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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Burwell: Double Threat: Alexander & Amendola

    Double threat: Alexander & Amendola

    BY BRYAN BURWELL
    Monday, December 27, 2010 11:30 am

    It's hard to find two more dissimilar athletes playing the same position, yet Danario Alexander and Danny Amendola continue to prove that they are the long and short of what it's going to take to make the Rams offense go at its most efficient levels.

    On a day full of uncomfortable mixed messages, but ultimate bottom-lined success, the Rams walked off the synthetic turf of the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday with a 25-17 victory over the San Francisco ***** in their hands and the possibility of an unlikely NFC West title still very much in their future. And today a lot of people at Rams Park should be thankful that Alexander and Amendola came up with dramatically big plays that highlighted both their stylistic differences and kept alive playoff hope in St. Louis for one more crazy week.

    We'll save our hair-pulling exasperation over the conservative approach to this offense for another day (hint: stop blaming offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for all the Rams' woes, people. The wide-open attack you saw on the first drive of the game is far more reflective of his preferred play-calling approach. The stuff you saw pretty much after that is a direct reflection of the mindset of his boss, Steve Spagnuolo). Instead, we'll concentrate on praising Alexander and Amendola and marvel at how their vastly different styles produced the sort of big plays the Rams needed to win the biggest game this franchise has had in nearly a decade.

    We interrupt this column for a quick NFC West update: "I am watching the third quarter of the Seahawks and Buccaneers and I heard Fox commentator Brian Billick say, 'It's hard to believe (Seattle) is going to be in a game next week that decides the NFC West.' Couldn't agree more. Good gawd, the Seahawks look terrible."

    Even in the midst of Spags' continued maddening attempts to create pro football's first four-corners offense, Alexander (six catches, 99 yards) and Amendola (eight catches, 53 yards, 188 yards in combined return yardage) found ways to light up the building. With the Rams clinging to a tenuous 15-14 lead in the fourth quarter, and with the unusually boisterous home crowd of 52,820 nervously rooting for some glimmer of offensive explosion, they both delivered the goods.

    With Alexander, the 6-foot-5, 215-pound rookie, you know how it was going to be. Something dazzling, something athletic, something jaw-dropping and spectacular that combined speed, grace, showmanship and pure athleticism. With under 10 minutes to go in the game, Alexander lined up wide left and Amendola lined up in the slot a few feet to Alexander's right, and quarterback Sam Bradford immediately saw that the Niners safety "hung in the middle" to shade the jitter-bugging little guy, which left Alexander in man coverage outside against cornerback Shawntae Spencer.

    "We were trying to get the ball to Amendola," Bradford said. "But I looked down and saw Danario just running away from his guy."

    And the fun was just beginning. Bradford didn't hesitate, letting go a perfect bomb. Meanwhile, just as Alexander was blowing past Spencer, he said he lost the ball in the lights as he crossed the Niners' 10-yard line and began to tumble backwards. "That's why I fell," Alexander admitted. "I was like 'Oh man, I can't see it.' So I had to wait for it to come out of the lights."

    The ex-Mizzou rookie described the play in almost ho-hum fashion. But it was anything but ho-hum. Alexander had done what he was called on to do. Get deep better than anyone else on this roster can and excite a crowd that has been loving him since he became a star and fan favorite a year ago in Columbia.

    One play later, Bradford made a wonderfully athletic play himself, rolling out to his right, escaping pressure and firing a beautiful dart to Laurent Robinson to give the Rams a 22-14 lead with 9:36 left in the game.

    The game was hardly over after that one, particularly with the way the offense was being apparently handcuffed by Spagnuolo. After the Niners cut back into the Rams' lead with a field goal (22-17 Rams), it was the 5-11 Amendola's turn to do his thing, and of course he did it like he always does, with the quick-twitch style of a diminutive jitterbug, scooting here, darting there. So on the ensuing kickoff, Amendola settled under the kick at the Rams' 4-yard line, veered left and went up an alley between the hashmarks until he hit the 20, broke outside and zigged and zagged his way downfield until he was finally brought down 84 yards later at the San Francisco 12.

