Hey everybody, I’m back. I hope you all liked the last blog and are ready for another.
This week, I want to talk about our progress as a team over the last few seasons. I’m really excited about what is happening here in St. Louis and I’m so proud of the steps taken by this franchise. I definitely respect the way Coach Spagnuolo runs this organization and this team.
The progress made by our team, on both sides, is something I take pride in (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
A couple years ago when he got here, we were one of the worst defenses in the league. The mindset from the offense was that we were going to be in a shootout to win games. Now the mindset has completely changed here. The culture has completely changed. Our defensive players believe they can win the game on their own and they just need us to not turn the ball over.
I think having two units with that type of confidence is going to make us a great team. We truly believe that even if our offense is having an off day, we can win the ball game because we’re going to play tough, hard-nosed football and create turnovers.
Vice-versa, as an offense we believe that we’re going to be quick striking and very explosive so that if our defense falters, we believe that we can outscore the other team. I think that’s what championship teams are made of, when you have two or three units covering for each other.
The big change this year has been on the offensive side where we’re running the new system of Josh McDaniels. Working with Coach McDaniels over the last few weeks has been great. He’s a pretty intense guy but he’s more demanding of his quarterbacks than anybody else. He has high expectations for his receivers as well, but that’s because he knows what the offense as a unit is capable of.
His offense allows for guys to be explosive and it puts us into a position to have positive plays where we’re not always fighting an up-hill battle against the sticks. When you get into bad spots with down and distance, it becomes a guessing game between the coordinators and it doesn’t allow players to take control of what we see on the field.
In this offense, we’re going to be an action packed unit that is very entertaining for the crowd, but the scheme also requires for everyone to be very smart and on the same page. We’ll break the huddle with two or three plays and choose one depending on what we see from the defense at the line of scrimmage. So everyone has to be able to communicate and see the same thing.
Communication starts up front and our offensive line is coming along really well.
I’m really impressed and encouraged by what I’ve seen out of them. One of the big things for me was bringing in Harvey Dahl, who was in Atlanta, as a free agent. He and I started meshing from the moment he strapped on his helmet and entered the huddle to practice with the first unit.
For me, the adjustment comes in getting a feel for how he moves and how fast he reacts to certain things. Timing a play and hitting a particular hole is all about knowing the personnel in front of you. Some guys move faster or better in space than other guys. Some pull better than others, so you have to know these things about your personnel and who is most athletic. That helps me time up my steps so I’m not having any wasted movement with the ball in my hands.
We’ll continue to work on those relationships as we work through the preseason and into the season, but we already have a good feel for each other.
Getting to know new personnel and a new offense this year is actually the challenge that I needed. After a while, when you’re a veteran, even though it should get easier, sometimes you can allow yourself to comfortable because you start to know everything. It becomes almost too routine.
Learning the tendencies of the guys around me again and learning a new playbook helps me stay sharp mentally and physically. It’s going to allow me to go into this season very crisp.
A DYNAMIC UNIT
Since we hadn’t really run this offense in a game prior to last week, we were actually watching a ton of film early in camp on the Patriots and the Broncos, Coach McDaniels’ last two stops as a coach.
Through watching that, even though there is different personnel, you get to see the schemes and the concepts that he wants us to work on. Even though we don’t see ourselves on the field, you understand what the guy in your position was doing in each play.
It gave everyone a better idea of what is going to be expected of them in this offense. This new offense is going to put every one of us out there in a position to be successful. I think we’re more than ready for it.
I’ve definitely sensed that Sam Bradford is a different player than he was at this time a year ago. I think last year he entered his first season nervous about what to expect and not sure how guys would accept his leadership. But now he has proven to guys that he has what it takes to lead this team.
This year he’s more vocal in taking control of the team and that’s something you like to see out of your quarterback. Sam has that voice now. He’s not stepping on any toes, but he’s evolving in that natural process of becoming a leader and a face of this franchise.
Our offense now has a spectacular quarterback and what we’ve been missing is two or three receiving targets for Sam.
It’s a real competition between all of those guys out there now at receiver. We’ve got some young guys that are hungry and some vets. Adding Mike-Sims Walker brings a certain credibility to our receiving corps as a compliment to Danny Amendola. Mike has been a dynamic player in this league and did a great job down in Jacksonville.
He brings the ability to stretch the field. That opens up running lanes for me because teams have to play more coverage defense rather than loading up the box. You know I’m excited about that.
FROM THE FANS
Before I go I want to answer a few more questions from you guys on Facebook. We’re hitting the subject of defense this week because I think everybody is curious about that unit.
The first question comes from Christopher Balven. Chris wants to know:
“The Rams have made a lot of changes in the defensive front. You practice with them everyday and know what they bring to the table. What would you say it’s going to be like to face them as an opposing running back this year?”
I think our defense presents a lot of different fronts that can be confusing not only to a quarterback, but an entire offensive unit. It’s going to make it really hard on running backs to see their keys before the snap of the ball. They’re going to have to depend more on their natural ability on the fly than being able to trust and believe in what they see throughout the week that they’ve prepared themselves for.
Our other question this week comes from Nick Petterson. Nick asks:
“Steven, if you could play any position on defense for the Rams, what would it be?”
Good question. I think I’d be torn between either strong safety or defensive end. At a defensive end, I think you need to have a natural ability to be a pass rusher to get around a left tackle. I also think I could blitz from the outer ends of the defense and beat an interior lineman or a running back one-on-one to get to the quarterback.
For strong safety, I believe that even though I’m strong enough to be aggressive at the point of attack and get to a quarterback, I think I also have the ability and the athleticism to cover a receiver out on the edge and in the interior slot.
I have a great deal of respect for the guys that play both those positions and those are two that I wouldn’t mind trying out.
That’s all for me this time guys. Thanks for reading and have a great week.