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Behind Enemy Lines: Rams Edition

Posted by Andrew Walker on September 14, 2012 – 10:05 am

(AP photo)

There are lots of interesting story lines brewing for Sunday’s matchup between the Washington Redskins and the St. Louis Rams at the Edward Jones Dome in Missouri.

And St. Louis Post-Dispatch Rams beat writer Jim Thomas was kind enough to give us a few minutes of his time to talk about those very topics, which range from how first-year St. Louis head coach Jeff Fisher is hoping to turn the franchise around; how the St. Louis defense is hoping to stop Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III; and how prepared the Rams are to contain the Washington front seven on defense.

Thomas is this week’s guest on our “Behind Enemy Lines” podcast. The full audio interview is below, but here are some snippets from the conversation:

On the feeling for the Rams this season:
“Jeff Fisher teams are going to be tough, aggressive, scrappy, physical, and I think we saw some of that in Detroit. When your team’s lost 65 of your last 80 games, as was the case entering this season for the Rams, the fan base had been beaten down pretty good. I do think there is a little bit of a buzz for the team and we’re seeing that for the [home] season opener here on Sunday.”

On what makes head coach Jeff Fisher’s approach different from his predecessors who just weren’t able to find success:
“For one, he’s done this before. Both Steve Spagnuolo and Scott Linehan, the two predecessors, they both had good qualities, for sure, but they were first-time head coaches. … Jeff Fisher did take a year off last year, 2011, but he had been a head coach for the Houston/Tennessee franchise for 16 full seasons and part of a 17th. He has a vision, he has an idea of how he wants to run a team and how he wants his team to play and he doesn’t sweat the small stuff. He’s a pretty smooth-operating machine in terms of doing things.”

On how St. Louis going to try to slow down Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has been the talk of the NFL this week:
It’s definitely the talk of St. Louis, too, and certainly the talk of Rams Park. They know they’re not going to stop him; it’s just one of those things that’s like, ‘Look, let’s try to keep the lid on him.’ Jeff Fisher and Mike Shanahan go way back, so Jeff’s obviously got a lot of respect for Mike Shanahan, and he knows that what the Redskins try Sunday could be totally different than what they tried or used in the opener against New Orleans.”

On how much of a concern the Redskins’ front-seven is defensively, which accounted for seven sacks of Rams quarterback Sam Bradford last season:
“Well, it’s a huge concern. We all remember what happened last year, that’s for sure. And also, just a few of the players here now — there’s been such a roster turnover — the veteran players know what a Jim Haslett defense can do; how unpredictable it is, how he’ll give you a lot of different looks, a lot of different looks and mix things up. The Rams are definitely prepared for that.”

On the feeling in the Rams’ locker room last Sunday after their last-second, 27-23 loss to the Detroit Lions:
“I think more frustration and upset, but still knowing that they played almost well enough to win. … With all the losing, you wonder if they’ll get a sense of, ‘Well here we go again,’ but then there’s so few players left, even from last season. I think on opening day, 33 of the 53 spots weren’t even on the team last year, so you’re talking over a 60 percent roster turnover. I think the team is encouraged while knowing they have a stiff challenge this week and that they have a lot of work to do.”

Here’s the complete audio interview with Thomas, who you can follow on Twitter by clicking here:

2012 Behind Enemy Lines archive:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Tampa Bay Times beat writer Stephen Holder)
Indianapolis Colts (Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz)

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