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    RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    RamView, December 18, 2005
    From Row HH
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Game 14: Eggles 17, Rams 16

    Well, it’s gotten to where the Rams can't even beat another team's second string. They outdo the Eggles in almost every category on the stat sheet but still find a way to lose, guaranteeing a losing season.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Looks like the Great Harvard Experiment may be curtailed for the rest of the season after Jamie Martin replaced Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the 4th quarter. Though he didn't bury the Rams with interceptions like last week, Ryan still seems to have gotten less effective by the week, completing only 10 out of 24 passes today for only 69 yards. Though he was hurt by a couple of drops, Ryan also continued to struggle mightily with accuracy, throwing poor sideline passes, overthrowing open receivers or under-throwing deep passes. Ryan had his positives – he showed nice footwork in the pocket and threw a couple of nice passes, including a 5-yard TD to Torry Holt that put the Rams ahead 10-7. The second half was one giant negative for Ryan, though, as he went 1-for-10 and embarked the Rams on a string of four 3-and-outs that saw them go from a 16-7 lead to a 17-16 deficit. It became a deficit after Ryan’s very poor pass a mile over Brandon Manumaleuna’s head was picked off by Brian Dawkins to set up an Eggle TD. Seeing the game was still winnable, and that he’d be throwing it away sticking with Fitzgerald, Joe Vitt made a call to the bullpen for Jamie Martin with 6:30 left. To borrow a much-overused phrase, Jamie “managed the offense” well, 8-11-58. He quickly started hitting the sideline passes that have all but eluded Fitzpatrick. Jamie’s game (and Ryan’s, for that matter) was all dinks and dunks, though. He hit Shaun McDonald twice to convert third downs on the Rams’ final drive, but couldn’t get the Rams across midfield, ending the game with 3rd- and 4th-down incompletions. Decent as he’s been in a relief role, Martin’s not the future of the team; there’s no pressing need to have him behind center for 60 minutes the final two weeks. Fitzpatrick has a lot of bugs to work out, though. He’s playing like an Ivy League Steve Walsh at this point. After a stirring performance in Houston, Ryan’s kept the Rams out of two or even three winnable games since then. I’m all for continuing to start Ryan, but with Martin in the wings, expect Tony LaRu- er, Joe Vitt to have a quick hook.

    * RB: Steven Jackson (16-82) got off to a strong start. He had three long runs on the Rams’ opening FG drive, 20 behind a good Madison Hedgecock block and 19 after a good kickout block by Claude Terrell. Steven was definitely running with more decisiveness and less dancing than he had shown the last few weeks. But he also missed part of the first half with nausea, and almost all of the second half with a hip pointer. That made Marshall Faulk the feature back for the first time this season, and the future Hall-of-Famer didn’t disappoint. He added 87 yards on 16 carries and looked like the Faulk who carved up the Eggles in the 2001 NFC Championship. He had a 20-yard run before halftime and set up a 3rd-quarter FG with 13- and 12-yard runs. I believe one of those was the run where he had slowed down to the point you thought the play had been blown dead before he bolted upfield for the gain. Marshall showed much of the speed, elusiveness and ability to pick his way through traffic he had at his peak. It all went south in the 4th quarter, though. Nobody blocked on a 4th-and-1 run that lost two, and if that didn’t frustrate Marshall to no end, surely Joe Vitt did when he inexplicably left Marshall on the sideline the Rams’ last possession in favor of Arlen Harris (?!?), who did do a nice job picking up blitzes, but is nowhere near the explosive player the Rams needed on the field on at least the 3rd-and-7 and 4th-and-7 plays where they went down with the ship. With about 2:30 left, needing to get only to the Eggle 25 or 30 to win the game, and with Marshall leading the way in the second half, Vitt should have turned to #28 at the very time he needed him the most, but instead left him on the sideline, probably wondering why the hell he’s still playing for this team.

    * WR: VERY quiet game from the receiving corps. Torry Holt had a TD catch but totaled just 3-16 for the game. Isaac Bruce had only two catches for 16 yards. Kevin Curtis (only 1-7) has gone from White Light-ning to the Invisible Man. Shaun McDonald (6-51) was the leading receiver and continues to show his knack for making catches in the last two minutes of the game. The quiet game receiving is a by-product of Fitzpatrick's poor day, but Holt and McDonald hurt the offensive momentum early with dropped passes.

