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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Rams starters were shoved around

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    08/24/2009

    The Rams are back at work, preparing for their third preseason game of the season.

    Here is what they must focus on:

    1. Blocking.

    2. Tackling.

    The Rams challenge is that fundamental. Their first-unit players neither blocked or tackled well during Friday nightís preseason loss to Atlanta.

    As a result, the Falcons starters shoved them around.

    What happened after that was more encouraging. Several of the depth players made a positive impression as coach Steve Spagnuolo continued his sorting process.

    But their first quarter was alarming. The Rams fell behind 14-0 immediately.

    Their offensive line was missing starters Jacob Bell and Alex Barron and it showed. The group did an OK job protecting quarterback Kyle Boller early on, but they didnít clear running room against the Falcons defense.

    On defense, their first unit offered token resistance as the Falcons marched for touchdowns. A LOT went wrong for that group.

    ďI do think our guys would tell you they would have liked to have tackled better,Ē Spanguolo said after the game. ďThatís just defensive football. You have got to tackle.Ē

    At his Saturday news conference, he added this: ďYou go against a good running football team, itís a good challenge. I donít think I did a good job getting them ready for that challenge and Iím going to take the hit on that. Atlanta had some nice little twists in there in some of their run game. And when they hit that second play of the game for the long run, you know it tends to get you on your heels and we canít do that. You just got to get back to basics and play football.Ē

    Here were some other impressions:

    * Playing in place of injured quarterback Marc Bulger, Kyle Boller showed good mobility and made some nice throws. He also misfired at critical points of the first half. He looks like a decent fit as a back-up in this system, but no more.

    * Rookie right tackle Jason Smith still has some work to do. With Alex Barron out because of a minor knee injury, he got to play with the first team with Adam Goldberg playing the left side. Would the Rams be better off having Smith play the left side?

    * Receiver Laurent Robertson put on a show as Bollerís No. 1 target. His highlight was a 25-yard catch and run on third down. He would have had a big TD score, too, but Boller overthrew him after Robinson gained major separation streaking toward the end zone.

    * Receiver Keenan Burton made a nice catch and tightrope run up the right sideline to advance the Rams into the red zone late in the first half. With rookie Brooks Foster possibly shelved for the season by ankle surgery, the Rams need Burton to stay healthy and produce.

    * Running back Steven Jackson got out of the game after rushing three times for 10 yards. Fear not, though; he is healthy and the Rams know what to expect from Jackson when he is healthy.

    * Running back Samkon Gado didnít advance his case for the No. 2 role. His blocking wasnít great and his running wasnít great. That added up to five yards rushing on 12 carries. He salvaged the night with some decent kickoff returns.

    Gado and Boller botched a red-zone exchange, costing their team at least three points. Might the Rams give veteran running back Ahman Green a call back during the next few days?

    * Kickoff returner Kenneth Darby didnít get anywhere on his first three attempts. His blocking wasnít great and his running wasnít great. Later, he salvaged his night with one big, timely run from scrimmage.

    * Star-crossed cornerback Tye Hill turned the wrong way at the end of the 14-yard touchdown pass from Matt Ryan to Tony Gonzalez. Had he turned the right way, though, he would have needed a ladder to defend the destined Hall of Fame tight end.

    * Outside linebacker Will Witherspoon read a D.J. Shockley pass in the second quarter, jumped the route . . . and dropped the pick. But at least he read the play.

    * Rookie middle linebacker James Laurinaitis had a right-place, right-time interception right after that -- picking off a pass off the carom.

    * Cornerback Ron Bartell stayed in coverage during a Shockley scramble, made a nice break on the pass and nearly got the pick.

    * Some blitz recognition issues arose during the second quarter, forcing Boller to run for his life. Sometimes he didnít make it.

    * Tight end Daniel Fells got loose for a nice 16-yard reception from Brock Berlin, the second quarterback into the game. Berlin advanced his case in his battle with rookie Keith Null for the No. 3 quarterback spot.

    * An unfortunate holding call on Ronald Curry took some big downfield yardage away from fellow receiver Derek Stanley. Curry didnít show much as a receiver, but he is learning the offense on the fly.

    * Stanley looked very dangerous catching quick short passes and taking off with the ball. And Derek really helped himself by catching a 20-yard TD pass from Berlin. He ran a nice route and made a nice catch.

