ST. LOUIS — Craig Dahl should have kept his mouth shut.
It was standard operating procedure for Dahl, a Rams safety last year who now is with the 49ers, to tell his new team why he believes his old team was able to stop San Francisco last year.
“Any time a player that’s involved in a system changes addresses, there’s always going to be some sort of debriefing,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said Thursday.
But Dahl went a needless step too far when he shared his intel with San Francisco-area reporters.
“To talk about it with the media is not something I would do,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said. “But to each his own. I wish Craig the best.”
Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan did not react quite as nicely to Dahl telling Bay Area reporters that the Rams’ success was due, in part, to the Niners tipping plays. The Rams limited the Niners to one touchdown pass in a 16-13 victory and 24-24 tie last season.
On his Twitter account, Finnegan wrote:
Craig Dahl we know how you play thanks for the tips we know who to attack early and often
To reporters after the Rams’ OTA on Thursday, Long explained. “On Twitter people just completely disregard manners, the way they should talk to people,” he said. “Some people were talking very recklessly to Cortland. I just reminded them of something. Boy, did I get a lot of interesting responses.”
Finnegan sat out Thursday’s OTA (minor leg injury) and did not stay around to tell the media whether his comments were in jest. With his reputation as a guy who isn’t shy about speaking his mind, to see Finnegan come at Dahl isn’t surprising.
This isn’t to say Dahl was wrong, either, though Long would not admit if the Rams had uncovered a secret advantage to stopping the Niners’ passing attack.
“We have great coaches so we’re always going to have a good game plan,” Long said. “The comments I saw from Craig were really generic. They didn’t blow me away (but) I can understand how somebody might feel a certain way about it.”
Fisher passed off the back-and-forth as joking and said he had no problem with a little trash talking between players who “have respect for each other.”
Other than spicing up a routine day of OTAs, a Twitter rivalry really doesn’t mean much.
But the way the Rams’ defensive mainstays reacted so quickly and decisively says a lot about the 2013 Rams. That is, they are feeling pretty good about themselves.
Teams that win only a total of 15 games in a five-year stretch — as the Rams did between 2007-2011 — aren’t likely to do much popping off. When they do, nobody notices. But these aren’t the same Rams.
Under Fisher, the Rams no longer are acting like a sad-sack squad. The Rams improved by five games with a 7-8-1 record in his first season and their 4-1 NFC West mark was the best in the division. This offseason, the Rams believe they have improved significantly by finally landing enough talent to give Sam Bradford a legitimate chance of proving whether or not he can be a top NFL quarterback.
Of course, they still have a ways to go before ascending to the level of the 49ers. But as Craig Dahl has found out, the Rams aren’t going to hesitate to speak up as they try to catch up.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.