    * Offensive line: The NFL Digest of Rules states, "No player of offensive team may charge or move abruptly, after assuming set position, in such manner as to lead defense to believe snap has started." But this rule is apparently news to the Ram offensive line, since SIX of the Rams' FIFTEEN penalties were false starts by the offensive line (counting Manu). Adam Timmerman’s false start forced the Rams to settle for an opening FG. Claude Terrell doomed the next drive by flinching on the first play, and he got the Daily Double the next drive. An Orlando Pace twitch nearly put the 2nd FG drive out of FG position. The refs didn’t want to leave Alex Barron out, so they called him for a chop block to kill the last Ram drive of the first half. Terrell got the false start hat trick in the 3rd. Brandon Manumaleuna joined in the fun on a 3rd-and-14 in the 4th. Pace’s 2nd false start helped stymie Martin's first drive. Andy McCollum saved his holding penalty for last, setting back the Rams’ last-gasp scoring attempt. All those penalties are moot, though, if Pace and Manu block ANYBODY on Faulk’s 4th-and-1 run in Philly territory with 3:17 left. Terrell didn’t hold anybody up, either. So, your TE lines up LEFT, and your LEFT tackle and your LEFT guard block no one, on a critical, 4th-quarter, 4th-down run TO THE LEFT. Despite blocking for two 80-yard rushers and not allowing Fitzpatrick to be sacked, the offensive line did as much to lose the game as anyone.

    * Defensive line/LB: Though they played much better the rest of the way, the defense got off to a hideous start, giving up a big play that was their season in a nutshell. The little-known Ryan Moats got through a pile-up at the line, broke a Tyoka Jackson tackle, motored to the sideline, made Mike Furrey look like a weakling by stiffarming him to the ground, and muscled through an unusually-bad tackle attempt by Corey Ivy for a 59-yard TD to put the Eggles up 7-3. The typical bad line play and weak downfield tackling that have plagued this defense for two years and had me watching the Bear defense last night completely green with envy. The Rams knuckled down after that. Moats’ run was nearly half Philly’s rushing yardage, and like Fitzpatrick, QB Mike McMahon (97) didn’t crack the century mark in yardage. Leonard Little ended the next possession with a dynamite play, fighting past a double-team to (finally) register his fifth sack of the season. Pisa Tinoisamoa made one of his best plays of the season in the 2nd, dropping back into coverage very well to pick off a McMahon pass, returning it to the Eggle 5 to set up a TD. Larry Marmie bamboozled Philly the next drive, dropping Little into MLB before the snap and blitzing him straight up the middle. That pressure left Corey Ivy free to sack McMahon for a 123-out. Toward the end of the half, an Anthony Hargrove sighting!, as he got his third sack of the season, along with a disproportionately-jubilant dance. Early in the 4th, after a Fitzpatrick INT, the Rams faced Philly with a 3rd-and-2 on the Rams’ 3-yard-line. McMahon rolled, and Pisa perfectly covered his primary receiver, but nobody could get to the Eggle QB before one Mike Bartrum snuck behind Hargrove in the end zone for a TD catch. Little sacked McMahon again to get the Rams the ball back one last time, but despite a 4-1 edge in turnovers, a 4-0 edge in sacks, good games by Trev Faulk (11 tkl), Pisa and Ivy, and Little’s best game in probably eight weeks, it wouldn’t prove to be enough, thanks to this defense’s propensity for giving up big plays.

    * Secondary: Mike McMahon wasn’t exactly an acid test, but the Ram secondary had a nice game against the pass. DeJuan Groce had great coverage deep on a pass he intercepted in the 3rd. That pick followed a drive that Ron Bartell ended by forcing a Lamar Gordon fumble (gee, who’d have seen that coming?) Bartell also had a good defense of a deep end zone pass and probably had his best game so far. Mike Furrey picked off McMahon at the goal line in the 4th to keep the Rams in the game. But for as many good plays Furrey has made against the pass, he has been putrid against the run. Too many of the big plays the Rams have allowed this year have been partly Furrey’s fault to think he is a long-term answer at safety. One player the Rams do need to lock up for the future is Corey Ivy, who’d be the nickelback in 2006 if I had my way. He’s everywhere (9 tkls today), he’s willing to hit, he makes impact plays like his sack today, he’s a good special teams player, and the Ryan Moats TD run aside, he’s a very good tackler. Get him signed!

