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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Offensive Searching for Success

    Sunday, August 27, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    On Thursday night, Aug. 31, the St. Louis Rams will be in Miami for the final preseason tuneup before the Sept. 10 regular season opener against Denver.

    Three games into the exhibition season, St. Louis is 1-2. While that record doesn’t mean much of anything, there is one statistic that would seem to be at least mildly upsetting for the Rams…zero.

    As in zero for 11. As in the number of times the first team offense has scored a touchdown in its opportunities. Even with that number staring them in the face, the Rams aren’t panicking..

    Coach Scott Linehan insisted after last week’s loss to Houston that the Rams were not concerned about the inability of the first-team to put the ball in the end zone. He reiterated those feelings during the week and again after game, expressing concern over some other areas that have plagued the Rams in their past two tuneup games.

    There are plenty of reasons why the Rams have not had the success they would like with the top offensive unit, but those reasons don’t do much to put Rams fans at ease.

    The third preseason game is generally regarded as the official dress rehearsal for the regular season. It’s the game in which the starters play the most and the game where coaches tend to cut loose the most.

    Last night’s 16-12 loss for the Rams wasn’t much different from any normal third preseason contest, except for the fact that St. Louis was playing the Chiefs, a team they will see again on Nov. 5 in the regular season.

    Because of that, running back Steven Jackson said the Rams’ offense had to be more vanilla than maybe it would have liked against Kansas City.

    “Absolutely,” Jackson said. “We don’t want to show a team (we’ll see) down the road what you plan on doing against them or if you see a weakness in their defense. You don’t want to show everything.”

    That vanilla approach to offense might have been one reason the first-team offense could muster only 100 yards of offense in just over a half of play Saturday night. But, it’s not giving due diligence to what the Chiefs were doing by saying the Rams simply weren’t trying.

    Clearly, with the six opportunities the first-team offense was afforded, the Rams wanted to find paydirt somewhere along the way. Also not helping matters was the absence of star receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.

    Both were held out of the game because of injury, Holt with a bruised sternum and Bruce with a tight hamstring. Their absence was perhaps most noticeable in the running game as Kansas City stacked the box with players and made life difficult for Jackson, who finished with 22 yards on 10 carries.

    “They stacked the box and gave us a couple of different looks,” guard Richie Incognito said. “Without Torry and Isaac stretching the field, they could load up the box.

    “(It’s) totally different (without them). They have to respect those two guys out there and the cutters underneath when we are healthy.”

    Were it not for a chop block penalty on Incognito, the Rams would have one touchdown under their belt in the preseason. On third-and-3 from Kansas City’s 15, quarterback Marc Bulger hit receiver Kevin Curtis for a 15-yard touchdown. But the play was called back because of a high-low block that Incognito would later call accidental and the score was nullified.

    Even with that, Bulger remains unfazed by the inability to get a touchdown.

    “I have one in my book,” Bulger said. “Whether he cut that guy or not it doesn’t make a difference we had a touchdown whether they counted it or didn’t. Preseason is practice and in practice, there would be no penalty. I’m not worried about it. We didn’t get in, but I don’t think we are worried.”

    For the preseason, Bulger is 17-of-30 for 215 yards with an interception for a rating of 65.3. Jackson has 19 carries for 73 yards, an average of 3.8 per attempt.

    Another reason the Rams might not be ready to panic is the fact that they are still learning the nuances of Linehan’s system and Linehan is still learning how to use his players.

    In addition, the Rams have done little to no game planning for the preseason games.

    “It’s a deal, but it’s something we will have to adjust to and deal with,” Jackson said. “It’s no time to panic right now. I think we are still trying to get comfortable with the offense and coach is trying to feel us out. I don’t think it’s a big deal that we didn’t score. I know it’s something we do need to do eventually, but right now guys are still trying to get acclimated to the offense. It’s something we do need to do, but right now is not time to panic.”

    Perhaps the biggest reason for the offensive struggles, though, could boil down to basics. After a flawless opening game against Indianapolis, the Rams have had penalty problems in the past two contests and have struggled to do some of the simple things such as blocking.

