NFC West: La\'Roi Glover

Torry HoltAP Photo/Chuck BurtonAfter years of feeling unwelcome by their old franchise, former Rams greats such as Torry Holt are making their way back to Rams Park at the invitation of St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher.
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Standing between two fields at Rams Park watching practice on Monday afternoon was a group that might as well have been a part of a reunion for Super Bowl XXXIV.

Former Rams receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce chatted it up with former Tennessee cornerback Samari Rolle, who is working in the team’s coaching internship program. That trio was joined at various times by Lance Schulters, another former Titans defensive back in the internship program, La'Roi Glover, a former Rams defensive tackle and now the team’s director of player programs, and former Rams tackle Grant Williams.

The sight of former Rams is nothing new around the team’s training facility these days. Since Jeff Fisher took over as coach in Jan. 2012, he’s made it abundantly clear that he’s happy to welcome back former players who might want to offer some advice to his young team or who might just want to watch practice.

In the two weeks since camp started, other former Rams such as defensive back Aeneas Williams, safety Keith Lyle and linebacker Chris Draft have stopped by. It’s not limited to Rams alumni, either. In addition to Schulters and Rolle, former Titans linebacker Keith Bulluck was also in town for a couple of days.

While it might be nothing new for Fisher to open the doors to past Rams, it does represent something of a departure from how things were in the not-too-distant past.

“This is home,” Holt said. “I should feel comfortable and good when I come here. Myself and others, we did a lot for this organization. So it feels good to be able to step back out on this field and not be looking over your shoulder or feel like you’re stepping on anybody’s toes and then to be able to provide information for guys to improve their game. It’s not about us, it’s just about sharing what we’ve learned to make this organization better and try to bring back championships to this organization.”

That’s a feeling that Holt shared with plenty of other former Rams who didn’t feel welcome or comfortable about being at Rams Park on a regular basis.

In 2011, Rams Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood told ESPN’s Arash Markazi that he didn’t feel like he had any connection to the team he once played Super Bowl XIV with while nursing a broken leg.

"We are their legacy but they forgot us," Youngblood said then. "They don't have anything to do with us, really. I find that unfortunate because you look at other franchises, even those that have moved, and they use their alumni in their marketing and in their organization. They use their Hall of Famers as an example for the players who are there today. They use their alumni, but the Rams have cut us out of the picture."

At the time, the Rams had begun to make inroads in their alumni program, which has taken off in recent years. As part of those efforts, the Rams signed Holt and Bruce to one-day contracts so each could retire as Rams. Most notably they welcomed back 20 prominent players from their past to celebrate the team’s 75th anniversary last December.

Included in that group were a number of Los Angeles Rams, including Rosey Grier, Vince Ferragamo, Dennis Harrah, Jackie Slater, LeRoy Irvin and Youngblood.

That’s just the tip of iceberg. Holt is back in St. Louis this week in preparation for his work as a color analyst on the team’s preseason broadcasts. He joins another former Ram, Hall of Fame running back Marshall Faulk, in the booth for those duties.

Fisher’s open-door policy should come as no surprise given his experience in the league. He’s entering his 28th year coaching in the NFL and his 18th as a head coach.

Surrounded by a veteran staff with plenty of experience of its own, Fisher is undeniably comfortable in his own skin. The paranoia that can sometimes accompany first-time head coaches has long since evaporated and Fisher clearly views the opportunity to bring in any former player with wisdom to share as a positive for a team that again figures to be one of the youngest in the league.

“It feels good to be back, it feels good to be welcome and Coach Fisher gets it,” Holt said. “He welcomes us. He knows the value and the importance of the guys talking to veteran guys who have been there, done it and done it at a high level because you can gain so much from that as a player. I’m thankful that I’m able to come back and coach Fisher is an excellent coach who understands the game, understands what it takes to improve his roster and he’s allowing us to help out.”

Camp Confidential: St. Louis Rams

August, 22, 2011
8/22/11
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EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Unfazed by the NFL lockout and energized by a new offense, Sam Bradford shatters perceptions of him as a young player scrambling to make up lost ground.

"We’re going to push the ball down the field," the St. Louis Rams' second-year quarterback says with some excitement. "I think we’re going to be aggressive."