    * Special teams: Jeff Wilkins is really showing off his leg lately, blasting a 53-yarder in the 2nd to go with his 51-yarder from last week. In contrast, Bryan Barker appeared to be kicking a medicine ball. He did have a 56-yard punt, but most of his kicks were line-drive, no-hang-time affairs. Looks like Bob Ligashesky should have gone to Dane Looker much sooner as the punt returner; Dane at least runs FORWARD after he catches the ball. No sooner did the Rams extend their lead to 16-7 in the 3rd, though, they once AGAIN allowed a long kickoff return, 53 yards by Roderick Hood to set up an Eggle FG. As much as I’d like to yell about coaching, Philadelphia just physically punished the Rams on the return, and that’s not the first time that’s happened. One of the Rams’ many offseason needs is to get bigger, faster and more physical on their coverage units. They can’t continue to get blocked this easily week after week.

    * Coaching/discipline: One of this coaching staff’s worst traits the last couple of years has been its tendency to outsmart itself, which showed up in a couple of plays today. Though the Rams nearly stopped the final Eggle TD, I can’t help but wonder if a play that has Anthony Hargrove dropping back into coverage isn’t too complex to be running from the 3-yard-line. Larry Marmie has been quite effective with creative shifts and aggressive blitzing the last couple of weeks. Over the course of a whole game, I like that strategy, and wonder why the heck it took Marmie 12 weeks to get there. But I think the defensive call on the Bartrum TD might have been too cute for its own good.
    Joe Vitt’s decision to go on 4th-and-1 in the 4th was good. That’s just a little out of Wilkins’ range. But Steve Fairchild’s call was too cute, twice as complex as it had to be. First of all, since I was a little kid, I’ve heard that you NEVER run outside on short-yardage downs. But the Rams almost never fail to run outside in those situations. And today’s play seemed to call for Pace and Manu to do some kind of cutesy criss-cross so Manu could block a guy downfield, with Pace blocking the guy in front of Manu and possibly Terrell pulling over to get Pace’s guy. Guys, it’s one yard. Why not have your blockers just hit the guy in front of them? Instead, the whole left side of the line gets confused and the Rams lose a key opportunity. The Rams ran more on third-and-not-short today than I can ever remember. They lost confidence in Fitz-patrick way before they pulled him out of the game.
    Vitt may have lost a key opportunity himself by leaving his best weapon, Faulk, in his holster for the Rams’ last drive. Was Faulk tired, who can say, and Arlen did do a good job picking up the blitz while he was in there. But especially on the last 3rd-and-7, and 4th-and-7 plays, a guy with Faulk’s breakaway ability should have been on the field over Harris the plugger. It’s not as if Philly stopped Faulk all day. All Vitt accomplished with that mystifying strategy was to get St. Louis’ greatest football superstar mad at the team. Dumb move, Coach. You lost a team leader’s, and the fans’, benefit of the doubt with that one.
    This team more than anything needs to get to the basics. Hit the guy in front of you. Tackle the guy with the ball. Fifteen penalties today certainly does not speak to this team’s grasp of the basics, or of discipline. With the number of young players this team has needed to step in, the Rams’ systems have needed dumbing down, but the coaching staff instead has the players doing calculus before they’ve learned their multiplication tables. Oh, the system will be dumbed down, but by default, with new coaching.

    * Upon further review: The dominant player in this game was Bill Leavy, who called a total of THIRTY penalties, fifteen a side. Who knew this epic clash of 5-8 teams would need to be called so tight? On radio, Jim Hanifan criticized the chop block call on Barron and the holding call on McCollum. Hanifan knows more than a little about offensive line play – I’m inclined to believe him. At the least, that holding call sounds like a very picky one to make at a critical juncture. Both radio announcers thought the roughing-the-QB penalties were light stuff, but agreed the calls were consistent with current NFL standards. I can’t really say that Leavy called a very bad game, but he sure called a tight one.

    * Cheers: The Dome crowd was larger than I expected – I’d guess 55,000 – and got surprisingly into the game at times, though the loudest sound of the day was probably to boo the defense on Moats’ TD run. With Jack Snow out sick, Jim Hanifan has been filling in as the radio color man. Hanny’s certainly not a polished announcer, but he enjoyably lives and dies with the team on the air. As you might expect, Hanifan lends a lot of insight to what’s going on in the trenches, though with more o-line jargon than I can figure out. But for you guys out there who really get into blocking techniques and know your “A” gap from your “B” gap, Hanifan’s your guy. Hanifan is singularly unafraid to criticize linemen; he even berated Barron on one play for not using his injured hand to get a punch on a blitzing linebacker. Gotta be willing to take some pain, son. Hanifan’s worth a listen if you get to catch a radio broadcast the next two weeks.

