Rams run over Bears 42-21; The Good, the Bad and the (amost non-existent) Ugly
News flash, the Rams have a real football team. Are we ready to contend for the playoffs without Sammy? Highly unlikely. However, are we much, much improved and showing tremendous cause for optimism in the future? Absolutely. Coach Fisher has the Rams playing the kind of mauling physical football that was so successful during his tenure with the Titans. The Rams will back down from no one, will fight for every yard on both sides of the ball, and are going to give some very good teams some brutal fights for the rest of the season. There was an awful lot to like out there on the field today, and very, very little on the ugly side. The Rams featured a pounding relentless run game that didn't skip a beat when Zac didn't return for the second half with some kind of head injury. They played great goal line defense against a very good bears offense, and won the turnover battle plus three, which was a huge difference in the game. The Rams obviously lost no momentum despite the bye week after the route against the Colts, and i am certain that there is a lot of enthusiasm and passion in the locker room and the players and coaches look forward to an all out slugfest with the Whiners next Sunday.
The Rams ran the ball for 29 times for 258 yards (8.9 per carry), which is just fantastic, even if you exclude the 65 yard burst to the house by Austin (see below). That type of production is going to win a lot of football games. Zac Stacy had a great first half (12-87 with numerous big runs through real holes) and Benny (excluding his one fumble which we fortunately recovered) showed excellent burst in the second half with his first career td (9 yards to put the game away) and first 100 yard game (13-109). No way to tell at this point how severe the injury is to Zac, but the game ball today goes to the entire Rams offensive line. Clemens had time to throw, was only sacked twice and we just blew the Bears off the line of scrimmage time and time again. I appreciate that the Bears have major injuries and have struggled badly to stop the run for weeks, but that does not minimize our performance today. The offensive line did not miss a beat when Chris Williams went to the locker room with a possible concussion, and Shelley Smith stepped in nicely. Saffold made it through another full game at guard without getting hurt, without false starting and appearing to play pretty well. Call me crazy again, but i am really becoming a bigger and bigger Barksdale fan every week. From my perspective, he is growing into a starting caliber offensive tackle right before our eyes. If he winds up as a backup next year, he will be about the best backup tackle in the NFL.
Tavon Austin, another long td run (65 yards), on a fantastic play design by Schotty (we all have to give credit where credit is due) that completely fooled the Bears. He showed burst and elusiveness and got great blocking from Kendricks, Givens and Pettis. He also had a nice catch for a big gain later in the game (2 catches for 39 yards) and was open for what could have been two additional td's where clemens couldnt make the throws (not easy throws, but throws that Sammy has a lot better chance to make).
I feel like i am repeating myself every week, but Quinn is essentially a force of nature right now and only improving. He came inches away from multiple sacks, hit the QB several times, and finally came through with the sack, fumble, TD at the end of the game. He had four tackles, including two for losses. The Bears OT did a nice job battling, but anyone who tries to block this guy one on one at this point better call Lloyds of London about life insurance for their QB.
The Rams goal line defense was a huge difference in this game. We stopped them on third and fourth downs (great play in the end zone by Janoris and a terrific play by Jo Lon on 4th down) to keep them out of the end zone despite an 80 plus yard long drive at the start of the second half. If not for the horrible call on the Brockers sack, we would have held them again, despite three first downs from the one yard line, thanks to McGee (see below).
Cook played very well today with 4 catches for 80 yards and a TD, including a couple of huge third down conversions (including the td) and a major catch for 20 yards on the last drive for a first on 1st down and 19.
I like what i see a lot in Stedman Bailey. Another excellent special teams performance (including a tackle at the ten yard line) and a nice catch for a first down on his only chance. Something tells me he is going to see more snaps, especially if givens continues to struggle (see below)
Brian Quick has moved past Pettis on the depth chart i think. He made a couple of catches and is a nice blocker. I love Pettis, but Quick has to be on the field.
The leg converted both kicks (40 and 29) and did a nice job controlling Hester with deep kickoffs all game long.
Hecker had two nice deep punts (and caught a huge break on the one lousy line drive kick that led to the hester td which was called back).
I love the 2 point conversion to Pead. An actual Pead sighting! What could be next?
Tree had 11 tackles to lead the team. He missed some big tackles again on Forte (especially the 26 yard forte run) by taking bad angles, but he has star written all over him.
Great INT at the end by Mcleod. The game was out of reach, but it was still an excellent play.
Great play by Trumaine to cause the early fumble by Forte and nice job converting it into a TD by the Rams (Laurianitis fell on it) with the 3rd and 7 conversion to Cook for the score. That was a key point in the game. Trumaine got hurt and left, looked like a neck or shoulder, with Finnegan out for the year and McGee obviously not ready to play yet (see below), we need Trumaine out there every play.
