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Wrapping Up Seattle and the Season

Posted by nickwagoner on January 3, 2011 – 11:14 PM

- The mood at Rams Park on Monday afternoon was understandably somber. Such an abrupt ending to a rollercoaster season that many thought would end with a playoff berth and a NFC West Division title can be a bitter pill to swallow and it certainly was on Monday.

- However, the Rams were in a much more retrospective mood given some time to reflect on what occurred this season and the strides the team made.

- This is a team that went from 1-15 a year ago to 7-9 this year. In the process, it improved from 29th to 26th in total offense, from 29th to 19th in total defense, from 31st to 12th in points per game allowed, from 30th to seventh in sacks and from a tie for 30th to 10th in turnover differential. The Rams also finished second in third down defense a year after finishing 29th.

- So if you don’t believe progress was made, the numbers would argue vehemently against you.

- All of that said, it doesn’t make for an excuse for what was a missed golden opportunity to claim a division crown Sunday night in Seattle. That’s a sobering reality that nobody at Rams Park would hesitate to acknowledge. To a man, each player has stepped up and taken accountability for what went wrong: the dropped passes, the missed blocks and tackles, the bad reads, the silly penalties. All of the things that have hampered the Rams this year seemed to rear their ugly head in one foul swoop last night in the biggest game of the year.

- Before we get into some reflections and updates, let me give you a couple of quick pieces of information.

- The Rams will draft 14th in this year’s NFL Draft. You probably already know what the needs are: WR, OLB, DB, DT, more help on the interior of the offensive line. But the Rams are a long way from locking in on anything and, as always, general manager Billy Devaney will explore all options and look for the best player available when the Rams time comes.

- The Rams’ 2011 opponents are set. On paper, it looks awfully tough but remember, this is the NFL, things change dramatically from year to year. Here’s a look at how it breaks down. The actual schedule won’t be released until April:

Home games: Arizona, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Washington, Baltimore, Cincinnati.

Road games: Arizona, Seattle, San Francisco, Green Bay, New York Giants, Dallas, Pittsburgh, Cleveland.

- Of course, this offseason will be shaped by the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement situation. The league intends to have a draft one or another but free agency would be greatly altered by a lockout. It remains to be seen how fast a resolution will come and it’s something we’ll certainly be watching in the coming weeks and months.

- Back to the Rams, some tidbits from the locker room the day after the season ended.

- S Oshiomogho Atogwe is due a big roster bonus this offseason but made it clear he’d like to stay in St. Louis to continue to see this process through and be part of the team that returns to the playoffs.

“I want to be back,” Atogwe said. “However we can make that work, we’ll talk about it. Going forward, it’s just whatever God has for me, whatever God has for the organization, He’s going let His will be done and I’m cool with that.”

- WR Mark Clayton says he is ahead of schedule in his recovery from his season-ending knee injury. But he also emphasized that he really wants to stay in St. Louis and make this his permanent home. He’s scheduled for unrestricted free agency this offseason but again, the CBA could change things some depending on what happens. Regardless, Devaney has made it known the Rams would like to keep Clayton and the mutual feeling likely keeps him in Rams horns beyond this year.

“I really want to be here,” Clayton said. “I was really excited about coming. I am totally committed to the organization, the players. I love Sam. I have developed relationships with guys on the defense and offense…I love the relationships. I love the organization. The coach is awesome, he’s passionate. I can relate to that. I would love to be here.”

- QB Sam Bradford says he’d like to work on “everything” this offseason but says his main goal is to become more comfortable in the offense. Bradford says he felt comfortable with a lot of the basic reads and things he was fed this year but that he’d like to go to the next level to be able to do more pre-snap reads where he can make choices and checks to get the ball down the field.

“I felt like for the most part I was comfortable with what we were doing, but I still stayed within our base reads,” Bradford said. “I’d like to be able next year to pre-snap, maybe take some more shots down field just based on leverage and matchups that we’re getting.  Within plays that were really designed to take an intermediate throw, recognizing what the defense is giving us and maybe take a shot.  So that’s one of the big things.”

- Bradford also said one of his offseason priorities will be to find a home in St. Louis and set up shop here on a more permanent basis.

- RB Steven Jackson says he is as healthy as he’s been going to an offseason since 2006. He says he is planning to play in the Pro Bowl this year and will likely have the pins in his broken finger removed sometime soon after that.

“Other than the broken finger, since 2006 this is probably the healthiest I’ve been finishing a season,” Jackson said. “That’s very, very positive, especially coming off a back surgery where a lot of questions was will I be able to endure another NFL season? I’m very proud of that, to not only go through a surgery, but to play in all 16 games.”