    Against Houston, the Rams were without fullbacks Paul Smith and Madison Hedgecock because of injuries. Smith returned against Kansas City and whiffed on some lead blocks, stagnating the running game. The running backs also struggled to pick up the blitz at times against the Chiefs.

    “As the season progresses, hopefully the running game will come,” Jackson said. “I think Coach is trying to feel out the personnel and figure out what we do and don’t do well.”


  2. #2
    RamFan_Til_I_Die's Avatar
    RamFan_Til_I_Die is offline Registered User
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    Re: Offensive Searching for Success

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    “Absolutely,” Jackson said. “We don’t want to show a team (we’ll see) down the road what you plan on doing against them or if you see a weakness in their defense. You don’t want to show everything.”

    Also not helping matters was the absence of star receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Both were held out of the game because of injury, Holt with a bruised sternum and Bruce with a tight hamstring. Their absence was perhaps most noticeable in the running game as Kansas City stacked the box with players and made life difficult for Jackson, who finished with 22 yards on 10 carries. “They stacked the box and gave us a couple of different looks,” guard Richie Incognito said. “Without Torry and Isaac stretching the field, they could load up the box. “(It’s) totally different (without them). They have to respect those two guys out there and the cutters underneath when we are healthy.”

    Another reason the Rams might not be ready to panic is the fact that they are still learning the nuances of Linehan’s system and Linehan is still learning how to use his players.

    In addition, the Rams have done little to no game planning for the preseason games.

    Against Houston, the Rams were without fullbacks Paul Smith and Madison Hedgecock because of injuries. Smith returned against Kansas City and whiffed on some lead blocks, stagnating the running game. The running backs also struggled to pick up the blitz at times against the Chiefs.

    “As the season progresses, hopefully the running game will come,” Jackson said. “I think Coach is trying to feel out the personnel and figure out what we do and don’t do well.”
    I couldn't have said it better and agree especially with the above highlights. Take out Holt and Bruce and you have an average offense at best. For example, without Harrison and Wayne, the Colts offense wouldn't be near as potent as it is.

    Personally I'm not worried at all. There are some things we need to work on, (see my post under the "New-look Rams usher in a new era" thread) but give it time my friends. All will be joyous in Ramville....I hope

  3. #3
    RealRam's Avatar
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    Re: Offensive Searching for Success

    Your positive outlook is appreciated, T.I.D. And Welcome to the Clan!

    I tend to be an optimist myself.

    I believe (really, I do...) that several of our proven veterans on offense, namely Isaac Bruce, Marc Bulger, Orlando Pace, Andy McCollum, Andy Timmerman, Torry Holt, Kevin Curtis, Todd Steussie, PK Jeff Wilkens and friends -- Chris Massey and Dane Looker ... that all of these men are season and mature professionals.

    But the virtue of this, as everyone knows, is that maturity is not necessarily a matter of age. We seem to have in these players a substantial measure of LEADERSHIP AND CONFIDENCE, p-r-e-c-i-s-e-l-y what we need to make things happen under the guidance of our new coaching staff.

    I therefore feel confident, that by next week's game Vs. Dolphins, a number of things -- actually, a number of issues -- will be greatly improved and that these players are tough enough to not only "lead by example" but to MAKE THINGS HAPPEN, even if they must 'head butt' [figure of speech] others into shape, especially the rookies.

    All these players know exactly what it takes and what needs to be done in order to pull the potential that lies withing our offense and transform it into POWER.

    Give it time my friends. All will be joyous in Ramville....I hope. -- RFTID
    May your words and your wish soon ring true.

    Sept. 10, at home against the Denver Broncos. GO RAMS! :r


    PS: Apparently Marshall Faulk will be busy this whole season, pursuing other endeavors as a sportscaster analyst. But I sure wish he could assist our HC and OC; specifically, in continuing to mentor Stephen Jackson and the RBs in general, similar to what Henry Ellard does with the receivers. Faulk doesn't take any lip service from anyone.
    Last edited by RealRam; -08-28-2006 at 04:00 AM.

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