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Gordon: DB Development Crucial for Rams

Discussion in 'RAMS - NFL TALK' started by RamBill, Jul 23, 2014.

  1. RamBill Well-Known Member

    Jul 31, 2010
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    Gordon: DB development crucial for Rams

    • By Jeff Gordon


    Let's face it, the Rams secondary remains a primary concern this season.

    The team did not use free agency to address this problem. As Post-Dispatch reporter Jim Thomas likes to point out, the current Rams defensive backs have just 71 NFL starts between them.

    So one of the big training camp storylines will be the team's ability (or inability) to develop young cornerbacks and safeties. The player development resumed Tuesday as the rookies started their training camp indoors at Rams Park.

    Can new defensive coordinator Gregg Williams clean up the back end of the Rams defense?

    The front seven is drawing rave national reviews. Rookie defensive tackle Aaron Donald adds one more play-wrecking threat to a line led by pass rushing defensive end Robert Quinn.

    Outside linebacker Alec Ogletree could become a beast in the aggressive Williams defense. Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis is a heady player, a critical quality in this complex scheme. Jo-Lonn Dunbar remains a stout run defender (and street fighter) and fellow outside linebacker Ray-Ray Armstrong offers big play potential.

    This unit expects to apply extreme pressure with its base defense as well the frequent blitzing on Williams' command.

    But can the Rams cover anybody? Last season opposing completed 68.1 percent of their passes against them, which is ridiculous.

    Part of that failure can be blamed on the soft schemes called by since-fired coordinator Tim Walton. But a big part of the problem was the glaring inability of certain individuals TO ACTUALLY COVER SOMEBODY.

    Now Williams is retooling the secondary with young veterans and rookies. Their job becomes somewhat easier when the Rams rush quarterbacks.

    Conversely, the job gets much, much tougher when the other side picks up the blitz and allows the quarterback to exploit single coverage.

    The NFC West features two of the sport's top mobile quarterbacks, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. Both players are adept at extending passing plays and forcing defensive backs to sustain coverage.

    That can make suspect secondaries a whole lot worse, as Rams fans saw last season.

    Cornerback Janoris Jenkins took a big step back in his second season. He made a lot of big mistakes, as he did as a rookie, without making the game-changing plays to offset those blunders.

    Jenkins did not win many ball battles. Nor did he master press coverage. He is capable of doing so much more.

    Third-year cornerback Trumaine Johnson intercepted three passes and made fewer mistakes than his running mate did. He is hardly a shutdown corner, though, so he needs to make big strides this summer.

    The Rams cycled out creaking cornerback Cortland Finnegan, whose play eroded dramatically due to injuries and advancing age. He became almost helpless in pass coverage.

    Half the gentlemen reporting on the Rams could have gotten open against him last season.

    Hard-hitting rookie Lamarcus Joyner will get a chance to beat out second-year cornerback Brandon McGee and step into Finnegan's blitzing/slot coverage role with Johnson and Jenkins working outside. Joyner could become one of the unit leaders in his first season.

    Second-year safety T.J. McDonald lost valuable developmental time after suffering a broken leg last season. He was improving by season's end but his cover skills still need work.

    Third-year safety Rodney McLeod is a handy guy to have on the team, but he lacks coverage range. Expect sturdy rookie Maurice Alexander to push for work at safety, specially against the run.

    Unfortunately Alexander missed a lot of off-season work after undergoing minor knee surgery. Nothing comes easily for this team.

    Gone are veteran safeties Darian Stewart and Matt Giordano, two more players who also spent too much time playing tag. Special teams ace Matt Daniels is back after missing must of last season with a broken ankle.

    But at the moment the Rams lack experienced depth. Second-year cornerback Darren Woodard, second-year safety Cody Davis, rookie safety Christian Bryant and rookie cornerbacks E.J. Gaines, Marcus Roberson, Eric Reid and Jarrid Bryant will all push for roster spots.

    Gaines was a playmaker at Mizzou last season in the rugged SEC, but he failed to impress in earlier Rams workouts. Reid is a speed burner who could bolster the special teams, but those wheels haven't translated to coverage ability.

    Jarrid Bryant, a converted wide receiver, is a worthy project standing 6-foot-3. But can he become more than just the tall guy playing defensive back?

