Have a question about the NFL? Ask Times NFL writer Sam Farmer, and he will answer as many as he can online and in the Sunday editions of the newspaper throughout the season. Email questions to: email@example.com
It was impressive the way Jalen Ramsey fit right into the Rams’ secondary after just two days of practice, and that he understood the calls and language right away. First of all, is that unusual? And if it’s a loud stadium, how does a defensive back hear the calls anyway?
Mark Hanrahan, Tustin
Farmer: Definitely remarkable that Ramsey was able to step in and play so well, especially against Julio Jones, who’s certainly in the conversation of who’s the NFL’s best receiver. Safety Eric Weddle, who makes most of the calls and adjustments for the secondary, likewise was impressed that Ramsey was instantly fluent in Rams-speak. Those tweaks not only came before the snap, but also some even after it as the plays were unfolding.
But you raise an interesting larger point: How can players hear each other in all that noise? Stand on the field in Seattle or Kansas City, and it sounds like a 747 is landing overhead.
For some insight, I turned to former NFL cornerback Jason Bell:
“If you’re on the same side as a guy, you’re just so used to hearing their voice, like a mother hears a child,” Bell said. “It just stands out. Even if there’s chaos going on, sometimes you can just hear them. Now sometimes you can’t.
“Remember, you can tune out a lot and just focus in on something. With all this movement going on, you’re still locked in on your man. Well, it’s the same thing on verbal cues. You’re listening and waiting, and if this voice says it, you can hear it.
“It’s amazing. It doesn’t always happen, but I think it doesn’t because those guys aren’t locked in. But when you’ve got guys who are playing together, and they have that cohesiveness, they hear each other.
“And it’s simple things: a word and a look. Or sometimes it’s, you just know you’re about to talk. You see something, you feel something, and they know it too. It doesn’t surprise me with the Rams because what I’ve heard about Weddle from players that have played corner. There’s so much respect for his knowledge and ability to communicate with the corners. Corners have trust in him.”
Is Jacksonville the favorite team in London?
Kristin Shumaker, Columbia, S.C.
Farmer: While the Jaguars were the first team to make a multiyear commitment to play an annual game in London — the deal runs from 2012 to 2020 — virtually every team is represented at games, judging by the jerseys in the stands. The Miami Dolphins are extremely popular in London, as are the San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins and Chicago Bears. And there’s a reason.
Here’s London-based TV sports producer Simon Crosse on why:
“Redskins-Dolphins [in 1983] was the first Super Bowl on TV here,” he said. “So suddenly people my age — I’m 55 now — were exposed to American football. So Dan Marino, Joe Montana, the ‘Fridge’ [William “Refrigerator” Perry].… We didn’t know what was going on in those games. The ball was just being thrown around. So we latched on to the big characters and the teams that were winning. So that’s why those teams remain to this day — of course the Patriots are popular, and the Jaguars have a foothold over here — but those teams that were big in the mid-80s, those are the jerseys you’ll see on Sundays.
“If you ask Brits to name NFL players, Marino and Montana are two names that would spring to mind with sports fans. If you ask someone, the average sports fan, to name five NFL players they’d say, ‘Tom Brady, Dan Marino, Joe Montana … um, um, um.’ There are die-hard fans. But with the majority of the fans who don’t follow football, those are the big three.”