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Did Marcus Peters play his way back into the Rams’ long-range plans?

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  • Did Marcus Peters play his way back into the Rams’ long-range plans?

    Did Marcus Peters play his way back into the Rams’ long-range plans?
    By Vincent Bonsignore Mar 26, 2019 5

    PHOENIX​ —As the Rams shift​ attention​ from​ free agency to​ the draft, they​ face two​ urgent and​ obvious roster matters​ — neither​​ of which is easily addressed.

    The free-agent departure of Ndamukong Suh isn’t yet official, and Rams head coach Sean McVay actually cracked open a door on Tuesday for a possible return while speaking at the NFL’s annual league meeting. But the expectation is they’ll soon need to find a replacement for the veteran defensive tackle. The same is true at one inside linebacker position, after Mark Barron was released in a salary-cap savings move and then scooped up by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

    The Rams are relying on a combination of the draft, in-house options and the second phase of free agency to fill the two holes. But it might not be until training camp that it all gets sorted out.

    Meanwhile, another long-range issue is lurking.

    As it stands now, the Rams will head into the 2019 season with starting cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters entering the last year of their contracts. That’s a vulnerable position to be in and likely will necessitate them investing draft capital in a cornerback this month, or maybe two, given Talib’s age (33) and the cost it might take to lock up Peters beyond this year.

    Peters, in particular, represents an interesting situation, as it looked for long stretches last season like he was playing his way out of a long-term relationship with the Rams. He rallied midway through the season, and finished so strong it prompted McVay on Tuesday to lay out a compelling argument for making Peters part of the plan moving forward.

    “Absolutely,” McVay responded when asked by The Athletic if Peters is someone he’d like to move forward with long term.

    That might seem like a surprise, given how Peters struggled through the first half of the 2018 season while giving up a slew of big plays. The killer was when he got burned for 12 catches and 211 yards by Michael Thomas in Week 9, including a 72-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter to secure the New Orleans Saints’ 45-35 win over the Rams. It marked the low point of a rough stretch of games in which Peters seemed to be taking himself out of the Rams’ plans.

    It was easy at that point to write him off as a bust and rule the Rams’ trade for him an abstract failure. Not only was a long-term extension seemingly off the table, so too was the certainty he’d be back in 2019. That wasn’t what the Rams had in mind when they sent a 2019 second-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs last offseason for a player they felt would be a cornerstone of their defense.

    But two things immediately happened.

    First, Peters stood at his locker after the Saints game and held himself accountable for his poor play. He simultaneously vowed to get things turned around.

    Second, the Rams altered their defensive philosophy from an attacking man-to-man coverage scheme to more of a read-and-react zone look. The new scheme was a much better fit for Peters’ skill set. Rather than running with wide receivers in man coverage with his back turned to the quarterback — and losing sight of the play and the ball in the process — he was playing to his strengths by keeping the quarterback, ball and play in front of him and reacting off that. Peters became less of a risk-taker and more of a sound, prudent decision-maker and player.

    The results were obvious.

    After he surrendered 80 or more receiving yards four times over the first nine games, Peters allowed 80 or more yards just once over the last 10 games, including the playoffs and Super Bowl. And after getting burned for four plays of 35 or more yards in the first nine games, it happened just once over the next 10.

    “Sometimes you can be a better football player and the defense can be better as a whole if you’re taking less educated chances and everything is sound, you’re making teams earn it,” said Rams general manager Les Snead.

    In the second half of the 2018 season, Marcus Peters seemingly jumped back into the Rams’ long-range picture, with plays like this interception against the Bears. (Quinn Harris / USA Today)
    Said McVay: “I don’t know where that cutoff was, but really the last half of the season he played really good football.”

    In the process, Peters played his way back into the Rams’ long-range picture. A liability early on, while playing in a scheme that didn’t fit his skill set and while dealing with a calf injury he suffered in Week 3 against the Chargers, Peters became an asset over the second half of the season.

    McVay was as impressed with Peters’ ownership of the situation and diligence in working his way back as he was his actual performance.

    “We know what a great player he’s been throughout the course of his career in Kansas City, and there were some things that … he made plays that weren’t really indicative of what we feel like he is,” McVay said. “And what I loved the most about Marcus is that he took accountability for it. And I think that says a lot about him, where he wasn’t shying away from the fact that ‘I gotta be better, I gotta be more disciplined.’ And then I think, his ability to take the accountability but then also respond and get it corrected with (defensive backs coaches Aubrey Pleasant and Ejiro Evero), who do an excellent job of correcting and addressing some of those issues.”

    In fact, when McVay ran into Peters’ agent, Doug Hendrickson, in Phoenix this week, McVay told him if Peters can keep it up, he and the Rams could forge a long-term relationship. When the Rams traded for him, it was with the intent of making him a foundational piece of the future.

