St. Louis Rams Playbook: From Cruisin' To Bruisin'

Thad KemlageContributor IMay 26, 2009

EARTH CITY, MO - MAY 2: Head coach Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams watches his team during a mini camp on May 2, 2009 at the Russell Training Center in Earth City, Missouri.  (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

The St. Louis Rams are changing their identity from being one of the fastest teams in the NFL to one of the most physical teams in the NFL.

The Rams are 10 years removed from their Super Bowl-winning season as the “Greatest Show on Turf.”  It was more like watching a track meet than a football game as they ran up and down the field and blew by opposing defenses.

New coach Steve Spagnuolo brings a new attitude to the 2009 Rams.  Beat up the opponent, not blow by the opponent. 

Spagnuolo is the former defensive coordinator of the Giants and coordinated a defense that held the mighty New England Patriot offense to a meager 14 points in the Giants’ Super Bowl victory.

Defense will be the foundation for the rebuilding Rams for the first time in their 15-year tenure in St. Louis.

The Rams retooled their undersized defense from last year by releasing leading tackler Pisa Tinoisamoa and toughing up by drafting linebacker James Laurinaitis.

The new Rams blitz schemes should help former first round picks Chris Long and Adam Carriker blossom into solid NFL defensive linemen.

The Rams will have to be effective in their blitzes because the secondary is where they could get burned.  The addition of James Butler should help the inexperienced and unproven St. Louis secondary.

The offensive playbook will also look much different from the Rams and much different from the “Greatest Show on Turf” offense.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will introduce the West Coast offense to the new look Rams.  This will help Bulger get rid of the ball quickly and avoid being sacked.  Bulger has been sacked 121 times in the last three seasons.

The Rams beefed up on the offensive line drafting tackle Jason Smith second overall in April. This selection combined with the release of Orlando Pace will move Alex Barron to his original spot at left tackle.

St. Louis also acquired center Jason Brown, bringing much need bulk to the line.

Steven Jackson will also have a lot to gain in this new offense. Spagnuolo has vowed to run the ball more and the new offensive line should pave some holes for Jackson this season.

Jackson will get a lot of action in the passing game as well under the West Coast offense.  He may even be the Rams' best receiver.  The Rams released seven-time Pro Bowler Torry Holt and are very thin at the wide receiver position.

Jackson will have to be the workhorse he was in 2006 and will have the chance to put up similar numbers from that season.

The playbooks and personnel are drastically different but don’t expect a drastic change in the overall record this season.

The Rams will indeed improve from a season ago, but they will remain an under .500 team. St. Louis is certainly heading in the winning direction.

Spagnuolo and staff are straying from the “Greatest Show on Turf” and molding a new team with a new identity that will see positive results in the next few seasons.