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    MFranke's Avatar
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    RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    RamView, August 21, 2005
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Preseason Game #2: Chargers 36, Rams 21

    Rams fans wondering how the team would look against a better opponent than last week's had to cringe at the answer they got today, as the Rams got off to a lousy start, with flashbacks to last year's "defense" and offensive line. Though it is preseason, it also looks like the Rams still have a ways to go to improve on '04.

    Position by position:
    * QB: The Ram offense got off to a God-awful start: two straight 3-and-outs, one ended by Marc Bulger getting a pass knocked down at the line (AGAIN), another ending in a sack, followed by another drive ending in a sack. As San Diego charged ahead 17-0, things were not looking good at all. When the second quarter got going, though, Marc found his groove and played lights-out football, finishing the first half with 181 yards and 2 TDs on 15-21 passing. With his line finally slowing down the Charger rush, Bulger hit Isaac Bruce for 20, Shaun McDonald for 11, Kevin Curtis for 13, Steven Jackson for 9, and Curtis for 13 and a TD. The Rams got the ball right back. Bulger hit Bruce, who lateralled to Curtis, for 22 out to midfield. He next hit Torry Holt for nine, and on the next play, rolled away from a blitzing LB and hit Holt for 41 and a TD. With that play, Rams fans could feel good that Bulger had knocked off any offseason rust. Luck was not with Marc the rest of the half, though, as he gave up a well-played interception/TD (great play by Clinton Hart; 44-yard TD return by Drayton Florence) and got sacked on the last play of the half. Jeff Smoker (1-3-17) was the #2 (Jamie Martin sat out with an injury) but didn't show much. He fell on his first play from scrimmage for a loss. His first drive ended in a safety and his third and last drive ended in a sack. That made him look pretty bad when Ryan Fitzpatrick came in for one play, threw a picture-perfect bomb to Curtis for a 78-yard TD, and trotted off as nonchalantly as if he'd been doing that all his life. Again, it comes down to more than just the games, but it looks like Fitzpatrick is sailing away with the #3 job to me.

    * RB: My favorite Steven Jackson (7-51) play of the game wasn't the early 7-yard sweep with the nice cutback. Or the 17-yard run off an inside handoff behind a key block by Brandon Manumaleuna, or the 11-yard sweep behind Andy McCollum. It was the play that came on the Rams' first TD drive, where Jackson stopped a blitzer cold and then slipped right around him to catch a screen pass for 9 yards. I am totally drinking the Steven Jackson Kool-Aid after that play. What a superb play by a second-year player. Marshall Faulk (25 total yards) may have topped that in the 1st, though. Showing the damage he'll be capable of doing "in space" this season, Marshall took a swing pass and put the greatest hesitation move ever on two or three Chargers before stomping on the accelerator for a 12-yard gain. Arlen Harris (10-40) had a 33-yard run in the 3rd behind good blocks from Manu and Blaine Saipaia, and has basically buried Aveion Cason's chances at #3 tailback. There's talk about the competition at fullback between Joey Goodspeed and Madison Hedgecock, and they both threw some nice blocks, but they both could still get aced out, because Manu is blocking better than I have ever seen. It really looks like the light has come on for him.

    * WR: It'll be hard to keep Kevin Curtis a secret if he has more games like today: 4 catches, 127 yards and 2 TDs. The highlight was a late 78-yard, classic I'll-throw-it-as-far-as-I-can-and-you-run-under-it connection between Curtis and Fitzpatrick. Curtis was never threatened with being caught as he raced crossfield for the TD. Good to see Torry Holt (4-58) and Bulger hooking up, as on Torry's 41-yard TD in the 2nd. An even better play by Torry, seeing as Quentin Jammer grabbed him before the ball came. Isaac Bruce (3-42) and Curtis hooked up on a hook-and-trailer for 22 yards. That play looked improvised. The "Big Five" and Faulk were the only receivers with catches today. Much of the competition here seems to be closed.

