, the players' adjustment to Marmie's
    system is beginning to smooth out. "They were where they were supposed to be,
    and they were confident," Martz said. "I'm very happy with their effort and the
    fact that there were few, if any, mental errors. The progress was significant,
    and the intensity level was pretty obvious."

    Outside linebacker Tommy Polley, who lost his starting job in the preseason and
    has struggled throughout the year, suddenly was everywhere: Press-box
    statistics credited Polley with a team-high eight tackles, and he also was
    effective shadowing Eric Johnson, the *****' prolific tight end. Johnson had 10
    catches earlier this season against the Rams; on Sunday, he mustered only two.

    The Rams yielded 160 total yards, their lowest total in more than three years
    and less than half their average (364.0) for 2004. Barlow and his running mates
    had 63 rushing yards on 27 carries, a meager 2.3 yards per attempt. Quarterback
    Tim Rattay produced just 97 passing yards, and he was sacked four times.

    "Finally ... that's what we're looking for," strong safety Adam Archuleta said.
    "This game is about confidence, and when you have confidence in what you're
    doing and you're aggressive, it just reinforces everything."

    The ***** advanced inside the Rams 20-yard line just once, and a sprawling
    interception by cornerback Jerametrius Butler halted that fourth-quarter drive.
    Butler, a fourth-year pro from Kansas State, tied his career high with his
    fourth interception.

    "I recognized the formation, and I kind of figured they were going to run the
    slant," said Butler, who darted inside wide receiver Brandon Lloyd for the
    pick. "I just went underneath and jumped the route."

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Rams defense shows continued improvement
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Dec. 12 2004

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Time after time, the weary Rams defenders were strapping
    their helmets on and heading back to the field.

    Quarterback Chris Chandler threw six interceptions, a career-high for the
    17-year NFL veteran, and Shaun McDonald muffed a punt, the Panthers recovering
    deep in Rams territory. Those miscues led to the Panthers running 70 plays to
    the Rams' 53, and building a whopping time-of-possession edge of more than 11

    Still, the Panthers had only a 19-yard advantage, 308 to 289, and mustered just
    4.4 yards per snap to the Rams' 5.5. That's because the defense held strong in
    the face of withering adversity.

    "I feel like we've morphed into the defense we'd hoped we would be," coach Mike
    Martz said. "I was very, very excited and pleased with the way they played
    after that initial quarter."

    The Panthers jumped out to a 14-0 lead, scoring after Chandler's first
    interception and then cobbling together their only march of notable length -
    nine plays, 69 yards, 4 1/2 minutes. The Panthers had racked up 124 total yards
    after the opening 15 minutes.

    Over the next three periods, they tacked on only 184 more and added only a pair
    of field goals. Carolina had averaged 344 yards per game previously in its
    winning streak, which has stretched to five games.

    A week ago, San Francisco had just 160 yards, the lowest total of the season by
    a Rams opponent. "We've gotten better," said cornerback Jerametrius Butler, who
    recorded his fifth interception of the season Sunday. "It took us a while to
    pick up the defense (Larry) Marmie brought in, but we're learning."

    Marmie, in his first season as defensive coordinator, runs essentially the same
    system as his predecessor, Lovie Smith. But Marmie's approach comes with
    different individual requirements, and Martz acknowledged recently that the
    Rams might have been too conservative in implementing the new package.

    Now, the unit seems to be jelling. But that's of little consequence as the team
    clings to fading playoff hopes, strong safety Adam Archuleta stressed.

    "What does it matter if you don't win?" he said. "The bottom line in this
    league is wins and losses. You could feel good about yourself all you want, but
    at the end of the day ... this is a game that we needed to win, and we didn't
    win it.

    "So, it really doesn't matter how we feel as far as what we did as a team. We
    didn't play well enough to win."

    Whining about the turnovers on offense isn't acceptable, linebacker Pisa
    -12-13-2004, 05:39 AM
  • RamDez
    Martz sensitive about Rams' struggling defensive unit
    by RamDez
    Martz sensitive about Rams' struggling defensive unit
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Oct. 02 2004

    The many penalties have been puzzling. Special teams have been anything but
    special, with the exception of Jeff Wilkins. As for timeouts, replay
    challenges, and use - or is it neglect? - of the running game, well, "Mad" Mike
    Martz has been particularly maddening this season.

    But when all is said and done, the most disappointing element in the Rams' 1-2
    start has been the play of the defense. The Rams rank 30th in total defense and
    30th in rushing defense. That's third from the bottom.

