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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
    Monday, December 27, 2010 1:40 pm

    Good morning, and happy holidays.

    I hope everyone is in a good mood.

    Let's get started ...

    READING TIME 5 MINUTES (or so):

    * I'll be honest: I don't think NBC did the Rams any favors by taking Sunday's game and putting it on prime time. It's great that the Rams will get some national exposure, and all. But how will it impact the team's readiness to play? This group of players hasn't had a night-time showcase on the national stage; all of the Rams' games have started at noon, or at 3 p.m. Sitting around the hotel all day is a big change in routine. And the spectacle that comes with being a participant in the biggest TV audience of the NFL week is a new experience for these players. Will they be distracted? Will the moment be too big for them? These are legit questions.

    But my real concern is how head coach Steve Spagnuolo will react to this. The media attention (from a national standpoint) will intensify this week. The demands will rise. Spags tends to get uptight, and when he's tight, it it isn't good for him or the team. I hope the folks at Rams Park can keep Spags reasonably loose this week. I try to be fair, and I have a feeling that I'm not being entirely fair to Spags here. Look, the guy's been an excellent motivator who has his teams ready to play. That was the case in 2009, when the Rams never stopped competing for the guy and caring about their jobs despite the demoralizing agony of a 1-15 season. We can criticize Spags for being too conservative when the Rams take a lead in games, and we can get on him for some other matters, such as in-game adjustments. But he does have his teams properly wired going into games. So perhaps I'm way off base here. But I just know the guy, and I hope he doesn't get too stressed this week. That's all I'm saying.

    * The Rams should not be stunned if Seattle comes out strong and starts fast on Sunday night. Even during the the Seahawks' terrible 2-7 stretch they've managed to compete early in games. Let's take a look:

    -- Sunday, Seattle led Tampa Bay 7-3 after one quarter, eventually losing 38-15.

    -- Two weeks ago, Seattle led Atlanta 7-0 after one, and were tied 10-10 late in the first half, eventually losing 34-18.

    -- On Dec. 12 at San Francisco, Seattle lost 40-21 but trailed by only three, 10-7, after one.

    -- Seattle and Kansas City were tied 7-7 after the 1st Q on Nov. 28; the Chiefs won 42-24.

    -- Seattle trailed New Orleans by a point (7-6) early in the 2nd Q on Nov. 21 before falling 34-19.

    -- Seattle was only down by three (3-0) to Oakland after the 1st Q on Oct. 31. The Raiders won 33-3.

    During the course of these seven losses, only one team, the NY Giants, jumped up early to wipe out the Seahawks. The Giants led 21-0 after the 1st Q on Nov. 7 and cruised 41-7.

    The message to the Rams: Seattle, especially at home, is usually energized early. But as soon as the game starts to turn, the Seahawks can't hang on. Things tend to avalanche on them in a hurry. So even if Seattle comes out and takes an early lead, it's nothing unusual. The Rams have to maintain their confidence and focus and keep fighting. Good things will happen for them. But if the Rams freak out and overreact to early adversity, it could lead to big trouble.

    * And what about Qwest Field? Seattle is 4-3 at home this season. No question, the place helps the home team. But how much? Qwest opened in 2002, and for several years it was among the most intimidating venues for a visiting team in professional sports. From 2002 through 2007, the Seahawks had a regular-season home record of 36-12. From 2003-2007, the home record was 33-7. But great fans and a rowdy environment can't save a team in decline. And sure enough, the Seahawks are only 10-13 at Qwest since the start of the 2008 season. So what is there to be afraid of, really? The challenge isn't the stadium; it's the team that plays inside the stadium. And we should know all about this in St. Louis. The "Greatest Show" Rams were formidable at The Edward Jones Dome, going 37-8 there (including postseason) from 1999 through 2003. But that changed, didn't it? From 2004 through 2009, the Rams went 15-33 at home. From 2007-2009, the Rams were 2-22 at The Ed.

