Rams take away a victory over Bears - PD
Rams take away a victory over Bears
By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
Friday, Aug. 12 2005
The Rams escaped Friday's preseason opener with no injuries of note, some work
to do offensively and a little momentum on defense. As August football goes,
that's not a bad night's work.
It all added up to a 17-13 victory over the Chicago Bears at the Edward Jones
Dome in the preseason opener for St. Louis. The Bears, who played Miami on
Monday in the Hall of Fame game, are 1-1 in preseason, but more importantly
lost quarterback Rex Grossman for three to four months Friday with a broken
"We came out of this thing clean injurywise, which is a plus," coach Mike Martz
said. "But I'm just heartsick over Rex Grossman. That's one of those things
that's a coach's nightmare. It's a team's nightmare."
At least on this night, it wasn't St. Louis' nightmare.
The revamped St. Louis defense, featuring new linebackers Chris Claiborne and
Dexter Coakley, got off on the right foot Friday, posting three-and-out series
on Chicago's first two offensive possessions. All told, the Bears had only one
first down and 25 yards of offense in the opening quarter before the Rams
started sprinkling in reserves in the second quarter.
"That first group on defense was really going good," Martz said. "We'll just
see how it carries on."
During that opening quarter, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy got consistent
penetration up the middle, Claiborne made his presence felt on run support and
outside linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa was all over the field.
"We're trying to come out this year and show that we've improved on defense,"
defensive end Anthony Hargrove said. "And as you can see, the first half we
were real stout. And then our defense was in position to win the game for us
(at the end), and that's what they did."
Tinoisamoa forced a fumble early in the second quarter on a carry by Chicago
running back Thomas Jones. Cornerback DeJuan Groce, who was starting in place
of the injured Jerametrius Butler, recovered for the Rams. "We just did a good
job of pursuing to the ball," Groce said. "Big things happen when you get to
In the third quarter, Rams cornerback Corey Ivy intercepted a Kyle Orton pass
that was tipped by 6-foot-6 defensive end Vontrell Jamison. Ivy joined the Rams
this year from Tampa Bay. The interception gave the Rams two takeaways for the
night, which may not seem like a big deal until you realize it's twice as many
as the Rams had all of last preseason.
It became three takeaways on the final play of the game when rookie safety
Oshiomogho Atogwe intercepted a "Hail Mary" pass from former Illinois
quarterback Kurt Kittner at the goal line.
"There's been a lot more stressing of takeaways, just because our turnover
ratio was low last year," Groce said. "We've just been working on it in
That paucity of preseason takeaways a year ago foreshadowed what would happen
in the '04 regular season, when the Rams' defense came up with only 15
takeaways in 16 games.
Things were more ragged for St. Louis on the other side of the ball. In terms
of the skill positions, the Rams played their regulars on offense for three
series. There were few highlights, save for Steven Jackson's 33-yard run on a
nifty cutback move on the Rams' second play from scrimmage.
St. Louis reached the Chicago 24 on its second possession, but on second and 9,
Marc Bulger's overthrown pass over the middle was intercepted by Charles
Tillman at the Bears 7.
"The ball just took off; other than that he was fine," Martz said. "When he
hasn't played, things just go a little fast for him. So we'll play him about a
half next week (against San Diego) and get him going."
Earlier in the series, a Bulger pass intended for Brandon Manumaleuna was
picked off by safety Mike Brown. But that turnover was negated by an illegal
contact penalty against Chicago.
So Bulger wasn't overly impressive, completing three of five passes for 38
yards before calling it a night. Jackson had seven carries for 47 yards.
In an interesting twist, Marshall Faulk saw duty in a handful of plays in the
role as a third-down back. In his previous six seasons in St. Louis, Faulk
almost never played until the third preseason game.
With career guard Rex Tucker starting at right tackle, and Matt Willig starting
at left tackle, the Rams had some protection problems in the first half,
particularly on deeper drops by the quarterback. Tucker, who had never played
tackle in the NFL before Friday, gave up a sack and was guilty of a false start
penalty. Willig, whose first practice with the Rams came on Tuesday, also
yielded a sack.
But the Rams got things going with Jamie Martin at quarterback in the second
and third quarters. Completing nine of 11 passes over one stretch, Martin threw
a 7-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Curtis with 1 minute 23 seconds to play in the
first half, then tossed a 5-yard TD pass to Shaun McDonald with 10:07 to play
in the third. Both the TD drives went 70 yards-plus.
Martin gave way to Harvard rookie Ryan Fitzpatrick midway through the third
quarter. Fitzpatrick engineered a field-goal drive on his first series, with
Remy Hamilton's 33-yard kick giving the Rams a 17-7 lead with 2:44 left in the
Re: Rams take away a victory over Bears - PD
I'm eating crow on this one too! Martin and Fitzpatrick looked very good!..........Still do not understand why Smoker's not getting any reps!...Hope he has seen Martin enough to let Smoker play alot more this week! Let us see what kind of talent the kid has Coach!........You need to insert some confidence in him! By giving him some playing time! Thats what pre season is for!
As a fan i could see the lack of confidence that Smoker had last night when, finally MM put him in! As a coach myself (at a Lower level of course) i could see it in him! All the kid needs is playing time! Then if he doen't cut it cut him! Period ,dont let him always wonder whether or not he could have played this game at this level withouyt having a fair shot behind center!
Point is this!...........If you thought so highly of him to use a draft pick on him then let him play! Otherwise you have just wasted another draft pick that maybe you could have used elsewheres! Give the kid a shot dammit! Let them decide their fate nor you! Coaches are just that ! A coach and if you never give someone the chance to grow they never will!.....................This might help you down the line when you with the players and fans like myself!.......................We or they can never say that Mike Martz wasn't fair with his player's! He'd give you a shot at earning your roster spot at least!