Q: Are the Rams any less scary at 0-4 than if they were coming into this week's game undefeated?
Mariucci: Certainly, it's a different record than we anticipated them being when you look at your schedule prior to the season. They've run into some close games, some good teams, some injuries, those sorts of things. This is the time of year when injuries start to mount up. It's an important game because it's a divisional game for us. We have to find a way to win back the division. We haven't done that in a while. So that's the first thing we are trying to accomplish. Now, that's going to take a long time this season, to determine who's going to win our division. Nobody's way out in front and nobody's out of it. So we have to respect the Rams for what they've accomplished, the players they have left playing, their schemes on both sides of the ball and the kicking game have proven to be very productive and effective in this league. We have to play our best football, there's no question about it. We've got to play our best football. I'm expecting a very wired-in, focused week of practice. And we started it off Monday with a darn good practice today already."
Q: Will your preparation change with Rams quarterback Kurt Warner out of the game?
Mariucci: No, we probably are going to run the same scheme. Whether they rely more on Marshall Faulk to carry more of the load or not remains to be seen. But we don't anticipate them changing their offense. They did not change their offense when Trent Green got hurt a few years back and a guy named Kurt Warner took it over and did very well. Jamie Martin's been around long enough to know how this works. He was productive last week against Dallas. He'll have a full week of practice, that's much more than he had last week. We simply have to put a good plan together, execute the plan and play our best football. It's as simple as that."
Q: Can the Rams still be considered front-runners, or do you start worrying about other teams now in that regard?
Mariucci: Well, until somebody knocks them off, they're the defending champion. Until somebody else wears the crown, we're all fighting for the same thing. It's a long season. Whoever wins this division has to go earn it. Arizona won a big game yesterday against the Giants and Seattle seemed to get back on track, especially in that first half. A lot of the divisions are going to be close, right down to the wire, decided in December."
Q: Even with Warner out, is Marshall Faulk the player the Rams can least afford to lose?
Mariucci: He's certainly one of them. He's a great player, good ball-carrier, good receiver. You have to be aware of where he lines up, where he goes as soon as they come off the plane. I don't know. Losing a left tackle, losing a quarterback, losing a running back - none of it's any fun. All of it slows you down. They too need somebody to step up and play. They had a guy named Kurt Warner step up, come out of nowhere and become the MVP. There's something to be said about their system, playing with all those weapons and all that speed. It helps a quarterback and I'm sure Mike Martz will help that quarterback and they'll put a game plan together."
Q: Is this an unexpected chance to deliver an early knockout blow to the Rams?
Mariucci: Whatever opportunity this is, we have to use this time to prepare and this rest period in a smart way, so we bring a fresh team and a well-prepared team to the game on Sunday. Then we have to cut it loose, we have to minimize our mistakes. They've had these close games and a special teams play, or a fumble here or there makes a huge difference. Any break makes a huge difference. So we have to be good about minimizing those sorts of things and create some breaks for ourselves. We have to have a crowd that's crazy here on Sunday and I'm sure we will, because our fans are anxious to get back at the Rams. It's been quite a rivalry, it really has over the years. It was quite something when they were back (in Los Angeles) and it still is.