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  1. #1
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    Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    11.02.2009 10:06 am
    Give Game Balls to Jackson, Spagnuolo
    By Bernie Miklasz


    Greetings. Sorry that I didnít write immediately after Sundayís 17-10 Rams victory in Detroit, but Iím feeling better today, so letís have at it:

    * This one was for Steven Jackson: I wonder if we realize how difficult it is to be a standout running back on a bad team. Not only a bad team, but one with an extremely limited passing attack. It means that every week the opposing team has one goal in mind: stopping the running back. Taking away the Ramsí only real playmaker on offense. Jackson gets ganged up on every week. But Jackson continues to trample the odds. After a command performance in Detroit, Jackson is tied for second in the NFL in rushing and is second in the league in combined yards from scrimmage. Heís averaging 98 yards rushing per game and 4.8 yards per carry. Heís giving the Rams 122 all-purpose yards per game. And heís been at his best when the Rams make it close ó when everyone in the house knows heís going to get the ball. This season in the 4th quarter when the Rams are in a close game ó within a seven-point margin, up or down Ė Jackson averages 6.6 yards per carry. Heís been at his best, overall, in the fourth quarter, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. He breaks down those defensive stacks.

    But Jacksonís attitude and professionalism have been as impressive as his running. Heís been a total team player in 2009. A positive influence in every way. Someone who tries hard to keep his teammates fired up. Someone who refuses to dwell on any kind of negativity. Jackson just keeps pressing on, running through the fog of losing, trying to desperately to break through to the sunlight..

    * This one was also for Steve Spagnuolo: As I wrote in Saturdayís ďBitsĒ column, itís too soon to make any conclusive judgments about Spagnuolo as an all-around head coach. Way too early for that. Frankly, I donít understand how anyone can take a stand ó pro or con ó on the guy so far. There are some things that I really like about him; there are some things that give me concern. Heís never been a head coach before. Heís working his way through this. And heís learning to be a head coach as he cleans a mess created by the previous regime at Rams Park. You think thatís easy? But I was happy to see the man get a win in Detroit. I was happy to see him rewarded.

    I repeat: Spagnuoloís overall steadiness and consistency in dealing with his players is a real plus in this situation. No gimmicks will turn around years of roster-management incompetence and losing. There are no short cuts on the long road back to being a respectable franchise. Spags has a message and stays on it. He refuses to let any player drift away from the cause. Spagnuolo is from the Dick Vermeil school of positive thinking. There is nothing wrong with that. Too many fans think head coaches are supposed to put on a show by hollering and playing to the cameras, playing to the media. Too many fans think you have to cut players on the field and create a scene and act like a tyrant Ö and if you donít do that, it means youíre soft.

    Itís Jerry Springer America; we demand chair throwing as proof that someone is passionate or tough. And itís all rubbish. Look, being a loudmouth or an on-camera tough guys works for some; all sorts of personalities win games. But the key is this: you have to be true to who you are. You canít reinvent yourself on a weekly basis. Spagnuolo chews his team out when warranted; he did it again Friday at Rams Park. But it was done behind closed doors. He didnít do it to put on a show or score cheap points with media and fans.

    Again: I think next season weíll know a lot more about the kind of head coach he is, but for now I respect Spagnuolo for not being a phony. I respect him for not freaking out and letting adversity drive him nuts. I respect him for not having multiple personalities, which is the fastest way for a coach to lose the respect of his players. I respect Spagnuolo for refusing to play to the imbeciles in the crowd. Reasonable people understand the situation heís in. And theyíll give him time to develop. And Spagnuolo definitely has to improve in some areas, including game management and in coaching up his assistants. (I donít know if this is a good staff of assistants; a couple of people I respect in the NFL tell me that it isnít.)

    * OK, Iíll knock off the talk about the Rams being the worst single-season team in NFL history. They escaped that just bu winning a game. Two winless teams can fight over that title, the 2008 Lions and 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Bucs.

    * The Rams have the makings of a good offensive line: Theyíre still inconsistent, but the talent is obvious. Center Jason Brown was a terrific free-agent pickup, the depth is clearly better, and it was fun to watch the big fella, No. 2 overall draft pick Jason Smith, gore defenders from RT when the Rams ran the ball. Smith has scary-good ability.

    * Marc Bulger, continuedÖ. honest, I donít know how much more can be said. In the last two games heís completed 31 of 61 with no TDs and 3 interceptions and a passer rating of 38.6. He has completed only 6 of 20 passes in the red zone this season. In 4th quarters of close games (up or down by seven points) Bulger has completed 10 of 27 passes. Again, I realize his receivers arenít very good, but when he has the chance to make plays, Bulger doesnít make Ďem. Not many, anyway. And Sunday at Ford Field? In a very close game in which every first down loomed as a potentially vital breakthrough, Bulger had a chance to make a first down in the third quarter by scrambling for it. He took off. He had the opening. The first down was there. But with a defensive back rushing up to make a hard tackle, Bulger went down. He went into the slide to avoid the hit. He came up short of the first down. Iím sorry, but when a team has lost 17 consecutive games and is fighting to change that, your quarterback has to set the example by leading the charge. Bulger chose to bail on the play. Itís a shame.

