BY JEFF GORDON
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
11/03/2006

The Rams defense prospered early this season by forcing turnovers and making timely stops. At San Diego, the Chargers just ran over them.

Now Jim Haslett’s unit faces a Chiefs offense that has operated quite well for two games. The challenge is enormous -– and Rams Nation is somewhat concerned, as these e-mails indicate:


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“You’re right, the Rams defense is lacking a lot, but is it Haslett or is it the players? Probably both. Either way, Haslett certainly has not turned this defense around from the days of Larry Marmie. I think we were all led into a false sense of defensive security after the Rams won against anemic teams such as the Packers. All that can be said is that the Rams defense better turn it up a notch or another sub-.500 season will be looming. If this happens, Haslett may be looking for another job.”

Jack Jasensky


GORDO: Jim is secure, don’t worry about that. This defense is MUCH better than during the Marmie Era. For all their faults, the Rams remain in the NFC playoff hunt. The “D” has played a primary role in winning games, since the offense sputtered early.

But, yes, there IS the potential for collapse during this rugged stretch of schedule. We’ll know a lot more about these guys in a few weeks.


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“ ‘Give credit where credit is due’ sounds like Martz’s ‘We’ll fix that’. I hope Scott Linehan gives credit to a poor defense and basic mental mistakes by the offense and understands that it is his job to get his team motivated. Will we ever see the Rams defense pumped up like we saw itin the home opener against Denver. Or does it take weeks of training camp to get these guys pumped up? On the lighter side, my Halloween costume is a piece of Swiss cheese, I’m going as the Rams defense.”

Todd Fleming


GORDO: Out at Rams Park, Jimmy Kennedy and Dexter Coakley are taking that personally.

But you’re right, fans don’t want to hear the head coach being gracious toward his opponent. They want the head coach focused on making his team better – which Linehan truly is.


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“I can't believe you get paid for writing this drivel.”

John Isselhardt


GORDO: Man, if I had a dollar for every time I heard that . . .


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“For weeks I have been saying what was revealed (exposed?) by a legit opponent on Sunday. The Rams need to get bigger, younger, better and more physical at the line of scrimmage. Both sides of the ball. The problem is there is no fix for the Rams this year. They may have the ‘luxurious’ double-wide with a nice pick-up truck in the fresh gravel driveway, but they still live in the same trailer park as the Detroits, Green Bays, Houstons, Tennessees, San Franciscos, Tampa Bays, Arizonas, Miamis, Clevelands, and Oaklands of the league. Thanks to a favorable schedule the Rams don't play many of the gated community teams this year, if they did there would be no end to the ‘Fire Linehan!’ ‘Fire Haslett!’ e-mails.

“The biggest free-agent acquisition in Rams history (remember, Faulk was a trade): Adam Timmerman. It's time to score the best O-lineman and D-lineman, yes both, available in the free agency. Even if it means paying Transition Tag prices like Minnesota paid for Steve Hutchinson. Do you hear any Viking fans complaining about the large signing bonus? It's time to draft along the line, intelligently. (Example: St. Louis D-line draft picks: Damoine Lewis, Ryan Pickett, Jimmy Kennedy; New England D-line draft picks over the same time span: Richard Seymore, Vince Wilfork, Ty Warren).”

Mark Reeves, Washington D.C.


GORDO: Free-agent linemen are stupidly expensive. The Rams should be solid on the edges with Orlando Pace and Alex Barron for years for come, but they need two more Richie Incognito-type tough guys for the middle.

Victor Adeyanju may pan out for the defensive line rotation, but ends Leonard Little and Brandon Green are undersized. Will Claude Wroten develop into a force? He better, because there won’t be a ton to spend on improvements.

Anthony Hargrove’s failure was a big disappointment, because the Rams hoped he could blossom into an all-purpose defensive end. Going forward, the Rams will need a couple of stout defensive linemen and a bigger, tougher linebacker.


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“I'm an old school Rams fan and the one thing that I noticed about the San Diego game was that St. Louis did not look like they came to play mentally, physically, and emotionally. Not to take anything away from a team like San Diego who have talented individuals in their own right, but I believe St. Louis is a much more talented squad and should have been able to take San Diego apart, or at least make it more of a contest.

“Philip Rivers is a good quarterback but the Rams' defense should have exploited his lack of maturity and forced him into making bad decisions. As far as LaDainian Tomlison goes, yes; a premiere back but not unstoppable. A lot of folks know that the heart of San Diego's game is the run and this is something that all of the Rams coaching staff should have anticipated. St. Louis was able to make an example of Denver's run/pass game; these guys should have been no exception to the rule. Penetration is the key -- no quarterback is totally immune to constant disruption.

“I must admit though that there still seems to be something missing in the way of the cornerback position, not so much personnel but in how the position is being played. Maybe St. Louis needs to get a veteran consultant in there go lend his expertise to the coaching staff for the secondary?

“Also, the Rams can be very explosive on offense but for some reason always start their games off pretty conservatively while the opponents go right after them when it's their turn on offense. I get the impression that a lot of teams still fear the ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ mystique that could potentially rear it's head again. This is a badge of honor for them. The fans loved it, the media dug it, and the opposition feared it. BUT, you have to live up to it and enjoy it and that's something this iteration of the Rams are struggling to do.

“By the way, my son is a staunch Raiders fan but has noted that ‘St. Louis given their division and their personnel, should be undefeated right now!’ -- even the opposition can see it.”

John Moody


GORDO: Given their talent, the Rams should be 5-2. That loss to the ***** was unacceptable.

Seattle is the reigning NFC champs, so there is no shame in losing to them, even at home, even after injuries depleted the Seahawks roster. At San Diego, the Rams obviously lacked fire on defense. All those missed tackles killed them.

I liked their offense, aside from the costly Stephen Davis fumble. Coach Scott Linehan is busting out more three- and four-receiver looks as the season moves along. He is doing a better job playing to his team strengths.