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Thread: Week Eight: Post-Game Observations

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    Week Eight: Post-Game Observations

    So I think I speak for most Rams fans when I emphatically say, HELL YEAH!!

    This was the kind of Rams football I think many of us expected in Year Three of the Spagnuolo regime. The Rams swarmed the ball carrier, collapsed the pocket with an aggressive defensive gameplan, and above all else, featured a heavy dose of #39. These were just some of the factors that contributed to the Ramsí first win of the season. Letís examine them and others more closely.

    We saw this week a pass rush from the Rams that we havenít seen since the 2010 season. St. Louis amassed six sacks against the Saints, more than half of their total sacks through the 2011 season prior to this game. Chris Long was simply unblockable coming off of the left side of the defensive line. His three sacks on the day were a career high for him, bringing his personal total to six for the season through seven games. Opposite of him, Robert Quinn saw significant time and really showed why the Rams were ecstatic to see him fall in the draft last April. Between a sack and a blocked punt that set up the Ramsí first touchdown, Quinn had a major impact.

    The linebackers got into the swing of things as well in this game. Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis may have had one of his best pro performances to date. On top of his ten tackles, Laurinaitis helped set the tone early with a sack, but he was also outstanding in pass coverage with two passes defensed. Beside him, Chris Chamberlain showed why heís beginning to earn more playing time as well. Chamberlain was frequently around the ball, either slowing down the ball carrier or bringing him down himself.

    A stand-out performance from the defensive front seven helped make things easier for a secondary that many predicted would be overmatched in this contest. But starters Al Harris and Josh Grody held their ground, and safety Darian Stewart was flying around the field like a missile. His pick-six helped seal the Ramsí victory. No Saints receiver had a reception of more than 25 yards, and their only passing touchdown came late in the game in garbage time. The Rams held tight end Jimmy Graham, an emerging youth at the position, to his worst game of the season.

    While the Ramsí defense was finally showing up on the football field, the offense slowly started to kick into gear as well, led by the flowing dreadlocks of Steven Jackson. The talented runner took this team on his back, dodging and weaving through traffic to gain every yard possible. If youíve watched Jackson run this year, heís never quite looked as elusive and quick as he did today. Whether he is just now finally healthy again or if he had some kind of inner motivation at work, he was a battering ram that would not surrender.

    A strong performance in the running game certainly helped ease the pressure off of back-up quarterback A.J. Feeley. Questionable accuracy was prevalent throughout the contest, but Feeley demonstrated why the Rams felt comfortable with him as a back-up as he felt pressure in the pocket well, went through his progressions, and identified favorable match-ups. He delivered the ball accurately when he had to, and even showed some mobility when the pocket broke down.

    New receiver Brandon Lloyd had a good day overall. He got behind the defense on two deep balls that Feeley couldnít connect with, made an adjustment on an end zone route that helped bring about a touchdown, and made an incredible sideline catch that extended a Rams drive late in the fourth quarter. Having said that, for someone who came to the Rams with the reputation of being very sure-handed, Lloyd dropped two very catchable balls, one of which could have resulted in a long touchdown catch and run. Still, heís already emerged as the best receiving weapon on this team, and is being targeted as such. Greg Salas is the only other receiver who really stood out, showing elusiveness in the open field and the ability to gain yards after the catch. Heís really begun to come around after a shaky debut earlier this year.

    From a protection standpoint, the Rams made an effort to help out their line by rolling Feeley out and having him make some quick adjustments to incoming blitz pressure. Overall, the pass protection struck me as questionable through most of the game but adequate; St. Louis allowed four sacks, at least one of which was on the quarterback. For a line as beleaguered as this one has been, especially missing a starter at right tackle, thatís probably an admirable job. And for Jackson to gain the kind of yardage he did is also a credit to the run blocking.

    The most uplifting thing to see on this day, however, may have been the active presence of Steve Spagnuolo on the sideline. He seemed to shed some of his stoic demeanor this week, and numerous times the camera caught him coaching up his players on the sidelines, talking with them and being an active presence rather than a statue. In fact, the emotions were running high for the whole team, whether it was Chris Longís baseball swing celebration or Steven Jacksonís guttural cry of offensive liberation after a rushing touchdown. This team was fired up for the first time all year, and that started from the top down. It was a refreshing sight.

