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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Harsh reality returns to Rams Park

    Columnist Jeff Gordon

    The euphoria from back-to-back Rams victories is gone now. Harsh reality returned to Rams Park.

    Coach Jim Haslett must rally his downtrodden team to face the Jets at the Meadowlands. While the Rams were rolling over for the Cardinals at home Sunday -– with a cave-in reminiscent of the unfortunate Linehan Era -- the Jets won impressively at Buffalo.

    Rejuvenated quarterback Brett Favre is in fine form for the Jets. The Rams, meanwhile, may deploy Kenneth Darby at running back while Steven Jackson, Antonio Pittman and Travis Minor recover from injuries.

    “We’re in a situation right now where we just lost two games in a row, you are going on the road to play a good football team with maybe the best quarterback who has ever played the game,” Haslett said during this Monday news conference. “You’re down, you’re injured, you have a bunch of nicks and bruises and who the heck knows who’s going to play. Not just in a game, but adversity hits in this business all the time. This should be a great challenge for us to see if we go up and respond.”

    The Jets are making a playoff push. Realistically, the 2-6 Rams are getting ready for next year.

    Haslett must prepare this team for a turnaround while proving he is the right coach to take the Rams in a new direction. The challenge will be enormous.

    (He took a step in that direction by placing receivers Drew Bennett and Dante Hall on injured reserve, turning the page on those hobbled veterans. Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton and Derek Stanley will see lots of passes during the next eight games.)

    “We’re not going to change our approach,” Haslett said. “I think you just take it one game at a time. The most important thing is that we go try to get a win this week. This is not going to be any easy task to go win up there and play this team that just beat Buffalo, in Buffalo. They have a good group of football players. They restructured this year and got a whole bunch of players who have helped their football team.”

    Clearly this is what the Rams must do during the offseason. In the meantime, though, Haslett must make the most of what he has.

    “I don’t think you can look ahead, you just have to take one game at a time,” he said. “It changes every week. Your personnel changes, the game changes, the situation changes every week. It’s just how you handle it. We have to go up there and play well.”

    The Rams did not play well against Arizona. A lot went wrong in this game, including:

    * The ground game disappeared. Jackson did not get back to full speed, due to his nagging quadriceps injury. Pittman popped a hamstring muscle. Minor suffered a concussion.

    So Marc Bulger was the big ground threat against the Cardinals. This is not a good sign.

    “We had 17 carries for 29 yards, so when you’re not running the ball very well, it’s hard to get a play action game, it’s hard to get a passing game going without them letting loose,” Haslett said.

    This week, Haslett vows not to play Jackson unless he proves he has fully recovered. What happens on the practice field will dictate the decision, not something Steven writes on his web site.

    “If he goes out and practices Wednesday, Thursday or Friday and he looks good and he gives us a full day of work, he will be ready to go,” Haslett said. “If not, then he will not play this week.”

    * Bulger struggled in the passing game. He hit an early home-run pass to Derek Stanley, but the game went downhill from there. Torry Holt didn’t become a factor until the game was out of hand.

    Since he was already moping about being phased out of the offense, this was not good. Haslett didn’t blame him for being frustrated.

    “He’s not catching as many balls as he had in the past,” Haslett said. “The guy has caught a lot of passes over his career. We are a little bit different football team right now. We have a bunch of young receivers. You have a line that hasn’t been together long. The running back situation is in flux. We haven’t had Steven (Jackson), in and out the whole year. It’s just the situation more than anything.”

    Haslett considered removing Bulger and trying Trent Green, but he believed the change might do more harm than good.

    * The offensive line didn’t distinguish itself. The ground game got no push and Bulger didn’t receive adequate protection.

    Left guard Jacob Bell left the game after taking a blow to the stomach, but it wasn’t like he was playing well when he departed.

    * After a few good series, the defense buckled. The game-breaking play came when cornerback Jonathan Wade allowed an easy interception to slip through his hands to Jerheme Urban, who rambled into the end zone with a 56-yard reception.

    “The guy was a receiver, he has great hands,” Haslett said of Wade. “He actually double-clutched. He had it, dropped it and caught it and then bobbled it again. He played the play perfectly . . . he just has to go up and make the play. He actually played pretty well when he was in there except for that play.”

    That mishap helped trigger a total team collapse -– one that prevented the Rams from climbing back into the playoff race.

    “That last four minutes before the half was probably the worst football I’ve seen in a long time,” Haslett said. “You have missed tackles. You have an interception that goes through your hands for a touchdown. You can’t get on your way on offense, so we punt back to them, and they come back and get another score. At worst, it should have been 10-7 at halftime or even us intercepting a ball and getting it back and who knows what would happen. It goes in 24-7 in a span of four minutes.”

    Now the Rams must regroup, win some games for Haslett and get a head start on 2009.

  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
    laram0 is online now Superbowl MVP
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    Re: Harsh reality returns to Rams Park

    I'm tired of reading about Torry Holt and his whinning. He was whinning last season too. If the guy's not happy here cut him loose!!!

  3. #3
    Mooselini Guest

    Re: Harsh reality returns to Rams Park

    This season is getting any easier to watch.

    However. I would like an update on Carriker. We obviously need him in the game.

    We need the O-line to get fixed. I hope Greco plays this weekend....

  4. #4
    unorthodox1999's Avatar
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    Re: Harsh reality returns to Rams Park

    you know, its crazy how many injuries have plagued this team, especially injury-type and length of time it takes for the players to starting to guess, - its in the water???

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