    Later, Stanley hurt himself by dropping a wide-open pass in a classic case of running before he had the ball. But his overall performance eased the sting of the Foster injury.

    * Outside linebacker Larry Grant helped himself by forcing a fumble with a blitz sack. (Big Hollis Thomas, getting in better shape by the day, hustled after the loose ball and got the recovery).

    * Rookie defensive tackle Darell Scott helped himself with a nice third-quarterback sequence, following a sturdy run stuff with a quarterback sack. If he can stay healthy, he can earn his place on the team. He has lost critical practice time in this preseason.

    * The Falcons made a lot of big plays on back-up safety Todd Johnsonís watch, but he bounced back to make a diving interception on a deflected pass. That was helpful, since he is battling David Roach for a roster spot.

    * Roach didnít help himself with his (lack of) open-field tackling.

    * Running with the reserves, running back Antonio Pittman helped himself by actually getting through a few holes.

    * Tight end Billy Bajemaís bulldozing catch and run for 16 yards reminded us that he is more than just a strong run blocker. Then he ran a couple of nice routes to catch passes from Null.

    * Null, by the way, was most impressive in the fourth quarter. His battle with Berlin is spirited. His bid for a last-second touchdown pass went through the hands of Joe Klopfenstein (go figure), then he threw a game-ending interception.

    So after a mostly positive Week 1 in the preseason, the Rams came back with a discouraging Week 2 performance. Spagnuolo doesnít believe in live tackling drills in practice -- due to the injury risk -- but the Rams can expect a renewed since of urgency around Rams Park.

    They cannot allow Friday nightís struggle to become indicative of where this team is headed in í09. They must get off their heels and get back on the attack.


  2. #2
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Cornerback Ron Bartell stayed in coverage during a Shockley scramble, made a nice break on the pass and nearly got the pick.
    Ronnie's got to come down with that one in the season.

    I think the combination of .......
    Tight end Billy Bajemaís bulldozing catch and run for 16 yards reminded us that he is more than just a strong run blocker. Then he ran a couple of nice routes to catch passes from Null.
    ......and.....
    Null, by the way, was most impressive in the fourth quarter. His battle with Berlin is spirited. His bid for a last-second touchdown pass went through the hands of Joe Klopfenstein (go figure), then he threw a game-ending interception.
    .....will contribute significantly to the extinction of the North American Horned Klopfenstein.
    "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

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Kyle Boller played so bad we should dump him and keep, Null and Berlin. Berlin is playing as better then Boller.

  4. #4
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    Kyle Boller played so bad we should dump him and keep, Null and Berlin. Berlin is playing as better then Boller.
    As crazy as this scenario might sound, the same thing was running through my head. I do not see what Boller has done that indicates he is a better QB than either Berlin or Null ...

    Now, Null has been playing against bottom feeding competition, but he does look composed in the pocket, and seems to be in touch with his ability ...

    Berlin is having his second straight fairly solid preseason ....

    I, personally, would cut Boller, and run with Bulger, Berlin, Null. If Bulger goes down, the season is probably going to be scrapped anyway, so let the young guys play and grow ....

    Boller has serious problems with accuracy from what I have seen. That has been the case his entire career. He just doesn't have "it" ...

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    As much as I want to say something positive about Boller, I really just can't. If we were a competitive team lookingtowards the playoffs, I would almost certainly back him up, but considering that we'd have to be the reincarnation of the 99 Rams to do that, I really don't think that it would be that bad of an idea. Infiniti's right, if Bulger goes down, the season's scrapped anyway, so why not give both of the kids a shot? I can't believe I'm saying that!

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    I was excited to read that we brought in Boller. My thinking was maybe a change of scenery would do him good. He has had his chances in Baltimore and couldn't cut the mustard but maybe we are jumping the gun on wanting to cut him loose and keep Berlin and Null? Boller should at least be given a fair chance to prove himself on a new team and in a new system. In my opinion Berlin is the odd man out but that's just me.

  7. #7
    RebelYell's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Boller is better than Berlin. I can't understand why anyone thinks Berlin is the answer to anything.

