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    RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    RamView, November 20, 2005
    From Row HH
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Game 10: Cardinals 38, Pathetic Losers 28

    They kissed the division good-bye last week, and the Rams can kiss the 2005 season goodbye after today's uninspired, unintelligent, undisciplined, gutless and pathetic performance.

    Position by position:
    * QB: One of the most startling numbers of this disappointing Ram season is 6, which is apparently going to be the number of games Marc Bulger will start and finish, after Adrian Wilson dropped him with a likely re-sprained throwing shoulder and a mild concussion in the 3rd quarter. Marc was on his way to a super game until that point, even after another trademark slow start. When he left the game, Marc was 19-24 for 224 yards, with a passer rating around 133. He threw a pinpoint 22-yard TD to Torry Holt in the 2nd to put the Rams ahead 10-3, and in the 3rd, he made a spectacular play, shaking off a blitzing LB and putting an absolutely perfect long ball into Isaac Bruce’s hands for a 46-yard TD. Both Holt and Bruce were pretty closely covered on their TD catches, so Marc needed to make those throws as good as he did. With the running game doing nothing, it looked like Marc’s downfield passing game could save the day, but instead, he’s hurt again, and Marc’s non-durability is another cloud that will hang over Rams Park this offseason. I admire Marc’s skill and toughness, but when he can’t even finish half the games in a season, I have to wonder if the Rams don’t have to look for a sturdier QB for the future. Jamie Martin did have a nice game in relief, 14-19-161. He slipped some blitzes surprisingly well and hit Holt and Kevin Curtis with long passes, Kevin’s a late 26-yard TD. Martin’s timing was bad early on, and his fumble on a sack late in the game led to Arizona’s last TD, but even though the Rams led 17-16 when he came in, Jamie was not any reason at all that the Rams lost. Combine the two QBs, they’re 33-43-385, 3 TDs, no INTs. Heck of a game.

    * RB: The "Train" blew up in the station, as Steven Jackson managed a miserable six yards on 12 attempts against one of the league's worst run defenses. Besides the one successful draw play the Rams ran, Steven spent the day running sideways not very fast and getting nailed in the backfield. While I'm pretty sure Steven didn't receive a decent block all day, he didn't help his cause with indecisive running, and I don't think he broke a single tackle today or put a decent fake on anybody. He fumbled at the Arizona 23, creating at least a six-point swing, since the Cards converted that turnover into a FG to go up 13-10 at halftime. Jackson also had a bad day picking up the Arizona blitz. He gave up two sacks to blitzmaniac Adrian Wilson, including the play where Wilson sacked and injured Bulger. He also blew the pickup badly when Martin was sacked and fumbled in the 4th. And for all the literally dozens of times Wilson blitzed, Jackson never hit him hard, never discouraged him from coming after Rams QBs all day. For a physical RB, Steven didn't show much today. The "good" news is he probably won't have a worse game in his career.

    * WR: The Rams’ big three receivers put up big numbers and were rare bright spots. Torry Holt (11-129) did his best to take over the game. He got involved early and caught the Rams’ first TD. Torry had any DB covering him outclassed, he won any 50/50 ball thrown his way, and besides the 129 receiving yards, he also drew a 41-yard interference penalty. Torry also set up a FG with a 37-yard pass from Martin. Isaac Bruce (4-83) fought his turf toe injury but still got behind the secondary for a beautiful 46-yard bomb from Bulger in the 3rd. Kevin Curtis got a lot of time in Bruce’s place. He had three catches on the Bruce TD drive and ended the game with a terrific sliding catch between two defenders for a 26-yard TD. Brandon Manumaleuna (0-0) became the Invisible Man after last week’s fumble, but that’s probably justifiable.

    * Offensive line: Bad stats – six yards rushing, five sacks, one injured starting QB – make the offensive line look far worse than they played, though they didn't play that well. Jackson did not get much running room. Claude Terrell did more harm than good on Jackson's fumble, getting in the way just as Steven was about to cut inside a pancake block by Madison Hedgecock. Steven shoved big Claude out of the way, but Orlando Huff snuck in and knocked the ball loose. A lot of Arizona's success came from blitzing the Rams' repeated and predictable attempts to run outside. That's the scheme's fault more than the line's. Alex Barron committed an early false start and got beaten by Chike Okeafor for a sack in the 2nd, even despite tripping him illegally. But that was the only sack a lineman allowed. Wilson beat Manu for the Cards' first sack, and Jackson gave up the other three, though one of Wilson’s would fairly be called a coverage sack. For the second straight week, though, Jackson and Terrell got crossed up over which man was supposed to pick up a blitzer, and it cost the Rams big, as Wilson steamed in unblocked late in the 3rd and put Bulger out of the game. Did they control the line of scrimmage? Hardly. But it’s a team game, and Steven Jackson and Steve Fairchild are at more fault today for problems that traditionally fall on the shoulders of offensive lines.