Building steadily for the long term isn't the focus for Bradford and the Rams' new offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels. They're living week to week, play to play.

It's a mindset change for Bradford and any quarterback transitioning away from a West Coast offense. Kevin Kolb is going through a similar adjustment after leaving Philadelphia for Arizona. Instead of honing a timing-based system designed to out-execute any defense, they're learning to change up their plan, sometimes dramatically, for each opponent. And they are reveling in the possibilities.

"We are not going to just keep the same stuff in from week to week and say, 'This is what we run, stop it,'" Bradford says. "We could come in and we could have 30 new plays in on Wednesday and they’re all designed to attack what the defense’s weakness is."

McDaniels retained portions of the offense Bradford learned as a rookie last season. The terminology for personnel groupings is largely the same. McDaniels also inherited most of the staff from former coordinator Pat Shurmur. But this will not be a 1-2-3 progression passing game to the degree it was last season. Bradford said he likes the changes in part because the new offense more closely resembles the one he ran at Oklahoma.

"Last year in the West Coast, you started in the same place every time, and no matter what the coverage is, you just kind of work through it and find the open guy," Bradford said. "This year, we still have progression plays where it is like that, but it’s a lot more, 'OK, if the defense gives us 2, this is exactly what we want. We’re going to work off the 'Mike' and we’re going to high-low it and we’re going to go right there. I really like that."

In another big change, Bradford will take over responsibility for making all of the pass-protection calls at the line of scrimmage. He previously leaned on his offensive line to make adjustments based on where specific defenders were lining up. That means Bradford, still only 23, will carry a heavier mental burden against a formidable schedule. The Rams play the Eagles, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints among their first seven opponents. They'll find out quickly whether Bradford is ready for the new responsibilities.

"Giving it all to me, it’s definitely a lot more, but at the same time, it almost makes it easier once you get everything figured out," he said, "because you know exactly what could happen with all the different scenarios."

THREE HOT ISSUES

[+] EnlargeSteven Jackson
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesSteven Jackson's role will change in Josh McDaniels' one-back offense.
1. Steven Jackson's role. The Rams' Pro Bowl running back has been an outspoken advocate for running behind a fullback in a traditional two-back offense. Jackson realized life would change as McDaniels installed what will be primarily a one-back system. He expects a less regimented running game and less reliance on pounding the ball between the tackles. More of his receptions will come by design instead of on checkdowns, flares and the like.

"This offense allows me to open my whole repertoire of talent and put on display the things I can do outside the tackles," Jackson said. "You don’t have a fullback and I hate to lose Mike Karney, but at the same time, it allows me on a bigger stage to show my overall talent as a football player."

The Rams ran one-back offenses earlier in Jackson's career. He'll have to set up his blocks instead of relying on a fullback to clear the way. A basic play called "Big Jab" illustrates the differences. It's a strongside run masquerading as an inside-zone play to the weak side. The back must freeze the weakside linebacker with his eyes long enough for the offensive lineman to reach the second level.

"Things like that, you can’t pick up on a live game, of course, but on the coaches’ film, it makes a difference," Jackson said.

2. The thinking at wide receiver. The Rams ran out of viable receiving options during their forgettable Week 17 defeat at Seattle last season. With an ascending young quarterback in place and multiple Rams receivers coming off injuries, this offseason seemed like a good time for the organization to invest heavily in a dynamic receiver.

Sidney Rice was available, but the Rams didn't flinch when the division-rival Seahawks signed him to a five-year contract. The Rams signed Mike Sims-Walker to a one-year deal and went to camp with a mostly undistinguished group.

"A lot of people think we have to have some guy that runs 4.25 [in the 40-yard dash] and weighs 230 pounds and he’s 6-foot-5," McDaniels said. "You don’t have to have that guy. You can do it different ways and that is what we are going to try to do."

Danny Amendola, Brandon Gibson, Sims-Walker, Austin Pettis and Greg Salas are heavy favorites to earn roster spots if healthy. Mardy Gilyard, Donnie Avery and Danario Alexander are fighting for one or two roster spots. None commands double-team attention or special game planning from opposing defensive coordinators.

