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RamView, 11/29/2009: Seahawks 27, Rams 17 (Long)
RamView, November 29, 2009
From Row HH
(Report and opinions on and from the game.)
Game #11: Seahawks 27, Rams 17
Bland, play-it-safe, joyless, unentertaining football ruled on the Rams sideline again today as they dropped their TENTH straight to the mediocre-long-ago Seahawks. The Rams are the German food of the NFL. Ach.
* QB: Kyle Boller's numbers, (28-46-282), especially the JeMarcusian 67.5 passer rating, may look better than they were in context, the context being he was running for his life all day. He kept the Rams in it for a while. The big difference between Boller and Marc Bulger is Boller's mobility, of course. With Seattle blitzing almost every play, Bulger would have left this game in worse shape than Tiger Woods' SUV. Boller was able to escape some of the rush, and his mobility helped get the Ram offense into a good rhythm at times. He started the game hitting Randy McMichael for 12 on a rollout and the Rams rolled right into scoring position early. (And didn't score.) His TD pass to Donnie Avery was off a bootleg. Boller made some good reads, especially in finding Ruvell Martin (!) wide open a couple of times for big gains. He didn't make enough, though, and might fairly have avoided three of the four sacks he took. Jordan Babineaux and Patrick Kerney got to him to kill a drive in the 1st because he held the ball too long. Babineaux was a delayed blitzer; you can't let that guy get to you. He scrambled for no gain late in the 2nd after missing Danny Amendola open on a shallow cross, though that drive still ended in a FG. The Rams' initial drive of the 2nd half ended in a huge loss on a rollout where Boller couldn't find a man, though he could have had McMichael breaking open late with a pretty tough throw. Boller's accuracy wasn't consistent; he missed some open opportunities with high balls or one-hoppers. But the worst part of Boller's game continues to be the crushing turnovers. Seattle took a 14-7 lead late in the 1st half on Justin Wilson's 65-yard return of a pass tipped by Kelly Jennings. Boller really couldn't win on this play. He forced an outside pass for Donnie Avery into double-coverage, but what was he going to do? It was fourth down. Jennings made a fine play (as long as it wasn't a penalty) on the ball and Wilson cashed in a lucky bounce. Boller's 2nd INT seemed a lot more preventable, though just as painful, coming in the end zone with the Rams still down 14-10. He rushed and back-footed a throw for Amendola that's a TD if he leads the receiver, but the pass was woefully underthrown and almost fair-caught by (again) Babineaux. Seattle turned that into a FG and eventually surged into a 17-point lead, called off the dogs and let Boller rack up some cosmetic yards, including a 16-yard near-TD scramble late in the game. Boller's a gamer, for sure, and seems to give the offense a shot of energy when he's in there. And he had to overcome some regression from the rest of the offense in pass protection and receivers getting open. But he just can't seem to avoid those really big, negative, game-killer plays. In the end I'm not sure Kyle Boller will reach a level here any higher than just good enough to get you beat.
* RB: Steven Jackson, (23-89) about the only fire this team has, was cooled a little today by his back injury and a lot by lack of running room. He got off to a fast start, with 25 yards on his first touch, running between fine blocks by Daniel Fells and Jacob Bell. That drive broke down, though, with Jackson getting stuffed on 3rd-and-1, and though he ran hard and still ran through some tackles at times, it was a struggle for Jackson to find anywhere to go, and he averaged less than 3 yards a carry after that big run. He still scored the Rams' 2nd TD with a 1-yard dive late in the 4th, and he's still an exemplary leader on this team, calling the offense to gather around him during one break in the action and trying to ignite it with some fiery motivation. I'm not sure how much Jackson's injury actually slowed him down, probably the most in his ability to change direction and get off his first read. Too bad nobody else has got his back. Samkon Gado (1-minus 1) and Kenneth Darby (also 1-minus 1) have been almost complete jokes this season and I'd swear neither one can walk and chew gum at the same time. They run like their shoelaces are tied together. I shouldn't have been, but I was agape this morning hearing that Jackson was on a pace for over 400 carries this season. He richly deserves far better backup than the Keystone Kops he has now.