    * All week long, Rams players are going to hear about how Qwest Field swallows up visiting teams, and all of that. Heck, I've done some of that myself, taking a moment after Sunday's win over San Francisco to ask Sam Bradford about the challenge of playing at Qwest. But again: things have changed there. I'm in no way suggesting that it's easy for a road team to win in Seattle. It's not. But the Seahawks have lost three of their last four at Qwest this season. And the three losses were blowouts: by 34 points to the NY Giants; 18 points to the KC Chiefs; and 16 points to Atlanta. Obviously, the Giants (at the time for sure), Chiefs and Falcons are better than the Rams are. So the Rams face a tougher test. The Rams are more limited offensively than the Giants, the Chiefs and the Falcons. But that doesn't change the reality here: the Rams can, and should, take care of business at Qwest. They just can't allow the Qwest reputation to get inside their heads and become a factor even before the game starts. The Seahawks are undoubtedly hoping that Qwest Field, if nothing else, will provide a psychological advantage. The Rams can't allow that to happen. The Rams have played in some tough venues this year, including Oakland and New Orleans. It should have helped them prepare for this.

    * Don't get me wrong; the fans at Qwest are loud and disruptive and can make the setting miserable for visiting teams. We all know about the dozens of false-start penalties slapped on visitors in Seattle through the years. And this will challenge the Rams to play a clean, low-mistake game. But they can overcome this. The Rams have to work on their communication plan this week. They have to work on their silent counts. They have to sharpen up and be smart and understand what they're in for, and be prepared to adapt and handle the noise. But it's not as if visitors have gone into Qwest and fallen apart this season. In fact, the Seahawks have as many penalties this year (46) as the visitors. And when Qwest was really rocking (2003-2007) the difference in penalties between home team and vistitors was profound...the visitors had 111 more penalties and 741 more yards in penalties. And now? In 2010 it's about even.

    * Not surprised that the ***** opted to put Mike Singletary out of his stark-raving misery with a game to go in the 2010 season. But why not let him finish the season? Perhaps the ***** want to get a jump on preparations for what comes next. Perhaps they don't want to get off to a late start in the potential recruitment of, say, Jim Harbaugh or Jon Gruden. (And Gruden will have interest in the *****' job.) Losing to the Rams is harmful to a coach's career. Two of the Rams' victims already have been fired: Denver's Josh McDaniels and now Singletary. Carolina's John Fox is presumably on the way out. The Rams beat San Diego, one of the league's most disappointing teams, and you don't know what will become of Chargers head coach Norv Turner now that The Bolts failed to make it to the playoffs.

    * Rams' returner Danny Amendola has been among the league's best over the last five weeks. Over the last five games he's averaged 27.2 yards per kickoff return, which is third-best in the NFL over that time. And his punt-return average of 13.1 yards is No. 1 in the league over the last five games. As a WR, Amendola for the season ranks 7th in the NFL with 83 catches. Rams GM Billy Devaney found a gem when he hired Amendola away from Philadelphia's practice squad in 2009.

    * Rams defensive linemen James Hall, Fred Robbins and Chris Long were tremendous in the win over the *****. They combined for 3.5 sacks, three forced fumbles, and two batted-down passes. Hall is having one of the more overlooked, underrated seasons by an NFL defensive lineman. He's up to 10 sacks on the season and went into Sunday's game with a combined 22 QB knockdowns and hurries. Hall is also a strong leader in the locker room. Tell you what: Jay Zygmunt and Scott Linehan messed up a lot of things during their unfortunate period of being in charge at Rams Park. But one of the things they got right was acquiring Hall from Detroit for a fifth-round draft pick in 2007. And how about Robbins? He has six sacks, numerous pressures, and has been stuffing running plays all season. Robbins has provided the Rams with the inside push they've desperately needed at DT. He was a great free-agent signing by Spags. Chris Long gets a lot of attention, as he should. He's having a terrific season. But the two old veterans, Hall and Robbins, are so important to the success of this defense. I wonder if any of the three -- Long, Hall or Robbins -- will earn Pro Bowl recognition this week.