Tight ends factor heavily into the Rams' plans for the passing game. The team envisions a "12" personnel grouping with Lance Kendricks and Mike Hoomanawanui at tight end with two wideouts and Jackson in the backfield. If teams stick with the base defense, the Rams expect Kendricks and Hoomanawanui to create coverage mismatches. If teams choose to play nickel, they can prepare to see a 6-foot-3, 240-pound running back coming their way. Either tight end could shift to fullback for another dimension.

3. Seeking to upgrade run defense. The Rams shelled out top dollar for only one free agent this offseason. Safety Quintin Mikell, who broke into the NFL with Philadelphia when current Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo ran the Eagles' secondary, brings a physical presence. The Rams are paying him $6.5 million per year because Spagnuolo pretty much had to have him.

[+] EnlargeQuintin Mikell
AP Photo/Jeff CurryThe Rams hope Quintin Mikell (27) can help improve the team's tackling in the secondary.
"I don't know if anyone else would be able to feel this or see this, and I can't remember when he was a rookie if he already had these mannerisms, but he plays the game like Brian Dawkins," Spagnuolo said. "His mannerisms, the way he's a knee-bender. He plays fast, he loves the game, he's matured."

Sitting in his office following a recent practice, Spagnuolo cued up a 2004 play he shows annually to defensive backs. Green Bay, facing first-and-goal from the Philadelphia 7-yard line in a 2004 game at Philadelphia, hands off to Najeh Davenport around the right side. One of the Packers' big tight ends engages No. 46 for the Eagles at the line of scrimmage. Before this year, Spagnuolo never revealed No. 46?s identity to his Rams players. It’s Mikell, far lighter than his opponent, disengaging from the block and cutting down Davenport for a 1-yard loss."

"Boom, bang, bang, get out of here, and make the tackle," Spagnuolo says, taking on the voice of narrator. "I want to teach the smaller guys that size isn't a big deal, that it's about power and leverage, and if you run fast at 200 pounds and a 300-pounder is running slow, you can do that."

The Rams gave up too many long runs last season. They're expecting Mikell and fellow defensive newcomers Justin Bannan, Daniel Muir, Ben Leber and Brady Poppinga to upgrade that area.

BIGGEST SURPRISE

Gibson's development at receiver. The Rams have felt better about their restraint at receiver in part because Gibson, 24, showed up for camp ready to build on a 53-catch 2010 season. Gibson and the tough, steady Amendola have been the two best receivers in camp.

"Gibby has had a great camp," Bradford said. "He looks faster than last year. He looks more confident."

Gibson's 83-yard touchdown reception against Tennessee in the Rams' preseason game Saturday night was more than twice as long as any pass he's caught in a regular-season game.

"His route running has been great, he’s picking up schemes, learning how to block and he’s more of a complete receiver than he was," said Mikell, Gibson's former teammate in Philadelphia.

BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT

Jerome Murphy's broken ankle. Bradley Fletcher and Ron Bartell arguably give St. Louis the best starting cornerback tandem in the division, at least until Patrick Peterson gets up to speed in Arizona. Depth is a concern after the Rams lost Murphy. Al Harris, 36, adds toughness and experience, but there isn't enough depth to comfortably weather another injury at the position. The Rams would be wise to monitor the waiver wire for cornerbacks and consider potential trade options as the regular season approaches.

[+] EnlargeHarvey Dahl
AP Photo/Jeff RobersonThe Rams expect Harvey Dahl to give the offensive line more of an edge.
OBSERVATION DECK