* Receivers: Donnie Avery (4-48) scored the Rams' first TD but his inability to get open consistently ultimately hindered the passing game. Boller was looking for him at least a couple of the times he was sacked. None of the Ram receivers do a particularly good job of coming back to fight for a contested ball, which we saw in spades when Jennings beat Avery to a 4th-and-4 pass in the 2nd and tipped it to Wilson for a TD. Boller tried several throws along those lines – here comes the ball, now beat your man – but Avery and Brandon Gibson (3-18) weren't winning many of those one-on-one matchups. Danny Amendola (7-55) led in receptions and his sharp cutback after a catch inside the 10 got the Rams a big first down and set up Avery's TD. Ruvell Martin (2-60) got wide open in the Seahawk secondary for a couple of big gains. You can't stop Ruvell Martin; you can only hope to contain him. Well, you at least have to cover him, which Seattle really didn't either time. They made progress the last 2-3 weeks, but we saw again today that the Rams receivers can certainly stand to gain physical and mental toughness.
* Offensive line: The injury bug continues to bite the Ram offensive line hard. They were minus three starters after Jason Brown went down with a sprained knee in the 2nd. The makeshift lineup now had Mark Setterstrom at center, John Greco at RG and Adam Goldberg at RT. And seeing this lineup, Seattle blitzed practically every play after Brown left the game and got a blitzer through to Boller untouched practically every time. Goldberg looked really outmatched outside this week. Patrick Kerney really smoked him on Boller's first sack, though Babineaux also came in untouched. Hard to blame Gado there; he did pick up the blitzing LB inside. Setterstrom got beaten badly at center by a stunt and got beaten badly at RG by Brandon Mebane on a tackle-for-loss. Some of the sacks are fair to call coverage sacks, though Boller's scrambling would have saved them the second one had Alex Barron not quit blocking Cory Redding on the back side. PLAY TO THE WHISTLE! The fourth sack was a complete cluster, um, bomb, with every Ram lineman, and Daniel Fells, and Brandon Gibson apparently motioned across as an additional blocker, beaten soundly, leaving Boller looking like an unlucky Wal-Mart clerk on Black Friday. The best blocker today was Jacob Bell, who made a solid inside block that paired with Fells' big outside block to give Jackson a big lane on his 25-yard run. It feels pretty safe to say the running game missed Brown's and Richie Incognito's presence in the middle, where there was very little running room. It's definitely safe to say that by clogging up the middle and blitzing the Rams senseless, Seattle decisively won the game at the line of scrimmage.
* Defensive line / LB: Once again the Ram defense let one of the league's worst rushing offenses look like Eric Dickerson's Rams, as the 32nd-ranked running team romped for 170 behind Justin Forsett's 22-130. The front seven has more holes than players. It's basically James Laurinaitis plus an occasional play from one of the other six. Laurinaitis led the D with nine tackles, and started the Rams off the right way by dragging Matt Hasselbeck down for a sack on the game's very first play. Guess how many sacks the Rams collected after the first play of the game. That's right, none. Leonard Little got some pressures, but I don't remember Chris Long doing much of anything despite getting a lot of work at both DE positions. That failure spread over to the run, where if Laurinaitis gets blocked, he's not getting much help. Like these plays. Forsett broke loose for 25 right after Josh Brown's missed FG after Laurinaitis was practically blocked into Seattle's bench, Cliff Ryan got wiped out at the line and Justin King stumbled trying to fill the gap. Little tried to jump into the backfield on Forsett's first TD run but instead got pushed back across center and gave Forsett the hole. Given a chance to stop Seattle on 4th-and-1 to start the 4th, the Rams instead got steamrolled by Forsett for an embarrassing 11 yards. Nobody attacked his gap; Laurinaitis attacked the next gap over. Forsett's 2nd TD, two plays later, was an equally easy run after his fullback stoned Paris Lenon in the hole. Dorsett, um, I mean Forsett, humbled the Rams one last time with a 26-yard run right to set up their last FG. Long was pushed WAY outside and Oshiomogho Atowge missed him in the hole. You'd think one of those would be Long's, or the Rams', most humiliating play of the day, but that had to come when Matt Hasselbeck naked bootlegged left for 19 to set up a FG in the 3rd. The whole Ram defense bought the run fake right, leaving the other side of the field empty as the void of space. If Hasselbeck wasn't slower than me trying to get up from the Thanksgiving dinner table, he would have had a TD. Long was so faked out on that play that he was getting up from being knocked down to continue pursuing the play left even as Hasselbeck was running right by him the other direction. And so the Ram defense hits December an utter failure. They're getting physically dominated by bad offensive lines. Tackling is slipping. Atogwe and James Butler are getting paid a lot better than they're stopping runners. Rookie Dorell Scott (!) made some nice plays in the middle of the line but the rest of the DTs look like the guys off the waiver wire and 2nd-day draft picks that they are. So do the OLBs, despite Lenon forcing a Louis Rankin fumble in the 1st. They don't pass rush very well and they're as easily fooled by misdirection as my cat. This defense won't be any good this year. I'm not sure it'll be any good in TWO years. How do they get there?