    * Defensive line/LB: This unit is such a disgrace that if none of them came back starting next week, you’d barely notice. Maybe you’d miss Brandon Green, who started at RDE and forced a Kurt Warner fumble early in the game that led to a FG. Damnably, that turned out to be the Rams’ last sack of the game. You wouldn’t miss Leonard Little, the most disappointing player on the team. The only time he got near Warner today was committing a stupid late hit on Kurt late in the game. Leonard is useless; he has done nothing the last two weeks and barely has half as many sacks this season as Bryce Fisher. Per usual, the Rams barely blitzed and rarely put even a little pressure on Warner. Except for D-Lew recovering Warner’s fumble, the middle of the line was once again useless. D-Lew started ahead of Jimmy Kennedy; that’s how worthless Kennedy has turned out to be. It doesn’t take an anonymous veteran to see the DTs stink when Arizona has its average rushing yards per game by halftime. You’d never miss Chris Claiborne and Dexter Coakley, who, with one tackle for loss between them this week, aren’t exactly dominating the line of scrimmage. This defense’s poster-child moment came on Anquan Boldin’s 13-yard TD in the 2nd. Once he got to the 5, SEVEN Rams missed opportunities to tackle him. Pisa Tinoisamoa whiffed on him like a total amateur. (No wonder he only had TWO tackles on the day.) D-Lew, Brandon Chillar and Mike Furrey all dived at air, effectively tackling each other. Jerome Carter got caught flat-footed, and Corey Ivy couldn’t corral Boldin at the goal line, but that all came after Ron Bartell’s cringing, eyes-closed “effort” at a tackle that earns him the Massengill Player of the Week award. And boy, did these idiots kill themselves with penalties. Little jumped offsides on a 3rd-and-4, and his idiotic penalty for roughing Warner erased a 3rd-and-11 and allowed Arizona to finish a TD drive. Pisa committed holding on a 2nd-and-16 screen pass that let Arizona get into position for a FG. Chris Johnson’s illegal use of hands, away from the play, erased a 3rd-and-12 and let Arizona drive on for another TD. Holy cats, the Ram defense has invented a new stat: Points Off Penalties. New though this stat may be, I’m guessing 17 isn’t a good POP total for a defense. But what about the Ram defense is good? They’re tentative, they’re undisciplined, they can’t tackle, they rarely hit hard, and they can’t pressure the QB. Blow the whole thing up. These guys are all disgraces to their uniforms.

    * Secondary: With Travis Fisher in street clothes and DeJuan Groce (sprained neck) and Adam Archuleta (concussion) colliding early in the game, the Ram secondary was basically down to four raw rookies: true rookies Carter and Bartell, inexperienced Chris Johnson, and Mike Furrey the converted WR. Bartell was brutal and looks like an awful draft pick at this point. He looked afraid to tackle Boldin (8-105) on Anquan’s 2nd quarter TD. Larry Fitzgerald (9-104) completely schooled Bartell and scored a TD off a simple curl to the sideline that the entire stadium saw coming, save for Ron. Somebody called Adam Bergen scored a TD at the beginning of the 4th, as the Rams looked confused before the snap, Chillar didn’t cover Bergen the TE at all, when that would seem to be his play, and Bartell couldn't change directions in time to clean up. Chris Johnson had a couple of nice hits and pass breakups, and Tinoisamoa made the Rams’ biggest hit of the season to break up a pass over the middle, but there wasn’t enough of that, and too much leaving bigger cushions than Missouri drivers leave between each other on the interstate. Plus Johnson committed a crucial penalty in the 4th that let Arizona drive on for the lead. Inexperience or otherwise, there’s not a whole lot of good play coming from this unit, today, or all season, really.

