Results 1 to 4 of 4
Big Red will present a different challenge
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
GLENDALE, Ariz. — As he stood by his locker stall at Rams Park earlier in the week, cornerback Tye Hill looked slightly puzzled when reminded that Rams-Cardinals wasn't your average NFL rivalry.
"I just know it's a division game, and it's a very important game," he said.
He didn't get it. Do you know where the Cardinals played before they moved to Arizona?
(Long pause.) "Hmmm ... here?" Hill answered
Defensive end Victor Adeyanju wasn't so lucky. He had no clue that after 28 seasons in St. Louis, the football Cardinals moved to the Valley of the Sun in 1988.
"I was not aware of that," Adeyanju confessed.
It's hard to blame the rookies for their ignorance of St. Louis gridiron history. Hill was only 6 when the Big Red fled for the Arizona desert; Adeyanju was 5.
But for anyone over 30 who grew up a football fan in St. Louis, this remains a meaningful game.
"Oh, I see," Adeyanju said. "It makes sense now. I'm glad you enlightened me about that."
For any fans still sore about the move, or those who suffered through years of crummy football under Bill Bidwill, this game still falls into the "must-win" category.
"I would imagine so," Hill said. "We're going to try to make the fans of St. Louis very happy."
Bidwill left St. Louis on the promise of a new stadium, and finally has one this season. By all accounts, the $455 million Cardinals Stadium is an impressive building. Retractable roof. Removable grass field. State of the art. And sit down for this it's sold out for the season.
Since realignment in 2002, the Rams have traveled to Arizona every season. They've grown accustomed to seeing a half-empty stadium. And among those in attendance, one-third or more seemed to be wearing Rams colors.
That's all changed. It looks like the Cardinals finally have home-field advantage in Arizona. With a packed house and a sparkling new stadium, the game-day atmosphere figures to be much different Sunday.
Big deal, cornerback Travis Fisher says.
"The stadium is not going to make us play any worse, or make us play any better," Fisher said. "It's nothing different. It doesn't matter if we're playing them in China. Or we don't have any fans. We have to go play our game. Play Ram football."
Which raises the question what exactly is Rams football, circa 2006?
This Rams team is still searching for its identity, still fleshing out its personality ... still figuring out a way to score points.
The strange and still largely unexplained absence of defensive end Anthony Hargrove took the spotlight from the team's offensive woes Thursday and Friday. But as Hargrove watches Sunday's game back home in St. Louis, the Rams will try once again to ease the mounting frustration over their inability to score touchdowns.
So far, coach Scott Linehan's ball-control, take-care-of-the-football approach to offense has yielded little in the way of results.
"It's tough, especially when you know what you've been able to do," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "But you can't live in the past. We have to move on and just know that this is new. We're going to have to push to learn this, and be patient all at once. ... We've just got to fight through it."
Other than his completion percentage (54.4%), which is down more than 10 points from his career average (65%), Bulger says he's not worried about his passing numbers.
"I think it's going to take repetitions and time to completely understand where (Linehan) wants you to go with the ball every time," Bulger said. "His systems work. He wouldn't be a head coach if he didn't know what he was doing. In Minnesota, he proved that, and I think he proved that it in Miami. When he knows his personnel better, and we all get more familiar with him, I think it will come."
At the moment, the Rams are experiencing more growing pains than anyone anticipated. With a noisy Arizona home crowd, and a Big Red defensive coordinator (Clancy Pendergast) who likes to blitz and mix things up, things could get difficult Sunday for the Rams' offensive line. Left tackle Orlando Pace is expected to play despite suffering a concussion last week.
"With the new stadium and with Edgerrin (James) coming into town, they have a lot to cheer for," running back Steven Jackson said. "It's the beginning of the season, and a lot of people don't take us seriously right now. So we have to come out and overcome a lot of things, (like) the crowd noise and them being hyped, when the game starts. I think if we can move the ball consistently and put up points, we can silence them quickly."
Easier said than done these days for the St. Louis offense.
Re: Big Red will present a different challenge
At least it won't be blazing hot now that they have an enclosed stadium, but it will probably be louder.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
Re: Big Red will present a different challenge
I bet they open the roof LOL.
These card fans are a lippy lot, I keep having to count to 10 and bite my lip