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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    ...how absolutely uninspired this team looked.

    The Rams had everything to play for - a .500 season and a chance to not only make the playoffs but host a playoff game in the dome. They were going up against a team that's lost seven of their last nine games, and lost handily to the Rams in October by a score of 20-3.

    We heard from Steve Spagnuolo after the Chiefs game that the Rams were entering the playoff mindset (to which Steven Jackson said they should have already been in it, and I agree). This was a monumentally important game for the Rams that could have made a great statement for the direction of the team.

    And they laid a giant egg on national television.

    I wasn't among those fans who, prior to the game, thought this was going to be an easy win against an inferior team. I saw the Rams as a better team and believed they'd win the game, but when this game was moved to primetime at Qwest Field, I had a feeling it was going to be a tough one. Sure enough, there really wasn't a phase of the game where the Rams didn't stumble.

    Bradford wasn't awful, but he misfired on a couple of key passes. The throw to Robinson on the sideline that could have been challenged wouldn't have needed to be had it arrived a half a second or so sooner. A throw to Amendola running an out route was beyond his reach. A throw to Robinson running a corner route went too far. Sam locked onto his receiver tonight, resulting in a couple of batted balls and a fatal interception. What has been an impressive rookie season ended on a sour note.

    But while Bradford did not play a perfect game, his supporting cast shoulders a much larger share of the blame. The Rams' offensive line was not particularly effective; yards in the ground game were hard to come by, and the protection was inconsistent. When Sam needed his blockers the most, on the final drive of the game, they let him down tremendously with back to back sacks.

    Nearly every Rams receiver had moments to forget in this game, perhaps none moreso than fan hero Danario Alexander. I don't think DX deserves too much criticism for the incomplete deep ball on the sidelines, as he was led a bit too far towards the line in my opinion. But rookie or veteran, you've got to be able to come down with the deep post pass that whiffed right through his hands. Tell that to Robinson and Fells as well. The Rams are desperate for someone to step up at this position. Scratch that, they've been desperate all year for someone to emerge. No one seems to want to become the guy, and it might cost some of them their place on this team when the summer and fall roll around.

    One of the more perplexing developments in this game was the lack of Steven Jackson. The Rams' best offensive playmaker touched the ball fifteen times in this game. On the one drive where the Rams actually drove the length of the field to put points on the board, Jackson touched the ball on six of eleven offensive plays. His number would be called only 12 others times through the entire game, with two of those being incomplete passes and one a play negated by penalty. Seattle's run defense is not strong; Tampa Bay rushed for over 200 yards on them just one week ago. Yet the Rams run Steven Jackson eleven times, with fifteen total touches? If I'm #39, it would take a lot to withhold my frustration in the locker room after this one.

    Defensively, it was only a matter of time in this game before Seattle started to gain some yardage, given how little the offense was helping the situation. That being said, there was no excuse for the efficiency Seattle displayed on their first drive. A missed cornerback blitz and completely blown coverage allowed the Seahawks to zip the ball down the field. I've maintained that Craig Dahl is an adequate back-up, but his deficiencies in coverage are enough that the Rams need an upgrade in the starting line-up. He demonstrated exactly what I was referring to tonight. He's a solid enough player when he's near the line, but he simply doesn't have the coverage skills to be a significant part of the defensive line-up. There were other lapses in coverage as well - the holding call on Bartell that extended what would become a touchdown drive, Fletcher playing too far off or a step behind his receiver on multiple occasions, Kevin Dockery just not doing much of anything right. When Charlie Whitehurst has a career night against you, you know you're not defending the pass very well.

    Of course, disrupting the pass is not just the job of the secondary, but also the defensive front. After all, you've got to be able to pressure the quarterback into making some poor passes. Whitehurst did throw some ugly ones, and the Rams did make him move around for some of them. But they were always a step behind at actually bringing him down. Despite ranking second in the league in sacks, the Rams couldn't bring down Whitehurst at all. It's not as if the Seahawks are particularly strong in pass protection; they've allowed 35 sacks on the year, 13th worst in the league. Whitehurst himself attempted 38 passes in the previous two games and was sacked on four of those attempts. He attempted 36 passes tonight and wasn't sacked once. He consistently escaped pressure and made something happen with his feet. Simply put, the Rams did not have a consistent enough presence in the Seahawks' backfield, at least when it came to the pass. The Rams did do a good job of shutting most of Seattle's running game down early, but as I mentioned before, that would slowly fade as the offense gave their counterpart no help.

    So in light of what the Rams didn't do tonight, what did they do? Well, they tucked their collective head into their collective shell, stayed conservative on offense so as to not make a mistake on the road in a hostile environment, and the result was a whopping six points on the board and a defense that quickly grew fatigued. When they had everything to fight for, they came out flat. The team with the heart, the team that was fired up, the team that looked like they had something to play for was on the other sideline, the home sideline. The Rams played not to lose, rather than playing to win. They looked like a team that just wanted to go home and get out of the cold rather than a team who wanted to return home as champions and prepare for a home playoff game.