    And while that seemed dubious midway through the season, it very much looks to be on the table now.

    “At this point, yeah, based on age, position and his past,” Snead said. “I give Marcus credit. I give Wade (Phillips) credit. I give Aubrey credit. Everybody adjusted. OK, these are his strengths, these are his weaknesses. This is how he fits in our stuff. And everybody made adjustments. And that’s the goal and that’s the intent.”

    Peters will make $9.069 million this season in the final year of the five-year rookie contract he signed in 2015. The Rams could try to sign him to an extension this summer, although that might be complicated by the cash/budget effect created by contract extensions recently given last summer to Aaron Donald, Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks and Rob Havenstein. That likely means the Rams will put off an extension until after the 2019 season. The franchise tag is also an option if they can’t come to terms on a new deal.

    The point is, what looked like a short-term relationship midway through the 2018 season now looks much more promising.

    “I think the thing I was most pleased with with Marcus is that you find out a lot about people when they go through some tough times or some adversity,” said McVay. “And the way that he responded from some of those things early on in the year is what you love about him, and hopefully you get a chance to work with him a while. We’re excited about building into year two and (I’ve) been really pleased with Marcus and especially pleased with what you can find out, with all the experiences we went through in one year. The talent is there. We love the person and he’s passionate about the game. That’s the one thing, we talked about it a lot last year, but when you’ve got guys that love football and that are good people, at the end of the day you can work with that. The passion and different things, you love that and I’ve loved working with Marcus.”

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  • Nick
    McVay: Rams “absolutely” want to sign Peters to an extension 
    by Nick
    McVay: Rams “absolutely” want to sign Peters to an extension
    Tuesday, Mar 26, 2019 02:10 PM
    Myles Simmons

    Marcus Peters experienced a number of ups and downs in his first season with Los Angeles.

    He’s admitted as much — both during the year and since its conclusion with Super Bowl LIII. And at every turn, head coach Sean McVay has been complimentary of how Peters has taken accountability and turned adversity into a positive response.

    That’s part of why McVay told reporters at this year’s annual league meeting that the Rams would “absolutely” like to sign Peters to a long-term deal.

    “We are excited about building into year two, and we’ve been really pleased with Marcus — especially pleased with what you can find out with all the experiences that we went through in one year,” McVay told assembled reporters at the coaches breakfast. “The talent is there, love the person, and he is passionate about the game. That was the one thing that — we talked about it a lot last year — but when you got guys that love football and that are good people, at the end of the day you can work with that. The passion and the different things — you love that — and I’ve loved working with Marcus so far.”

    At this point, both of Los Angeles’ starting outside cornerbacks — Peters and Aqib Talib — are entering the final year of their contracts. With Talib, that’s a six-year deal he signed with the Broncos back in 2014. For Peters, that’s the fifth-year option that came from him being a first-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

    When the Rams traded for Peters last offseason, they received a players who had a strong ability to create takeaways — Peters had picked off 19 regular-season passes and forced five more regular-season fumbles in three years with Kansas City.

    But once the regular season started, Peters — again, self-admittedly — made plays that were uncharacteristic for an individual of his talent level.

    “What I think was unique about getting a chance, in the first year to see Marcus go through a lot of things in one year, where some of the things early on, we know what a great player he’s been throughout the course of his career in Kansas City and there were things that — he made plays that weren’t really indicative of what we feel like he is,” McVay said. “And what I love the most about Marcus is that he took accountability for it, and I think that says a lot about him. Where he wasn’t shying away from the fact that, ‘I got to be better, I got to be more disciplined.’

    “And then I think his ability to take the accountability, but then also respond, get it corrected with Aubrey and “E” doing an excellent job of correcting and addressing some of those issues, I thought he played excellent,” McVay added, referring to cornerbacks coach Aubrey Pleasant and safeties coach Ejiro Evero.

    As the season continued, McVay said,...
    4 weeks ago
  • Nick
    CBS: Here's why the Rams aren't worried about trading for Marcus Peters
    by Nick
    Here's why the Rams aren't worried about trading for Marcus Peters
    Second-year coach Sean McVay says his players know exactly what the expectations are
    By Ryan Wilson
    18h ago • 2 min read

    Last week, the Chiefs agreed to trade cornerback Marcus Peters to the Rams. The deal can't be finalized until March 14 -- the first day of the new NFL year -- though questions were immediately raised about why Kansas City would part ways with one of its best players.

