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  • Rams defense shows continued improvement

    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
    Tinoisamoa emphasized. "We're out there to defend; we don't go out there just
    to sit around," he said. "If the offense gives them the ball, it's our job to
    get it back or to keep them from scoring."

    Tinoisamoa's sore shoulder took another blow, and he left briefly for X-rays.
    He returned and finished with five tackles.

    "Guys are out there battling," he said, noting that Butler and fellow
    cornerback Travis Fisher also came back after being shaken up. "We always knew
    we were a good defense. We just had to get things together."

    Defensive end Bryce Fisher, who had two sacks and seven tackles according to
    press box statistics, said the Rams are striving to progress to the point where
    their defense dominates as Carolina's did Sunday.

    "They're an offense that's keyed by their defense: turnovers, short fields ...
    that's the way that they play offense," he said. "Our offense turned it over
    seven times, but we had chances to force turnovers ourselves, and we just
    didn't make those plays. So their defense was able to control this game."

Related Topics


  • Nick
    Defense turns up intensity
    by Nick
    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...
    -12-06-2004, 12:11 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
    Defense does its part
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Monday, Oct. 22 2007

    SEATTLE — On their first series Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks rolled through the
    Rams for 71 yards on 11 plays and a touchdown. Over the next 52 minutes 20
    seconds, the Seahawks tacked on only 208 additional yards.

    "We kind of settled in and got comfortable," tackle Adam Carriker said. "We
    played pretty well. But obviously not well enough to win."

    Despite putting together one of their stoutest defensive efforts of the season,
    the Rams sunk to a franchise-worst 0-7 with a 33-6 defeat at Qwest Field.

    "The score speaks for itself," linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. "As a defense,
    your job is to prevent scores. So you can say, 'Well, they didn't have a
    100-yard rusher, they didn't go over 300 (total) yards.' But they got 33
    points, and that's the name of the game: who has the most points at the end."

    With the Rams garnering scant points of their own — just three field goals over
    the last two weeks — the defense's task is heightened. "Anytime we're out
    there, there's pressure," cornerback Tye Hill said. "We all get paid to do a

    Part of the defense's job was to contain running back Shaun Alexander, who had
    topped 100 yards in each of his last five games vs. the Rams. It did that:
    Alexander mustered just 47 yards on 19 carries, a meager 2.5 yards per try.

    Part of the defense's job was to keep the Seahawks under 300 yards. It did
    that: Seattle had 289, the third-lowest total by a Rams opponent this season.

    "The defense stepped up and played," tight end Randy McMichael said. "We
    didn't. Offensively, we stunk up the football field."

    The Rams committed five turnovers — three interceptions and two fumbles — and
    the Seahawks feasted on short fields. Their longest scoring march after that
    first series was 52 yards, for a field goal. They collected points on "drives"
    of minus-6, 14, 19 and 38 yards. Seattle also scored on a 91-yard kickoff
    return by Nate Burleson to open the second half.

    "I think the defense is making a lot of improvement," coach Scott Linehan said.
    "It hasn't showed up in our record, and that's unfortunate."

    A week ago, the Rams yielded just 264 yards in Baltimore. But the Ravens
    capitalized on six turnovers and cruised 22-3. Because of injuries and a
    suspension, the Rams' 11 defensive starters going into the season hadn't been
    on the field together all year until Sunday.

    "It felt good; we're a good 'D,'" Tinoisamoa said. "But it is a bunch of guys
    coming back in. We've got to get used to playing with each other...
    -10-22-2007, 05:42 AM
  • RamWraith
    St. Louis Continues Search for Takeaways
    by RamWraith
    Wednesday, September 29, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Turnovers. The one defining characteristic of the Rams’ defense in their dominant five-year run has been turnovers.

    Interceptions and fumble recoveries, no matter the method, takeaways can cure a lot of what ails a defense. Give up 450 yards of offense? No big deal, get the ball. Without them, an opportunistic defense becomes a mediocre one.

    A defense that forces turnovers can alter a game in a matter of moments. Last year, St. Louis had such a defense, as they had a league-leading 46 takeaways. That number more than made up for the 315.8 yards per game it allowed. The totals did more than keep the opponent from scoring; it instantly gave the ball back to one of the league’s most prolific offenses.

