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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Seattle test will tell us which way Rams are headed

    Seattle test will tell us which way Rams are headed


    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Friday, Oct. 08 2004

    The Rams got better last week. They ran the ball, they stopped the run, the
    covered kicks, they won a division game on the road . . . all in all, it was a
    splendid Sunday night in San Francisco.

    But now we’ll learn so much more about this team. Rams coach Mike Martz insists
    that the early turbulence was expected and that his team will continue
    improving as the season unfolds.

    The Seahawks will test that theory -- because they have all the tools to
    deliver the Rams a severe beating in Seattle.

    Here is what we’ll be looking for over in this corner of cyberspace:


    * Can the Rams really stop the run?

    The Seahawks will pound running back Shaun Alexander into Larry Marmie’s
    defensive unit, looking to set up play-action passing opportunities.

    The Rams got a handle on Kevan Barlow last Sunday in Frisco, but this will be a
    much greater challenge.

    “You need to try to keep their linemen off our linebackers with the defensive
    front,” Martz observed during his Wednesday news conference. “It’s like putting
    your finger in a leak in the dam, it will spring somewhere else.”

    Like with quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who is building on last season’s
    progress.

    “All of a sudden he is pulling the ball out of Alexander’s belly,” Martz said,
    “and throwing it down the field. That’s how they work.”


    * Can the Rams really establish the run?

    The Niners are nothing special on defense and Martz made the point of punishing
    them with Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson. Will he still favor the run this
    week if Seattle has early success stopping it?

    The Seahawks have the league’s third-ranked rush defense, so opening holes will
    be a chore -- especially with the Rams offensive line so banged up.

    We’ll all monitor the play-calling closely. If Mad Mike abandons the run, the
    Seahawks have the personnel to get after quarterback Marc Bulger while making
    it difficult to connect on deep passing strikes. The Seahawks have an excellent
    secondary.

    So far, former Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom has been everything Seahawks
    coach Mike Holmgren hoped for. So far, Seattle's defensive line has been very
    disruptive.

    “Our defensive line, I’m not saying I’m surprised, but they put it together
    nicely,” Holmgren told the St. Louis media during a conference call Wednesday.
    “We’re playing a lot of folks in there. We drafted (Marcus) Tubbs in the first
    round. He’s in there and he’s a rookie. And Rashard Moore is a young guy,
    second-year player in there, and I’m pleased with how the defensive line is
    playing. They set the table for the linebackers and secondary.”


    * Will Martz get Faulk out in space?

    The Seahawks linebackers aren’t great. If ever Martz was going to throw lots of
    passes to Faulk releasing from the backfield, this would be the game.

    Faulk looked more like his old self against the Niners last week. Now Martz has
    an opportunity to get him lots of touches in different ways.


    * Finally, will the Rams play a clean game?

    Last Sunday they played nearly mistake-free football, avoiding the sorts of
    penalties, turnovers and kick coverage gaffes that led to their 1-2 start.

    If the Rams make lots of mistakes at Seattle, they will get blown out. If they
    can minimize their mishaps, then they will give their playmakers the
    opportunity to take their shot.

    This matchup provides an excellent test. Just where are the Rams these days?
    Are they moving back into playoff contention or are they headed south, as so
    many naysayers believe?

    By the end of the weekend, we’ll have a much better read on this football team.



  2. #2
    evil disco man's Avatar
    evil disco man is offline Pro Bowl Ram
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    Re: Seattle test will tell us which way Rams are headed

    This place will go haywire no matter who wins this game. It's a very pivotal game early in the season, and, I also believe, will tell us where this Rams team is going.

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
    Nick is offline Superbowl MVP
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    Re: Seattle test will tell us which way Rams are headed

    We'll be the best offense Seattle has faced to date. This game will not only save a lot about the Rams, but will also be the biggest test that the Seattle defense will have gone against thus far in the season. So we'll not only find out if the Rams are for real, but also if the Seahawks are.
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