    * With Matt Hasselbeck injured again, it looks like the Rams will see Seattle's No. 2 QB, Charlie Whitehurst. He's played a lot over the last two weeks, and he started against the Giants back on Nov. 11. Whitehurst hasn't played well when pressed into action. He's completed 55 percent of his 63 passing attempts He's had a touchdown and three interception. He has sailed too many passes. He's thrown behind receivers. He just hasn't inspired much confidence, at least not to this point. But he will get the first-team reps this week, and that should sharpen him up. On the other hand, the Rams have an edge in knowing that they can prepare for Whitehurst. And they have lots of video to study, given his one start and two busy relief-pitcher performances in recent weeks. But let's be honest about something: the Rams have been fortunate to face a lot of bad QBs this season. A declining Donovan McNabb, a fading Hasselbeck, a terrinbly inaccurate Derek Anderson (twice), the erratic Troy Smith (twice) and Carolina's Matt Moore. The Rams have gone against some good QBs, too: Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Matt Ryan, Matt Cassel, Kyle Orton and the emerging Josh Freeman. But if you have one game left, and one game to win the division, you'll take the luck of the draw and an appointment with Charlie Whitehurst.

    * Sam Bradford got the third-down mojo working for him Sunday, completing 7 of 10 passes vs. the Niners on 3rd down. In Seattle, Bradford will have to play better on the road than he did at Arizona and at New Orleans.

    Thanks for reading...

    -Bernie


  2. #2
    AvengerRam's Avatar
    AvengerRam is online now Moderator Emeritus
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Could you be a little MORE wishy-washy, Bernie?

    Seriously, the condescending way that Bernie writes about Spags... who the Hell does Bernie think he is?

    If I were Spags, I wouldn't give him the time of day.

  3. #3
    AlphaRam is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Reading Bernie reminds me of when I am in line at the store and read the National Enquirer headlines as I wait: a bunch of BS, yet entertaining in a twisted sort of way.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  4. #4
    BrokenWing's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    When not stating the obvious in this article Bernie seems to be busy preparing fans for failure.

  5. #5
    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    Could you be a little MORE wishy-washy, Bernie?

    Seriously, the condescending way that Bernie writes about Spags... who the Hell does Bernie think he is?

    If I were Spags, I wouldn't give him the time of day.
    Seriously....perhaps what Bernie interprets as stress when he & his ol' buddy Spags are spending all this quality time together is simply repressed loathing or stifling the urge to pull one of BM's chins up to his forehead & staple it there.Miklasz' observations have been startlingly readable this season but it's good to see the inner putz reveal itself in silliness like that.We live in uncertain times. It's good to know some things can be relied upon; water is wet & Bernie is a knucklehead,etc.

    I certainly don't get all this angst over Qwest & the primetime slot. The Rams may well blink but the only way they'll get used to the limelight is to step into it. I'd rather they get the flopsweat dealt with this year than next.

  6. #6
    shower beers's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post

    But my real concern is how head coach Steve Spagnuolo will react to this. The media attention (from a national standpoint) will intensify this week. The demands will rise. Spags tends to get uptight, and when he's tight, it it isn't good for him or the team. I hope the folks at Rams Park can keep Spags reasonably loose this week. I try to be fair, and I have a feeling that I'm not being entirely fair to Spags here. Look, the guy's been an excellent motivator who has his teams ready to play. That was the case in 2009, when the Rams never stopped competing for the guy and caring about their jobs despite the demoralizing agony of a 1-15 season. We can criticize Spags for being too conservative when the Rams take a lead in games, and we can get on him for some other matters, such as in-game adjustments. But he does have his teams properly wired going into games. So perhaps I'm way off base here. But I just know the guy, and I hope he doesn't get too stressed this week. That's all I'm saying.
    Is it just me, or does this not make sense to anyone else? It seems like he starts with one point, and halfway through the sentence remembers another point he wanted to make, and immediately jumps to that new point, not ever returning to the previous points he already started. I'm not sure what to make of it.

  7. #7
    live4ramin's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    I'm a Bernie fan, but...... "that's all I'm saying"?
    Kiss my ass, football gods

  8. #8
    MikeB1603 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB

    So close to getting better reads out of Bernie... and then this. I didn't even make it half way through his despairing article.

    He should not be allowed near players or coaches until after the season, when they can all watch him eat crow

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