* Secondary: Hey, a rare short section, made possible by the Rams' gawdawful run defense. Not really needing to throw, Hasselbeck only threw for 102 yards. And the Rams still found ways to get beat by Nate Burleson (4-46) on third-and-long three times. One thing the defense did get right was their emphasis on Seattle's screen pass game, which they essentially took away. Atogwe was one of the Rams' more effective defensive players, batting down a pass on a blitz to end a drive and stopping Burleson short on 3rd down to force a 3-and-out in the 2nd. Atogwe also chipped in 9 tackles, which is where James Butler's become a major disappointment of this season as far as I'm concerned. I expected him to show up much more against the run than he does, and he was guilty of some bad arm tackles today, too. He's been hurt, true, but Butler's still looming as another poor Rams free agent investment.
* Special teams: The punting teams were the stars of the day. Donnie Jones averaged over 52 yards a try. K.C. Asiodu partially blocked a punt and gave the offense a golden opportunity to squander in the 3rd. Coverage was fine until the last punt, returned 29 by Nate Burleson. The Rams could have started off on the right foot with a 46-yard FG to finish their opening drive, but instead, Josh Brown hooks it right, Seattle immediately drives for a TD, and thanks for yet another momentum-killer, Mr. Highest Paid Kicker in the League. Radio said the snap was high, but didn't blame it for the miss, and I don't care anyway. Make the freaking field goal. I could give a crap that he hit from 55 to bring the Rams within 4 at halftime, either. The ones you don't think he'll make, he will. The makeable ones his team needs him to make sail wide right. 36-year-old Olindo Mare put nearly every kickoff deep into the end zone. His last one went through the back. He had the Rams in mediocre field position all game. Amendola didn't really have a chance to do anything significant. Touchbacks or clutch kicks from Brown, though, are few and far between. Mare's a weapon for his team. Brown, the 25th-most-accurate kicker in the league though drawing, make that stealing, the biggest paycheck at the position, is a liability to his.
* Coaching: If not now, when? The Seattle Seahawks had not won a road game all year (0-5). They came in with a 3-7 record and were playing their third straight road game. They ran for four yards the week before. Not four yards a carry. Four total yards. The schedule-maker was handing the Rams a gift here. (About time, by the way.) And while the Rams drove downfield successfully in the 1st quarter, in the stands, you could sense the Seahawks packing it in. They were ripe. All the Rams needed was some killer instinct. NOT a milquetoast FG attempt on 4th-and-1 inside the opponent 30. I begged Steve Spagnuolo last week to show he gets it, and he doesn't, not yet. We are sick of the Rams losing home games (11 straight now). We are sick of losing EVERY game we play in the division (14 straight now). And it's sure getting tiring losing EVERY TIME to a Seattle team that hasn't even been any good the last two years. But it's 10 straight to them now, with no sign it will EVER let up, because the head coach of a 1-9 team wants to play it safe in scoring territory at the start of the game. How did that work out, by the way?