    * Offensive line: The source of the Rams' awful first quarter play was the offensive line, which did not distinguish itself. Bulger was pressured into an incompletion on the 2nd play of the game by a defender Rex Tucker couldn't block, and that was followed by a pass knockdown. The next drive, Jackson was stuffed in the backfield by pressure right up the middle, and Roland Williams destroyed a naked bootleg play by not blocking anybody. Backs continued to get little room the next drive. As well, the line fouled up another naked bootleg, nearly getting Bulger killed; then, he did get killed on 3rd down by Tucker's man. On that play, though, Marc had at least five seconds to unload. Tucker was replaced sometime in the 2nd, after false-starting, by Matt Willig, and lo and behold, the line solidified. The Rams drove for two TDs behind excellent pass protection as Bulger got all day to throw. The only change was Willig in for Tucker (plus a bunch of excellent blitz pickups by Faulk, Jackson and Goodspeed). Hmm, wonder who's starting at RT next week, although Willig did get absolutely smoked in getting Bulger sacked on the last play of the first half. Unfortunately, the 2nd was the only solid period for the line. The team went backwards for a safety in the 3rd. Claude Terrell didn't get out of the blocks on a 2nd-down draw play, and Arlen Harris got hog-collared for a loss. (Terrell got beat for a sack on a later drive; not his best game.) With the ball at the 3, more confusion, as the whole line pulls right, but C Larry Turner doesn't block anybody, hanging RG Blaine Saipaia out to dry, with no chance of stopping Derreck Robinson from burying Harris for a safety. Alex Barron finally played; he neither stood out nor looked bad to me, though he had more trouble with one Dave Ball than you would want him to have if he's to face the Strahans, Kearses or Bertran Berrys of the world this season. Barron looked good in pass protection, though he got help from Jerome Collins whenever I looked. So while they didn't look good today on the whole, they looked a lot better with the benefit of Willig's good play when he was in there, so he may be the guy who gets things back on the right track.

    * Defensive line/LB: We've seen this movie before. It sucked, and we don't want to watch it any more. The Ram run "defense" brought back the hideous echoes of '04, allowing 215 rushing yards, including 55-yard runs by LaDainian Tomlinson (a TD, on his only rush) and Michael Turner. There were at least three problems on LT's TD. 1. Jimmy Kennedy and Damione Lewis were stunting. I need an X's-and-O's guy to explain why you would do that on 2nd-and-3. The stunt created a big hole right where the play was designed to go. 2. Instead of filling that hole, Chris Claiborne took on pulling guard Toniu Fonoti, possibly fooled into thinking sweep. And 3. Adam Archuleta turned into Jason Sehorn. Although the Ram pass rush did NOTHING all game, they did bounce back the next drive. Leonard Little blew up a screen, Dexter Coakley blitzed and stuffed a run for -3, and Little and Tyoka Jackson blew up a screen pass to force a FG. Next drive, they went right back into the dump with Turner's run. Tony Hargrove got completely steamrolled, creating the hole Turner hit. The linebackers disappear, and Michael Hawthorne overruns the play and blows a downfield tackle. After Darren Sproles gets another 16 on a 90 flip, Turner plunges in for a TD to make it 17-0. Claiborne got steamrolled by the fullback, and Kennedy just got knocked on his ass. Weak!
    Weakness and poor play continued in the second half. 11-year veteran Tyoka Jackson jumped offsides on 3rd-and-4 thanks to 2-year QB Philip Rivers' hard count. The Chargers fumble a pass at the 14, but no Ram can scoop it up and a Trusty TE takes it down to the 2. Where one Andrew Pinnock scored, with the Ram defensive line offering less resistance than that shower curtain gave Norman Bates. Holy crap. Some short props: Brandon Green got rotated in pretty early this week and got action at both end spots. He had the team's ONLY sack but also looked like a liability against the run at times. Robert Thomas blew up a screen pass, and Clifford Dukes smartly stuffed a QB scramble. But this defense clearly regressed compared to last week, and they have put on just about zero pass rush so far this August. They'd better sound the red alert and go to DEFCON 1 at Rams Park this week.

    * Secondary: Thumbs up to DeJuan Groce, who broke up a long pass attempt and an endzone pass for the TE to help hold San Diego's second drive to a FG. Thumbs down to Adam Archuleta for taking the terrible angle on LT's TD run. Thumbs down to Travis Fisher for letting Eric Parker five yards behind him for a 29-yard completion on 3rd-and-16 in the 2nd. He was probably giving Parker up to the safety, except there wasn't one near. Ron Bartell seemed to have a good game, though he was beaten pretty good on a long incompletion early in the 3rd. Best hit of the game was by Corey Ivy on Greg Camarillo in the 3rd, though he couldn’t prevent the first down. Except for a couple of bad breakdowns on the long runs, the secondary wasn't the problem today. The Rams have got to get it done up front.

