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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Ill-fated draw was final nail in Rams' coffin

    By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/22/2008


    There were 25 seconds left before the Rams would put a perfectly infuriating bow on their 13th loss of the season. There were 25 seconds left before these unfortunate players would once again endure another dreary march into that dark end-zone tunnel in the far corner of the Edward Jones Dome and listen to the X-rated displeasure of another hostile mob spouting so much venom.

    But right now, there was no such despair, only a brief moment full of foolish and cruelly premature hope that this Sunday would somehow be different from all the other Sundays that always end with the customary pitiless punch in the gut.

    There were 25 seconds left, and the Rams were marching toward what should have been a game-winning field goal ... and then it happened.

    Somebody called a draw.

    Well, actually, EVERYBODY called a draw.

    The Rams broke the huddle, and the moment Marc Bulger began barking out his cadence and the offensive linemen scanned across the line of scrimmage to determine who to block, the ***** defenders started shouting like they'd just discovered their cleats were on fire. Linebackers and defensive backs quickly sprinted toward the line of scrimmage and everyone began barking in unison:

    "Draw, draw, draw!!!! It's gonna be a DRAW!!!!"

    And it was a draw. Oh ... MY ... GAWD... it really was a draw.

    Steven Jackson, running on one healthy leg all day long, got the ball and was immediately suffocated by the entire San Francisco defense for a 3-yard loss, and one play later, the clock was squeezing off the final seconds and the 2-13 Rams had fallen 17-16 to the Niners.

    So you think it hurts to watch the Rams be this bad, this snake-bitten, this bleak and miserable and almost comically down on their luck? Well, imagine what it must feel like to the Rams, who now just walk around their locker room like numb zombies.

    The moment that ill-fated play unfolded, there was a spontaneous ripple effect along the Rams sideline that embodied the frustration of the day and the entire season. I saw grown men on the verge of tears. I heard loud groans of despair, I saw helmets flinging, hats flipped to the ground, and at least eight increasingly vulgar versions of "what the (heck) was he thinking?" displeasure with another stranger-than-truth Al Saunders play call at the worst possible moment.

    As we sort through the 10-foot pile of debris of this sorry season, there will be so many things to point to that led to the dubious honor of picking in the second overall spot in the NFL draft in back-to-back years. But somewhere in that heap will be the hugely disappointing play calling of the offensive coordinator.

    When Saunders arrived here last offseason and was handed the keys to the Rams' anemic offense, it was hard to find anyone (myself included) who didn't view this as good news. We were all ready to drink the Al Saunders Kool-Aid, and when I say "drink," I'm not talking about politely sipping it.I'm talking about submerging your entire head in the bucket and guzzling.

    And now with one game left, all I want to do is purge every trace of the Kool-Aid from my system.

    You may think this game was lost when Bulger threw that interception on the game's final play, but it was lost long before that. It was lost at the beginning of that last drive when the Rams had the ball, three timeouts and 1:16 left to travel about 45 yards to get into field-goal range for Josh Brown. It was lost when Saunders wouldn't use those timeouts to throw into the middle of the field, when he wouldn't call a single play designed for the crafty future Hall of Famer Torry Holt to work the seams. It was doomed when he refused to acknowledge that the Niners were sitting on all those sideline routes he was calling and the drive was kept alive only by a miracle catch by Donnie Avery in double coverage.

    It was doomed when he called that ridiculous draw play, and it was doomed when Bulger was forced to throw that out-route to Avery with cornerback Tarell Brown literally cherry picking on the play because he was like nearly everyone else inside the dome who knew a sideline route was coming because that's pretty much all Saunders had been dialing up the whole darned game.

    It was doomed long before that last play because at least two or three times in the course of the game the wrong plays were sent in for the personnel groupings on the field. It was doomed because the one man on the field who can stop some of these calls, coach Jim Haslett, is a man essentially working in the dark. If Haslett had been the head coach since training camp, he would be well-versed on the offensive verbiage and could have saved Saunders from himself.

    But Haslett doesn't know the offensive language, so whatever words come crackling into his headset in the heat of the game might as well be gibberish. When you have basically 25 seconds to call a play in before the radio signal is shut off, it leaves no time for Haslett to ask what the play is, determine if it makes sense and then give the "thumbs down" when he hears the translation.

    And so this is what you're left with as we put the final touches on the eulogy of this miserable season.

    "Draw, draw, draw!!!!"

    Oh ... MY ... GAWD ... it really was a draw.


  2. #2
    ScottD413's Avatar
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    Re: Ill-fated draw was final nail in Rams' coffin

    Saunders is terrible, but why didn't Bulger call an audible? If the entire defense knew what was coming and was calling it out, why didn't Marc call a different play?

  3. #3
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    Re: Ill-fated draw was final nail in Rams' coffin

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottD413 View Post
    Saunders is terrible, but why didn't Bulger call an audible? If the entire defense knew what was coming and was calling it out, why didn't Marc call a different play?
    I've seen this before, but just like in Martz's system, I don't think the quarterbacks are allowed to audible ...

    With all the pre snap shifting and motion, I don't think it leaves alot of freedom to shift up the plays. Hell, we are having a hard enough time getting young players into position how it is, nonetheless, trying to get them to understand audibles ...

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    Re: Ill-fated draw was final nail in Rams' coffin

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsInfiniti View Post
    I've seen this before, but just like in Martz's system, I don't think the quarterbacks are allowed to audible ...

    With all the pre snap shifting and motion, I don't think it leaves alot of freedom to shift up the plays. Hell, we are having a hard enough time getting young players into position how it is, nonetheless, trying to get them to understand audibles ...
    If that's the case then there is something seriously wrong. How can you have a successful offense if you don't allow your QB to make pre snap adjustments?

  5. #5
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    Re: Ill-fated draw was final nail in Rams' coffin

    Absolutely horrible call.

    I don't know if anyone has been a bigger disappointment than Al Saunders this year.

  6. #6
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    Re: Ill-fated draw was final nail in Rams' coffin

    Quote Originally Posted by AvengerRam View Post
    Absolutely horrible call.

    I don't know if anyone has been a bigger disappointment than Al Saunders this year.

    I expected Linehan to continue his disasterous reign as headcoach

    I expected Haslett to trot out another bottom-dweller defense that played back on their heels.

    I did not expect Saunders to be a worse OC than Linehan and Olson were

  7. #7
    PeoriaRam's Avatar
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    Re: Ill-fated draw was final nail in Rams' coffin

    Quote Originally Posted by ScottD413 View Post
    If that's the case then there is something seriously wrong. How can you have a successful offense if you don't allow your QB to make pre snap adjustments?
    Assuming you actually don't have a vanilla offense, it is possible. See also, GSOT.

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