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  1. #1
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    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB (12/20)

    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB
    By BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch sports columnist | Posted: Monday, December 20, 2010 11:14 am

    * The Rams' third-down passing game continued to deteriorate, with Sam Bradford completing 5 of 12 against the Chiefs. The decline has been stark. In the first 9 games of the season Bradford completed 60 percent of his third-down passes for an average of 6.61 yards per attempt, six touchdowns, no interceptions and a passer rating of 99.1. But in the last five games, Bradford has completed 23 of 53 third-down passes (43.4 percent) with a 3.17 YPA, one touchdown, three interceptions and a passer rating of 40.5.

    * What are the reasons for the slide? Multiple. In no particular order: (A) defenses caught up to some of the Rams' favorite third-down plays and that's trouble. Given the limitations at receiver, it's become a real strain to make plays now that the defense won't give up that easy underneath pass to Danny Amenndola -- just to cite one example. The Rams are struggling to get open. The inability to get separation is a heavy weight that drags this offense down. (B) Pass protection is breaking down. (C) The play calls have gotten stale; the Rams continue to run the predictable deal that has Bradford rolling to his right and throwing an intermediate pass, often to a tight end. Defenses know this. Defenses are waiting for it. (D) Bradford hasn't been as accurate. And of course the defenses are throwing more and more at him. (E) Not that the Rams have the receiving talent to get fancy or innovative with the passing offense. But there are some things that they can be doing, and should be doing, that they aren't doing -- and a perfect example of this is the no-huddle offense.

    * I'm not suggesting that the Rams should go full-time with the no-huddle attack. But I'm astounded that they don't utilize it more frequently. The Rams had some success mixing in a few no-huddle plays early against KC. Then the offense really bogged down; the energy drain was obvious during one of the most frustrating stretches after the season. After taking a 6-0 lead with field goals on their first two possessions, the Rams went to sleep for eight consecutive series. (I'm not counting the one-play series at the end of the first half.)

    * It was a staggering display of offensive futility by the Rams: eight possessions, 32 plays, 73 yards, five 3-and-outs, three first downs, and eight punts. And over those eight possessions Bradford (unofficially) completed 5 of 19 passes for 42 yards. The Rams were flat-lining. But late in the game, the Rams finally went with the no-huddle (on all but a couple of plays) and it immediately sparked them; Bradford ran a terrific drive that went 12 plays and covered 72 yards and ended with a TD run by Steven Jackson. The no-huddle took some steam out of the Kansas City pass rush and Bradford was renewed; he completed 7 of 10 passes for 63 yards on the drive. And the Rams picked up gfive first downs.

    * That's right -- by going with the no-huddle, the Rams gained almost as many yards on one series, 72, as they had on their previous eight possessions combined (73 yards). And on that one drive, Bradford completed more passes (7) than he had on the previous eight series combined (5). So if a dumb sportswriter and intelligent fans can see how the Rams benefit from a jolt to the system provided by the no-huddle, then why can't the coaches see the same thing?

    * It's time for the Rams' offensive line to toughen up. Really, guys. What's going on? Why the sudden turn to soft play, mentally and physically? I wonder if anyone holds these people accountable. I've been told that they aren't pushed or called out by the coaches, which confuses some of their teammates who are held accountable for every dip in performance. If that's the case, then someone needs to challenge these guys. I'm not trying to exclude anyone, but it's hard to find fault with the rookie left tackle, Rodger Saffold. But the other guys need to compete harder and play much better. Center Jason Brown has been very disappointing. Same with left guard Jacob Bell, who isn't quite as off form as Brown, but still below-average. We are all aware of second-year RT Jason Smith's horrible game against Kansas City. (It was a performance that had Smith reading Bible verses, aloud, in the locker room after the game.) I guess I could criticize right guard Adam Goldberg but it's a waste of time considering that he apparently has a starting job for life.

    * I'm going to put it out there straight: if this soft play continues and the Rams fail to make the playoffs, then much of the blame will go on the offensive line. And it will be time for management to clear a few of these guys out. What are we going to see against San Francisco on Sunday and then again on Jan. 2 in Seattle? Will Sam Bradford absorb more unecessary punishment, or will the O-line feel like competing? There are no excuses with this group. They have played next to each other all season. The continuity has been strong. There haven't been any significant injuries. But if they keep this up, they're going to get Bradford hurt. And if they get Bradford hurt, then it'll be time to dust off the broom.

    * The Rams defense is slipping. They're ranked a respectable 15th in the league in points allowed (21.1 per game) but recent trends are disturbing. The Rams did a good job in winning at Arizona against a Cardinals team suffering from hideous quarterback play. But in the other five games over the current 2-4 stretch -- against San Francisco, Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Kansas City -- the Rams have given up an average of 398 yards and 29.6 points per game. Those five opponents burned the Rams for 10 TD passes (with three interceptions). And over the last six games the Rams have given up an average of 134 yards rushing and 4.9 yards per carry on the ground.

    * WR Danny Amendola played another terrific game for the Rams with a 42-yard punt return, a 30-yard kickoff return and seven catches for 60 yards. Amendola picked up five of the Rams' 14 first downs.

    * And kudos to Rams kicker Josh Brown for making another long-distance field goal (52 yards). As my friend Mike Sando pointed out on his NFC West blog at ESPN.com, Brown is now 15 of 19 on FG attempts of 50+ yards over the last three-plus seasons. And to add onto Sando's stat: Brown's FG percentage (78.9) on long-range attempts is the 4th best among NFL kickers since the start of the 2008 season.