    For the first time since the move to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams have gone
    three straight games without a takeaway.

    Arizona's Emmitt Smith ran like he was 25 instead of 35 against them in the
    season opener. In Week 2, Atlanta's Michael Vick played like Superman; he's
    looked like Clark Kent against everybody else. And last week, New Orleans'
    Aaron Stecker gashed them for 106 rushing yards. Not only was this a career
    high for Stecker - it was practically a career. He had never run for more than
    175 yards in a season in his four previous NFL campaigns.

    "We've just got to play better," Martz says. "I don't think it has anything to
    do with Larry (Marmie)."

    This obviously is a sensitive subject for Martz. He replaced one good friend
    (Lovie Smith) with another good friend (Marmie) as defensive coordinator after
    Smith became head coach in Chicago. In fact, it's such a sensitive subject that
    Martz refused to make Marmie available to be interviewed for this article.

    Marmie's hiring in St. Louis drew some criticism because of the
    less-than-stellar performance by the Arizona Cardinals' defense during his four
    seasons there as defensive coordinator.

    "Whatever problems we have right now on defense, we certainly ended up last
    season with," Martz said. "It's not like we were playing such great defense at
    the end of the season last year. When you look at the rushes and the yards per
    rush, that's a big concern, whoever the coordinator is.

    "We've just got to do a better job of tackling at the point. We've had some
    missed tackles that have ended up in big plays. You can't have that. And that
    has nothing to do with who's coaching the defense. Or the system. Or anything
    else. We've just got to make a play, and make a tackle."

    Not stepping up

    The Rams haven't been swarming to the ball, one of their trademarks under
    Smith. So when somebody misses a tackle, there's no one there to bail him out.
    Or no one there to jar the ball loose for a fumble after the initial tackler
    -10-02-2004, 11:43 PM
  • RamWraith
    Sloppy play drops sharply
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Oct. 05 2004

    By shoring up three areas of vulnerability, the Rams cruised to just their
    third win at San Francisco since 1990.

    The Niners defeated the visiting Rams 37-13 in 2002 and 30-10 last season, so
    Sunday night's 24-14 victory was especially sweet. Defensive end Leonard
    Little, who had seven tackles, a sack, a fumble recovery and three hits on
    quarterback Tim Rattay, said the intensity of the rivalry with the ***** "is
    still there. There's a lot of spirited hitting when have you two rivals like
    the ***** and the Rams. We won (Sunday), but we have no illusions: We know
    they'll be tough when we play them again," on Dec. 5 at the Edward Jones Dome.

    First on the Rams' to-do list, though, is getting back into solid contention in
    the NFC West. They will take a 2-2 record to Seattle on Sunday. The Seahawks,
    who had a bye, lead the division at 3-0.

    The Rams' chances surely will be enhanced if they can continue some tendencies
    that surfaced at Monster Park: stop the run, win the turnover competition and
    cut back on penalties.

    After yielding an average of 164.7 rushing yards a game in their first three
    outings, the Rams limited San Francisco to 58 yards on 19 carries. The *****
    picked up only 3.1 yards a carry, compared with the 5.4 combined by Arizona,
    Atlanta and New Orleans.

    "It's hard to explain why we had troubles before, but we did better,"
    linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. "We can only hope that this is just the

    The Rams entered Sunday's game as the NFL's only team without a takeaway. They
    were minus-6 in that department. But Little recovered a fumble and cornerback
    Jerametrius Butler intercepted a pass, and the offense converted those into 10
    points. The Rams committed no turnovers of their own. "It makes a lot of
    difference," Butler said. "We could've had some interceptions the first three
    games, but it felt awful good" to get the first one.

    In the first three games, the Rams averaged almost 10 penalties, for an average
    assessment of nearly 72 yards. They were flagged five times vs. the Niners, for
    43 yards.

    "We played disciplined football," coach Mike Martz said at his Monday news
    conference. "We're getting better, we really are."

    Team honors Coady for emergency start

    Utilityman Rich Coady was called to emergency duty again, as Adam Archuleta's
    sore back and tight hamstring restricted him to passing-down situations. Coady
    started at Archuleta's strong safety spot a week after filling in for Aeneas
    Williams, temporarily moved...
    -10-05-2004, 05:38 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams Getting Defensive
    by RamWraith
    Monday, September 19, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    It has been quite awhile since the Rams last put a game in the hands of their defense, but that’s exactly what they did Sunday afternoon in Arizona.