- Jackson says he believes the Rams offense is close to a breakthrough but acknowledged the need for more play makers and guys capable of scoring anytime they touch the ball. He also said he believes the Rams are now a more attractive option to free agents and he’ll do what he can to help recruit potential help for the roster.

“I trust that our front office will make whatever decision they feel like is best for the team,” Jackson said. “Whatever that is, I assure you that I’ll be ready to play football for the 2011 Rams. I’ll come back hungrier than ever. Being this close, it won’t take much motivation to get the body back together for training back in March. I normally take a couple months off, but March time I might be ready to go.”

- Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo also addressed the media on Monday afternoon and wrapped it all up. As for the season, he again expressed his pride in what the team accomplished but also his disappointment in the outcome. Still, he believes there were important lessons to be gained from the season and thinks those lessons will serve the team well going forward.

- Speaking of going forward, Spagnuolo says the coaching staff will immediately get to work on evaluating the players already on the roster. When that’s through, Spagnuolo says he will look at the coaching staff. He said it’s too early to determine if any changes could be made in that regard.

- On the injury front, DE Chris Long is seeing a hand specialist but no results were available immediately. I’ll have injury updates on things throughout the week.

-  That’s going to do it for today. I’ll have plenty of updates and stories coming this week as we put a bow on this season. Thanks again for following all season long. Here’s to another busy offseason.


Posted in From the Sidelines | 4 Comments »


4 Responses to “Wrapping Up Seattle and the Season”

  1. By BH on Jan 4, 2011 | Reply

    Any insight on Danny Amendola’s status/projected return for 2011??

  2. By Rachel Stivers-Stewart on Jan 10, 2011 | Reply

    Nick, as an expressive and loyal St. Louis Rams fan, my intention was to have posted a detailed response to your above cordial, informed From The Sidelines Blog entry before now. As for the delayed response, I will spare you the details! In short, I experienced an unexpected very tough week following the Rams’ tough season ending loss one week ago Sunday (yesterday).

    Since week six, I have been offering comments once a week so there is no way I can let this final game and 2010 season “wrap up” without my offering some closing comments as closure and recap are important. If possible, please hold on the bow!

    As I am getting back on track with my schedule this Monday afternoon, I will share my thoughts tomorrow, Tuesday (1-11-11). And of course, I will have a “TEAM RAMS” OFFSEASON WISH!

    Respectfully & Prayerfully, Rachel Stivers-Stewart, RAMS FAN IN NEBRASKA

  3. By Rachel Stivers-Stewart on Jan 12, 2011 | Reply

    POSTED FOLLOW-UP RESPONSE WEDNESDAY (1-12-11, 4:45PM) &
    “TEAM RAMS” OFFSEASON WISH!

    PREFACE: Nick, it has truly been wonderful to have this galvanizing From The Sidelines Blog on this elaborate stlouisrams.com website to turn to during both the Rams’ football ups and downs during the 2010 season. As we look at the big picture filled with substantial detail from start to finish, upgrowth and upward mobility remain in focus! Since week six when I joined in as a contributing fan on this blog in cheering on the St. Louis Rams to victory and in offering weekly comments and cheer, my typed responses for some reason kept getting longer! So, in staying consistent and as a grand finale, I offer the following voluminous comments in “Wrapping Up Seattle and the Season” as our Rams are on the upbeat.

    “… we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope . . .” -Romans 5:3,4 NASB

    Yes, it is always disappointing and frustrating to “come up short” in a competition where a competitor and/or team of competitors is primed, well-set and capable of winning. What I find to hurt the most, and is one of the challenging mysteries of competition to work at solving, is when a high achieving competitor is unable to execute one’s “A” game during a given competition to the expected fullest extent of one’s talents, and therefore, not able to produce the kind of performance outcomes that are so desired along with that desired clinched win as a final outcome.

    Nick, your 1-03-11 Headlines article entitled “Rams Come Up Short in Seattle” captured the heaviness of such a loss where our Rams were the overall favored team to win this long awaited divisional championship game. I certainly picked our Rams to win that 1-02-11 primetime game based on prior complete wins this 2010 season, the Team’s strong points and productivity of telling performances by all three units. In addition, our Rams had a prior decisive win over the Seahawks in week four at home in St. Louis and a good fighting chance to break a barrier of not having won at Seattle since 2004 or the last five games there, now a personal sixth loss on this divisional rival’s home field, along with an opportunity to have won a playoff berth for this 2010 season.

    So this fan shares in the heaviness of that felt pain of our St. Louis Rams with that abrupt season ending loss with thwarted playoff hopes in week seventeen. Based on personal experience, I think most people would agree that in one’s lifespan from childhood throughout adulthood, it is not an easy task to exult in tribulations as trying experiences that result in painful losses, whether in competition and/or in life. It is much easier to exult in a tribulation, also known as adversity, that produces a win!