    I think it's very, very fair tonight to question the offensive gameplan and playcalling. There have been other times this year when I think it was rightfully called into question, and there were times when I believe it was blamed for issues that were brought about more by failures in execution. In my opinion, we saw both tonight. The lack of involvement of Steven Jackson, the end-around to the less-than-speedy Robinson, the complete reluctance to do anything to stretch the field until it became absolutely necessary. Drops, stupid penalties, misfires, poor blocking. You name it, it happened to the Rams tonight. That's not just on the players, but on the coaches.

    This just isn't a group that's good enough yet for post-season play, even if getting there was as "simple" as a road win against a poor Seattle team. Seven wins in 2010 reminds us that the Rams are on the right track, but tonight's performance reaffirms the notion that they've still got a ways to go. Especially when, in arguably the biggest game in the careers of the players and the coaches, they look so completely uninspired and unmotivated. This looked like a team that wasn't motivated or prepared for the stage they were stepping on. Talent and coaching issues aside, there's simply no excuse for that.


  2. #2
    Fettmaster's Avatar
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    Perfectly written.

    We made Whitehurst look like Steve Young.
    Last edited by Fettmaster; -01-03-2011 at 03:12 AM.

  3. #3
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    I dont want to say that I knew we would loose after the first play of the game, but I had a very bad feeling for the rest of the game. The hawks players looked thrilled to be on the field and full of energy while our guys looked detached from the game. There is plenty of blame for everyone in this game for sure.

    Receivers- Hard to believe that you get payed to catch a ball and let it pass through your hands. Even harder to believe is happened 5 times by my count.

    O-line - You gotta give some room to run for sjax to play with.

    QB - Be it primetime nerves or rookie mistakes Bradford simply wasnt on point this game, he wasnt horrible but nor was he good.

    DB's - I want all of them to go home and think about how Whithurst carved them tonight.

    D-line - I want them to go home and think about how they gave Whitehurst the time to carve our DB's

    Coaching - The very next game after Shurmur calls a decent game he has another bad one, I dont know what to make of his future with the team at this point. The snap reaction is to call for his head, but I will let my emotions settle for a bit. Also, either spags didn't have the guts to throw a challenge flag or his coaches upstairs didnt see what all of America saw on the sideline catch and the fake first down that the hawks got.

    Officials - I know it is very cliche, but the officials tonight seemed to be more them a little off. I will leave it at that.

  4. #4
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    ...... Spags' press conference. he dipped dived and dodged playcalling questions.... figures...

  5. #5
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fettmaster View Post
    Perfectly written.
    Nick, have the Rams official website to just give Nick Wagoner a rest tonight and use your post as a true article for today's defeat.

    We looked BAD today, all around (save busy Donnie Jones). Indeed, terribly disappointing.

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    supachump is offline Registered User
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    Quote Originally Posted by ludairv View Post
    ...... Spags' press conference. he dipped dived and dodged playcalling questions.... figures...
    This is what scares me. Spags refuses to see how it is hurting the team. He just doesn't see it.

  7. #7
    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    Tremendous write-up, Nick.

    There are only two things that really bother me for the long term; everything else is just not that unexpected to me. These guys are young & there are still too many holes. It's the failure to use SJ and that overall feel of the team that really make me uneasy. It's not as if the score took away the run game but it was like Spags completely screwed the pooch getting these guys tuned up & didn't even give SJ a chance to get them going.I hated seeing them go down without putting their best foot forward. All credit to The Hawks; they certainly played like they wanted it more & their coaches let them go after it.

  8. #8
    Fettmaster's Avatar
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    Quote Originally Posted by supachump View Post
    This is what scares me. Spags refuses to see how it is hurting the team. He just doesn't see it.

    Its very concerning. Is this guy self-aware and making excuses, or is he really that blind as to what an offense is supposed to do?

  9. #9
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    Quote Originally Posted by supachump View Post
    This is what scares me. Spags refuses to see how it is hurting the team. He just doesn't see it.
    Maybe it's called being a leader and not throwing anyone under the bus after a tough loss whether it be his players or coaching staff. I'm sure Spags is smart enough and knows enough about football to see how the offense wasn't good tonight because you don't have to be a genius to be able to tell that 6 points isn't enough.

    The team isn't there yet offensively as far as talent goes. The playcalling is still a problem but it's tough to do much with a team with a rookie qb and all of the young late round draft pick talent that they have as their only options at receiver.

