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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    With chance to win, Rams blow it again

    By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Monday, Dec. 10 2007

    CINCINNATI — It was another game full of just enough sleight-of-hand
    distractions to take your eyes away from the essential truth about the
    continuing collapse of the St. Louis Rams. There was freezing rain and swirling
    wind and a slightly skittish NFL neophyte behind center. On the surface, it
    looked like just another week's worth of gloom and doom to pile onto the
    already 10-story high heap that has fallen on this team for the past 14 weeks.

    Perhaps it feels more comfortable to cling to the notion that Sunday's dreary
    19-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals was another logical extension of a
    season's worth of unfortunate events. But the unvarnished truth goes so much
    deeper than that.

    This was just one more annoying failure in a series of frustrating games that
    the Rams let slip through their grasp.

    The Bengals aren't an undefeated juggernaut like the flawless New England
    Patriots. They're a rather ordinary team that showed more than enough
    vulnerability on their home turf, and this was a very winnable football game
    that the Rams couldn't finish. Cincinnati Pro Bowler Carson Palmer, who is one
    of the four or five elite passers in the NFL, looked surprisingly so-so with
    189 yards in the air, no touchdowns, two interceptions and a 60.8 pass
    efficiency rating. And even though the Bengals running game ran through the
    Rams defense like water through a sieve (192 yards and a 5.3 yard average per
    play), they couldn't get in the end zone after Rudi Johnson's first quarter
    score to give them a 7-0 lead.

    There was never a time in this unsightly contest when it didn't feel like the
    Rams could win it, or the Bengals weren't capable of blowing it. So when you
    hold a team to one TD and a miserable rainstorm suddenly evened out the playing
    field, why couldn't the Rams do more to take advantage of this?

    Scott Linehan, who entered the game breathing new coaching life after a
    death-row reprieve (getting the dreaded "vote of confidence" from team
    President John Shaw), continued his season-long "woe is me" sales pitch after
    the game. Predictably, he talked about how third-string QB Brock Berlin "busted
    his butt out there" in his NFL debut. "It's a tough task," said the coach,
    "that's basically the first snap he's taken in an NFL game."

    What Linehan failed to point out was how his peculiar play-calling contributed
    to Berlin's turbulent debut. So what do you say about an opening-game script
    that determines that the best possible strategy is to have a rookie quarterback
    who's basically a bundle of raw nerves, come out slinging in a driving rain
    storm?

    What Linehan failed to point out was that it took the entire first half to
    figure out how to handle those run blitzes that Cincinnati employed every time
    Steven Jackson touched the ball. Isn't that something an offensive line should
    already know how to identify and address? How hard is it to figure that out,
    and how fortunate was it that it was a relative lightweight safety like Dexter
    (6 feet, 210) Jackson, and not some brutish head hunter, who was roaring into
    the backfield slamming into the most important man in a Rams uniform?

    What does it say about a game planner who can't figure out how to keep putting
    the ball into Steven Jackson's hands? When you saw that Jackson was running
    through the Cincy defense like a raging football beast (12 carries, 81 yards),
    why did Jackson somehow become an afterthought for the rest of the game (six
    second-half carries)?

    As bad as this season has been for the Rams, it's not like there haven't been
    ample opportunities to make this disaster just a little less disastrous. Sunday
    in Cincinnati was just like a half-dozen other Sundays against Carolina, San
    Francisco, Arizona, Cleveland and Seattle. The Rams had legitimate
    opportunities to produce a stirring victory, only to leave behind another
    agonizing defeat.

    And once again, team president Shaw — the man who confidently says Linehan will
    be back for another year because the players are still playing hard for him —
    had another perfect chance to test the pulse of his football team and see
    firsthand why this season has fallen apart.

    But Shaw stayed at home on Sunday, catching the view from his comfortable
    Southern California living room. Only from 1,900 miles away could someone look
    at this football team and somehow believe that the sun is shining and
    prosperity's just around the corner.


  2. #2
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: With chance to win, Rams blow it again

    What Linehan failed to point out was that it took the entire first half to figure out how to handle those run blitzes that Cincinnati employed every time Steven Jackson touched the ball. Isn't that something an offensive line should already know how to identify and address? How hard is it to figure that out, and how fortunate was it that it was a relative lightweight safety like Dexter (6 feet, 210) Jackson, and not some brutish head hunter, who was roaring into the backfield slamming into the most important man in a Rams uniform?
    I think Burwell is overlooking the fact that the OL has never had the chance to develop a chemistry or effective communication with all the combinations and different personnel. This game showed that once again. A unit full of second and third line talent, even if together for a few games is going to have breakdowns and be ineffective.

    What does it say about a game planner who can't figure out how to keep putting the ball into Steven Jackson's hands? When you saw that Jackson was running through the Cincy defense like a raging football beast (12 carries, 81 yards), why did Jackson somehow become an afterthought for the rest of the game (six second-half carries)?
    The running game was certainly not working the way Burwell maintains. Jackson had some good runs, but if you take away the 54 yarder, he had 37 yards on 17 carries for a 2.2 average. Sure Linehan could have kept putting the ball in Jackson's hands, but with nothing being done up front, it would have been a mistake IMO.

  3. #3
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    Re: With chance to win, Rams blow it again

    You know, no matter how long these guys have or have not been playing on the O line together....that team that lines up across from them could care less how depleted this team is. Reporters are just doing their job and reporting that Linehan technically did give up on Jackson. I would hate to read week in and week out that "the Rams lost but it's because the O line can't communicate due to injuries." No, the Rams got beat because they couldn't put together a productive offense with the personnel they had on the field. Not busting on you mike, but just stating a fact like you were stating a fact. Your fact has been said numerous times; injuries have led to mistakes. I'm just stating a fact that the Rams lost because the personnel on the field didn't get the job done.

  4. #4
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: With chance to win, Rams blow it again

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    I'm just stating a fact that the Rams lost because the personnel on the field didn't get the job done.
    I couldn't agree more Tx.

  5. #5
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: With chance to win, Rams blow it again

    Hey, I just got a letter from Burwell. Let's see what's inside...

    Cool! Its his SLOP membership dues!

  6. #6
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    Re: With chance to win, Rams blow it again

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    Hey, I just got a letter from Burwell. Let's see what's inside...

    Cool! Its his SLOP membership dues!
    That sounds about right.

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