Nice to see McDonald back. He missed a couple of tackles, but also made a couple of plays.
Great sack on a huge play at the goal line by Brockers, despite the refs making a horrific personal foul call on him on the play.
The Rams kickoff coverage was great all day. Solid tackling (in addition to the good,deep and high kicks by the Leg).
Janoris battled like crazy against Marshall all game. Marshall had 10 catches for over 100yards and a td, and Janoris did miss a tackle that could have gotten us off the field on third down, but this guy fights like crazy on every play every week against number one receivers and pretty much holds his own. He has plenty of room for improvement, but note the spectacular interception today (called back by a mcgee penalty on 3rd and 22) going right up against Marshall.
Clemens. Nothing fantastic, but very solid 10-22-167 a TD and most importantly, NO TURNOVERS. The plus three turnover ratio was obviously key in this game. Clemens played reasonably well for a backup, and while certainly not as good as the spectacular Bears backup (who killed us over and over with 36-47-352), he made a couple of throws that could have made his stats look a lot better had Givens not made poor plays (one on the deep throw and one on the sideline pass before halftime). My bet at this point is that he has earned the job for next year, although i still think we will draft a qb.
Despite some highly suspect tackling (especially on Forte's 26 yard run), the Rams held the Bears to 80 yards rushing on 26 attempts (3.1 average) with plenty of tackles for loss. Our defense today was bend but not break (we allowed 424 yards of offense and 30 first downs,), but you have to give the Bears offense credit. Their line is excellent, Forte is very elusive, Marshall is all world, and Jeffrey is a beast.
The 80 yard drive to effectively put the game away after the Bears pulled within 6 with 7 minutes left after the bad call against Brockers was really a thing of beauty. Great running and huge conversion to Cook after a penalty put us into 1st and 19.
We have to tackle better. Too much YAK in the pass defense and too many times where we had Forte bottled up and couldnt get him down.
I am very disapointed in Givens. He is not improving and he is missing catchable balls every week. The long pass today was a great example. He beat the guy and then seemed to lose it in the air on what could have been either a td or at least a long gain. He had a catch for a fg right before half, and lifted his foot up out of bounds for some reason. Neither are easy plays. Both are plays that a starting NFL wide receiver needs to make.
Hard to evaluate the pass defense, given how we managed to keep them pretty much from beating us deep, although they completed 36 passes on us (bears franchise record). McGowan was nimble in the pocket, we almost had him multiple times, and of the 11 incompletes a number were flat out drops. They get the ball out quickly and their receivers are very good. Field position helped our defense a lot and you cant argue with the plus three turnovers, but you want to see more than one sack and a better job of grabbing the qb in the pocket. Its really hard to stop those slants without more pressure. Again, the bears offensive line is pretty good, and i am picking nits a bit here, but we did allow a number of long drives. THe goal line stand and the turnovers bailed us out of a lot of trouble today.
Terrible kick by Hecker leading to the hester 62 yard punt return for a td, a key play in the game, called back for a penalty. We dodged a major bullet on that play.
I wish clemens didnt miss kendrick (for td), austin for TD, austin (swing pass that could have been a td) and a couple of other open receivers. He is after all a backup.
Let's hope the injuries to Zack, Trumaine and Williams are not serious.
McGee was just ugly all game. Two penalties in the end zone for first and goals on the one and a horrific penalty on a 3rd and 22 that negates the Janoris INT. With Finnegan gone, we better hope Trumaine is ok and we better hope that with game experience, McGee improves, because other teams are going to throw at him over and over and over again based on what they will see on film today.
The penalty call for roughing the passer against Brockers was just ugly by the refs and could easily have impacted the result of the game. That was a completely clean textbook hit.
Some of our attempted tackling against the run was ugly, especially early, but we cleaned it up a bit in the second half.
This was a quality win for the Rams. They exploited the Bears weakness (terrible run defense), won the battle of the turnovers convincingly (3-0), didnt get flustered at the end after a terrible call helped get the bears to within 6 with 7 minutes left, and marched to ball down the field to put the game away. We looked a lot like a Fisher team today, and it was great to see the other team, rather than the Rams, implode with stupid and costly penalties and turnovers. The future is really bright for the Rams, and I look for us to punch the Whiners in the mouth next weekend. To win, i think we are going to have to be able to throw the ball a bit, and i dont know whether we can or can't do that enough to beat a tough team on the road, but i know that we are the kind of team that other teams are not going to want to see coming down the stretch because after you play the Rams you are going to know that you have been in a real rough fight.
Bring on the Whiners, and Ramming speed to all!!! It's great to get a win heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.
Ramming speed to all (and get well soon Sammy)