    So now, one must ask the obvious question Ė where does this team go from here?

    Well, for everything good that happened today, one has to consider the reality of the situation. The Rams blocked a punt and returned an interception for a touchdown, something thatís not going to happen every week. I also donít think we can expect to see an average of six sacks a week, either. The Rams played an outstanding game, but weíve seen more letdowns than inspired performances. The key for them will be trying to achieve this kind of play week in and week out, because now we know theyíre capable of it. When things donít necessarily go their way as it did for much of this game, theyíll have to find other ways to respond. One really encouraging thing is that we saw leaders emerge on this team, leaders that likely arenít going to let their units slack now that theyíve finally gotten over the hump. But in the end, no matter how much we speculate, the results on the field will speak for themselves.

    Some of these questions will have to wait until next weekend. For this week, we can sit back and enjoy the taste of victory, a taste that is much sweeter due to the hardships this team has been through so far. With the tough part of the schedule behind them, and the Rams possibly turning a corner with this breakout performance, can this lead to a late season surge that brings this franchise back to life in 2011? I see no reason why it canít.
    Curly Horns and Tampa_Ram like this.


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    Re: Week Eight: Post-Game Observations

    Excellent read as always... thank you. I was able to actually join in on the football chat at work today... rather than lay low. LOL Great win. We'll see what happens on Sunday.

    "St. Louis allowed four sacks, at least one of which was on the quarterback." Maybe I'm high on Halloween candy, but this line seems off.

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    Re: Week Eight: Post-Game Observations

    It sure is a lot more fun talking about what the team did "right". Thanks for a great analysis.

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    Re: Week Eight: Post-Game Observations

    Darian Stewart showed up alright.! The Rams needed someone to step up in the safety department, and he is the next in line. C. Dahl never was starting material, so Im pleased with these events.!
    Lloyd is going to be very good for our team, I am feeling good about him.? Quinn showed up when it counted, he is a good athlete and a good team player. Lets hope he can become a star, the Rams could sure do with some, if they want to become play off regulars.?
    Spags is still a popular man and is liked my his players, he pleasantly surprised me on Sunday. It was a great team effort by his defense.! It reminded me so much of last year.? SJ39 was the catalyst for the offense on the day, which made Feeleys job a lot easier.? Feeley is no Bradford, but played well when it counted. ?
    Salas is doing a great job, getting the hard yards after contact. He is showing a little consistency Hopefully he can replace Amendola as the starter in the slot. Kendricks blocking is a pleasant surprise, on draft day he was described as a strictly, pass receiving TE. WRONG
    The secondary had a good game in general. Gordy will keep his place if he keeps playing like that.

    All in all, it was a complete surprise that the Rams played like this, against one of the elite teams in the NFL.? Was it a fluke, one of those crazy days in sports. We will find out soon enough.
    These finishing games on the schedule will either make or break coach Spags.
    At least he has give us fans some HOPE that this ship can be turned round by his captaincy.?

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    Re: Week Eight: Post-Game Observations

    Great read.

    Im re-watching the game as i type this, 2:25 till halftime.

    One point i wanna throw out about Feeley is that he got very very lucky at least two times in the first half, when he threw to covered recievers and the ball went through the hands of the defender each time. Both easily could of been interecepted. He played like how a back up should play, but i still cant wait to get Bradford back soon.

    Also, Salas played great, but i didnt like how he fumbled at the goal line and almost had another fumble earlier but luckily was down by contact. im sure he'll get better at holding on when hit. Still did great today.
    Last edited by Tampa_Ram; -11-01-2011 at 01:13 PM.


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    Re: Week Eight: Post-Game Observations

    Quote Originally Posted by Raised_fisT View Post
    "St. Louis allowed four sacks, at least one of which was on the quarterback." Maybe I'm high on Halloween candy, but this line seems off.
    No, he meant one was on the quarterback, meaning that one was his fault. The other three were the O-line's fault. (You know when you do something wrong and then you be like " thats on me"? )

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    Re: Week Eight: Post-Game Observations

    I'd say the Malcolm Jenkins sack that caused the fumble was Feeley's fault because he should have known it was coming, and he probably held the ball too long on others

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