Rams brace for scary 3-game stretch ..
BY JIM THOMAS Sunday, October 16, 2011 12:15 am | 1 Comment
So Steve Spagnuolo, you've just lost your seventh cornerback of the season to the injured reserve list (and No. 3 out of your top four). You're about to face the NFL's No. 4-ranked pass offense (Green Bay), followed by No. 3 (Dallas), and then No. 2 (New Orleans). Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Drew Brees.
Back to back to back. Other than Tom Brady and New England's top-ranked passing offense, this is a tour of THE elite aerialists in the Year of the Forward Pass.
"I needed to know that, huh?" Spagnuolo joked. "You needed to give me that, huh? The thoughts are go out there and play. Go out there, battle, compete. That's what you have to do. We'll make some adjustments along the way scheme-wise, but guys gotta go out there and play."
The gauntlet begins Sunday at Lambeau Field when the Rams (0-4) take on the Packers (5-0) in a noon kickoff. You might get an argument from New England or New Orleans, but this Packers team may be the closest thing to the "Greatest Show on Turf" since the days of Warner, Faulk, Bruce, Holt & company a decade ago.
OK, the Packers don't have anything like Marshall Faulk in their backfield. But with apologies to Roland Williams and Ernie Conwell, the Rams didn't have anything like Jermichael Finley at tight end, either. What both teams had or have, in spades: Multiple options in the passing game. Defenses, even defenses with top-flight secondaries, simply can't cover them all.
Spagnuolo watched on television only bits and pieces of the second half of Green Bay's 25-14 victory at Atlanta last Sunday night
"But I remember at one point (the announcer) saying, 'that's the 11th different receiver,' and then it was the 12th," Spagnuolo said.
Rodgers completed at least one pass to 12 different receivers in that game, tying a Green Bay franchise record.
"That tells you all you need to know about Aaron Rodgers," Spagnuolo said. "He spreads it around and makes them tough to defend. They've got quality players in a lot of spots."
As was the case with Kurt Warner and the Rams way back when, if you're a Packers receiver and you're open, you better have your head turned and be ready for the ball. Because Rodgers will get it there.
"There's no 'dummy' routes," Packers wide receiver Greg Jennings said. "You may think you're on a dummy route or just a clear (out) or whatever. But with No. 12 (Rodgers) having the ball anything can happen. He's trying to find the best matchups, and the first guy open, he's going to be the guy getting the ball. We're trying to race to be the first one open."
And what a race it is. Jennings is clearly the No. 1 receiver of the group. He excels at yards-after-the-catch, adjusts well to the deep ball, is a silky smooth route runner and is totally in sync with Rodgers. At tight end, Finley is a matchup nightmare — 6 feet 5, athletic and with 4.58 speed. He'll frequently line up in the slot or even out wide.
Back at wide receiver, Jordy Nelson is a big, long strider. James Jones will drop a pass or two, but has big-play potential and is coming off a breakout game (five catches, 140 yards) against Atlanta. Veteran Donald Driver is slowing some and his playing time has dipped, but remains tough in the slot. That leaves electrifying rookie Randall Cobb as the No. 5 wide receiver!
"They're scary good," Spagnuolo said.
With his tattered secondary, Spagnuolo and defensive coordinator Ken Flajole might not be able to play as much press man coverage as usual. The Rams might have to sneak in more zone, try to keep the ball in front of them, and minimize the Packers' quick-strike capability.
Justin King and former Packer Al Harris are expected to be the Rams' starting corners Sunday, with another ex-Packer, Josh Gordy, as the third corner. Packers coach Mike McCarthy loves using three- and four-wide receiver sets, so Gordy will be on the field a lot.
This looks like a mismatch of epic proportions, and the Packers have to feel that they can exploit the Rams' secondary.
"Honestly, saying this as respectful as possible, that's just our mindset regardless if they had 10 Pro Bowl corners," Jennings said. "We feel like if we're clicking on all cylinders, if we're taking care of our side of the business and executing at a high level, then it really doesn't matter. ... It doesn't matter who puts that helmet on across from you, what the number is, what the name is, everyone gets the same treatment."
Of course, Rodgers is the one who makes it all click at quarterback. He is as accurate as they come, has displayed improved arm strength since college, throws the ball very well on the run and can break down defenses with his running ability. He never fumbles, never throws the ball up for grabs and always seems to know where he's going with the ball.
"I think he's as good as there is in our game," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "He's pretty awesome back there. He's fun to watch on film. Probably not fun to play against."
Long and the rest of the Rams will find out in person on Sunday.
Re: Rams brace for scary 3-game stretch ..
I know many fellow rammies won't agree with my insanity but hear goes to me going out on a limb. With some tentativenous I would like to say that maybe these next 3 games may not be so scary . So my dilusional reasoning to help explain my position starts out by saying first
GREEN BAY WILL BE OVERCONFIDENT AND WE WILL BE COMING OFF A BYE WEEK AND WILL HAVE HAD THE TIME TO PREPARE A GAME PLAN FOR OUR RUNNING GAME WITH SJ AND CADILLAC TO CONTROL THE GAME WITH THE RUN AND WE WILL REVERT TO LAST YRS SHORT TO MIDDLE PASS GAME TO HELP MOVE THE CHAINS AND KEEP RODGERS OFF THE FIELD. FINALLY THE DEFENSE FOR GB HAS LOOKED VULNERABLE AND WILL BE THEIR WEAK LINK.
NEW ORLEANS - QUITE HONESTLY I HAVE TO SAY THAT SAINTS WILL BREAK THEIR STREAK OF 4 GAMES WITHOUT A TURNOVER WHICH WILL WILL BE TO OUR ADVANTAGE TO KEEP IT CLOSE.
DALLAS- WHAT ONE WORD CAN I USE WHICH COULD MAKE A DIFFERANCE (ROMO)