    * Special teams: Not a disaster like last year, but too many mistakes all the same. Aveion Cason got the Rams poor starting position on the first three kickoff returns: 25, 17, 20. One of the key things that got the offense going in the 2nd was Terry Fair returning kicks across the 30, though to be fair, San Diego was also kicking fairly short by then. Michael Hawthorne made a good play to stop Darren Sproles on a punt return, but also committed a hands-to-the-face penalty in the 2nd half to give San Diego the ball back after a punt. Stupid. The Rams had a Bryan Barker punt pinned at the 4, but Mike Furrey was called for illegal touching; I assume he stepped out of bounds and was the first one to touch it. If so, stupid. These guys are supposed to be the veteran core of the special teams? Punting was mediocre once again. Reggie Hodges had a nice 45-yarder but failed badly in his one chance to pin the Chargers deep, clunking a 31-yard punt from the Charger 47. Very slight edge, Barker, because he didn't show much leg, either. Too many missed tackles on punt and kickoff coverage, and in the 4th, San Diego hit a beautiful punt, and the first three guys downfield were all Chargers, stuffing Fair for minus-2. What's the excuse for that? Down 17-14, the Rams nearly recovered an onside kick. Executed well by Remy Hamilton, but Jerome Carter lost the recovery off of Hawthorne's helmet. Those kind of play calls help keep preseason interesting, but witnessing the dropoff in tackling today and continued dumb mistakes by veterans, Bob Ligashesky better get on the basics.

    * Coaching/discipline: Dangit, Larry Marmie, you failed to learn your own lesson from last week. The Ram defense went back to soft and non-aggressive, getting no pass rush and letting the low-risk Charger offense complete dink after dink after dink in front of them. It is crucial for Marmie to produce schemes that will generate successful pass rush this season, and so far, he's not showing me much. The DT stunt on LT's TD run makes me think Marmie got fooled into thinking pass there. Can't be sure. Mike Martz appears to be in love with the naked bootleg the way he used to be in love with the Az Hakim QB option play, another play that was nearly a disaster every time it was run. Maybe someday, his offensive line will actually block on that play. We got some tantalizing hints on Faulk's role as a receiver out of the backfield, which I for one was happy to see. The onside kick would have been a perfectly horrific call for a regular season game, but is fine for preseason. And while the Fitzpatrick bomb to Curtis was a thrilling play, what the heck is Curtis doing still in a long-decided preseason game with 1:35 left? Brandon Middleton can't run that pattern? Man, Curtis has somewhat of an injury history, and you're leaving him in late in meaningless games like that?

    * Waiver bait: Furrey and Hawthorne need to start playing up to their reputations on special teams. Smoker and Cason are getting lapped by their competition for their #3 spots. Rex Tucker hasn't proven he can play anywhere on the line. Most of the free agent WRs have to figure they're done after today, unless they can make a sudden impact on special teams. What happened to Dante Ridgeway, anyway?

    * Upon further review: Bill Leavy was in charge today, and unusually for a preseason game, there weren't a lot of penalties. The Rams ended up with 8, but for just 36 yards. Interference should have been called on Jammer on Holt's TD, but who cares? It was a TD! Looked like a very well-called game to me.

    * Cheers: Though I thought Jay Randolph did a decent job on TV, this wasn't a day for broadcast excell-ence. Steve Savard misidentified a bunch of guys on radio, and Jack Snow waxed erroneously on how Steven Jackson reminded him of "another player who wore 39", Eric Dickerson. D'oh! On TV, they skipped whole plays, like the second Rams punt, to go to commercials, and a couple of times we got sideline shots of the cameramen's feet instead of, well, THE GAME. Jackie Slater breaks down offensive line play better than anybody I can think of, and is very valuable in a TV booth for that. But the Hall-of-Famer also couldn't pronounce several player's names at all, including Saipaia, Tinoisamoa and Manu. My favorite moment was when Slater called Mike Furrey a "virtual" guy. You mean like Max Headroom? But the TV WTF? moment of the day was... Lee Iacocca in Chrysler commercials with Snoop Dogg? Do I need my eyes checked?

