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  1. #1
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    It Doesn't Get Much Worse Than This

    By Howard Balzer
    Monday, September 22, 2008

    When a team has been outscored 116-29 in three games, including 38-0 in the first quarter, and been outgained 1,370-607, everyone has an opinion of what's wrong.

    The simple truth regarding this version of the St. Louis Rams is that virtually everything is wrong. It's difficult to find much that is right.

    So it is when players and coaches are asked for opinions, they reach for straws and probably don't know what to say. That's why you get answers such as these after another 24-point loss:

    Quarterback Marc Bulger: "There can be a lot of speculation that weíre not ready to play when we first come out. We just get our butts kicked at first. Teams have been playing better than us in the first quarter, but I donít think it's lack of effort. I think itís just execution because guys are pretty excited, all three games. We come out, I wouldnít say flat, just not playing good football."

    Defensive tackle La'Roi Glover: "Our confidence is a little down."

    Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa: "Itís tough to know exactly what the problems are. Clearly, there is an attitude thing going on. There is an attitude adjustment that is needed. You guys up in the press box can probably feel it too. Some might call it confidence; I call it attitude. I think the attitude has to be there and right now it isnít.Ē

    Running back Steven Jackson: "Weíre at the point now where we donít know where to go or where to look to for direction."

    Stripped to its basics, football is a fairly simple game. Yes, playmakers are needed, but essentially, the team that blocks and tackles better will win. In reality, the Rams' blocking hasn't been as bad as perceived, and there has been marginal improvement from the offense in the first season of coordinator Al Saunders' system.

    However, this team needed the defense to help keep it in games, and on that account, they have failed miserably.

    Big plays against the defense have been epidemic in the first three games. Against Philadelphia, it was the pass defense that allowed 245 yards on five plays. In the first half of that game, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb passed for 297 yards and 220 came on four plays.

    Yesterday, in Seattle, the Rams gave up seven running plays of 10 yards or more, with three of those for 29 or more and totaling 90 yards. Astoundingly, of the 407 yards the Seahawks gained on 67 plays, 203 (virtually half) came on just nine plays. Seattle rushed for 245 yards on 46 attempts, and 147 (60 percent) were accomplished on those seven runs. Think of that: On 39 attempts, Seattle rushed for only 98 yards. On the other seven, the Rams were gashed.

    Said a shell-shocked coach Scott Linehan, "We havenít been able to stop the run or the big plays in the running game, which seems to be an over and over thing. These big chunks of yardage that teams are getting on us is alarming. It's not like it is a new thing. It was alarming the first week, alarming the second and alarming again. You canít win in the National Football League and give up that kind of yardage over the course of a game."

    Some of these numbers are staggering. For the season, of the 1,370 opponent yards (456.7 per game) on 200 plays, 731 (53.3 percent) have come on 27 plays. Breaking it down, 419 of the 817 passing yards have come on 11 plays and 312 of the 553 rushing yards have come on 16 plays.

    It's easy to point fingers at bad drafts and poor free-agent signings, but the reality is, the defensive players on the field aren't that bad ... individually. Collectively, however, there seems little accountability to each other.

    Said defensive tackle Adam Carriker, ďIt seems like on every play we have nine or 10 guys that are playing well and one guy that misses an assignment. It isnít always the same guy and there arenít really any trends or patterns. We need to get all 11 guys doing their assignments on every play."

    Or, as Bulger said when he was asked whether the players are as bad as they've played, "No, but we havenít proven otherwise, so you can have as many big names as you want, but football is one of those sports where if you donít play as a team, 11 guys who just play well together can beat 11 superstars. Itís a matter of playing as a team."

    Symbolic of what plagues this team was a period in the third and fourth quarters against Seattle. Like last week against the Giants, when the defense was helpless after New York's lead was cut to seven points, this time the offense also contributed.

