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Thread: General Ram news
General Ram news
SEATTLE -5 vs. St. Louis
In its three losses heading into its Monday-night game vs. the Raiders, Seattle’s defense had allowed an average of 32 points, in addition to having permitted eight plays that gained 30-plus yards. The team replaced the most noticeable culprit, SS Michael Boulware, with Jordan Babineaux in the starting lineup vs. the Chiefs in Week Eight, but Babineaux was hardly the solution, as the Seahawks were scorched for 35 points and 499 yards in their worst defensive effort in some time.
Could there be more shuffling in the secondary on the horizon? The way we hear it, while further lineup changes appear to be in short supply, the prevailing feeling is that a more aggressive focus on making big plays that would bolster the unit’s confidence level could go a long way toward stopping the bleeding. Babineaux, a big-play machine in a reserve role last season, had yet to force a turnover this season. In addition, starting CBs Marcus Trufant and Kelly Herndon were each one game short of going a full calendar year without a single interception heading into the Oakland game. Another must that we hear Seahawks coaches are insisting on during the second half of the season is better tackling by everybody in the defense, including normally sure tacklers like MLB Lofa Tatupu, who seems to have recently lost his usual edge.
We hear there’s been no end to the pondering by the Rams regarding the lack of productivity from their kickoff returners. Tony Fisher, who recently replaced a not-too-happy J.R. Reed as the team’s primary kick returner, was lost for the season with a knee injury in a Week Nine loss to Kansas City.
If either Reed or the newly signed Kay-Jay Harris isn't able to quickly improve the situation — consistently poor field position has been a major problem — the team could very well turn to street free agent Willie Ponder, released earlier this season by Seattle, to try his hand at filling what has been a gaping hole since Tony Horne split the scene after 2000. The problem with Ponder, who visited the Rams early last week, is that his skill set is so limited, since he’s not known for his coverage ability and wouldn’t see any action as a receiver, considering how loaded the Rams are at that position. In any event, team insiders believe a concerted effort must be made to improve this area in the offseason.
Biggest surprise: A relative unknown when he signed as a free agent during the offseason from New Orleans, Fakhir Brown has been the Rams’ best cover corner and has brought a badly needed physical presence to the secondary. The Rams really missed him when he sat out two games with an ankle/heel injury.
Biggest disappointment: After his strong finish last season, the Rams figured DE Anthony Hargrove could be on the cusp of a breakthrough campaign in 2006 and become a much-needed complement to DE Leonard Little. But Hargrove sealed his own fate when he went AWOL for two days of practice in September and was traded to Buffalo in late October.
Top newcomer: Free-agent addition Will Witherspoon has done an excellent job at middle linebacker. There were concerns that he would be too small to handle the position after playing on the weak side in Carolina, but except for a few bad plays against San Diego’s LaDainian Tomlinson in Week Eight, he’s been very steady and productive.
Fantasy studs: Both WR Torry Holt and QB Marc Bulger are excelling in Scott Linehan’s revamped offense. Holt had scored at least one TD in five straight games, including a three-TD fantasy masterpiece vs. Seattle, before being held to five catches for 48 yards by the Chargers in Week Eight, and he has three games with more than 100 yards receiving. Bulger, meanwhile, has thrown for more than 300 yards in five of his last six games and has thrown only one interception.
Fantasy dud: It’s really hard to call a player who is one of the league leaders in total yardage a dud, but RB Steven Jackson’s four TDs isn’t much of an output for a guy who was a top pick on many fantasy teams.
Rams struggling but not giving up
Can regain ground this week at Seattle
BY R.B. FALLSTROM
ST. LOUIS - There's a perfectly good reason for the St. Louis Rams' three-game losing streak to come on the heels of a three-game winning streak: Tougher competition.
The Rams (4-4) fattened up on the Cardinals, Lions and Packers -- who are a combined 6-18 -- before faltering against the Seahawks, Chargers and Chiefs -- a combined 16-8.
The end result: The Rams are squarely in the middle of the pack in Scott Linehan's first year as coach. They're a team with holes, especially on the defensive line and at linebacker as long as Pisa Tinoisamoa is sidelined with a broken left hand, but with a productive offense that can score enough to make things interesting.
"We're struggling now, but I've been on a couple of bad teams around here that have had multiple injuries and collapsed on itself," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "We're nowhere near that. We have so many good players, too much character."
They're still in the hunt in the NFC West, though, thanks to parity. And veteran players can remember a lot worse situations. Last year's team also was 4-4, but won only twice the rest of the way.
Safety Corey Chavous said players weren't overconfident when they were 4-1, and shouldn't be too discouraged now.
"The same way we approached those wins, we've got to approach these losses and separate every week from the last," Chavous said. "If you don't do that you'll either keep losing or you'll end up staying too much on the last week.
"I don't think that's something this team is going do, I feel like we'll bounce back."
The Rams will get an immediate opportunity to regain ground on Sunday at Seattle.
"Let's get ourselves ready to play probably the most important division game of the year so far, based on where our division is at," Linehan said. "Let's take care of business, and by performing well and winning this game we can certainly put ourselves back in very good position."
Offensive guard Adam Timmerman said there's plenty of time to regroup.
"There's a lot of season left, it's not like any of our hopes and dreams are shattered," Timmerman said. "There were things we could have done better and we hurt ourselves.
"We've just got to stay the course."
The Rams are fourth in the NFL in total offense at 366.9 yards per game, and adjusted to the Chiefs' deep zone coverage that took away wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce by throwing underneath. Steven Jackson caught a career-high 13 passes and combined for 219 yards rushing and receiving, and Marc Bulger passed for 354 yards, the fifth time in six games he has topped 300.
The offense committed two of three turnovers that allowed the Chiefs to take a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter, but cleaned things up enough to cut the gap to one touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"I think Marc executed the game plan to a T based on how they were defending us," Linehan said.
St. Louis is 27th in total defense at 346.5 yards per game and has been gouged on consecutive weeks by LaDainian Tomlinson and Larry Johnson. Johnson had 172 yards on 27 carries, a 6.4-yard average, after Tomlinson piled up 183 yards and scored three times.
The Rams are short-handed on the line after trading wayward end Anthony Hargrove a few weeks after he skipped two days of practice, with rookie fourth-round pick Victor Adeyanju inheriting the starting spot. Jimmy Kennedy is adjusting to a new role as the nose tackle.
Tinoisamoa dressed but did not play for the second-straight game on Sunday, held back to allow his broken hand more time to heal. He's also playing with a dislocated left elbow that requires a brace.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett, repeating his assessment from a week earlier, said a handful of big plays make the overall effort look weak. Still, it was a large handful: Johnson had a 45-yard run in the first quarter when the Chiefs were backed up to their own 3, and also had two 16-yard gains and a 15-yarder.
Haslett said there is a lack of trust that the man next to you is going to do his job.
"Everybody has to have an understanding of where everybody fits on the run game, and you'd better have a trust that the guy that is going to be in that spot is going to be there," Haslett said. "Right now, I don't think we are real good on that."
Re: General Ram news
Hey, wadda ya know, the Seahawks are having major problems with what was a pretty solid pass defense last year. Who is it coaching their defensive backs now? You say the defense is not playing aggressively, fails to produce turnovers, and is not tackling as well as they were even last year? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Marmie Touch!