    Yet, as we know, it is that spiritual Hope anchored in the soul that helps one weather different types of losses, expect to win again, apprize confidence and therefore choose to endure and benefit from rigorous conditions in going forward. We know victory requires this, both in the present and future that continues to build or rebuild on a past established solid foundation arched with hope.

    Besides the sleek, functional Gateway Arch in St. Louis that rises 630 feet and was firmly built as the tallest monument in the United States, I also treasure Roosevelt Arch that rises at 50 feet and stands strong at the inviting north entrance of Yellowstone National Park in Gardiner, Montana. That arch is another tangible legacy to what conviction and a group of devoted people can do as in 1872 Yellowstone became the world’s first national park and in 1903 President Theodore Roosevelt helped position the arch’s cornerstone, which remains today a cornerstone of hope for many people.

    “DO WHAT YOU CAN, WHERE YOU ARE, WITH WHAT YOU HAVE!” That is a quote from Teddy Roosevelt, a diplomatic National Parks visionary, a timely quote that I have on display in my office on a magnet from quotablecards. Fortunately, I discovered that quotable magnet a couple years ago in a local bookstore. I find that inspiring statement to be a real gem that resonates with active qualities like acceptance, initiative, stick-to-itiveness, patience and hope in pursuing lofty goals, like climbing and re-climbing a mountain as there are both exhilarating and somber “lookout points” along the way to gain perspective from and gain ground in mapping out one’s route to the top through firsthand experience.

    Nick, I remain proud of our St. Louis Rams for their 2010 climb, and I continue to proudly wear my Rams football cap around town, as all season long I observed the Rams both individually and collectively to live out that arch-quote of doing what they could, where they were and with what they had, in principle and in action. So, I continue to applaud our Rams as a rising team who integrated new players in starting positions, from rookie to veteran to an in between status, with established Rams’ players for a first season of playing together and learning a new or expanded system that is well-founded, well-grounded and well-rounded.

    In regard to scenic “look out” points of the 2010 season and with reference to the most recent Rams-Seahawks rematch at Seattle, the phrase “look out point” took on a whole new meaning! We were reminded that there can be both advantageous and disadvantageous look out points while climbing a mountain and each can be breathtaking and/or breathless with positive or negative effects yet both can impart wisdom, purpose and volition on the journey. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we can agree that football fields are beautiful landscapes filled with wide open spaces to venture out for challenge, reward, destiny, legacy and/or pure enjoyment. As part of venturesome movement, there often comes a sudden realization of “Look out!” which can definitely improve performance reflexiveness!

    As you are aware, Nick, in my 1-01-11 prior response on this Sidelines Blog, I utilized Mount Rainier, visible from Seattle, as a real-life reminder of our Rams’ team goal of winning the division and finishing on top. I knew then that Mount Rainier is situated in the Cascades Mountain Range as part of the Pacific Ring of Fire volcanoes, also known as the Cascade Volcanoes or Cascade Volcanic Arc. What I know now that I did not know then is that prominent Mount Rainier is listed as one of the most hazardous volcanoes in the world and two volcanic craters top it’s ultimate summit.

    Metaphorically speaking, there are numerous analogies to draw with helpful analysis between competitors, athletic competition and an opposing volcanic peak’s eruptive activity with emerging outflow. Those lahars and avalanches can definitely interfere with climbing rhythm and other winning edge components in getting to a desired mountain top as planned and expected! Yes, playing football at an elevated level like climbing a mountain is a difficult challenge filled with adventure and value!

    In the recent week seventeen game at Seattle, both the Rams and the Seahawks battled each other with intense effort as each “team of climbers” was in a race to the top. As acknowledged by our Rams, the Seahawks played better in that game and the Rams came up short in scoring enough points to win. So, our Rams divisional feathered opponent came out on top in the final outcome as the Hawks took flight with an activated volcanic “ring of fire” and therefore deserved to win the 2010 NFC West championship title.

    Those vociferous Seahawks fans sure can put up a song with their constant cheering noise factor, which certainly adds to the home field advantage! (Side note: Those Seahawks really played as a “hot” team when they beat the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints there at Seattle in playoff game number one last Saturday! Even though we so wanted our Rams to be in the playoffs and as our Rams fought hard for that opportunity as they desired it, I am glad an NFC West team is still in the playoff run as a contender!)

    What I further learned from my concentrated research is that Mount Rainier’s top actually has three designated summits of first, second and third high points. Did you know that, Nick?! I will briefly comment on a few additional significant football connections with this “climbing the mountain” performance theme that are applicable to the Rams-Seahawks final game of the 2010 regular season and our Rams’ overall season.

