“If you were to say at the beginning of the season week 14 would feature two of the best teams in the league with the Rams and Eagles, people would have said you were crazy,” says Pete Holohan. Heading into week 14 the Rams currently sit at 9-3 and a top of the NFC West, with a huge matchup against the 10-2 Philadelphia Eagles. I had an opportunity to speak with former Rams great tight end, Pete Holohan about the current Rams team, and more specifically the tight end position.
As a collegiate athlete coming to the professional game at tight end, there is a huge learning curve. I asked Pete why the transition is such a tough one? “You have to line up on the line of scrimmage and learn all the blocking assignments and then just the speed of the game is tough to adjust to. The biggest adjustment is run blocking, there isn’t a lot of tight ends in today’s game that can block and catch.”
Holohan was traded to the Rams in 1988 in a move that followed Ernie Zampese who he had previously played for with the San Diego Chargers. Quickly he became a reliable target for Jim Everett. When Holohan was traded to the Rams Everett was a young quarterback in the league. You always hear about people saying tight ends are a young quarterback’s best friend? “Especially on third and short plays, the quarterback needs to get the ball out of his hand fast and having a tight end to rely on really helps a young quarterback move the chains.”
The Rams currently have two young tight ends in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett. Higbee is in his second season and Everett is a rookie. How do you see the Rams utilizing the tight end position this season? “I see the Rams using Everett like how I was used,” says Holohan. “The Rams really like to get Everett out in space and use him as a pass-catching tight end. Once he gets used to the speed of the game and learns to block more he will really open things up in the play-action game.” He also thinks Higbee has made a nice jump between year one and two, being able to block and be productive in the passing game.
Digging through Holohan’s career I noticed that he took a big jump in production in year three and four of his professional career. What was it about year three and four that really clicked for you? “Those years are big threshold years for a young tight end, in year one and two you really are learning the offense and the speed of the game, not to mention the veterans are getting a lot more snaps so you spend a lot of time on the scout team, but in year three a light bulb really went off for me and if you can’t contribute by year four you are really going to have a hard time keeping your job.”
The last time the Los Angeles version of the Rams made the playoffs, Holohan was playing for them in 1989. Do you see any similarities between the 2017 Rams and the Rams teams you played on? “I can definitely see similarities. Both teams were running state of the art offenses, although this year’s Rams team runs the ball better than we did. We really ran the ball so that we could pass and in McVay’s offense you know he wants to pass the ball. Obviously, they were two different schemes, but both teams had a lot of success.”
With the Rams having so much success in year one of the McVay era, I was curious to why Holohan thought the Rams were doing so well? “The biggest thing is the team had early success and the team really believes in themselves. The team has overcome adversity with losses to the Seahawks and Vikings and really bounced back well and that is huge for such a young team.”
The Rams are really doing well at winning the fan base back in Los Angeles and Holohan is excited that the team is home in Los Angeles where they belong after such a long time away. “The Rams are really iconic in Los Angeles and if you win the fans will show up” says Holohan.
This Sunday against the Eagles the Coliseum will be sold out and fans will be in for a special treat to watch two of the best teams in the NFL matching up in week 14. Holohan will be with the family rooting on the Rams. This is a special season for the Rams and longtime Rams fans who have suffered through a lot of losing seasons. Things are trending upward for the Rams, and with each passing day, the Rams tight ends are getting better. Undoubtedly, leading to greater things for this young team. So, buckle your seatbelt and hang on tight, the Rams have arrived, but you have yet to see their greatest hits.
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– Brian Joanou is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Rams. He covers the Los Angeles Rams. Like and follow on Follow @Brian81277 Follow @FPC_Rams and Facebook.