Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Getting Away with Grand Theft in 12 Quarters, They've Created 12 Turnovers

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rams Getting Away with Grand Theft in 12 Quarters, They've Created 12 Turnovers

Article excerpt

Every quarter, the Rams create a turnover. No wonder they're 3-0.

The Rams' opportunistic defense has nine interceptions and three fumble recoveries in victories over Green Bay, New Orleans and Carolina. In Sunday's 31-10 victory over the Panthers, the Rams amassed seven turnovers.

And they have yet to give up the ball themselves. The Rams lead the NFL in giveaway-takeaway ratio after finishing next to last in 1994, and so far it's more than making up for a so-so offense and a wayward kicker.

"I thought we'd take the ball away, but I'd be a liar or an idiot if I told you I thought we'd be plus 12 after three weeks," coach Rich Brooks said.

At this point last year, the Rams were at minus 1 en route to a 4-12 record, their fifth consecutive losing season. They forced only 20 turnovers the entire season.

Brooks has six new full-time starters - tackle D'Marco Farr, end Kevin Carter, linebacker Carlos Jenkins, and defensive backs Anthony Parker, Keith Lyle and Toby Wright. Plus he moved Sean Gilbert from tackle to end.

Brooks said that's not a knock on the talent he inherited.

"The ingredient is we're playing conceptually great team defense," he said. "The hardest thing to do is convince players that if they play within the unit, good things will happen individually."

Linebacker Roman Phifer, one of the holdovers, is one of the best examples. Already he has two interceptions and two sacks, equaling his interception total from last year and a half sack ahead of last year.

Phifer also led the Rams with 11 tackles against Carolina and leads the team with 21 solo stops and eight assists overall.

"Phifer has not had a lot of big-play type things, he hasn't had a lot of interceptions, a lot of fumbles, a lot of sacks," Brooks said. "What we're doing is taking advantage of the abilities we have individually by installing a scheme that is very, very aggressive. …

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