    * Special teams: As is their custom, Ram special teams saved their worst play for the worst possible time, letting Reggie Swinton return a 4th quarter kickoff 90 yards after the Rams had pulled to within 24-20. This was actually a well-blocked return on the Cards' part. Trev Faulk got manhandled right out of his lane, which Swinton then took, and the Rams' outside containment of Arlen Harris and (I think) Chris Johnson was itself contained by good blocks from a couple of Arizona big men. Bye-bye Reggie; bye-bye game. This came after Jeff Wilkins helped save a TD return earlier in the game. Bob Ligashesky is falling into Bobby April's stupid trap of not letting Wilkins kick off deep. Touchbacks only come out to the 20, coach. It looks as if David Allen actually knows how to return kickoffs, but the lasting special teams memory from this clinker is that they once again gave up a big play on returns right when the team was rallying.

    * Coaching/discipline: The Rams ran 60 plays today, and I am not exaggerating when I say that Arizona SS Adrian Wilson blitzed 50 times. The Ram players never made him pay for it physically, and OC Steve Fairchild never made the Cardinals pay for it strategically. Fairchild called one draw play. ONE! And it worked. He called only one or two screen or swing passes, plays that other teams always seem to bash the Ram blitz with. There was very little quick passing aimed at defusing the blitz, which is unconscionable. Like I said with Martz earlier this year, it’s like the coaches are trying to get the QBs killed. When the Rams did quick-pass, it was always to the outside, away from the area Wilson vacated, instead of to his side of the field, doing nothing to keep the overaggressive safety off-balance. The running game mainly bombed because of Fairchild’s awful playcalling, calling sweeps all day long for a downhill back, while doing almost no running up the middle. And Fairchild apparently isn’t aware there’s a RB on the roster accomplished in catching blitz-beating passes and picking up blitzers, who could have spelled a very-struggling Jackson. Marshall Who? Fairchild was such a disaster today that: 1, you know why Martz kept the play-calling duties all that time; and 2, there’s no real reason to want him back here next season.
    No real reason to want HC Joe Vitt back next season, either, not when you can’t show better than this against the Freaking Big Dead, not when you flop miserably at home against one of the NFL’s very worst road teams. The team looked completely flat, and is playing with less and less discipline every week. Vitt didn’t have his players motivated for a critical game, and he also seems to have backed off from influencing the offense to be more run-based and the defense to be more aggressive strategically. The head coach has got to be more involved than making folksy witticisms at press conferences. I’m not giving Vitt a lot of heat for settling for the FG down 24-17, though, because either way, Larry Marmie’s defense was going to have to stop somebody, which ain’t happening anytime soon.
    There was no real reason to ever want Marmie here in the first place. The man is the worst assistant coach in 11 years of St. Louis Rams football. Since 2002, Kurt Warner has struggled mightily against the blitz, fumbled, and made poor throws, but instead of throwing the kitchen sink at him, Marmie barely even threw a Dixie cup, blitzing perhaps five times. Marmie countered Arizona’s defensive hyper-aggression with total passivity – constant, ineffective 4-man rushes and soft zone pass “coverage.” In an environment that calls for aggression, Marmie is like a Buddhist at a bar fight, and no, that’s not counting Shaolin monks. Maybe we should get one of those guys to run the defense. Marmie is having a less effective year than the old FEMA director, and deserved to be fired weeks ago. Hell, he deserved to be fired during last season. If you fired Marmie right now and replaced him with a chimp with a learning disability, nobody except the guy who cleans the coach’s booth after games would be any the wiser.

    * Upon further review: Terry McAulay and crew called many critical penalties on both teams, but a high majority of the calls looked proper, and the game seemed well-officiated. Radio didn’t like the call on Wilson, but that is consistently flagged in the NFL. The worst call by far came in the 4th when they picked up an illegal contact flag that Wilson richly earned after tackling Shaun McDonald at the 10. You can chuck a receiver in the first five yards, but you can't tackle him. That flag should have stood. Instead, the Rams settle for a FG to make it 24-20, and it would turn out to be their last chance to get back into the game.

