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  1. #1
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    Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    Monday, September 8, 2008
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Clearly, it wasn’t the way the Rams hoped the 2008 season would start.

    In what seemed more like a continuation of 2007 than the beginning of something new, the Rams’ 38-3 loss at the hands of a talented Eagles team is more than 24 hours old.

    For those that don’t remember, the Rams dropped a 27-13 decision to Carolina to open the 2007 season after jumping out to an early lead. That led to a 0-8 tailspin to open the season. The circumstances of Sunday’s loss were far more difficult and much more alarming.

    The question now becomes, how will this year’s edition handle the numerous questions that go with such a loss?

    “That’s a good question,” coach Scott Linehan said. “Last year we lost a different type game in our opener and I don’t think we responded the way we needed to in Week 2 and the weeks after that. The biggest thing is we have to keep the perspective that it was only one game. It’s not seven or eight in a row or whatever it was. If we come back next week and play a complete polar opposite type of a game and play great against a great opponent and win the game, you can put yourself right back in the mix of everything you are trying to get done. Then you can say you learned a hard lesson and learned it well and go on from there. It’s all about how you perform next week and that’s what our focus has to be on.”

    While it’s clear Philadelphia is perhaps one of the league’s most talented teams, things won’t get any easier for the Rams this week even though they will return home to the comfort of the Edward Jones Dome.

    The defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants come calling this week, boasting an attacking defense similar to the Eagles and a balanced offense.

    But before they worry about the myriad problems the Giants present, the Rams must deal with other scenarios.

    Sunday’s game featured six false start penalties and a number of big plays allowed by the defense. The focus this week will be on eliminating those issues in time for New York’s arrival.

    In addition to fixing the problems that happen between the lines, it’s Linehan’s job to fix any ills happening between the ears of his players. Linehan maintained Monday that his team was prepared and excited about playing the opener.

    When a couple of early breaks went the other way, he says some of that energy was sucked from his tea.

    “I think we lacked our ability to execute and you get enthusiasm through execution,” Linehan said. “You can sit there and cheerlead all you want but if you are not staying on the field and converting third downs and getting positive plays, you are not going to have enthusiasm. The only answer to that is we have to play a heck of a lot better. They were into this game and they are into this season. They know that we didn’t pass test one of sixteen so all of the things that were crucial to our lack of success have to be the opposite this week. If we don’t correct the things that went wrong on Sunday, you are going to repeat the same result which can’t happen.”

    Offensively, many of the problems the Rams had came from the fact that Philadelphia’s defensive scheme happens to be the perfect foil for what the Rams are trying to do.

    Offensive coordinator Al Saunders was brought in during the offseason to fix what ailed that unit in 2007. His offensive philosophy is largely centered on quick, rhythmic throws and balancing the run and the pass.

    Even on the few occasions when his group did that against the Giants, a false start or a protection breakdown would force the Rams into difficult third down situations.

    By the end of the day, the Rams had failed to convert any of their 11 third down opportunities, mostly because they found themselves in third and long more often than not. On their 11 third down plays, the Rams averaged a distance of 10.3 yards to go to pick up a first down.

    “Quite frankly, we are a timing and rhythm offense,” Saunders said. “We didn’t have a lot of that on Sunday quite obviously. The most important down in football in our mind is first down. First down keeps you in a mixed down and distance situation. When you have seven or eight third and 10 or more situations, it’s very very difficult to be a rhythmic timing offense and get in the kind of mode you would like to get into.”

    That mode never really came as the team posted just 166 yards of offense. Saunders did find some positives in the performance, noting that the team put together a drive to at least get some points out of the no huddle offense. Saunders also was impressed with how running back Steven Jackson, center Nick Leckey and tight end Randy McMichael performed.

    Defensively, things weren’t much better. Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb threw for 361 yards and with 220 of those yards coming on four plays. None of those plays were bigger than the third-and-8 pass to Hank Baskett for a 90-yard touchdown catch down the sideline.

    Many assumed based on the number of long pass plays the Eagles had that there were a lot of coverage mix ups and blown assignments. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said that wasn’t necessarily the case.

    “I don’t think there was a lot of confusion, I just don’t think we played very well,” Haslett said. “We didn’t play well; let’s just say it like it is. We didn’t play well on the back end, we didn’t get a lot of pass rush on McNabb up front and the combination was 400 yards passing.”

    The Rams failed to sack McNabb. Like Saunders, Haslett saw a few defensive performances that he liked, specifically mentioning the work of ends Chris Long and James Hall.

    For the Rams to improve this week and put forth a better performance, though, Linehan says there can be no real individual discussions next week at this time. Instead, the focus needs to be on finding a way to win at least two of the three phases of the game.

    Instead of praising Long, it’d be better if Haslett could praise the defensive line. Instead of praising Jackson, Saunders would prefer to compliment his offensive line.

    The process of improving has already begun. The Rams must forget about the opener while also finding a way to use it as motivation so it doesn’t happen again.