    * Who’s next?: The holidays are almost here, and they bring with them the most meaningless 49er Week since 1998. Actually, you’d be hard pressed to say the Rams cared that much about the last 49er Week, which ended with a Week 1 28-25 loss in San Francisco. Who knew the death knell of the Rams’ 2005 season would come the first week? The Whiners have won one game since then, and have scored 28 points or more once since then. They haven’t even topped 10 points the last three weeks. Alex Smith is having a truly terrible season as a rookie QB. He has no TD passes vs. 10 INTs. He has a QB rating of 26.6, which means his rating would be at least 10 points higher if he just threw every pass into the ground. Up until the last couple of weeks, you’d figure the Ram defense would be just the group to give a struggling QB like Alex a 3 TD, 100+ passer rating day, but they have toughened up lately. As much as it can be claimed the Whiners have offensive weapons, RB Frank Gore is becoming a decent running and passing threat, Smith is a good runner, and Brandon Lloyd can make big plays at WR, though he’s really an all-or-nothing player. If the Rams don’t let him get going early, they can limit his impact. (For those wondering, after his 75-yard punt return TD Opening Day, Otis Amey had 29 yards on his next 8 returns and lost the job to Rasheed Marshall the week before Halloween.) Larry Marmie’s aggressive schemes have worked the last two weeks, but with Smith’s mobility and bad performance to date, I’d bet he’ll opt to let Alex try to beat the Rams with his arm. If Leonard Little, Trev Faulk and Pisa can keep up their recent play, and anybody else in the front seven can do anything at all, that may pay off.
    A Ram win Saturday will be predicated on the offensive line, well, not playing like idiots. The number of false starts yesterday was inexcusable. And they have to improve on their Opening Day performance in San Francisco, where they played like absolute crap. Bad enough that Bryant Young, who it appears will be back Saturday, got 3 of his 8 sacks this season Week 1; Julian Peterson has 0.5 sacks since his Week 1 2.5-sack game. The 49er secondary is as terrible as it gets; if the Ram QB is afforded any time, he should pick them apart. Let’s try to get our RBs into the 49er secondary – they’re even worse tacklers than the Rams are. But control of the line of scrimmage is the key. The Rams didn’t run well in San Francisco and got pummeled by the 49er blitz, surrendering seven sacks. It’ll help that they’re not relying on Rex Tucker to play RT, and that the RBs are better at picking up the blitz now, but if they ultimately do not control the line of scrimmage, the offense will make mistakes, which would seem to be all that can keep a team as bad as the Whiners in any given game.
    The Rams have plumbed some new lows this season. Losing to the Whiners Opening Day. Getting whipped at home by the Big Dead. Losing yesterday to the Eggles’ second string. Saturday, they’re facing a team that doesn’t even want to beat them because it would mess up their chances at drafting Reggie Bush. You’d have to have no talent at all, no pride at all, no desire at all, no ability at all to be part of a loss to this team on Saturday. Let that happen, and as far as St. Louis is concerned, you’ve got no future at all.

    -- Mike
    Game stats from nfl.com


  2. #2
    general counsel's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    Great writeup as usual mike. thanks for taking the time to be so detailed.

    by my count, 7 of the false starts were on the o line if you count manu (1 was on holt). three for fat claude, two for pace, one for timmerman and one for manu.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  3. #3
    Ramfan2001 Guest

    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    thanks 4 the info

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    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    Even though I got the ticket and can still watch the games, I look foward every week in reading your reports.
    As always, nice write up.

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    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    Mfranke please keep these reports coming, I look forward to them, cheers mate!!!

    steve:clanram:
    "The breakfast Club"

  6. #6
    psycho9985 Guest

    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    Good stuff Mike.I always enjoy your prose.

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    MFranke's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    general counsel,

    LOL, I'm glad one of us can count, Thanks.

    --Mike
    Last edited by MFranke; -12-19-2005 at 07:52 PM.

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    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    Another great job, Mike.We appreciate all of your hard work!! I would like to make several comments though:

    1.) I believe that M. Faulk has been misused all season. While I supported the change to S. Jackson as the feature back this should not have led to Faulk being mothballed for most of the season. Marshall should have had the ball in his hands a minimum of 12-14 times per game.