    Nick, the NAME of MOUNT RAINIER’S SECOND SUMMIT or high point is very cool so guess what it is?! The name of this 14,158 foot summit is POINT SUCCESS. Yes, Point Success is positioned atop of the Success Cleaver Ridge. (Side note: I looked to Webster’s Dictionary for clarification of cleaver: “a rock ridge protruding from a glacier or snowfield.” As previously posted on this Website as a highlighted video of Rams’ game footage at Denver, I will always remember this Rams’ peak performance winning game and an awesome defining moment when the Team led by Head Coach Spagnuolo broke down the locker room huddle with “ROCK SOLID.”)

    As a result of some informational processing, I realize now that our team, the St. Louis Rams definitely made it to the top of a summit by heading into that week seventeen game at Seattle as the NFC West front-runner, having reached first place in divisional standing which led to the opportunity to contend for that divisional championship title and desirous opportunity to advance to the playoffs. Yes, that was definitely a point of success in and of itself for the rebuilding Rams. And, hey, after the initial deep-seated pain of having lost passes, there is still a captivating panoramic view to recall at that second highest summit, Point Success, aka second place.

    Hopefully, next year we will reach the highest point or first place summit by winning the divisional “Showdown for the Crown” and have a feather in our championship cap! (Nick, I liked your noble sounding divisional championship game title of “Showdown for the Crown” as you noted under Pregame Notes in the Rams vs. Seahawks: Running Blog! You have a groovy writing style so keep it up!) It’s great to have both fun and seriousness. So, back to a serious note.

    I place high value on having heard a new definition of success by Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo as communicated during the posted 1-03-11 Monday Press Conference video on stlouisrams.com. As Coach Spagnuolo stated that he shared with the team that morning after the season ending loss at Seattle that there are a lot of different ways to define success with his hanging his hat on the following definition: “Success can be defined as being committed to a goal and then giving everything you have in trying to achieve that goal and trusting God’s will and result.”

    I believe that, too, Nick! That success quote is now displayed among other favorite quotes in my office! As God’s hand has been upon this Team throughout the season, through wins and losses, I also greatly appreciated and fully agreed with Coach Sapgnuolo’s robust faith comment at the beginning of the 1-02-11 Rams Postgame Press Conference. So naturally, our Rams are a team of robust individuals who are team players!

    Nick, as spiritual faith is at the center of my life, I was glad to see in print the above quote from S Oshiomogho Atogwe and am glad he wants to remain a contributing St. Louis Ram. Throughout the season I have been wanting to let our Rams’ players on Injured Reserve know they are remembered so it was great to hear from WR Mark Clayton above with more good news of his wanting to remain a contributing St. Louis Ram. As an enthusiastic Rams fan, I definitely look forward to seeing S Atogwe and WR Clayton back in action with “Team Rams” this 2011 season!

    Earlier in the fall, I enjoyed reading your featured article on WR Clayton that included emphasis on his spiritual faith as did an article by Howard Balzer in Gridiron Gateway Magazine of November 2010. I definitely identified with this article by Editor/Writer Balzer and smiled when reading the opening comments on p.22, “The words on the back of the T-shirt Rams wide receiver Mark Clayton was wearing in the locker room Wednesday says it all about the man’s attitude. In capital letters, it says, “PRAYED UP!”

    Once again, I wish acknowledgment could be given to every contributing, supportive person affiliated with the St. Louis “RAMS NATION”. Fortunately, we can all continue to do our part in 2011, and in acknowledgment, exult together with the hopeful outlook as “Team looks to build on 2010 success.” That Rams headline is from USA TODAY SPORTS WEEKLY, January 5-11, 2011, p.28. I was also glad to find on p.7 Sam Bradford listed as the majority pick for Rookie of the year by USA TODAY’S NFL staff. I definitely agree with that pick!

    I will continue rooting for QB Bradford in winning additional Rookie honors as merited. I will be rooting for RB Jackson with his third merited Pro Bowl honor while watching the 2011 NFL PRO BOWL on FOX on 1-30-11. Of course, Nick I will be rooting for our whole Team of Rams during the off season for their continued success, individually and collectively.

    “And it shall be said, ‘Build up, build up, prepare the way’ . . .” -Isaiah 57:14a NASB

    Wishing “TEAM RAMS” a most THERAPEUTIC BREATHER filled with BREATHING SPACE that BREATHES FREELY as needed for an INSPIRED, INVIGORATING AND MOST PRODUCTIVE OFFSEASON!

    May the ST. LOUIS RAMS continue to MARCH ONWARD and UPWARD as a TEAM OF CLIMBERS, MAKING MONUMENTAL PROGRESS throughout 2011 & ENJOYING TOGETHER NEW SCENIC LOOK OUT POINTS from a WINNING EDGE PERSPECTIVE!

    Respectfully & Prayerfully, Rachel Stivers-Stewart, RAMS FAN IN NEBRASKA

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