  • The Rams added veteran right guard Harvey Dahl to upgrade their talent and give their offensive line an edge. NFC West fans should remember Dahl. While with Atlanta, he enraged then-49ers coach Mike Singletary to such a degree that Singletary got into a verbal sparring match with Dahl during a game. The Rams would have reason to celebrate if Dahl's mean streak rubbed off on third-year right tackle Jason Smith.
  • Dahl's reputation as a brawler created an image in my mind of a player supplementing average talent with toughness. Dahl is better than that physically. He looks more like a tackle than a guard, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing about 305 pounds. He has thicker legs than Smith and has showed good athleticism in camp. McDaniels favors big guards.
  • Veteran newcomers have transformed the Rams from one of the NFL's youngest teams to one of the older ones, based on average age. The team took advantage of a flooded market in free agency. Most veterans signed one-year deals without salary-cap ramifications beyond this season. With so many veterans taking one-year deals around the league, a similar market could await next offseason. Teams like the Rams can have it both ways. They're relying most heavily on a young core featuring Bradford, Smith, Rodger Saffold, James Laurinaitis, Chris Long, Robert Quinn, Fletcher and others. But they also have veteran depth.
  • Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood are giving Jackson something he hasn't had in the recent past: veteran backups who command respect through their accomplishments. Jackson: "Yeah, coming here, they had their hands full. I think between my mentality on the field and how I felt as a player about the organization and what I would like to see, I think I kind of showed them in a way without saying it, 'Go fill the other areas of need and I’ll take care of the running back position. I can hold down the fort and when we feel comfortable enough, then go get another running back or two.' "
  • Laurinaitis is seeking to become more aggressive now that he has a fuller grasp of the defense entering his third season under Spagnuolo. ESPN credited him with four tackles for loss in 2009 and eight last season. Laurinaitis wants that number to climb. "We would rather have tough, physical play where you are attacking downhill than being assignment perfect every time," he said.
  • Long made an interesting observation about players the Rams have added in recent years. Several were coming off recent Super Bowl victories. Fred Robbins, Poppinga and Harris are three. Long: "I don’t think that’s an accident."
  • Quinn has a chance to play about 40 percent of the defensive snaps if all goes to plan. The Rams aren't counting on him for every-down production as long as veteran James Hall remains productive. Quinn couldn't have a better mentor. Hall, 34, still goes out to practice early for one-on-one work with retired defensive tackle La'Roi Glover.
  • Kendricks' addition through the draft raised questions in my mind about whether Hoomanawanui still figured prominently in the Rams' plans. He does. Bradford shot me an are-you-crazy look when I shared those thoughts with him at camp. "There is definitely a place for him," Bradford said.
  • Jackson's carries per game could fluctuate more in McDaniels' offense because so much of the plan hinges upon what the opposing defense offers. Jackson: "That is exactly what this will represent."
Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood once urged the Rams to tap into more of their former players.

The team, having already added former safety Nolan Cromwell to coach receivers, moved in that direction again Wednesday by hiring retired defensive tackle La'Roi Glover as director of player programs. This is essentially a mentoring role. Former receiver Anthony Edwards holds a similar job with the Cardinals. Former safety Maurice Kelly plays the role in Seattle. Former NFL assistant coach Ty Knott handles the duties for the 49ers.

Glover went to six consecutive Pro Bowls while playing for the Saints and Cowboys before finishing his career with the Rams from 2006-2008. Glover earned a spot on the NFL's all-decade second team for the 2000s. He was at his best in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Glover's hiring with the Rams led me to suggest he was one of the "great" defensive tackles of his era. This stirred some discussion via Twitter and a suggestion that "great" can be an overused term. I responded by sharing what some former interior offensive linemen have told me about Glover relative to Warren Sapp, a first-team all-decade choice for the 2000s.

"Sapp had one move and he was good at it," one retired lineman said. "He lined up so wide and it was so much different than all the other three-technique guys. Glover would butt you in the chin and run over your ass, but he was so quick, he could take a side-angle on you. He had a move and a counter and a counter off that one."

That quote became part of an ESPN.com all-decade story naming Sapp and Kris Jenkins as the defensive tackles based on input from a wide array of panelists.

Glover had 17.0 sacks in 2000 and 83.5 for his career.

"La'Roi was the consummate professional during his NFL career," Rams general manager Billy Devaney said in a statement announcing Glover's hiring. "We look forward to him using his knowledge and experiences to develop activities and programs that will be a benefit to the careers of our players."

Earlier: Glover shares his draft-day experiences as part of an ESPN.com feature on greatest draft classes since 1967.

NFC West spin on 2000s All-Decade team

January, 31, 2010
1/31/10
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MIAMI -- Shaun Alexander, Walter Jones, Steve Hutchinson, Orlando Pace, Larry Allen, Torry Holt, La'Roi Glover, Edgerrin James, Terrell Owens and Brian Moorman made the NFL's All-Decade team for the first decade of the 2000s.

The NFL just announced the team at the Pro Bowl.

The players I listed all spent time with NFC West teams during the decade. Some of the players -- Moorman, for example -- spent short periods of time in the division. Others were mainstays. Another, Kevin Mawae, played for Seattle before 2000 (when the Seahawks were in the AFC West).