    2.) Totally agree that M. Furrey is NOT the long-term answer at FS.--he's a back-up player at best.

    3.) I also noticed A. Hardgrove's "disproportionately-jubilant" dance after his sack. Hey with a grand total of 3 sacks (when did he get the other one after sacking E. Manning in the NY game?) I don't want to see this clown prancing around until he starts to produce. It was a bush act-- and I don't mean Reggie.

    4.) You mentioned C. Ivy as nickel back for '06. Presently I have J. Butler and R. Bartell as next years starting corners; and with D. Groce as nickel. Do you
    think Ivy would be a better choice than Groce?

    5.) For the second week in a row we've seen a marked increase in aggressive play by the defense. I was only able to watch the first half (honey-do's) but it seemed to me that when the D was on the field J. Vitt was doing all kinds of arm and hand signals just before the ball was snapped. Somehow I think he was overriding Marmi-lade's calls and dialing up some blitzes. Of course he could have been waving to his wife in section Q, row 9. Who knows?

    P.S. I was wondering why you don't post much in the regular Clan Forums. We could certainly use your input during the week.

    5. )

  9. #9
    talkstoangels61 Guest

    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    Good stuff...............but, where have i been?........this is the 1st article I've read of yours and won't certainly be my last...........

  10. #10
    RamJackson39 Guest

    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    I do believe that it was Bartell that missed the final tackle on Moats. I could be wrong, but I thought that he was the one who decided to grab onto Moats' shoulders.

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    MFranke's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMarkable
    Another great job, Mike.We appreciate all of your hard work!! I would like to make several comments though:

    1.) I believe that M. Faulk has been misused all season. While I supported the change to S. Jackson as the feature back this should not have led to Faulk being mothballed for most of the season. Marshall should have had the ball in his hands a minimum of 12-14 times per game.
    Agreed. Their underuse of Marshall is criminal. I'd thought there'd be a lot more Marshall/Steven backfields and a lot more of Marshall used like a WR, but they never really used him for more than to back Steven up. Criminal.

    2.) Totally agree that M. Furrey is NOT the long-term answer at FS.--he's a back-up player at best.
    I like him, but his chances of sticking around seem really poor with a coaching change coming.

    3.) I also noticed A. Hardgrove's "disproportionately-jubilant" dance after his sack. Hey with a grand total of 3 sacks (when did he get the other one after sacking E. Manning in the NY game?) I don't want to see this clown prancing around until he starts to produce. It was a bush act-- and I don't mean Reggie.
    Hargrove also sacked Peyton Manning in the MNF game. Wonder if anyone else has sacked both brothers?

    4.) You mentioned C. Ivy as nickel back for '06. Presently I have J. Butler and R. Bartell as next years starting corners; and with D. Groce as nickel. Do you
    think Ivy would be a better choice than Groce?
    I think I probably jumped the gun on Ivy a little. But he's the best tackler on the team. I'd hate to let him go but would have to say Groce is the better cover man.

    5.) For the second week in a row we've seen a marked increase in aggressive play by the defense. I was only able to watch the first half (honey-do's) but it seemed to me that when the D was on the field J. Vitt was doing all kinds of arm and hand signals just before the ball was snapped. Somehow I think he was overriding Marmi-lade's calls and dialing up some blitzes. Of course he could have been waving to his wife in section Q, row 9. Who knows?
    More and more people are noticing Vitt signaling but I have not heard it explained. It does seem like he's calling defensive plays.

    P.S. I was wondering why you don't post much in the regular Clan Forums. We could certainly use your input during the week.
    Nothing personal, usually somebody's already said what I was thinking.

    --Mike

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    Re: RamView, 12/18/2005: Eggles 17, Rams 16 (Long)

    Quote Originally Posted by MFranke
    * Cheers: With Jack Snow out sick, Jim Hanifan has been filling in as the radio color man. Hanny’s certainly not a polished announcer, but he enjoyably lives and dies with the team on the air. As you might expect, Hanifan lends a lot of insight to what’s going on in the trenches, though with more o-line jargon than I can figure out. Hanifan’s worth a listen if you get to catch a radio broadcast the next two weeks.
    It really is the only way to catch a game lately. With Fox torturing viewers with Bill "Please no Maas" two games in a row, anything else is ointment to the ears.

    Listening to PleaseNoMaas's self-important prattle is like chinese water torture. A cup of cod liver oil and the sound of toilet water flushing is music to the ears in comparison.

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