ST. LOUIS -- It should tell you all you need to know about how St. Louis Rams coach Jeff Fisher views trash talking that one of his first moves upon taking over in 2012 was signing cornerback Cortland Finnegan to a lucrative five-year contract.
Finnegan has made a career of getting into opponents' heads both with his words and his style of play. That approach has earned Finnegan the "dirty" player label from other players around the league but from the day he signed with the Rams he made it clear that the talking and agitating are part of his game.
"I play with an edge," Finnegan said then. "If there is an edge, I’m standing over it, looking over it. Never stepping over it, never want to hurt the football team. That’s something that I can continue to do is just play with that edginess. I think that’s part of my game."
It's a big part of Finnegan's game and one that has alternately helped and hurt his team. In his second game as a Ram against Washington in 2012, Finnegan annoyed receiver Josh Morgan so much that Morgan got fed up in the game's closing moments and threw the ball at Finnegan. The ensuing penalty pushed Washington out of field goal range and sealed the win for the Rams.
On the flip side Finnegan can push too far, such as the 2013 season opener where he racked up a pair of 15-yard penalties in a game the Rams barely managed to win.
Of course, Finnegan is far from the only Ram who likes to run his mouth. It's no coincidence that other cornerbacks such as Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson also have an affinity for yapping. This season, those antics often worked more to the detriment of the team than to its benefit.
Fisher has long maintained that he doesn't mind if his players push the edge so long as it's under control. At times that control seems to be lost, but there's little doubt that Fisher's players have the green light when it comes to engaging opponents in a war of words.