    * Cheers: The Rams' pregame playoff hopes aside, the Dome crowd apparently came to today's game for one reason – to root for Kurt Warner. Kurt got the biggest ovation of the day when he took the field for the first time, which, given the team Kurt plays for, didn't exactly thrill me, but I was decidedly in the minority. Unfortunately, the crowd rarely duplicated their enthusiastic noise for Kurt in support of the actual home team. Arizona did commit four false starts and took a timeout for crowd noise, but even with that, Warner didn't have a terrible time audibling, (whaddya know, he can do that) because there usually wasn't that much noise. I'm certainly not seeing the point of yelling my head off every play, when a) I'm the only one I observe doing it and b) the reward for my efforts is crap like Chris Johnson committing a penalty away from the play on 3rd-and-12. So the next home game will be a little bit quieter. But hopefully, there'll be more actual Rams fans at it, barring an irresistible wave of nostalgia for Matt Bowen. Yay, Kurt, whatever, today was an all-time low for this franchise in St. Louis. P.S. Burn the *** **** blue pants already, will ya?

    * Who’s next?: The Rams have been a poor road team for a couple of years, and now, they're just a poor team, so there's little reason to make them much of a favorite over even the 1-9 Houston Texans in Reliant Stadium next Sunday. Texan QB David Carr has suffered an erratic career so far, thanks to Houston's porous offensive line, which again leads the league in sacks allowed, with a whopping 47. Carr gets hammered (or nailed) more often than Tara Reid at spring break; if the Ram pass rush can't get to him, they're never going to get to anybody. And thanks to the sideline presence of Larry Marmie, I wouldn't get my hopes up. Houston's offense is very limited: the biggest weapon, RB Domanick Davis, has just 4 TDs this year. To make up for poor blocking, Carr throws mostly quick-drop, short passes to a mediocre set of receivers, including the VERY disappointing Andre Johnson, though Johnson's size automatically makes him a threat to gash the awful Ram secondary. Maybe he'll even have a game where he gains over 50 yards! (Gee, wonder if he's on my fantasy team?) The worst news for the Rams is that Houston's special teams are coming off a good game against the Chiefs, with a kickoff return TD and a long punt return.
    Houston's defense is #32 in the NFL against the run, over 20 yards a game behind even the woeful Ram defense. They're near the bottom of the league with a very low 14 sacks on the season (even the Rams have 23). In a refrain that'll sound familiar, the Texans' high draft picks on defense aren't doing much. 2005 1st-rounder Travis Johnson has just 21 tackles. 2004 1st-rounder Jason Babin has only 15. 2004 high 1st-rounder Dunta Robinson is tied for the team lead in INTs. With one. (The Texans have three.) One warning, since the Rams seem completely unable to handle it, is that Houston blitzed Kansas City heavily on Sunday night. Assuming Martin's starting again, that plays right into his short-passing style, but will Steve Fairchild have the sense to exploit that, or to use Jackson on draws to beat the blitz, or to run him up the middle, where the Texans are weak? Search me. Houston stinks on both sides of the ball – that's why they're 1-9. But there's plenty of reasons that make the Rams 4-6, and shame on all of them, from top to bottom, that they can no longer be counted on to win games over teams as awful as Arizona, San Francisco or Houston.

    -- Mike
    Game stats from nfl.com
    Last edited by HUbison; -11-21-2005 at 03:26 PM.


  2. #2
    majorram's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    thanks for the report, another great read!!

    steve:clanram:
    "The breakfast Club"

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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    Bartell was brutal and looks like an awful draft pick at this point.
    A rookie being given his first start, and against the league's #1 receiver.............brutal and awful pick might be a little exaggerated. He's easily the best cover man on this current team, and shows promise for the future. Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing him start opposite Butler next year.
    "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: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    I agree with the big bison on this. If you expect your #2 pick to be better than that in his first start with no pass rush of any kind i think you are mistaken. Saying that he looks like a bad draft pick at this point is clearly a premature evaluation. Bartell has shown real promise. I think chris johnson is pretty good also, certainly better than robert thomas which is what we paid to get him.

    There were several plays yesterday where our corners were on the receivers and the throws were perfectly on target thanks in large part to the complete lack of a pass rush.

    ramming speed to all

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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    I should have at least mentioned the great play he made running down Swinton on the long kickoff return. Glad to see a young player not quitting on a play like that.

    --Mike

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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    WE HAVE NO LINEBACKERS. None. We're playing a 3-4 defense using no linebackers, in essence playing with only seven defensive players against eleven.