    The team suspended him for a game in December after a bizarre episode that included Peters chucking an official's penalty flag into the stands and then leaving the field after wrongly thinking he was ejected. When he returned to the sidelines, he wasn't in full uniform. There were also reports that he got into shouting matches with assistant coaches and angered team chairman Clark Hunt by refusing to stand for the national anthem. But Andy Reid is also known as a players' coach -- the Kansas City Star's Sam Mellinger notes that Reid has suspended exactly two players during his 19-year coaching career: Peters and Terrell Owens -- and Peters was one of the NFL's brightest young defensive talents playing in a secondary that was among the league's worst.

    But for the Rams, Peters' skills superseded his baggage and they seem unconcerned that he could be a problem in Los Angeles -- especially since he's in the final year of a rookie deal that will pay him $1.7 million in 2018. And while second-year coach Sean McVay wouldn't speak in particulars about Peters so as not to violate the league's rules on tampering, he was happy to speak more generally about the culture he and his staff created in Los Angeles last year when the Rams improved to 11-5 after 4-12 in 2016.

    "These are grown men, and it starts with the mutual respect that exists, where they know it's about developing and building relationships," McVay said, via the Star. "If we're going to ask our players to be coachable, we've got to be coachable as coaches as well. That displays an ownership and an accountability that we try to all have and makes the players more receptive to the messages we try to implement."

    McVay continued: "[The players] know exactly what the expectations are, what our standards are, and they know what it is to do it the right way."

    Peters, who grew up in Oakland, never seemed comfortable in the Midwest and perhaps a return to California will make the "maybe a change of scenery will be good for him" cliche a reality. The truth, of course, is that Peters' ability on the field makes it worth putting up with everything else.

    "Anytime you have guys that can cover and do different things as far as matching up with receivers like Antonio Brown," McVay said, "that gives you a chance to be versatile and maybe mix some things up in terms of the pressures...
    -02-26-2018, 04:45 AM
  • MauiRam
    Competion In L.A.
    by MauiRam

    As for the Rams, the Sean McVay hire makes all the sense in the world on paper. Take the 32nd-ranked offense in the NFL and put it in the hands of the man who helped Kirk Cousins grow into one of the most prolific and accurate quarterbacks in the NFL. (If that sounds like an exaggeration, recall that Cousins passed for 4,917 yards last season in Washington, third-most in the NFL, and completed 67% of his passes, good for seventh.)

    The bigger unknown when it came to McVay,s hiring was how his age (31) would translate into ability to lead and manage a football team of 53 egos and personalities on a middling franchise one year into relocating to the second-most populous city in the United States.

    Andrew Whitworth took the leap of faith when he left the team that drafted him in 2006, the Bengals, to join the Rams at 35 years old on a three-year, $36 million contract to anchor an offensive line that allowed 49 sacks in 2016. Whitworth is one of two players on the roster who is older than McVay, who was a high school freshman quarterback running the triple option at Marist School in Atlanta when Whitworth was a redshirt freshman at LSU in 2001. Adding Whitworth may prove to be the best decision McVay and GM Les Snead have made early in the process of turning around the Rams, not simply for his pass blocking but for his experience in McVay's offense. The scheme Whitworth learned under Jay Gruden in Cincinnati is, with slight variations, the same one McVay learned under Gruden in Washington. Former No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff spends much of his time with Whitworth quizzing him on how Andy Dalton handled certain situations in the offense.

    In Whitworth's estimation, the message McVay would deliver this summer would resonate and had the potential to set a permanent tone for the season, good or bad.

    You listen to him talk about defense, offense, special teams and you realize this guy knows football like no other. He's special in that way, Whitworth says. But there's something else that makes him special. I would imagine its very hard for a coach of his age to be as assertive as he has and cover the topics he has in a team meeting setting. Talking about character, about being accountable to one another, focus, discipline, the way we communicate with other.

    I think it's a great place to start a football team. You see teams that are really successful when guys carry themselves the right way on and off the field.

    Connor Barwin, another veteran free agent acquired this offseason by Snead, came away similarly impressed with McVay: He's figured out what he believes in and what he wants to stand for and what he wants the team to stand for, Barwin says. That's something that's important, and something somebody might not expect out of a young coach.

    McVay has introduced in his short time with the football team a theme of competition. Whitworth says it...
    -07-26-2017, 10:44 AM
  • RamDez
    Peters Takes Accountability for On-Field Mistakes
    by RamDez
    Myles Simmons RAMS INSIDER

    NEW ORLEANS — Down 38-35 with 4:02 left in the fourth quarter, the Rams had the Saints in 3rd-and-7 on their own 28. If Los Angeles’ defense could hold quarterback Drew Brees and the prolific New Orleans offense in this situation, there would be a clear opportunity for L.A.’s offense to have an opportunity for a go-ahead score.

    But, as we know, that didn’t happen.