    * Who’s next?: Next Monday night’s game in Detroit might as well be a dress rehearsal for the Arizona game in week 2 of the regular season, as much as the Lions and the Big Dead have in common. They’re both perennial losing franchises coming off decent seasons (for them), and they enter this season with playoff expectations. They both have young players at most of the “skill” positions, a contingent of big, physical WRs, and a QB trying to recreate past glories. The Ram secondary is going to have its hands full with Roy Williams, Mike Williams and Charles Rogers, so some pass rush would be nice. You know, the rush they didn’t put on Joey Harrington two years ago in an embarrassing loss at Ford Field. Kevin Jones is the physical kind of RB that the Ram “back 7” hasn’t seemed to have an answer for lately; it’ll be up to Chris Claiborne to make a good showing in front of his old employers and get the Rams back on track defensively. The Lion offense isn’t scoring much so far this preseason, but the Rams’ defensive starters have a lot to prove after today’s performance.
    On the other side, the Ram offensive line has got to get its act together. Adam Timmerman may well be back at RG, but the spotlight could be on Matt Willig at RT. I think Willig has earned the right to start now. Claude Terrell needs to reproduce the play that impressed everyone so much in camp. The offense has gotten off to two very slow starts this preseason and needs to come firing out of the gate in Detroit Monday night. The Rams can’t afford to sputter on offense early in regular-season games, and now is the time to clean these things up. The Lion defense has been OK so far scoring-wise. They have a major disruptor up front in Shaun Rogers, and a major playmaker in the backfield in Dre Bly, but like the Rams, they seem to have a defense with more questions right now than answers. Monday night’s game calls for the Rams to have their act together blocking (and tackling) right off the bat, and we’ll see if they can avoid some of the early-game malaise they’ve found so far this summer.

    -- Mike
    Game stats from nfl.com


  2. #2
    psycho9985 Guest

    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    I think that maybe Fitzpatrick might be #2 QB by Mid season.
    Martin looked good against the Bears,but remember its still Jaime Martin.
    Fitzpatrick showed us that he can throw the long ball and do it accurately hitting Kevin Curtis with a 78 yard bomb for a TD.

    Its going to be real interesting how the 1st team gets put together.
    Hoping for the best.
    Last edited by psycho9985; -02-02-2006 at 10:08 PM.

  3. #3
    majorram's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    I liked this guys report!!!

    Nice to see from what I have read, Bulger has shaken off the rust and he is in mid season form already....

    steve:clanram:

  4. #4
    .ramfan.'s Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    Very nicely written. I know it's only pre-season but this loss is gonna bug me for the rest of the week.

    Anyways as always...

    GO RAMS!!! :clanram:

  5. #5
    adarian_too's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    Quote Originally Posted by majorram
    I liked this guys report!!!
    There is no doubt that the view from Row HH is pretty darn comprehensive. I'm not sure how he keeps track of all the detail myself. Just when I turn my attention to the line play I feel I missed something in the secondary. For as much detail as he goes in to, I'd have to keep rewinding the tape just to see what else I missed. Good to see him posting this over on this site now.

  6. #6
    RAMMAN68's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    Fitzpatrick showed us that he can throw the long ball and do it accurately hitting Kevin Curtis with a 78 yard bomb for a TD.
    It was a nice pass, but Curtis was open and the Chargers DB's are not very good.

    Hopefully Fitzpatrick will get more playing time vs the Lions.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    Mike has always done excellent reports and I have badgered him for long enought to come over to the biggest Ram site on the planet. Maybe now, he is coming round LOL


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    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    I think Mike Franke's reports are about the best there is. And you just gotta love lines like" I'm drinking Steven Jackson Kool-Aid..." and "... with the Rams defensive line offering less resistancde than that shower curtain gave Norman Bates...." With comments like these I can hardly wait for his next game post!! ( hopefully after a win.)

    WHAT SAY YE?

  9. #9
    MFranke's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    OK, Dez, you can call off those badgers...

    adarian, you don't know how right you are, because
    I just got TiVo this weekend. So I was rewinding the
    game a lot to help my note-taking. I am positive I miss
    a lot of stuff, but the summaries at nfl.com help fill in
    some holes. Home games, I'm worse on detail because I
    won't take notes in the stands, being concerned I could
    be dangerous with a sharp object in my hand...

    --Mike

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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    Aint no badgers here Mike, its all good clean RAMS HORNS LOL


  11. #11
    viper's Avatar
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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    Very well done MFranke...keep them coming!!!

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    Re: RamView, 8/21/2005: Chargers 36, Rams 21 (Long)

    MFranke ... very nice! :up:

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