    And of course that's where Spags called for the four-corners offense three straight handoffs, nearly two minutes off the clock and a field goal for a 25-17 lead.

    We interrupt this column one more time for another Seahawks update: "They are getting gangster-slapped all over Tampa Stadium now (38-15 Bucs) and I don't care if Seattle has the 12th Man, the 13th Man or the 30th Man next week in Qwest Field. There's no way the Rams should lose up there next week. The 'Hawks are wheezing to the finish line like an asthmatic marathon runner without his inhaler."

    They have both continued to prove how important their roles on this team are and should be. Alexander is healthy and said Sunday he does not need to be treated with kid gloves anymore. He is as crucial to the success of this offense as anyone because of what he can do and what he opens up for everyone else. Now I just hope the Rams break the cycle of putting him back on the shelve after spectacular games (this is his third eye-popping show, and each of the others was followed by a long stretch of non-use). It's all-or-nothing time now, and I hate to be cold-blooded, but you can't worry anymore about whether Alexander's gimpy knees are going to hold up.

    You need him playing and you need him to win, and if he breaks down again, let it be while he's going out fighting, leaping, galloping through the secondary and snatching passes from Bradford out of the sky.

    If the Rams are destined to be playoff bound, let it be with the best players out there making plays.


  2. #2
    AtlantaRamFan's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell: Double Threat: Alexander & Amendola

    If what Burwell said about Spags/Shurmur is true, myself and others should write a letter of apology for blaming Shurmur for the conservative offense..but whoever is at fault, someone higher needs to call them on it. It can work against a team like the niners, but if you do that against the Falcons or Saints or Packers, they'll drive down the field on our defense and put up the necessary points to win. I just feel like the Rams offense isn't getting shut down by other teams as much as it is by people on the sideline and I completely understand where this fan frustration is coming from.

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    Re: Burwell: Double Threat: Alexander & Amendola

    Folks, we have the "four corners offense".

    Love it.
    I'm the guy that walks up after the argument's started.

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    Truth's Avatar
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    Re: Burwell: Double Threat: Alexander & Amendola

    Quote Originally Posted by AtlantaRamFan View Post
    If what Burwell said about Spags/Shurmur is true, myself and others should write a letter of apology for blaming Shurmur for the conservative offense...
    I made a comment about this in the game thread on Sunday. Lots of people were riding Shurmur. My comment was to remind people that the HC also had a headset on. That means Spags could be letting conservative playcalling go, or possibly changing more daring calls to something we've been getting too used to seeing from our offense. Whatever the case, let's hope that the coaches saw what the rest of us saw with Alexander towards the end of the game.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

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    Re: Burwell: Double Threat: Alexander & Amendola

    And the fun was just beginning. Bradford didn't hesitate, letting go a perfect bomb. Meanwhile, just as Alexander was blowing past Spencer, he said he lost the ball in the lights as he crossed the Niners' 10-yard line and began to tumble backwards. "That's why I fell," Alexander admitted. "I was like 'Oh man, I can't see it.' So I had to wait for it to come out of the lights."
    interesting. i was just thinking after seeing this that i cant remember a long bomb that the rams have had where the receiver gets to run the rest of the way into the endzone. they always make the grab while falling down on these long passes. clayton was doing it, alexander has done it...
    are the lights and issue on long, deep passes?

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    Re: Burwell: Double Threat: Alexander & Amendola

    This reminds a bit of another great Rams coach; Chuck Knox.

    If Spags = Knox, I'd take it. Those were some pretty good teams even if the offense was vanilla.

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    Re: Burwell: Double Threat: Alexander & Amendola

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris58 View Post
    This reminds a bit of another great Rams coach; Chuck Knox.

    If Spags = Knox, I'd take it. Those were some pretty good teams even if the offense was vanilla.

    The '73-'77 Chuck Knox, not the 92'-94 Chuck Knox?
    RnD

    GO RAMS!!

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    Re: Burwell: Double Threat: Alexander & Amendola

    Quote Originally Posted by live4ramin View Post
    Folks, we have the "four corners offense".

    Love it.
    a.k.a...we have no offense.

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