  10. #10
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    .The Rams are desperate for someone to step up at this position. Scratch that, they've been desperate all year for someone to emerge. No one seems to want to become the guy, and it might cost some of them their place on this team when the summer and fall roll around.
    Robinson played himself off the roster tonight, if you ask me. Gibson is the better route runner and with Clayton/Avery back, DX getting the benefit of training camp, and presumably a draft pick/veteran, I don't know how you keep him on the roster. We have such a dire need for speed at the skill positions, they need to give up on him if only to add that dimension to the offense. (We looked *slow* last night.)


    I think it's very, very fair tonight to question the offensive gameplan and playcalling. There have been other times this year when I think it was rightfully called into question, and there were times when I believe it was blamed for issues that were brought about more by failures in execution. In my opinion, we saw both tonight. The lack of involvement of Steven Jackson, the end-around to the less-than-speedy Robinson, the complete reluctance to do anything to stretch the field until it became absolutely necessary. Drops, stupid penalties, misfires, poor blocking. You name it, it happened to the Rams tonight. That's not just on the players, but on the coaches.
    While so many people get frustrated by Spags (which I understand), the turnaround this year was nothing short of amazing. So for all his faults in real time decision-making, I'm willing to balance that against what has been a amazing season and incredible turnaround with a pretty mediocre roster. I'm less inclined to give the same slack for the OC and for Spags to grow, he needs to be open to the idea that Shurmur just didn't have a good year and might need to be replaced. Play makers or not.

  11. #11
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    Great article Nick!

    I think this game was just too big for this team (players and coaches) to handle. I think youth and inexperience reared it's ugly head one final time last night in a big way.

    My question is this though, why as a head coach, when Spags saw his team struggling with dropped passes and some poor throws by his rookie qb wouldn't you calm the team down by giving the ball to your pro bowl running back and let him take control of the game? This is the single most puzzling thing to me about last nights game.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  12. #12
    Truth's Avatar
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    Re: The most disappointing thing about tonight's game was...

    First of all, this is a very well thought out and written commentary. Thank you Nick.

    Next, the only receiver that has EARNED a spot next season is Amandola. While he did not play his best game last night, he has been our best receiver all season. And let's face it, they focused on taking him away from us. Gibson has his moments, but he doesn't make any defensive coordinators lose any sleep. Gilyard and Robinson...I don't even know what to say here. Alexander has potential. I'd like to see what some more rehabing time and off-season workouts will do for him. Right now Avery still has a big question mark over him. He's been fast. However, he hasn't been a great route runner. I like his speed though.

    Our O-Line's ability to run block has been a weakness all season. I think a new line coach would be helpful.

    Speaking of coaching. I read a BUNCH of posts calling for Shurmur's head. Shurmur does not put the gameplan together in a vacuum. Spags not only has input, he can overrule the whole thing...before it's put into place AND he can do the same DURING A GAME. He has chosen not to. So, it's scapegoating to toss Shurmur under the bus. It's entirely possible that Spags is responsible for the lack of any imagination in our offense, or a combination of coaches.

    I can certainly see how the coaching staff would want a simplified plan for our rookie QB at the beginning of the season. However, as the season wore on, I think it was clear that our new QB could probably handlesome different twists. So why didn't we see much? Well, most likely it had something to do with the talent level of our WRs. But I don't want to heap all of the blame there. These guys made it through the college level with some success. They must have SOME skills. They must have some ability to be coached.

    Lastly, for all that Spags has done to stop the bleeding and turn this teams fortunes, last night put a flicker of doubt in my mind as to his ability to LEAD a team to the top. I saw him before the game started, he did not look confident. He did not look like he was comfortable or belonged in this game. He has been in playoff situatons before. I didn't see that experience. I'm not sure his players did either. Switch to Carroll. He was all over the place. He's been in big games too, and it showed. He had his guys ready to go mentally, physically, and emotionally.

    I'm not calling for Spags to be fired (yet). I want to see if/what progression we make next season. If we make the moves to improve our roster, and the gameplanning is adjusted to showcase the talents of our star RB, and 2nd year QB, I think we'll/he'll be OK. If however, we see a lack of movement to improve the roster in the off-season, and the same uninspiring gameplan is dragged out again for the new season, I won't hesitate to start calling for his removal.

    We cannot afford to start slipping backwards. There are 3 other teams in our division that are going to be working to improve. The Whiners have a talented roster. Give them a stable QB situation and a good HC and watch out. We've seen what Pete Carroll can do with a limited amount of talent. I'd be surprised if the Seahawks weren't very active in the off-season improving their roster. They will also be improved next season. Arizona has more work to do. But I expect them to be at least a bit better next season. In this league it's either keep moving forward or die.

    Of course, all of this is pointless if the CBA can't be taken care of. I think a strike or lock-out could be devistating on a young team trying to turn its fortunes. Let's hope a large player/owners kurfuffle can be avoided.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

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