    And to the credit of that revamped St. Louis defense, it did the job when it needed to. The Rams held the Cardinals to four field goals and were able to keep Arizona from scoring on a last-minute drive to preserve a 17-12 victory at Sun Devil Stadium.

    “It would have been nice to hold them to three or four and out in their territory and let our offense take a knee,” strong safety Adam Archuleta said. “But this was a good test for our defense. I think we kind of needed that to get some confidence. I’m glad it ended up this way.”

    There have been few Rams’ teams in recent years that anyone would rather see the defense on the field than the offense with the game on the line. Of course, anytime a team has a lead it would prefer to have its offense on the field to run the clock out, but it’s a change of pace to hear one of the Rams’ defensive leaders saying that they wanted to be on the field.

    That is the type of change that could pay huge dividends down the road for a team that has spent the better part of the past year searching for a defensive identity. That’s not to say that the Rams boast the best defense in the league, but after a couple of weeks, it certainly stacks up among the top half of the league.

    With a pair of Monday night games still to be played, the Rams sit at No. 15 in total defense, allowing 298 yards per game. But a further glimpse at where those yards have come from would seem to indicate that St. Louis has been even better in those two games against San Francisco and Arizona.

    The ***** boosted their yardage total with the help of a number of trick plays, including a pass by receiver Arnaz Battle that netted 24 yards. The Cardinals had modest numbers in Sunday’s game until they were able to post almost 80 yards on their frantic, last-minute drive.

    But the biggest difference so far for the Rams defense resides in the front seven, where the defensive line is getting push on passing downs and eating up blockers on run plays and the improved linebacker crew is hitting its fills and punishing the running backs.

    Before Monday night’s games, the Rams ranked fourth in the league against the run, allowing just 58 yards per game on the ground. Some might scream that is because St. Louis has yet to play a premier back the likes of Shaun Alexander or Priest Holmes, but the fact is that the Rams still have to do their job against the run, something that was difficult a season ago.

    “Who knows?” coach Mike Martz said. “You still have to play, and if you are good, you still have to make those plays. They are competing very well, and they are getting better every week. So,...
    -09-20-2005, 05:14 AM
  • RamWraith
    Defense Makes Statement
    by RamWraith
    Monday, October 4, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    SAN FRANCISCO- With complaints in St. Louis ranging from play-calling to the offensive line, the Rams’ defense has, perhaps, been the most maligned.

    Entering Sunday night’s game against the *****, the group had been pushed around by the likes of New Orleans’ running back Aaron Stecker. The questions swirled around the unit like a tornado. Why couldn’t they stop the run, some cried. How come they can’t get a turnover, others inquired.

    Consider those questions answered. Every member of the defense emphasized every day that nobody wanted to create big plays more than they did. Defensive end Leonard Little even went as far as taking the blame for the loss to the Saints, claiming that he needs to carry the defense at times.

    It was no coincidence then that Little came up with the ball when the Rams finally got that long-awaited takeaway. With 1:45 to go in the first quarter, linebacker Tommy Polley broke through the offensive line and pried the ball loose from San Francisco quarterback Tim Rattay as he brought his arm backward. The ball bounced forward where Little caught sight of it and made his move. With a golden opportunity to get that first turnover, Little said he wasn’t about to let it get away.

    “We work on scooping and scoring every day in practice, so I just wanted to pick the ball up first,” Little said. “I just picked it up, but the first objective was to get that possession and that first turnover.”

    The Rams’ sackmaster spent most of his evening moving all over the field, lining up on both sides of the line and generally wreaking havoc in the *****’ backfield.

    He said he doesn’t worry about where he plays as long as he is making things happen.

    “I don’t care, they can line me up at safety, I do not care,” Little said. “As long as the team wins and we keep getting on this roll.”

    Getting turnovers wasn’t the only goal for the Rams entering Sunday night’s game. The defense had been prone to allowing big running plays and was set on improving in that area. Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett insisted that his teammates were much better than they had shown in the first three games, but were waiting to break out.
    That problem appeared to be corrected, also. The Rams held San Francisco to 58 rushing yards and only 3.1 yards per carry. Running back Kevan Barlow gained just 42 yards on 15 carries.

    Little said that kind of effort was exactly what the defense was looking for.

    “Our main objective was trying to stop the run,” Little said. “We were able to do that pretty much tonight. We did a good job.”

    LONG-TIME LISTENERS: Cornerback Kevin Garrett and offensive lineman Scott Tercero made their first career regular season starts against San Francisco.

    Garrett started in place of DeJuan...
    -10-05-2004, 05:37 AM