    The Rams opened the second half with an 80-yard drive and scored a touchdown on a third-and-goal play of 21 yards from Bulger to wide receiver Dane Looker. The score was 27-13.

    Despite two 18-yard plays on Seattle's next possession, linebacker Will Witherspoon sacked quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for a 10-yard loss on second down and Hasselbeck threw incomplete on third down. The Rams would get the ball with a chance to make it a one-score game.

    The first mistake came courtesy of punt returner Dante Hall. Rather than have the ball at the 20 when the ball went into the end zone, the Rams instead set up shop at the 5 because Hall decided to block after calling for a fair catch. Dante, that's a penalty.

    They managed one first down, then faced third-and-1 from their own 29 after an eight-yard completion to tight end Randy McMichael on second down. But they couldn't make one yard, as Jackson was stuffed for no gain.

    Could the defense stop the Seahawks again? Please. The Seahawks started from their own 14 and had third-and-11 when another defining moment came. Hasselbeck's pass was incomplete, but cornerback Ron Bartell was called for illegal contact on future Hall of Famer Michael Bumpus.

    That gave the Seahawks a first down and 13 plays later, Seattle had a 34-13 lead. Seattle even overcame a first-down holding penalty at midfield, helped by a 14-yard run by Julius Jones on first-and-20.

    How methodical was the drive? The Seahawks had 91 yards of offense in the possession and just six were by the pass. From their own 40-yard line after the holding penalty, Seattle marched the final 60 yards on eight consecutive running plays, including a 29-yard run by T.J. Duckett on second-and-nine from the Rams' 37.

    Following the Week 2 loss to the Giants, owner Chip Rosenbloom said changes would be made if the poor performances continued. Going back to the final three games of the 2007 season, the Rams have now allowed 33, 41, 48, 38, 41 and 37 points in six consecutive losses and been outscored, 238-86.

    Sunday's home game against the undefeated Bills will likely define where this team is headed for the rest of the season and could decide the future of coach Scott Linehan.

    Although, I beg to differ somewhat with Bulger. The Rams are playing as a team. A bad team.

    SIMPLY NOTING
    *Running back Antonio Pittman suffered a lower leg injury early in the game against Seattle on a special teams play and missed the remainder of the game. The injury was to be further checked out Monday. ... Right guard Richie Incognito will have an MRI Monday to check out a knee he sprained Sunday against Seattle. After the game, coach Scott Linehan said it was believed Incognito will be able to continue playing. Any bets on a change in that diagnosis by Monday afternoon? ... Left guard Jacob Bell was inactive for the second straight game, and Adam Goldberg started again in his place.

    *Wide receiver Donnie Avery caught the first passes of his career with three for 24 yards. ... Running back Steven Jackson had 28 touches in the game (23 rushes, five receptions) and totaled 128 yards (66 rushing, 62 receiving). Of that total, 91 came in the second half. ... After the Rams' first four possessions, they had totaled 14 yards on 13 plays. At that point in the second quarter, the Seahawks had 208 yards on 33 plays. At halftime, Seattle had 267 yards and the Rams 63. The Rams actually out-gained Seattle in the second half, 177-140. Bulger was 12-for-18 for 145 yards in the second half.


  2. #2
    Mooselini's Avatar
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    Re: It Doesn't Get Much Worse Than This

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    By Howard Balzer
    The Rams actually out-gained Seattle in the second half, 177-140. Bulger was 12-for-18 for 145 yards in the second half.
    Is this true? I didn't watch the game. But if he in fact went 12-18 in the second half for 145, what went well there that didn't go well in the first half?

    Did Bulger throw his touchdown in the second half?

  3. #3
    NJ Ramsfan1 is online now Registered User
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    Re: It Doesn't Get Much Worse Than This

    Probably most telling is the statement from Steven Jackson- "We really don't know what to do or where to go for direction." If this isn't a damning indictment of the coaching staff, particularly Linehan, I don't know what is.

