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Questioning The Enemy: Rams Won’t Change Without Jackson

St. Louis Coach Steve Spagnuolo and quarterback Sam Bradford answer the tough questions.

Posted by Mike Duffy on Thursday, September 22nd, 2011 at 11:07 am | Categories: Mike Duffy, Questioning The Enemy

With the Ravens traveling to St. Louis to take on the Rams this weekend, two key members of their team met with Baltimore media and answered questions regarding the issues around the game.

Will running back Steven Jackson play? Will quarterback Sam Bradford’s finger injury hurt him? How is their club taking the NFL’s recent memo concerning faking injuries to stop a no-huddle offense?

Here are the highlights with Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo and Bradford:

Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo

“Well, in the game that [he was injured], going back to the Philadelphia game, we felt like we stuck with what we had planned during the week, and I think that’s important to have a backup [running back] that you feel can assume the same load as your starter. The one thing about Cadillac [Williams], going back to that game, is he had to prepare himself like a pro, so when he stepped in their – you know, we certainly missed Steven and what he brings to our football team – but we were able to execute the offense as normal.”

Is Bradford playing beyond his years?
“Yeah, in a lot of ways that would be true. I think he would tell you – if he was on the phone call here and you had a chance to talk to him – he’d tell you that he has a long way to go. And in some regards, he does. And the reason I say that is Sam is a perfectionist, he’s a competitor, he wants to do things at the perfect excellence level, not just very good. And he expects to be in Year Six now, and that’s just the way he thinks; that’s the way he operates. He’s got to coach the coaches in that way, and I like that fact that he does think like that.”

Was there any hesitation about starting a rookie quarterback last year right off the bat?
“At the time we came to training camp, we had a veteran quarterback in A.J. Feeley, [and] we obviously had a rookie that we drafted with the first pick overall. So, I think that everybody knew that eventually we wanted him to take this thing over, and it was just evident to us at a certain point. I think it came… It kind of really came to a peak when we played the Patriots in the third preseason game and Sam took the opening drive down… They scored on the opening kickoff, and we turned around and drove it. There were some things in that drive and throughout that game that said, ‘Hey, he may go through some ups and downs, but it’s time to put him in there.’ And at that point, when we made that decision, there was no looking back, and we haven’t turned back since.”

What do you think about the NFL announcing that they’ll keep a closer eye on players faking injuries, but not yet handing down any punishments or sanctions?
“Well, I accept that. The league has decided to go that route. I’m OK with that. You know, football is football. We just go out and play the game, and however the game goes and however it flows, we’ll deal with it. So, we’re not really looking back at that. We’ll just accept whatever the league decides.”

Will you use a no-huddle offense because Bradford excels in that formation?
“Well, I don’t know. I think our offense functions in it fairly well. I think he certainly has the confidence with it; he did it at Oklahoma. It was a little bit different there. He was looking over to the sidelines and they have what you call a ‘menu system’ in college, or at least at Oklahoma, because Sam and I have talked a lot about that. It’s not something we do all the time. I don’t know whether we’ll do it this week or not, but he has been effective in it, and anything we can be effective in we probably run.”

QB Sam Bradford

How much of a disadvantage do you have coming off a Monday night game and having a shorter week?
“Yeah, to be honest, this is the first time that I’ve really experienced a game after a Monday game. Obviously, today was a little bit different for us. I’m not sure how much of a disadvantage it’s going to be, I just think we’re going to have to put in… I think our hours are going to be a little different. I think during the year, at least last year, I got so into my schedule and I knew exactly what I needed to do and when I needed to do it, that you kind of get into that routine.

“Whereas this week, I think some of the hours are going to be different; some early mornings, later nights, trying to make sure that you get everything watched that you need to get watched and study everything you need to study. Considering we didn’t have Monday afternoon to watch, and then Tuesday still dealing with game film from New York, so I think [we] just need to put in a little more time this week.”

What do you like about the no-huddle style of offense?
“It just forces the defense to think faster – make their calls faster. You know, they don’t have as much time to react to what we’re doing. They don’t have as much time to get their calls in. It forces them, for the most part, to play with one personnel group. It doesn’t allow them to sub much. I feel like, if we do get a drive going in the no-huddle mode, sometimes we can wear out defenses. We may have to go 10 or 12 plays at a very quick tempo, and it’s tough on those big guys. And when they can’t sub, it makes it even harder.”

What will be the difference in the offense without Jackson playing?
“It’s a big difference. Yeah, I’m not going to lie and say that when he steps out of the game we don’t miss anything, because we do. Steven’s a good player. He’s been a good player in this league for quite a few years now. Just having his presence in our huddle helps us. Not having him last week definitely wasn’t a good thing for our offense.”

Is your injured finger still bothering you?
“No, it’s something of the past. [It] really didn’t bother me at all on Monday night, and I really haven’t had any soreness from that game. So, I think that’s something that I’ve moved past now.”

How much did the Giants’ late-injury timeouts affect the rhythm of your offense?
“Obviously, we would have… I would have liked to have gotten another play in. Not saying that we would have scored, but it would have been interesting to see where we would have got the ball on that next play. I don’t think it threw us off our rhythm. I played in the no huddle in college. I’ve faced teams that will call timeouts when they couldn’t get substitutions or something like that. It’s just something as an offense that you have to overcome. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to overcome it. I don’t think it took us out of rhythm. It’s just unfortunate that we couldn’t get the touchdown.”

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