Subj: The Field Goal: Rams Shaky Start Edge Cards.
The St. Louis Rams came close to the mountaintop in 2003, but fell to the hungry upstart Panthers. Mike Martz's and company return one of the NFL's top notch offensive units.
But as the Rams prepared for the 2004 season as the reigning NFC West Champions, major concerns remained in the Gateway City.
The departure of Kurt Warner, Grant Wistrom, and Orlando Pace's holdout were all major worries. The question marks are the focus of the this team. Will Bulger be as good as prescribed by the football land? Will Orlando Pace return in time? And the ultimate million dollar question-Will Marshall Faulk be as durable as those championship seasons of ago?
With the addition of first round pick Steve Jackson, the Rams are hoping he can spark another offensive year and combined with the aging Faulk, maybe another Super Bowl run. The Rams are an offensive sound unit with Bulger, Holt, and Bruce. But defensively there are a lot of issues. The corners and safeties are major concerns.
Now this is Marc Bulger's team and the only Achilles heel is will he be able to beat the Seahawks when it counts. And will he be as good as billed over the offseason.
For Dennis Green and the Cards. It is a new beginning. Green brings instant credibility to a franchise that is poorly managed and owned. But enough of the Cards. The Cards were coming to the 2004 season very optimistic and why not. They have a new start with the NFL's All Time rushing leader in the once great Emmitt Smith. The additions of promising draft picks in Josh McCown, Larry Fitzgerald, and Josh Scobey, will allow Dennis Green some hope of promise in the Arizona heat. By the end of the season will we be seeing a transition to winning or mirage from the desert heat.
It's been about eight months since Super Bowl 38 and now the drive for Super Bowl 39 begins. The St. Louis Rams begin the journey after a horrible ending at the hands of the Carolina Panthers and the forgetful loss at the Detroit Lions. On Sunday Sept 12th, 2004, the Rams versus the Cards was a memory game for the fans. The former team versus the current staples. Emmitt Smith versus Marshall Faulk "The Battle of the Aging Running Backs." Both players coming into the game wanting to show that they still have fuel left to compete at this level. And a promising future ahead in the draft picks, and how they will fair when it counts.
Marc Bulger versus Josh McCown is not the match up of the season, but for Bulger game one is the gauge by the fans as to how well he will perform and will he be worth all the money committed. For the receiving core on the Rams, there was no stopping the tandem of Bruce and Holt. They should be called "Dynamic Duo." Isaac Bruce was 9 for 112 yards and one touchdown late in the 4th quarter to secure the win. Torry Holt was 7 for 96 yards. Overall Bulger was 23 of 34 for 272 yards with one interception. The Rams played OK with some turnovers. But not impressive enough to put confidence that this team is a solid unit. With Dane Looker looking very shaken and the tight ends weak. Marshall Faulk had a good game going 22 for 128yds. And Steven Jackson was 7 for 50yds with a starters fluke fumble. This 17-10 win by the Rams can only be summed up as a horrible performance overall.
For Dennis Green and the Cards. This loss in St. Louis was pathetic, considering the other team had three turnovers. All the turnovers unfortunately were in Arizona territory. Josh McCown's debut was as expected rusty. But the young bird was 18 of 29 for 181 and a touchdown. Emmitt Smith was solid and very involved. He had 18 rushes for 87 yards and one touchdown. The other stand outs were Larry Fitzgerald and Freddie Jones who combined for 10 catches for 109 yds. But as for the Cards the deck of cards were dealt bad. Emmitt Smith summed up the Cards feelings by commenting,"The way I see it, it wasn't a good game. there's no way that a team (Rams) that turned the ball over should be winning the game."
For the Rams and Marc Bulger this proves one thing and one thing only, that Bulger is not vintage Warner and interceptions are still clear. But what the heck, we still have Chris Concussion Prone Chandler as back up for insurance. Mike Martz if I can remember right stated," I just felt the team needed change. My observation was the team responded so well to Marc, it became more about Marc and less about Kurt." So, with 21 of 22 starters, the Rams entered 2004 with a win believing they are as good as anyone in the NFC.
The Field Goal
Oscar F Lopez