    Considering how below average Smith has been in pass protection, why are people still wondering if he should be playing on the left side? Pass blocking was his weakness in college, he's proving it is still his weakness and people continue to want to move him to the blind side. I don't get it.

  8. #8
    LA Rammer's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Nobody is talking about Tye Hill getting turned around by old Tony Gonzalez for a TD. Tye better step up!
    LA RAMMER

    It's Jim not Chris
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HNgqQVHI_8

  9. #9
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    I was excited to read that we brought in Boller. My thinking was maybe a change of scenery would do him good. He has had his chances in Baltimore and couldn't cut the mustard but maybe we are jumping the gun on wanting to cut him loose and keep Berlin and Null? Boller should at least be given a fair chance to prove himself on a new team and in a new system. In my opinion Berlin is the odd man out but that's just me.
    Exactly! We've only played two preseason games so far, and Boller is learning a new system with receivers that he's had no prior experience with. Couple that with the fact our O-line is still in a state of flux and Jackson only getting token touches, then it seems quite a stretch to expect Boller to set the world on fire two games into the preseason. Hey .. at least he can run, and from all accounts so far, this is an attribute that will serve Kyle well adding to the possibility he'll emerge alive after the last preseason game..

  10. #10
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Ahman Green is sounding better and better after the last game. Does anybody else get that feeling?

  11. #11
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Quote Originally Posted by viper View Post
    Ahman Green is sounding better and better after the last game. Does anybody else get that feeling?

    As much as I want us to have a solid back-up to SJ, Ahman Green sounds like "cash for clunkers" to me. He's past his prime and we should work with a younger runner who will be around for a few more years. Just my humble opinon.

    Go Rams!

  12. #12
    viper's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Quote Originally Posted by mde8352gorams View Post
    As much as I want us to have a solid back-up to SJ, Ahman Green sounds like "cash for clunkers" to me. He's past his prime and we should work with a younger runner who will be around for a few more years. Just my humble opinon.

    Go Rams!
    I agree with the youth movement. I'm just not so sure we have the right youth in place. I'm talking about a possible stop gap measure until we find the right young lad. Maybe he is already on the team...again, maybe he's not.

    Gado, Darby and Pittman all have potential, I suppose. Gado showed promise with the one big run. But, then again that could have been a fluke. 12 carries for 5 yards in game two doesn't inspire much confidence. Darby looks like a strong runner and may prove to be solid and Pittman has shown some flashes for getting through holes. I guess I'm just getting impatient with that backup RB position and would really like to get that shored up.

    Much work left to be done on this team, in many areas, Grasshopper. That's for sure.

  13. #13
    Toprank Guest

    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    Exactly! We've only played two preseason games so far, and Boller is learning a new system with receivers that he's had no prior experience with. Couple that with the fact our O-line is still in a state of flux and Jackson only getting token touches, then it seems quite a stretch to expect Boller to set the world on fire two games into the preseason. Hey .. at least he can run, and from all accounts so far, this is an attribute that will serve Kyle well adding to the possibility he'll emerge alive after the last preseason game..
    I agree with Maui, you guys are crazy. Boller is 9 for 16 for 91 yards which is decent, but not bad or great.

    But when you look at all the factors it's better than it may appear. Consider he's going against the falcons first D who were using many different blitz packages. 1) With a RB that didn't really play much last year (Gado), they had virtually no running game. Anytime you average less than 3 yards per carry, it makes the QB's job very difficult. 2) career back up receivers or rookies at the receiver position. His stronger arm than the other three QB's allows him to throw to the WR's much more. However, the rams receivers are probably one of the worst corps in the NFL and consider Avery was not playing would make things even more difficult. 3) The offensive line was a make shift line. He was put on the ground on 10 of his passes. 4) Plus, he had less than one week of preparation with the so called 1's.

    Consider those 4 factors what do you guys expect 13/16 2 td?? You guys are not very realistic or don't know that much about football.
    Last edited by Toprank; -08-26-2009 at 12:07 AM.

  14. #14
    Jeff Roman Guest

    Re: Rams Starters Were Shoved Around

    Honestly, I'm not worried about Boller. He's got a cannon for an arm and missed all of last year to injury, so he's getting his touch back.

    Ahman Green is not the answer either (or TJ Duckett for that matter). Green hasn't played a full season since he left Green Bay.

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