    To give up at least 33 points in 9 consecutive games is staggering. This situation will not reverse itself until major changes are made. It is obvious that either the Rams lack talent- (in which case they need to draft and trade for better personnel), or they lack focus and direction (the first responsibility of a good coaching staff).

    The Rams had a miserable decade throughout the 90's, but I'd be hard pressed to find a more miserable 2 year stretch than they're having now. It's absolutely discouraging.

  4. #4
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    Re: It Doesn't Get Much Worse Than This

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    Is this true? I didn't watch the game. But if he in fact went 12-18 in the second half for 145, what went well there that didn't go well in the first half?

    Did Bulger throw his touchdown in the second half?
    We had one drive TD drive in the second half that was like pitch and putt golf (Mini golf?). Except we were still sober enough to put the ball in the hole. We managed to scrape enough 4 and 5 yard gains out of that lone drive to put Bulger in position to throw a 21 yarder to Looker in the end zone.

    We actually looked okay for about the first 7 minutes of the second half. We still got killed in the first quarter.

  5. #5
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    Re: It Doesn't Get Much Worse Than This

    Quote Originally Posted by NJ Ramsfan1 View Post
    Probably most telling is the statement from Steven Jackson- "We really don't know what to do or where to go for direction." If this isn't a damning indictment of the coaching staff, particularly Linehan, I don't know what is.

    To give up at least 33 points in 9 consecutive games is staggering. This situation will not reverse itself until major changes are made. It is obvious that either the Rams lack talent- (in which case they need to draft and trade for better personnel), or they lack focus and direction (the first responsibility of a good coaching staff).

    The Rams had a miserable decade throughout the 90's, but I'd be hard pressed to find a more miserable 2 year stretch than they're having now. It's absolutely discouraging.
    great point,that Jackson quote sums up where this team is and begs the question What the hell is the holdup with firing Linehan and whoever else ddeserves to go with him ?C'mon Chip go ahead and make the move.
    Last edited by jkramsfan; -09-22-2008 at 06:13 PM.

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    Re: It Doesn't Get Much Worse Than This

    "Following the Week 2 loss to the Giants, owner Chip Rosenbloom said changes would be made if the poor performances continued. Going back to the final three games of the 2007 season, the Rams have now allowed 33, 41, 48, 38, 41 and 37 points in six consecutive losses and been outscored, 238-86."


    I hope he is a man of his word.
    :ramlogo:

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    Re: It Doesn't Get Much Worse Than This

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    By Howard Balzer
    Monday, September 22, 2008


    The Rams opened the second half with an 80-yard drive and scored a touchdown on a third-and-goal play of 21 yards from Bulger to wide receiver Dane Looker. The score was 27-13.

    Despite two 18-yard plays on Seattle's next possession, linebacker Will Witherspoon sacked quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for a 10-yard loss on second down and Hasselbeck threw incomplete on third down. The Rams would get the ball with a chance to make it a one-score game.

    The first mistake came courtesy of punt returner Dante Hall. Rather than have the ball at the 20 when the ball went into the end zone, the Rams instead set up shop at the 5 because Hall decided to block after calling for a fair catch. Dante, that's a penalty.

    They managed one first down, then faced third-and-1 from their own 29 after an eight-yard completion to tight end Randy McMichael on second down. But they couldn't make one yard, as Jackson was stuffed for no gain.

    Could the defense stop the Seahawks again? Please. The Seahawks started from their own 14 and had third-and-11 when another defining moment came. Hasselbeck's pass was incomplete, but cornerback Ron Bartell was called for illegal contact on future Hall of Famer Michael Bumpus.
    This is sickening.

    Dante' Hall is an idiot.

    Steven Jackson (the multimillion dollar man) has to get that 1 yard. I don't care what it takes.

    Ron Bartell needs a backhander!!! DUH!!!

    The coaches can't be blamed for this gaffs!!!!

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