For more, join the Pro Bowl conversation here.

By the decade: NFC West defensive line

January, 22, 2010
1/22/10
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Defensive end Leonard Little and defensive tackle Bryant Young stood out to me as the NFC West's best defensive linemen at their positions in the first decade of the 2000s.

The word "character" applies to both, though in different ways.

Little, his off-field legacy damaged by his role in a drunken-driving crash that killed a woman, showed what scouts and coaches call "football character" -- passion, determination, toughness, etc. Young, held up as a model citizen and all-around good guy, also possessed those on-field traits.

Both were extremely productive and, at their best, dominant and inspirational players. Both played hard regardless of how well their teams played.

The interception and diving touchdown return Little provided in the closing minutes against Jacksonville this past season stands out as one example. Young always commanded the highest compliments from opposing offensive linemen. They admired his production and the way he conducted himself. Former Seahawks guard Chris Gray once said he thought Young would have kept going to Pro Bowls if the 49ers had left him at defensive tackle in a 4-3 instead of transitioning him to end in a 3-4.

There were other very good defensive linemen in the NFC West during the decade.

The Cardinals' Darnell Dockett, now playing end in a 3-4, ranked second on my list of defensive tackles. Ranking second to Young, a potential future Hall of Famer, should stand as an honor. A few other defensive linemen -- Chike Okeafor, Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher -- played well for multiple teams within the division.

The charts below draw information from Pro Football Reference (Rams, Cardinals, 49ers, Seahawks).

Sounding off: NFC West on the airwaves

December, 31, 2009
12/31/09
12:02
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The latest in our periodic spins around the NFC West radio dials:

Rams

101ESPN St. Louis: Jim Hanifan, part one

101ESPN St. Louis: Hanifan, part two

101ESPN St. Louis: La'Roi Glover

101ESPN St. Louis: reporter Jim Thomas

101ESPN St. Louis: running back Steven Jackson

101ESPN St. Louis: Steve Spagnuolo (video)

49ers

KNBR680: snapper Brian Jennings

KNBR680: Ronnie Lott

KNBR680: tight end Vernon Davis

KNBR680: Steve Young

KNBR680: Kurt Warner (video)

KNBR680: Mike Singletary

KNBR680: reporter Matt Maiocco

Cardinals

XTRA910: safety Adrian Wilson

XTRA910: punter Ben Graham

azcardinals.com: Ken Whisenhunt (video)

azcardinals.com: Cardinals Underground

azcardinals.com: In the Red Zone

Seahawks
710ESPN Seattle: The Huddle with Warren Moon, Darryl Tapp and David Hawthorne

710ESPN Seattle: Jim Mora

KJR950 Seattle: receivers Nate Burleson, Deion Branch and T.J. Houshmandzadeh

KJR950 Seattle: draft analyst Rob Rang

KJR950 Seattle: Seahawks Round Table

Young's interviews on KNBR are almost always interesting. He offered thoughts on Brett Favre, JaMarcus Russell, the Colts and more.

Despite record, Rams made right changes

December, 4, 2009
12/04/09
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The Rams' offseason roster overhaul has failed to produce immediate improvement in the standings.

The natural question is whether the organization went too far in pushing out higher-priced veterans.

I suspected they might have gone too far when they released linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa. I also thought they might have been premature in parting with Orlando Pace despite the tackle's steep salary and history of injuries.

The reality, though, is that the Rams got it right.

They have gone from being a bad, old team with significant salary-cap problems to being a bad, young team with a much brighter salary-cap future.

The younger players finding their way this season have a chance to help the team in the future. That wasn't the case in 2008, when losing got old, literally.

The Rams have the third-youngest roster in the league. They had the third-oldest last season. Their offense has moved the ball much better than I would have anticipated. A glaring lack of playmakers has turned the red zone into a dead zone, preventing the Rams from scoring enough points to compete on the scoreboard. But I think it's safe to say the Rams have the most promising young offensive line in the NFC West.

This team needs to find playmakers in the draft, plain and simple.