    Injuries and off-field issues at Florida caused Roberson's stock to fall after earlier projections pegged him as a mid-round pick. Perhaps he figure it out with some tough love from Fisher and Williams.

    Maybe the Rams will find some gems at the bottom of this pile. Or perhaps the Rams will need to shop for help as the preseason unfolds and other teams look to shed veterans.

    The adventure is underway. How the secondary evolves could determine whether this team finally reaches the high side of .500.
  2. DCH This IS my 'oh' face.

    Jun 18, 2014
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    I'm looking forward to the secondary competitions in camp. I really hope Joyner is all he looks like he can be, Gaines stakes a claim to the dime-back spot, Reid plays well in coverage and on KRs, and Alexander comes in looking like McDonald Mark II.

    The ideal secondary, to me, would be:
    CB - Jenkins, Johnson, Joyner, Gaines, Reid
    S - McDonald, Alexander, McLeod, Daniels/Bryant

    Youth and talent are good things to have on this team, and I'm confident this leadership group won't do like Spags did and plug in one-year middling veterans to stunt the growth of their young upside guys.

    As much (I'm looking at you, 'Spoon)
    theramsruleUK and LACHAMP46 like this.
  3. LACHAMP46 Well-Known Member

    Jul 21, 2013
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    Very good read....I agree with all this....Do our corners have the ability to play press man more? Or was Walton actually protecting them by having them off half a mile? That is the question....Gains, Reid, McGee, & Joyner....who is the best out of this bunch? Does Woody really have game? If he couldn't play over that other corner from last year (Pointer?) I say he must be garbage.
    Mo Alexande, can he surpass McLeod? I like McLeod, but not as a starter. He plays hard on ST. Which leads me to Davis. The next guy he hits will be the first time I see it. Does he have a physical bone in his body? We'll find out....
  4. BigRamFan Super Bowl XXXVI was rigged!

    May 23, 2012
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    Jeff Gordon is clueless, which is exactly what I have come to expect from STL sports writers. Between the multiple typos and outright fallacies this "article" was nearly unreadable.

    ""JJ did not master press coverage"? Did Gordon even watch the games?! Walton had the Jackrabbit playing 8-10 yards off the LOS all season!
    "Special teams ace Matt Daniels"? He of one (1) assisted tackle in his career?!
    "Gaines failed to impress..." In what? OTAs?

    STFU Jeff Gordon!
    badnews and DaveFan'51 like this.
  5. tahoe Concerned Rams Fan

    May 19, 2014
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    This secondary is very very young but the talent is there, if they can limit the dumb mistakes they have the potential to be good.
  6. Athos Well-Known Member

    May 19, 2014
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    Well yes. It's the thing that may or may not hold us from being a top 3 defense. Our front line will be the most imposing group of men in the NFL with the ability to make a QB wet himself by the snap, imo.

    Fix that backfield and offenses will have to settle for 50 yard FGs.

    As for Gordon, he's another nincompoop in the pile of horse dung that are PD writers outside of Dave Matter.

    Gaines failed to impress? I must have missed something completely because, from what I understand, he'll looked pretty good. Athletic and fluid. In OTAs. Which don't really tell you much.

    Is Gordon on crack? Or just making sheet up?
    OC--LeftCoast, tahoe and BigRamFan like this.
  7. LazyWinker Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2014
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    I'm just glad he doesn't run things. Sounds like he would be the type of guy to sign a bunch of veterans.
  8. badnews Active Member

    Jan 14, 2013
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    Kind of a turd of an article IMO.

    One thing that is becoming clear: STL sports writers are not good.

    Our team is getting better under Fisher. National writers know this. Our local hacks only want to create doubt. Has there been even one article written by any of them that shows how far we have came, how in 3 seasons we went from having the least talented roster to one of the most? Nope. They all seem like pissed off kids because this current regime doesn't do them any favors.

    I wouldn't do them any favors either.
  9. theramsruleUK Well-Known Member

    Oct 21, 2013
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    Honestly, I have very faith that our secondary will step up this year.. Williams won't allow anything else!!
  10. Greg Stone Member

    Jun 20, 2014
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    I'm anxious to see Gaines in pre-season action. Watching Mizzou (I'm an alumnus) he often looked like a man among boys. I'm betting he can be a player on the NFL.