I'll buy some reasons Spagnuolo didn't want to go for it on 4th-and-1. Jackson had just been stuffed on 3rd-and-1, and maybe he didn't have a read on Steven's health yet and was reluctant to slam him in there again. And you're certainly not going to rely on Frick Gado or Frack Darby on 4th-and-1. So why not sneak Boller? He's 6'3”, all he has to do is fall down. Or bootleg him. Or keep Jackson in as a decoy, play-action and throw a seam route to the TE. For Christ's sake, I don't care if you want to go Mike Martz on their ass and run the dreaded end-around, do something! I know much of anything creative scares this coaching staff, especially on offense, but show us you're mad as hell at all these pathetic losing streaks and you're not going to take it any more! I also suspect Brown missing the 4th-and-1 FG led Spagnuolo to go for it on 4th-and-4. Can't trust him to hit from 46, you're not going to trust him from 52. So that just compounded the decision to kick on 4th-and-1 when 4th-and-4 failed as miserably as it can fail, with a pick-six. Sure, I'm an irrational fan, but good luck convincing me Spagnuolo didn't cost his team 17 points today. Could have taken ten, gave up seven instead. Rams football: it's fan-tastic!
You could tell Boller was back in the lineup today, huh? Very first play Pat Shurmur calls is a rollout. I thought he was smart to use a lot of play-action, though the Rams could sell it a lot better. The Avery TD, where they sold it perfectly, could have been the Sweet Play of the Week had everything else about the Rams not sucked. Avery motioned left, and while the whole offense faked a Jackson handoff left, Avery doubled back right and was open pretty handily for the toss from Boller rolling right. Now, if he'd just started using blitz-beating plays like the Avery smoke route BEFORE getting blitzed by Seattle for three quarters. That adjustment was like the Titanic hanging a left after hitting the iceberg. Defensively, I thought the Rams had a good blitz mix working, getting pressure with it without getting burned by it. Seattle is extremely potent with screen passes and the outside players made a very successful effort to take that away from them, though you wonder how much that took away from the run defense, which simply cannot continue to be this wretchedly awful. A last question, I really don't know the answer: does this team ever run blitz? Do our DBs ever slash in and stop a back in the backfield? Does a team this bad against the run have anything to lose by gambling like that more? OK, that was three questions.
* Upon further review: Scott Green and crew were mostly on top of things. They got the call right when it briefly looked like the Rams had muffed away the blocked punt in the 3rd, but the Ram player, I believe Dominic Douglas, had been blocked into the ball. Patrick Kerney took Boller out flagrantly late on a play in the 4th and got a deserved flag for it. Jackson's late TD came about because they reviewed and reversed an apparent Boller TD scramble, which bordered on cruel and unusual punishment to Rams fans. By far the least popular call was the tripping penalty on Amendola in the end zone after Boller's 2nd INT, which looked much more incidental than intentional from the stands. How sure are we Avery wasn't interfered with on the pick-six? Jennings sure grabbed and spun him, though the ball was right there, too. B-minus for the crew assuming that call was OK.
* Cheers: It was just as well the game wasn't on TV locally. If the quality of the play on the field didn't turn St. Louisans off of watching Rams football forever, the embarrassingly sparse crowd would have. The Dome wasn't even half-filled this week, though the hardy few present generated solid noise in bursts and even got Sean Locklear to false-start in the 3rd to help force a FG. Too bad the defense was consistently quick to kibosh any momentum we could muster. People started getting up to leave after Boller's 2nd INT – that was with EIGHT minutes left. In the THIRD quarter! Needless to say, post-game traffic was pretty smooth today. Pee-wee, or youth (there were some mighty big kids out there) football got the halftime show, with the annual Punt, Pass and Kick demoted to a brief pre-game announcement. Sad to see that long-time tradition getting short shrift.
* Who’s next?: Ah, to have been a Chicagoan this summer. The city had the sports world by the tail. The White Sox and Cubs were in the middle of pennant races. With the hometown President and the mighty Oprah lobbying on the city's behalf, their 2016 Summer Olympic bid was in the bag. And Da Bears were on their way to the Super Bowl after trading for rifle-armed Broncos QB Jay Cutler. It was Chicago's world; the rest of us were just living in it.