    * Great call, obviously, on the fake field goal that resulted in kicker Josh Brown throwing a TD pass to an uncovered Daniel Fells. Until Sunday that was one of my disappointments with this coaching staff; a losing team has to take chances and let it rip. You canít run trick plays all the time, but when your squad has lost 17 in a row, you have to try and do some things to spark your team. And this fake FG was perfect. Better yet, Spagnuolo signed off on it even though the Rams were using their new long snapper for the first time, and even though the pass was drawn up for another TE, Randy McMichael, who was shaken up and unable to go on that play. Fells hadnít practiced it at all. But the play went off beautifully. Good coaching there.

    * I apologize in advance for being petty, but I canít help what I feel, and at least Iím being honest when I say this: Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan didnít deserve to walk off that field with a win Sunday, not after all the damage he inflicted on the Ramsí franchise in two-plus years. The Rams defense held Linehanís offense to 8 points and 289 yards. It was the second-lowest yardage output by a Rams opponent this season. Well done. Except for one series (bleep happens) the Rams defense was exceptional in the second half, holding the Lions to 51 yards rushing on 14 carries (3.6-yd avg) and 75 yards passing, with Matthew Stafford completing only 5 of 13 throws. Stafford completed only 2 of 7 in the fourth quarter.

    * Bernie Bytes: poor form by Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, to be dancing to the music being piped into Ford Field during a timeout. It was his misfortune to have the moment caught on TV by FOX; other than that we may not have known about it. But thatís not really the point. You donít do that when youíre team is 0-7. It just doesnít look right. And Atogwe hasnít made many high-impact plays this season; according to STATS LLC he has one INT, only three pass defenses and no forced fumbles or fumble recoveries. But he does rank second on the Rams defense in tacklesÖMLB James Laurinaitis had another productive day, but he got trapped amid the cluster of bodies too many times against Detroit and wasnít free to pursue the runner. Maybe heís taking bad angles; I donít know. But heís a rookie. And a good oneÖ offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has inexplicably abandoned the running game at times this season, but he stuck with it in the 4th quarter Sunday; Jackson had nine carries in the fourth quarter (and the Rams had two additional rushing attempts in the 4th).


  2. #2
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    poor form by Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, to be dancing to the music being piped into Ford Field during a timeout. It was his misfortune to have the moment caught on TV by FOX; other than that we may not have known about it. But thatís not really the point. You donít do that when youíre team is 0-7. It just doesnít look right.
    Who knows what was going through Atogwe's mind at the time, but it was definitely a "cringe" moment for me.

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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Who knows what was going through Atogwe's mind at the time, but it was definitely a "cringe" moment for me.
    If I'm not mistaken that was the same dance he did after signing the big contract.

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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    I missed it, I am glad to say


  5. #5
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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    It's a good thing we have Jackson. Otherwise, we'd be 0-8.

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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    Thank god we have Jackson. I think the floodgates have opened for him. Here are to many more TD's!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

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    rammiser's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Who knows what was going through Atogwe's mind at the time, but it was definitely a "cringe" moment for me.
    I completely disagree, maybe that's how he gets fired up and he wasnt the only one dancing so lets not single him out. I do believe Q. Butler was also doiing a little dance. So what because we are 0-7 you have to be miserable and serious all the time. You cant try and stay loose and enjoy yourself? When a guy makes a tackle it's ok to dance and make an arse of yourself but god forbid a guy busts out in a dance during a timeout. Let's not be so hum drum about everything.
    Just Fix It

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    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    Quote Originally Posted by rammiser View Post
    I completely disagree, maybe that's how he gets fired up and he wasnt the only one dancing so lets not single him out. I do believe Q. Butler was also doiing a little dance. So what because we are 0-7 you have to be miserable and serious all the time. You cant try and stay loose and enjoy yourself? When a guy makes a tackle it's ok to dance and make an arse of yourself but god forbid a guy busts out in a dance during a timeout. Let's not be so hum drum about everything.
    I'm not sure what you disagree with me about. My initial reaction to seeing him do his little dance? You obviously didn't have the same feeling, which is fine.

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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Who knows what was going through Atogwe's mind at the time, but it was definitely a "cringe" moment for me.
    Yeah, I was surprised to see it, but my theory was that they were just trying to stay loose. If Rams players were as mopey as the fanbase is these days, they'd never win a game again.

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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    Well I saw Atogwe dancing at the Rams-Skins game also during a timeout... He has a thing for dancing ill say.

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    rammiser's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    I'm not sure what you disagree with me about. My initial reaction to seeing him do his little dance? You obviously didn't have the same feeling, which is fine.
    Sorry I was actually dis-agreeing with Bernie. But no it wasnt a cringe moment for me. Atogwe was dancing at the Niners game but not when we were losing. I'm sure if we were losing to the Lions he wouldnt have been dancing.
    Just Fix It

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    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    Quote Originally Posted by rammiser View Post
    Sorry I was actually dis-agreeing with Bernie. But no it wasnt a cringe moment for me. Atogwe was dancing at the Niners game but not when we were losing. I'm sure if we were losing to the Lions he wouldnt have been dancing.
    No problem. You specifically quoted my post, so I thought you were disagreeing with what I said.

    Obviously this is no big deal and I think reasonable people can have reasonable differences on Atogwe's actions. You made some legitimate points and I respect your opinion.

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