St. Louis Rams Team Report
One thing the last three weeks of Rams football has shown is that the team's problems are a lot deeper than the head coach.
There was a momentary period of optimism after Jim Haslett was named to replace Scott Linehan following an 0-4 start, games that were lost by a combined score of 147-43.
But the past three games, including Sunday's 35-16 loss to San Francisco, have reverted back to that beginning.
In three losses to Arizona, the Jets and the *****, the Rams have been outscored 116-32, and each game has essentially been over by halftime, with the Rams trailing by a combined score of 99-10. In the past two games, they have been behind by a total of 75-3 after two quarters.
Each game has featured brutal stretches of play where turnovers created poor field position and led to many of those points. Sunday, the ***** scored 28 points in a 10:04 span of the second quarter. The previous week, the Jets scored 17 points within 5:42 of the first quarter and another 23 points in 11:37 of the second quarter.
In the loss to Arizona that began the streak, the Cardinals scored 24 points in an 11:28 span of the second quarter. In the past two games, the Rams have had a total of eight turnovers in the first half.
"I'm kind of perplexed by it," coach Jim Haslett said after Sunday's game. "I'm not really sure what to say because we come out in the second half and end up playing a lot better."
Of course, the improved play in the second half the past two weeks came with the opponent nursing huge leads.
Still, three killer turnovers in the second quarter Sunday obscured the fact that the offense actually moved the ball. The Rams had 203 yards at halftime, including 85 yards rushing. Quarterback Marc Bulger was 12-for-19 for 127 yards, but his three turnovers helped the turn the game into a rout, along with a defense that once again gave up big play after big play.
In that fateful second quarter, Bulger couldn't handle a center exchange and San Francisco recovered. He then threw two interceptions on the next two possessions and the ***** scored three touchdowns after getting the ball at the Rams' 16-yard line and at their own 40 and 44.
Center Nick Leckey took responsibility for the botched snap, while one of the interceptions was aided by wide receiver Donnie Avery stumbling and being too close to wide receiver Torry Holt, which allowed safety Michael Lewis to peel away from Avery and make the interception of the pass intended for Holt. The other interception was a deep pass to Avery that was underthrown.
Said Haslett, "Then we do nothing on defense to stop them from scoring every time they touch the ball except for the turnover in the first half. That was terrible."
As noted, big plays were again a problem for the defense. Of the 213 passing yards by quarterback Shaun Hill for the entire game, 151 came on five first-half plays. In addition, 89 of San Francisco's 135 rushing yards came on six of their 36 rushes.
The score would have likely been worse before the litany of turnovers had safety Oshiomogho Atogwe not punched the ball out of the arm of running back Frank Gore after a 37-yard run on San Francisco's first possession. The ***** had 259 yards at halftime on 29 plays (8.9 yards per play) and 127 yards on their first three possessions on just 11 plays (11.5 yards per play).
Said Holt, "The first halves have been devastating for us as a football team and it's tough. It's tough to recover. You go in the half with a team up 40, up by 35 on you, 28 on you, but I would say the thing about our football team, we were coming out in the second half and we're fighting. We're not giving up and we're fighting. We are just down such a big deficit it's tough."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—QB Marc Bulger will start against Chicago Sunday despite being involved in three turnovers against the *****.
—LT Orlando Pace suffered a Grade 2 MCL injury in his knee against San Francisco and is expected to miss two-to-four weeks. Pace was injured in the first quarter of the game against the *****.
—RB Steve Jackson has been declared out of Sunday's game against the Bears and will rest his injured quad for another week. Jackson saw a specialist for a second opinion, who said there was nothing different from what the team was saying about the injury.
—CB Ron Bartell, who injured his knee Sunday, had only soft tissue affected and will be day to day this week for practice and Sunday's game against the Bears.
—LB Chris Draft will miss another two or three games because of a broken bone in his right foot that has forced him to miss the last two games.
—DT La'Roi Glover continues to play with a torn meniscus in his knee. Glover had the knee drained Monday.
—OG John Greco is expected to return to practice this week after suffering a minor knee injury in practice last Thursday (Nov. 13). Greco could start at right guard this week if Richie Incognito is unable to play because of a shoulder injury.
Re: St. Louis Rams Team Report
Put a nail in the coffin for 2008. This team needs an overhaul.