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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Some good, plenty of bad in an ugly preseason loss

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    Sunday, Aug. 19 2007

    Not a lot of St. Louisans saw the Rams lose to the Chargers 30-13 Saturday
    night. The CBS telecast was blacked out locally -– due to the lack of a sellout
    -– and about half of the ticket-holders spent the night elsewhere.

    Coach Scott Linehan’s initial game assessment was that fans didn’t miss much.
    He saw some more positives after reviewing game tapes with his coaches, but
    overall, not much progress was made during this preseason exercise.

    Here were some things that stood out to your cyber-correspondent:


    THE GOOD

    Leonard Little is still Leonard Little. He earned a sack off a three-man rush,
    using speed and tenacity to beat two blocks.

    The Chargers came right after cornerback Ron Bartell -– and the youngster lived
    to tell about it. This is good news, because he will have to fill-in for
    suspended cornerback Fakhir Brown during the first four games of the season.

    Working with the second unit, defensive tackle Claude Wroten got good pressure
    right up the middle in pass rush situations. And new defensive end James Hall
    managed to gain some penetration with the first defensive unit.

    Back-up quarterback Gus Frerotte was outstanding, efficiently working the
    check-down passes to move the ball without taking big risks. But he also hit a
    big strike down the middle to Drew Bennett and located Marques Hagans for a
    late TD pass.

    And speaking of Hagans, he made his case for the sixth receiver slot with 5
    catches for 71 yards and a touchdown. His 34-yard reception was a classic
    catch-and-run up the right sideline. He ran a great route, made a nice break on
    the ball and then turned it up field for a big gainer.

    Specialist Dante Hall showed good wheels on his single kickoff return and his
    punt return. The kickoff return was negated by penalty, but Hall managed to
    excite the half-empty Dome both times he touched the ball.

    Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett did a nice job generating pressure with
    timely safety blitzes. O.J. Atogwe scored a sack on one of his sprints into the
    backfield.

    A couple of linebackers fighting for a roster spot, Raonall Smith and Jon
    Alston, made nice plays defending the pass in the open field.


    THE BAD

    Try as it might, the Rams defense did not force any turnovers.

    With Steven Jackson staying out of the line of fire, rookie Brian Leonard did
    most of the ball carrying. He showed nice acceleration early and bolted to a
    first down on a 2nd-and-7 play. Overall, though, he gained just 49 yards on 17
    carries. There just wasn’t much there for him. Much more is expected from this
    offensive line.

    Speaking of the O-line, Richie Incognito suffered an ankle sprain during the
    game. The initial diagnosis wasn’t scary, but this is a guy the Rams would
    rather not lose.

    Marc Bulger moved the ball OK, mostly throwing underneath coverage, but he
    failed to lead the first defensive unit to a touchdown. Moving the ball between
    the 20s won’t get the Rams into the playoffs this season.

    On Bulger’s end zone interception, Chargers safety Clinton Hart got a better
    break on the ball than Torry Holt did. That was just an ugly-looking play and
    San Diego was sitting on it.

    Bulger got rocked twice, hard, by blind-side pass rushers. Luckily, Rodney
    Harrison no longer is a Charger; Marc was able to get out of the game with his
    knees intact. But such breakdowns in protection are unacceptable.

    The first Chargers offense worked the Rams first defensive unit over but good.
    In the first quarter, running back Michael Turner gained 31 yards on five
    carries as LaDainian Tomlinson’s stand-in and Philip Rivers completed four of
    five passes for 45 yards and a touchdown.

    Cornerback Jonathan Wade had a couple of rookie moments, missing an open field
    tackle (by a lot) and getting beat in coverage as well. But the Rams will need
    him to grow, because veteran Lenny Walls looks a step slow out there.


    THE UGLY

    The punt coverage team suffered massive breakdowns to allow Darren Sproles to
    come back on an 81-yard touchdown return. What happened?

    “I think what happened was No. 1 they blocked us and No. 2 we were stopping on
    contact which we didn’t do last year,” Linehan said afterward. “There’s a lot
    of learning and teaching to come off of that.” Or so the Rams hope.

    While straining to gain extra yardage after a reception, fullback Madison
    Hedgecock was stripped of the football as his knee touched down. Yes, he was
    probably down when all this happened -– but he still lost the ball, which is
    not good. This turnover killed a seven-minute drive. This is precisely the
    sort of mistake Linehan loathes.


  2. #2
    TheBritishRam's Avatar
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    Re: Some good, plenty of bad in an ugly preseason loss

    Last preseason the rams didn't score one offensive touchdown with the first team. But i think it's safe to say that they did ok in the regular season. Why would they want to show their whole hand before the games actually mean something.

  3. #3
    Truth's Avatar
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    Re: Some good, plenty of bad in an ugly preseason loss

    Quote Originally Posted by TheBritishRam View Post
    Last preseason the rams didn't score one offensive touchdown with the first team. But i think it's safe to say that they did ok in the regular season. Why would they want to show their whole hand before the games actually mean something.
    Unfortunately, our 1st team offense hasn't shown us much of anything so far this pre-season. I'm hoping this is all due to a very "Vanilla" scheme so as not to show too much before the games count. If that's not the case, we're in for a VERY long and frustrating season.
    That's my story, and I'm sticking to it!!

  4. #4
    general counsel's Avatar
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    Re: Some good, plenty of bad in an ugly preseason loss

    We havent seen the first team offense so its hard to say that we havent shown much. Jackson has played a total of five plays in two games. Thus, its not the first team offense. Furthermore, we moved the ball very very well against a good first team defense on two of our three possessions on saturday night. If we convert even one of those two drives, people wouldnt have nearly as much of an issue.

    The offense will be just fine if healthy. The key for this team in terms of playoff possibilities is and will remain on the defensive side of the ball.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  5. #5
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    Re: Some good, plenty of bad in an ugly preseason loss

    I would rather not see Jackson at all during the preseason. The less carries on his body the better.

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