    And another damn thing....barrowing from TMQ on nfl.com, "When the Rams kicking unit took the field with 3:32 left in the fourth quarter, live4ramin wrote GAME OVER in his notebook".:down:

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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    A rookie being given his first start, and against the league's #1 receiver.
    The Cards have Steve Smith too? :tongue:


    Hub is right though Bartell deserves a chance, it's way too early to write him off.
    BRUUUUUUUUUUUCE


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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    Quote Originally Posted by ramsbruce
    The Cards have Steve Smith too? :tongue:


    Hub is right though Bartell deserves a chance, it's way too early to write him off.
    Okay, so after yesterday Smith now has a 2 reception lead over Fitzgerald. But going into Sunday Fitgerald was the league leader by 3 receptions.
    "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: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison
    Okay, so after yesterday Smith now has a 2 reception lead over Fitzgerald. But going into Sunday Fitgerald was the league leader by 3 receptions.
    Well I didn't think there was debate in this subject, just having a little fun.

    But here goes.

    Rec Yards TD
    Smith 72 1106 9

    Fitz 70 958 6

    So even though Fitz had more catches than Smith before yesterdays game, Smith is still the #1 WR in the league. Would you rather have 3 more receptions from Fitz or 4 more TDs from Smith (those are the stats before Sundays game)
    Last edited by ramsbruce; -11-21-2005 at 04:39 PM.
    BRUUUUUUUUUUUCE


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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    Quote Originally Posted by ramsbruce
    Well I didn't think there was debate in this subject, just having a little fun.

    But here goes.

    Rec Yards TD
    Smith 72 1106 9

    Fitz 70 958 6

    So even though Fitz had more catches than Smith before yesterdays game, Smith is still the #1 WR in the league. Would you rather have 3 more receptions from Fitz or 4 more TDs from Smith (those are the stats before Sundays game)
    Yes, obviously mine was a reference to their total receptions.........however, if we're asking what we'd rather have, I'd rather have a defense with enough fire to stop making pro bowlers out of EVERY receiver that lines up across from them.
    "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: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    Quote Originally Posted by ramsbruce
    Well I didn't think there was debate in this subject, just having a little fun.

    But here goes.

    Rec Yards TD
    Smith 72 1106 9

    Fitz 70 958 6

    So even though Fitz had more catches than Smith before yesterdays game, Smith is still the #1 WR in the league. Would you rather have 3 more receptions from Fitz or 4 more TDs from Smith (those are the stats before Sundays game)
    And for the record, you're right, there really isn't any debate here....Smith has had an incredible year, and my fantasy team thanks him for it.
    "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: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    I don't typically read Mr. Franke's game reviews - a bit too wordy for my taste. This week, I made an exception.

    After reading his take on Bartell, which is, at best, short-sighted and ignorant, or, at worst, just plain idiotic, I think I'll go back to my ignore policy.

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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    Hey, I much prefer explanations of what I got wrong, like HUbison and general counsel gave, over insults. I appreciate opportunities to improve my observations.

    If one is not supposed to evaluate 2005 draft picks because it's just too early, then I guess everybody, including me, who's praised Alex Barron needs to retract those remarks.

    Bartell's got a lot farther to go than I thought he would at this point of the season. That's why don't think he's been a good value at all for a second-round pick. (YET.) I don't think it's unreasonable to expect good play out of your rookie draft picks, e.g. Eric Green (a third-rounder) of the Cardinals yesterday. At the same time, HUbison and general counsel are very fair to defend Bartell's potential. Ron made some good plays in the Jax. game, and I'll plead guilty if I missed any good plays yesterday. I didn't see 'em.

    I hope Ron makes the jump from 2005 to 2006 like Grant Wistrom did from 1998 (when he was widely considered a first-round bust) to 1999.

    --Mike

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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    Calling a player who has played in 3-4 games and has started one "an awful draft pick" is, by definition, ignorant and short-sighted.

    Making that statement about a guy who has actually played fairly well (particularly in light of the overall lack of a pass rush and poorly schemed defense) is approaching idiotic.

    I'm sorry if you find that insulting.

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    Re: RamView, 11/20/2005: Cardinals 38, Rams 38

    Okay... so maybe I'm being a bit harsh on Mike, who at least takes the time to write up his detailed analysis this week.

    Let's just say that premature labeling of rookies is one of my pet peeves.

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