    “You have to keep the perspective that it is one game,” Linehan said. “But you have to call it like it is. We didn’t play very well. It’s my job to get the team prepared to play. If you want to put your eyes on the person that didn’t get their job done, it’s me. The accountability factor has to be high across the board. We have to all look at ourselves and say this is not an acceptable performance for our football team. We are going to have to play much better. That’s a simple statement but it’s true.”


  2. #2
    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    “You have to keep the perspective that it is one game,” Linehan said. “But you have to call it like it is. We didn’t play very well. It’s my job to get the team prepared to play. If you want to put your eyes on the person that didn’t get their job done, it’s me. The accountability factor has to be high across the board. We have to all look at ourselves and say this is not an acceptable performance for our football team. We are going to have to play much better. That’s a simple statement but it’s true.”
    At least you know it's your job, you hack. Now maybe you should actually start DOING your job as opposed to saying stupid things like "you can cheerlead all you want but get motivated by executing". Of course you get motivated by success, but you need to start motivated to go out and start making successes! It's obvious that the only reason you were at one time labeled a "guru" was because your head coach motivated the players to go out and perform. Then Moss and Culpepper went a played catch. You had nothing to do with it, you hack.

  3. #3
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    When a couple of early breaks went the other way, he says some of that energy was sucked from his tea.
    Black? Green? Orange Pekoe? Chamomile? Lipton?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    Hey, I'm not knocking Chris Long- he made a really nice play on run to tackle the guy in the backfield and has just been showing steady improvement in general, but he didn't exactly light up the highlight reel. That just shows you how bad the defense played- when his performance is singled out. I'm sorry- but this is the 3rd yr for Linehan and Haslett- we need to stop talking about baby steps and really show improvement.

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    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    Monday, September 8, 2008
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Clearly, it wasn’t the way the Rams hoped the 2008 season would start.

    In what seemed more like a continuation of 2007 than the beginning of something new, the Rams’ 38-3 loss at the hands of a talented Eagles team is more than 24 hours old.


    The process of improving has already begun. The Rams must forget about the opener while also finding a way to use it as motivation so it doesn’t happen again.

    “You have to keep the perspective that it is one game,” Linehan said. “But you have to call it like it is. We didn’t play very well. It’s my job to get the team prepared to play. If you want to put your eyes on the person that didn’t get their job done, it’s me. The accountability factor has to be high across the board. We have to all look at ourselves and say this is not an acceptable performance for our football team. We are going to have to play much better. That’s a simple statement but it’s true.”
    Forgetting about the beating the Eagles laid on our RAMS is easier said than done, especially for us the fans.

    The bottom line is that a win over the Giants no matter how it happens will certainly help us forget about that dreaded Eagles game.

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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    The bottom line is that a win over the Giants no matter how it happens will certainly help us forget about that dreaded Eagles game.
    This much is true- I know all the Eagles fans I work with will never let me live it down, but it would certainly make me feel better if we could win this week and substain it through the season.

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    Quote Originally Posted by RamWraith View Post
    By the end of the day, the Rams had failed to convert any of their 11 third down opportunities, mostly because they found themselves in third and long more often than not. On their 11 third down plays, the Rams averaged a distance of 10.3 yards to go to pick up a first down.
    On average, we had more yards to go on third down than first down. Thank you, false starting linemen. No wonder we couldn't sustain a drive.

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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    I think one thing they need to be working on this week is non stop play counts. Have the offensive line work on their count all day. They need to get 300 straight play counts right or they dont go home.

    Of course, this goes back to team work. The line will help each other remember the count. We'll have our defense in there, showing different plays. Throw in a blitz to see if the line jumps.

    Even if they are at 297 and Barron jumps. Start at 0 and work it back up to 300.

    Thats just my philosophy.

  9. #9
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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    The process of improving has already begun. The Rams must forget about the opener while also finding a way to use it as motivation so it doesn’t happen again.

    Scotty, I do believe the Rams were laughing it up after the opener, so you can cross that one off your list.
    Last edited by HUbison; -09-09-2008 at 03:01 PM. Reason: fixed the function
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  10. #10
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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    I think one thing they need to be working on this week is non stop play counts. Have the offensive line work on their count all day. They need to get 300 straight play counts right or they dont go home.

    Of course, this goes back to team work. The line will help each other remember the count. We'll have our defense in there, showing different plays. Throw in a blitz to see if the line jumps.

    Even if they are at 297 and Barron jumps. Start at 0 and work it back up to 300.

    Thats just my philosophy.
    Yeah! For real! Maybe that will get this jittery offensive line of ours to hold firm, protect Bulger and start making some plays.

  11. #11
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    Re: Rams Begin Search for Solutions

    Quote Originally Posted by moloch41 View Post
    This much is true- I know all the Eagles fans I work with will never let me live it down, but it would certainly make me feel better if we could win this week and substain it through the season.

    just ask them when did they ever win a SB! that should shut them up for a little while atleast..remind them that their beloved Dick Vermiel led them to the superbowl but he won it with us and so on...and the ring he wears has the St.louis Rams on it not eagles!

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