    Brees dropped back and fired a strike over the outstretched hand of cornerback Marcus Peters and into the hands of wide receiver Michael Thomas for a 72-yard touchdown.

    Detailing the play to reporters postgame, Peters said Thomas “beat me off the line, I looked back and tried to make a play on the ball, [stuff] like that happens in football.”
    Prior to the snap, it looked as if Peters was trying to communicate something to the rest of the defense. But then the ball was snapped and Thomas darted down the field.

    “We were just trying to the line and we were just trying to get something out and it just happened like that — I got beat — communication, all that, regardless, I got beat,” Peters said. "Once the play starts, you got to go out there and compete and I didn’t and they got off and got a 72-yarder.”

    One of the pillars of head coach Sean McVay’s tenure with the Rams so far has been accountability. It’s part of why he so consistently says that he will look at himself critically, and readily self-criticizes when things don’t go Los Angeles’ way.

    Peters did the same postgame, making no excuses for his play. Not every word was fit to print, but he was frank in discussing what he sees as his recent failings.

    I got beat on the play. I can stand up, I can play better, I’ve been playing [poorly] the last couple weeks and that’s just being honest,” Peters said. “With me, I’m going to continue to fight and that’s the type of player I am. … You’re going to get beat in football, but you go out there and you compete to the highest of your ability and [stuff] happens.”

    Given that he suffered a calf injury against the Chargers in Week 3 and never missed a game, Peters was asked if he was fully healthy. He didn’t necessarily take kindly to the line of questioning, but eventually ceded, “I’m healthy now.”

    “If I wasn’t healthy, the coach wouldn’t have me out there,” Peters said. “As I said, I’ve had a bad couple of weeks you feel me? I own up to that and I step up to that. I’m a top [expletive] corner in this league and I ain’t been playing like that. You can put that on me.”

    “I get beat sometimes, but I go back and I change to go do what I’ve been doing — every week to week, day to day, grinding — I come out here and I compete my ass off,” Peters later added.

    Despite Peters’ comments, safety Lamarcus Joyner defended his teammate when the corner’s self-criticism was brought to his attention.

    -11-05-2018, 07:16 AM
  • Nick
    Bonsignore: The path was rocky, but TE Everett is where he always believed he’d be
    by Nick
    Bonsignore: The path was rocky, but Rams TE Gerald Everett is where he always believed he’d be
    By VINCENT BONSIGNORE | | Daily News
    PUBLISHED: May 13, 2017 at 9:39 pm | UPDATED: May 14, 2017 at 10:03 am

    Every one of the 30 or so dreamers lining the Rams practice field this weekend in Thousand Oaks has a story to tell. You don’t just pull up at an NFL rookie minicamp, a place where lifetime dreams are allowed to continue or meet their bitter ends, without toting an extraordinary amount of baggage the result of roads less traveled.

    For every high draft pick with a lucrative contract on the way, there’s three undrafted free agents hoping to make enough of an impression to get a training camp invite.

    For every former five-star recruit from USC or Alabama, there’s a former no-star recruit who flashed just enough at tiny Tarleton State to earn an NFL tryout.

    Yet here they all wound up at the same place at the same time with the same singular objective.

    “And it’s funny when you think about it,” Rams rookie tight end Gerald Everett observed. “We all want to end up at the same place, but everyone’s path is a little different. There’s really no one path to the NFL.”

    But there is one common thread.

    “You just have to keep working for your dream,” Everett said, “No matter where you start, or what obstacles are in your way. Just keep fighting.”

    Everett is a case in point.

    In the back of his mind he always felt he would find his way onto the NFL radar. The raw athletic ability was always noticeable growing up in Atlanta. From a physical standpoint, there were compelling components to work with.

    On the other hand, he did set football aside when he got to high school to focus on basketball and track and field. At the time it seemed like the beginning of the end of his football career. But in retrospect it turned out to be a shrewdly brilliant decision.

    The basketball skill-set he honed is one he he presently leans on to help beat defenders to the football. At 6-foot-3, Everett’s vertical leap enables him to outjump defenders for the ball but he can also box-out to secure his fair share of 50/50 balls.

    “My basketball background really helps me on the football field,” he said.

    A reality he soon learned upon circling back to football his senior year of high school after moving from Martin Luther King High to Columbia in Decatur, Ga.

    It turned out to be one of those just-in-the-nick of time decisions that set him on his current path.

    Albeit one with enough twists and turns to fill a page-turning best seller.

    Everett earned All-State honors at Columbia after a breakout senior season, only his sudden arrival to the recruiting party was entirely too late to garner scholarship interest.

    Bethune Cookman, an FCS program, did...
    -05-14-2017, 12:23 PM