Sounding off: NFC West on the airwaves

November, 14, 2009
11/14/09
8:45
AM ET
The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
Rams

101ESPN St. Louis: safety Oshiomogho Atogwe

101ESPN St. Louis: general manager Billy Devaney

101ESPN St. Louis: coach Steve Spagnuolo

101ESPN St. Louis: analyst Jim Hanifan

101ESPN St. Louis: linebacker James Laurinaitis

101ESPN St. Louis: La'Roi Glover

101ESPN St. Louis: reporter Steve Wyche

101ESPN St. Louis: Dennis Green

49ers

KNBR680: snapper Brian Jennings

KNBR680: Steve Young

KNBR680: Dan Bunz

KNBR680: Ronnie Lott

KNBR680: blogger Kevin Lynch

(Read full post)

Sounding off: NFC West on the airwaves

November, 5, 2009
11/05/09
12:24
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
Rams

101ESPN St. Louis: analyst Jim Hanifan

101ESPN St. Louis: reporter Jim Thomas

101ESPN St. Louis: reporter Brian Stull

101ESPN St. Louis: Trey Wingo (on Steven Jackson)

101ESPN St. Louis: center Jason Brown

101ESPN St. Louis: La'Roi Glover

101ESPN St. Louis: tight end Daniel Fells

101ESPN St. Louis: defensive end James Hall

101ESPN St. Louis: guard Mark Setterstrom

101ESPN St. Louis: Steve Spagnuolo (video)

101ESPN St. Louis: Marc Bulger

49ers

KNBR680: Mike Singletary

KNBR680: Dashon Goldson

KNBR680: snapper Brian Jennings

KNBR680: reporter Matt Maiocco

KNBR680: Steve Mariucci

KNBR680: Steve Young

(Read full post)

Sounding off: NFC West on the airwaves

October, 21, 2009
10/21/09
11:24
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
Rams

101ESPN St. Louis: general manager Billy Devaney

101ESPN St. Louis: former linebacker Will Witherspoon

101ESPN St. Louis: reporter Jim Thomas

101ESPN St. Louis: La'Roi Glover

1070 The Fan Indianapolis: me

49ers

KNBR680: defensive coordinator Greg Manusky

KNBR680: Mike Singletary

Cardinals

XTRA910: safety Adrian Wilson

KTAR620: coach Ken Whisenhunt

azcardinals.com: Whisenhunt

Seahawks
710ESPN Seattle: Jim Mora news conference

710ESPN Seattle: analyst Steve Raible

KJR950 Seattle: receivers Nate Burleson and Deion Branch

KJR950 Seattle: analyst Hugh Millen

If you find others, please pass along links.

Kicking the Seahawks when they're down?

October, 19, 2009
10/19/09
1:28
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Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Kraig writes via Facebook: Sando, you pity the Rams, but you ridicule the Seahawks. You're a believer in the new 49er formula, although not always its execution. The Cards are an enigma, but undeniably talented. Interesting. But kicking the Seahawks when they're down is starting to stand out. What gives?

Mike Sando: Expectations frame the analysis. The Rams were a 2-14 team rebuilding. They parted with Torry Holt, Orlando Pace, Drew Bennett, Trent Green, Anthony Becht, Corey Chavous, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Brian Leonard, Gary Stills, Jason Craft, Ricky Manning, Fakhir Brown, La'Roi Glover, Dane Looker, Travis Minor, Dante Hall, Nick Leckey, Brett Romberg, Chris Draft and others. This was a total roster overhaul. I thought the Rams might have gone too far with a couple of these moves, but once the moves were made, the expectations were set accordingly.

With a new head coach and a younger roster, the Rams were going to struggle for a while. I thought 0-7 was likely and said so on the blog. The fact that the Rams are 0-6 is bad, but not a shock. It's Year 1 of a total rebuild. The Seahawks did not see themselves in the same light. Holding them to the same standard as the Rams would have been a bigger insult to the Seahawks than holding them accountable as I have tried to do.

Seattle thought injuries were pretty much to blame for a 4-12 record. The team thought Walter Jones would be fine this season. The team thought depth at tackle would be fine after re-signing Ray Willis. I thought the team needed to do more to shore up the position. Sean Locklear had missed a few games in the past, Willis has had knee issues and Jones was coming off surgery at age 35. I questioned whether the team could stay healthy in predicting a 7-9 record when schedules came out, upgrading the outlook slightly when Matt Hasselbeck seemed to pass a few injury-related milestones.