    With three games in the books this season, the Rams find themselves still searching for their elusive first takeaway. At the same stage of the season last year, St. Louis had three fumble recoveries and an interception.

    During the offseason, there were a few changes on the defensive coaching staff. Defensive coordinator Lovie Smith left to take the head job with Chicago. Former Arizona defensive coordinator Larry Marmie replaced him. The philosophy didn’t change much, but there is still an adjustment to a new coach and that might have contributed to the lack of takeaways.

    Rams’ coach Mike Martz said any time a new coach is added there is an adjustment period.

    “I think anytime you inherit a system and he’s very aware of the system, he has to put his own stamp on it and be able to adjust with the personnel,” Martz said. “We’re in the process of going through some of that. I said at the beginning of the year we’ll have some growing pains early, but eventually we’ll be a pretty good team.”

    The opportunities for turnovers have been there. Instead of converting, though, those close plays have resulted in near misses instead of big plays, none more than the painstaking almost got it miss by cornerback Aeneas Williams in the Rams’ 28-25 loss to New Orleans on Sunday.

    Saints’ quarterback Aaron Brooks fired a pass over the middle into the endzone with his team trailing 17-16 and more than eight minutes to play in the game. Williams broke on the ball, as he has so many times in his career, and appeared to have a game-saving interception. Instead, the ball squirted through the future Hall of Famer’s hands and fell into Saints’ receiver Joe Horn’s for a touchdown.

    After the game, Williams shouldered the blame for the loss, pointing directly to that play.

    "When I have an opportunity in the end zone to make a play on a ball and don't, that's a serious letdown to my teammates," Williams said. "We wouldn't even be in the situation that we were in at the end of the game. I have to make that play."
    -09-30-2004, 05:38 AM
  • RamWraith
    'Dismal': Offense a dud in Rams fifth straight loss
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. — This wasn't just a loss, it was a train wreck. And it wasn't just the outcome that was so disturbing for the Rams, but the way it happened.

    The Carolina Panthers entered the game a pedestrian 17th in the NFL in total defense. But they looked like the Steel Curtain, the Monsters of the Midway and the Doomsday Defense rolled into one Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

    The Panthers threw a 15-0 shutout at the Rams on a day when the St. Louis offense played so poorly, it looked paralyzed.

    "It's not only the zero but the total yardage, period," running back Steven Jackson said. "Coming into this game, everyone was running on all cylinders. For us to come in and put on a dismal performance like that, it's very humbling."

    The shutout was only the third for the Rams since the move to St. Louis in 1995, and the first since a 14-0 whitewash in Miami in 1998. But those were the Rams of Tony Banks at quarterback, June Henley at running back and J.T. Thomas at wide receiver. You know, the Same Old Sorry (Bleep) Rams.

    These are the Rams of Jackson at running back and Pro Bowlers at quarterback (Marc Bulger) and wide receiver (Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce). So even with seven-time Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Pace out with a triceps injury, the Rams' offensive ineptitude was stunning.

    "It was a very poor showing," coach Scott Linehan said. "We can't play like that on offense."

    But they did. The Rams finished with a mere 111 yards of offense, the club's second-worst output as a St. Louis-based franchise. (The '96 Rams gained only 105 yards in a 34-0 loss to San Francisco.)

    On Sunday, only six Rams plays gained more than 10 yards. They ran only two plays in Carolina territory all day — and both were disasters:

    — Early in the second quarter, on a first-and-10 from the Carolina 47, Bulger was sacked for a 10-yard loss.

    — With 5˝ minutes to play in the fourth quarter, on another first-and-10 from the Carolina 47, Holt lost a fumble after a 7-yard catch.

    End "highlight" reel.

    "They definitely had a bead on us defensively," Jackson said. "It seemed like whenever we were going to do something, they were on top of it. So hats off to their defensive coordinator."

    Then again, it wasn't hard to get a bead on the Rams because they were so one-dimensional on offense. They ran the ball only eight times — with seven carries by Jackson and one by Stephen Davis. This wasn't a case, either, where the Rams had to junk the run because they fell behind big. The Panthers led only 3-0 until late in the first half and 10-0 until late in the third quarter.

    "I was just really surprised they didn't...
    -11-20-2006, 05:17 AM