    * Around the NFC West: Is quarterback Matt Hasselbeck being benched in Seattle? Looks that way, as the Seahawks went with backup Charlie Whitehurst in the 2nd half of Sunday's loss to the visiting Atlanta Falcons. Over the last four games Hasselbeck has thrown 10 interceptions and lost three fumbles and has a passer rating of 57.2 ... no one can kill off the San Francisco *****. It's amazing they're still going and have a chance to win the division. The ***** can take a major step in springing that upset with a win in St. Louis on Sunday. The Rams should win, but they'll have to play much better than they have over the last two games. If the Rams don't play better, then obviously the ***** can win this game, and the division. Here's a good breakdown of some NFC West scenarios written from the Seattle perspective.

    Thanks for taking a look at this...

    -Bernie


  2. #2
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB (12/20)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB
    By BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch sports columnist | Posted: Monday, December 20, 2010 11:14 am


    (B) Pass protection is breaking down.
    ---------------------------------------

    * It's time for the Rams' offensive line to toughen up. Really, guys. What's going on? Why the sudden turn to soft play, mentally and physically? I wonder if anyone holds these people accountable. I've been told that they aren't pushed or called out by the coaches, which confuses some of their teammates who are held accountable for every dip in performance. If that's the case, then someone needs to challenge these guys. I'm not trying to exclude anyone, but it's hard to find fault with the rookie left tackle, Rodger Saffold. But the other guys need to compete harder and play much better. Center Jason Brown has been very disappointing. Same with left guard Jacob Bell, who isn't quite as off form as Brown, but still below-average. We are all aware of second-year RT Jason Smith's horrible game against Kansas City. (It was a performance that had Smith reading Bible verses, aloud, in the locker room after the game.) I guess I could criticize right guard Adam Goldberg but it's a waste of time considering that he apparently has a starting job for life.

    * I'm going to put it out there straight: if this soft play continues and the Rams fail to make the playoffs, then much of the blame will go on the offensive line. And it will be time for management to clear a few of these guys out. What are we going to see against San Francisco on Sunday and then again on Jan. 2 in Seattle? Will Sam Bradford absorb more unecessary punishment, or will the O-line feel like competing? There are no excuses with this group. They have played next to each other all season. The continuity has been strong. There haven't been any significant injuries. But if they keep this up, they're going to get Bradford hurt. And if they get Bradford hurt, then it'll be time to dust off the broom.

    -Bernie
    This pretty much sums it all up for me.

    Poor/bad O-line play obviously hurts our offense but it also hurts our defense.

    GO RAMS!

  3. #3
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB (12/20)

    I'm scared by how much I agree with him this season.

  4. #4
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB (12/20)

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    * It's time for the Rams' offensive line to toughen up. Really, guys. What's going on? Why the sudden turn to soft play, mentally and physically? I wonder if anyone holds these people accountable. I've been told that they aren't pushed or called out by the coaches, which confuses some of their teammates who are held accountable for every dip in performance. If that's the case, then someone needs to challenge these guys. I'm not trying to exclude anyone, but it's hard to find fault with the rookie left tackle, Rodger Saffold. But the other guys need to compete harder and play much better. Center Jason Brown has been very disappointing. Same with left guard Jacob Bell, who isn't quite as off form as Brown, but still below-average. We are all aware of second-year RT Jason Smith's horrible game against Kansas City. (It was a performance that had Smith reading Bible verses, aloud, in the locker room after the game.) I guess I could criticize right guard Adam Goldberg but it's a waste of time considering that he apparently has a starting job for life.

    * I'm going to put it out there straight: if this soft play continues and the Rams fail to make the playoffs, then much of the blame will go on the offensive line. And it will be time for management to clear a few of these guys out. What are we going to see against San Francisco on Sunday and then again on Jan. 2 in Seattle? Will Sam Bradford absorb more unecessary punishment, or will the O-line feel like competing? There are no excuses with this group. They have played next to each other all season. The continuity has been strong. There haven't been any significant injuries. But if they keep this up, they're going to get Bradford hurt. And if they get Bradford hurt, then it'll be time to dust off the broom.
    It's not only pass blocking that is a serious issue, this line can't run block either. Jackson makes yards through sheer determination. How many toimes have we watched the line collapse in short yardage situations? Forget 2nd level blocking, this line isn't even capable of doing much of a job at the point of attack. I'm wondering if we need a bit of a line coaching change as well as a player upgrade.

    As for the D-line, we really could use a good Tackle or 2. We need to be able to create pressure up the middle, and clog the rushing lanes.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB (12/20)

    I am terrified of how much I am agreeing with Bernie on this article.

  6. #6
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB (12/20)

    Quote Originally Posted by Rampingitup View Post
    I am terrified of how much I am agreeing with Bernie on this article.
    Yah, that's been happening a bit lately. I'm feeling a bit uneasy about that myself.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB (12/20)

    Most of the closeups of Bradford show him with his eyes closed. He's hearing footsteps and the team senses it. And now all of rams nation are hearing the footsteps of the *******.

    Our fear is showing again and it's hidious.
    Kiss my ass, football gods

  8. #8
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB (12/20)

    Quote Originally Posted by live4ramin View Post
    Most of the closeups of Bradford show him with his eyes closed. He's hearing footsteps and the team senses it. And now all of rams nation are hearing the footsteps of the *******.

    Our fear is showing again and it's hidious.
    This is one member of Rams Nation who says bring on the 40whiners. The Alex Smith led bunch don't scare me. I can't wait until Sunday for the ultimate redemption by putting the final nail in their coffin.

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