The outlook for Seattle darkens when we consider advanced ages for some of these injured players. Jones and Patrick Kerney are into their 30s. Both needed to play at a high level for Seattle to succeed. The fact that both are dealing with injury problems should surprise nobody. It was entirely predictable even if there was a chance both might beat the odds.

I think it's an even worse sign for Seattle if we start judging them with the same standards applied to the Rams. It's not that bad.

Sounding off: NFC West on the airwaves

October, 13, 2009
10/13/09
2:56
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
Rams

101ESPN St. Louis: reporter Jim Thomas

101ESPN St. Louis: La'Roi Glover

101ESPN St. Louis: Roland Williams

101ESPN St. Louis: Steven Jackson

49ers

KNBR680: reporter Matt Maiocco

KNBR680: coach Mike Singletary

49ers.com: Singletary (video)

Cardinals

XTRA910: safety Adrian Wilson (via sportsradiointerviews.com)

XTRA910: nose tackle Gabe Watson

azcardinals.com: coach Ken Whisenhunt (video)

azcardinals.com: Whisenhunt

Seahawks
710ESPN Seattle: play-by-play announcer Steve Raible

710ESPN Seattle: defensive end Nick Reed

710ESPN Seattle: analyst Brock Huard

KRKO Everett: fullback Owen Schmitt (via sportsradiointerviews.com)

KJR950 Seattle: tackle Kyle Williams

KJR950 Seattle: defensive end Cory Redding

seahawks.com: coach Jim Mora (video)

If you find others, please pass along links.

Sounding off: NFC West on the airwaves

October, 7, 2009
10/07/09
6:54
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
Rams

101ESPN St. Louis: reporter Jim Thomas

101ESPN St. Louis: La'Roi Glover

101ESPN St. Louis: coach Steve Spagnuolo

101ESPN St. Louis: executive Kevin Demoff, part one

101ESPN St. Louis: Demoff, part two

101ESPN St. Louis: Steven Jackson

49ers

KNBR680: reporter Matt Maiocco

KNBR680: coach Mike Singletary

XTRA910: columnist Ray Ratto

Cardinals

azcardinals.com: Cardinals Underground

Seahawks
KJR950 Seattle: analyst Hugh Millen

KJR950 Seattle: receivers Deion Branch and Nate Burleson

KJR950 Seattle: reporter Eric Williams

KJR950 Seattle: cornerback Ken Lucas

If you find others, please pass along links.

Sounding off: NFC West on the airwaves

September, 29, 2009
9/29/09
4:05
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
Rams

101ESPN St. Louis: Coach Steve Spagnuolo (video)

101ESPN St. Louis: Reporter Jim Thomas

101ESPN St. Louis: former player La'Roi Glover

49ers

KNBR680: reporter Matt Maiocco

KNBR680: coach Mike Singletary

Cardinals

XTRA910: safety Adrian Wilson

KTAR620: coach Ken Whisenhunt (via sportsradiointerviews.com)

azcardinals.com: Whisenhunt news conference (video)

Seahawks
710ESPN Seattle: defensive lineman Cory Redding

710ESPN Seattle: coach Jim Mora (highlights)

KJR950: Receivers Deion Branch, Nate Burleson

As always, please leave links to additional audio in the comments section. I'll add items as needed.

Sounding off: NFC West on the airwaves

September, 22, 2009
9/22/09
4:20
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The latest in our periodic spin around the NFC West radio dials:
Rams

101ESPN St. Louis: Steven Jackson via sportsradiointerviews.com

101ESPN St. Louis: La'Roi Glover

101ESPN St. Louis: reporter Jim Thomas

101ESPN St. Louis: Deacon Jones, part one

101ESPN St. Louis: Jones, part two

49ers

KNBR680: Mike Singletary

KNBR680: Steve Young

Cardinals

KTAR620: safety Antrel Rolle via sportsradiointerviews.com

XTRA910: safety Adrian Wilson

azcardinals.com: Ken Whisenhunt

Seahawks
710ESPN Seattle: John Clayton

710ESPN Seattle: Seneca Wallace, Jim Mora

As always, please leave links to additional audio in the comments section. I'll add items as needed.

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