Brutal injuries, tough schedule conspire against Rams
Gordon: Brutal injuries, tough schedule conspire against Rams
BY JEFF GORDON STLtoday.com
The Rams faced a huge challenge entering the season. They figured to be underdogs in six of their first seven games.
And then things got worse.
The rash of serious injuries suffered during their season opener left the Rams facing their first-half gauntlet seriously shorthanded. Now they could be underdogs in their next seven games, given the bleak circumstances surrounding their team.
Steve Spagnuolo and Co. will do well to win a game or two between now and November.
Consider the gravity of the injuries:
Danny Amendola caught 85 passes last season, seventh most in the NFL. He followed that breakout by showing well during the presason. He remained Sam Bradford’s go-to guy, despite increased competition at the position. Then he suffered a dislocated elbow in the opener, erasing him for a good chunk of the season. With potential No. 1 receiver Mark Clayton on the PUP list and former No. 1 receiver Donnie Avery waived off the team, the Rams will need the other wide receivers to step up.
Spagnuolo was counting on veteran cornerback Ron Bartell to defend the tougher targets on the Rams schedule. But then Bartell suffered a season-ending neck injury. With fellow cornerback Bradley Fletcher dealing with a toe strain – a potentially nasty, lingering injury – the Rams are suddenly quite vulnerable at that position. Those season-ending injuries Jerome Murphy and Dionte Dinkins suffered during the preseason sting even more now. Can nickel back Justin King hold up on the outside? Can 900-year-old Al Harris step in and carry a load? What sort of help will Billy Devaney locate out on the street?
Running back Steven Jackson popped his quadriceps muscle on his first carry of the season. When will he play again? When will he get back to full speed? Only time will tell. This could become a nagging injury and the Rams need to avoid that. The good news: With Cadillac Williams stepping in, the Rams won’t have a huge fall-off. He piled up 140 total yards Sunday. The bad news: The team lost its ability to feature both weapons at once.
Bradford has a finger contusion. Given his so-so play during the preseason and the less-than-so-so play in the opener, this injury isn’t helping matters. If he can play Monday night, he will face heavy pressure behind suspect pass protection while operating without two of his top weapons.
Tackle Jason Smith looked like a pylon in pass protection during the opener. We’re guessing that his sprained ankle won’t help matters. At least he didn’t suffer the dreaded “high ankle sprain” which could have sidelined him for several weeks.
Now consider the opponents:
The New York Giants are still stinging from their poor showing at Washington. They are still reeling from a slew of injuries that rival the Rams carnage. But they will be jacked up playing at home on Monday night. “We've got the talent in this room,” Giants safety Deon Grant told the New York Post. “It's a matter of playing up to that when we play next week.”
The Ravens come to The Ed in Week 3. You probably noticed the 35-7 beating they just put on their arch-rival Steelers. Don’t expect them to go easy on the Rams.
The Redskins follow Baltimore into town for Week 4, before the Rams take their badly needed bye week. Before the season. Rams fans looked at this game as a “W.” Then Washington used its revamped defense and quarterback Rex Grossman’s surprisingly competent play to throttle the Giants.
After the bye, the Rams go to Green Bay. The Packers outgunned New Orleans in their opener and looked more than capable of keeping its Titletown U.S.A. crown. They will be favored heavily against the depleted visitors in Week 6.
Then the Rams go to Dallas to face the explosive Cowboys. Dallas quarterback Tony Romo is kicking himself for letting that Jets victory get away, but he and his teammates put on quite a show to open the season. They will be heavily favored over the Rams in the House That Jerry Built.
The Rams return home to face New Orleans in Week 7. While the Saints defense didn’t shine at Green Bay, New Orleans showed its usual firepower during the shootout with the Packers. The additions of running backs Mark Ingram and Darren Sproles might make a great offense even greater.
Then the Rams are back on the road to Arizona, where quarterback Kevin Kolb established his legitimacy as Arizona outlasted Carolina in its opener. Based on what Kolb did in that game, the Gridbirds figure to be the team to the beat in the NFC West.
The Rams are 0-1 after one week. What will their record look like in early November?
“Doom” is a strong word to use after just one week, but Spagnuolo faces the challenge of his head coaching life during the next seven weeks.
What will be left of his team -- and his 2011 season -- at the halfway mark of the campaign?
Re: Brutal injuries, tough schedule conspire against Rams
Wow you have to love these Doom articles maybe the rams should forfeit the next seven games.:disapointed: I know things want be easy and I know the writer is giving his realistic vision of what the rams face ahead but why watch or go to the games because were fans and we want to believe. The Old saying anything can happen on any given Sunday and thats why they play the games. GO Rams:ram:
Re: Brutal injuries, tough schedule conspire against Rams
One game at a time.
While NY's O-line is much better, Eli is not Vick. Anything like the pressure the D put on MV will almost certainly yield better results & help protect the injury-weakened secondary.
A full week of game prep for Cadillac should help the run game be even better & do the same for the O-line. Nor is the G-Men secondary as good; even vs the dream DB corps ,the plays were there to be made in the pass game.