None of it lasted long, and faster than you can say “Rio de Janeiro,” the Bears' season headed downhill with the rest. Instead of leading the Bears to the playoffs, Cutler's led them to the league lead in interceptions. The team's returned the favor in not supporting Cutler very well. Matt Forte's rookie magic appears gone this season, and the Bears – the franchise of Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, Gale Sayers and Walter Payton – are 28th in the NFL in rushing. 28th! The Bears! The problem starts in Chicago where it starts for a lot of teams, the offensive line. Orlando Pace may not play next week due to a groin injury; just as well for his long-time Rams fans. His play this year has only proven that the Rams made the right move to let him go. Pace can throw the occasional dominating run block but has been a liability in pass pro. Any Bears game I watch, there are guys just pouring in past Olin Kreutz, who I'd have to call a shell of his former self at center, and Roberto Garza looks awful at RG. Cutler gets hit a lot, and hears even more footsteps. He's jumpier in the pocket than Jim Carrey after a Red Bull, doesn't throw accurately enough under pressure to make defenses pay for blitzing, and locks in almost exclusively on TE Greg Olson when he does. I'll just say a capable defense, capably coached, would find ways to take advantage of these tendencies.
It's a bad time for Steven Jackson to be hurting; even with head coach Lovie Smith taking over as defensive coordinator, the Bears – the franchise of Dick Butkus, Richard Dent, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher (not this season; he's missed all of it with a broken wrist) – are only 23rd in the league against the run. The Bears can't run or defend the run? The Bears? But their only defensive playmaker lately's been CB Charles Tillman, the only guy in their secondary who can cover anybody, and he took a blow to the head in Minnesota. Avery's in trouble if Tillman plays, because Tillman, like Atogwe for the Rams, has a sixth sense for forcing fumbles. Two hands on the ball, wideouts. Still, you can throw away from Tillman, and if Chicago doesn't toughen up against the run, the Rams can feel really free to uncork their offense against them next week. Yeah, buddy. Let's just say a capable offense, capably coached, would find ways to take advantage of their weak spots.
God I love writing previews. The Rams haven't proven week-to-week that they've got any ability, other than Jackson's guts, that makes them suited to attack any other team's weaknesses. Why note that Forte's having an off year when two of the league's worst running teams just ripped the Rams on the ground? Why imagine ways for the Ram offense to attack defenses when its goal in life is to be boring? Why preview opponents in a vacuum that excludes the Rams' injuries, inexperience and outright lack of talent?
A capable team, capably coached, would find the Chicago Bears very beatable next week, even in Soldier Field. The Rams aren't there, unless Steven Jackson carries them there, which is possible.
There's your preview.
Game stats from nfl.com
Re: RamView, 11/29/2009: Seahawks 27, Rams 17 (Long)
Wow, we definitely weren't watching the same game ....
-11-30-2009 #4Registered User
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Re: RamView, 11/29/2009: Seahawks 27, Rams 17 (Long)
Frick Gado and Frack Darby.....just beautiful....!!!
Re: RamView, 11/29/2009: Seahawks 27, Rams 17 (Long)
No matter how bad the game is every week, i look forward to reading these post's. THey make me laugh everytime. Good job man.
Re: RamView, 11/29/2009: Seahawks 27, Rams 17 (Long)
Well I finally watched the game today and I thought your review was good Mike.
I thought the first two minutes were awesome. Sack, defense looking great, nice 25 yard run by Jackson. Then Seattle shows us what it looks like to run the ball. I was impressed with them. They ran with both QBs and a little RB. Their line was opening holes, Forsett ran for lots of yards and got 2 TDs. Our defense could not stop the run.
Martin. Who is this? Where did he come from? He looks promising to me. Another new name to learn.
I really had a hard time watching the offense. Josh Brown is so frustrating to me. We can't count on him for an easy field goal, never mind a game winning field goal. Special teams blocks a punt and we get no points for it. Sad. Big runs are exciting, but it would be nice to know that we could get 1 yard and a first down every now and then.
I think we had more yards and more time on the clock and we still managed to lose. It is frustrating to watch games like these.
Boller looked good at times. He scrambled some and threw to wide open receivers. He also missed receivers, threw into tight coverage, and ran for his life many times.
I hope things go better in Chicago later on today. Maybe they will give Boller more time to throw the ball. Hopefully they don't run the ball and we get some interceptions.[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
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