Rams 85 Bears (wait, i meant the Jaguars) 34-20; The Good, Bad and Ugly (from Row 1)
The Rams defeated the (not) Super Bowl bound Jaguars 34-20 yesterday in a game that showed flashes of our young squad's promise, while also reminding Rams Nation why we have struggled and why we are concerned about what's to come this season. With the Jaguars minus their top 2 offensive tackles (Monroe traded away and Joeckel out early in the game with a knee injury), one would have thought that the Rams pass rush woes and defensive line struggles would have been cured, at least for a week. Alas, that was not the case. The Jaguars, with Dan Hampton and Richard Dent inserted into their defensive line, hit and rushed Bradford early and often, with the exception of two very good long drives, raising further concerns about the offensive line. True, the offensive line showed a pulse, providing some running room for the backs and some solid protection from time to time, but lest we all get too excited, we do need to consider the level of competition. The turnovers were really the difference in this game, and you would have hoped that the Rams would not be in a 7 point game at home vs Jacksonville in the 4th quarter, but at this point, i strongly suggest that we all celebrate the win and take what we can get, because if we dont play a LOT better, the next three weeks (Houston and Carolina on the road and Seattle at home) aren't going to be pretty. My daughters and i were in the front row directly behind the Rams bench so we had a fantastic view of what was going on both on the field and on the sideline.
When given time, Sammy was accurate and threw three nice TD's. The last one to Pettis was a great throw. Sammy can get better for sure. I havent seen the replay, but i suspect that sammy should have gotten the ball out a little sooner on the long pass to givens. The throw appeared perfect from where i was sitting, but givens had about a step and a half and looked like he had to wait for it. The defender made a great play on the ball. One really interesting point. I know people have been on Sammy for checking down a lot and throwing underneath. I was sitting about 6 feet from Schotty when he was talking to Sammy between series' and watching the dialogue between Sammy and Schotty as Sammy came to the sidelines and i am more convinced than ever that Sammy is being coached to dump off and throw short to the tight ends rather than hold the ball longer and try to get it down the field. The drops are really frustrating Sammy. You can see it on his face close up on the field and when he comes off the field and talks to the receivers and i dont blame him. Austin is good personally for two drops a game. Sammy missed on throw to Pettis on a third down over the middle where Pettis was open, and its impossible to tell whether the throw was off or Pettis was a step off of where he was supposed to be. What i can tell you is that the two of them had a conversation after that play but i couldnt hear what they were saying to each other. I stand by my statement that with a running game and pass protection, along with receivers that catch the ball, the sky is the limit for Sammy.
The running game was much improved and it made a huge difference for the Rams. Down and distance were much more favorable and despite the poor start, as the game wore on, the pass protection improved and the play action was effective.
Zac Stacy did some tough and impressive running. He doesnt appear to have much of a burst outside, but is tough between the tackles. I still dont like the way richardson dances and on short yardage (where we are dead last in the nfl), i think stacy has to be the guy rather than richardson. Pead got off the bench exactly twice the entire game. He sat there like a log and appears to be so deep in Fisher's dog house i dont know if he can ever get out. His body language was just terrible on the bench, he was not involved in dialogue with the other backs even though he was sitting directly next to them.
Austin is really electric on the punt returns, if we can someone avoid getting a penalty on every runback.
Three cheers for the offensive line making it a full week without a false start and i believe without a holding penalty.
Turnover free for the offense. That made a huge difference in the game as the Jaguars were self destructing.
Bailey is very solid in punt coverage. He is almost always the first guy there.
Laurinaitis- his intensity on the field and on the sideline up close is really something to behold. He really inspires the rest of the unit, both for better and worse.
Brian Quick continues to show flashes. Austin Pettis is reliable, big and tough. He makes plays, but i think that Quick needs to get more chances, he has more upside for sure. The question is whether you can get quick and pettis on the field at the same time?
The long drives right before half and in the fourth quarter were impressive and what we need to see more of.
The Giordano interception for a td and the Laurinaitis pick in the end zone were inspiring plays. The giordano interception hit him right in the hands, but the goal line defense before James made his play on 4th down was impressive despite the ridiculous off sides penalty.
Nice catch and run for the TD by Kendricks, who also had a couple of drops. He is very good and very bad, usually both in the same game. ON the plus side, he gave my kids one of his game used gloves after the game so he moves up on my favorites list!
Our defense has a very long way to go. I can not believe that we didnt get more sacks and pressures against that o line. The fact that we let Jacksonville run it down our throats in the fourth quarter was just ridiculous. Without their two tackles, i find it amazing that long has one sack and quinn had none. I am puzzled again by Long's lack of activity. I sure hope he is playing injured, because if he isnt, his level of play has dropped off massively from last year.
The drops have to stop.
I love Tree, but his angles to the ball are terrible. He has Jones Drew stopped cold on a third down and 3 in the fourth and just missed him. He missed another tackle on the next drive. His athleticism is special, his reliability as a tackler needs work.
Our safeties stink. I know we are missing McDonald, but our tackling is awful and Giordano is so slow its insane. Blackman ran right up the middle on the first td and Giordano had the angle on him all the way just couldnt get their. McLeod did make one nice play.
Trumaine can play a lot better.
Our offensive line play remains a real issue. I note that Chris Williams was benched in the second half in favor of Smith. Williams did not appear to be injured.
I remain puzzled why we never use the hurry up even as a change of pace.
Maybe its just me, but i dont see Langford doing much of anything on defense. Brockers plays pretty well, makes some plays and is getting double teamed a bit and i see langford with nothing other than the occassional clean up play.
The penalties on the punt returns are out of control. Ray Ray is good for one minimum every week.
The offsides on the 23 yard field goal was just butt ugly.
The blocked punt was awful. Hecker had no chance at all to get that punt off.
The dome had tons of empty seats. I get it with the cardinals and all, but it makes me sick and should make all of us who dont live in st louis and cant go every week ill.
There are no style points in the NFL. You take the win and move on. Heaven knows we needed the win. From close up to the field, i wish i saw more passion and intensity on the Rams sideline from someone other than Laurianitis and Coach Wueffle, who ripped the defensive line a new one with multiple F bombs after the Jaguars pulled within 7. I understand that its not college and you dont need all the rah rah stuff, but it seemed pretty sedate on the Rams bench for most of the game.
Houston on the road is next and after getting creamed by the whiners, they should be primed for a better performance. To me, the key to our team remains the offensive and defensive lines. I have no idea how to explain the deterioration in the defensive line from last year. The offensive line is going to need an overhaul in the off season i think.
Onward and upward Rams my fellow Ram-bros, keep the faith. If we can somehow get past Houston, we have a real chance to make a run. We still havent played anywhere close to our potential, and maybe this week will be the one to sort it all out and have it come together. We can all agree that we need to improve quite a bit.
Ramming speed to all