Sunday, December 18, 2005

- It's so hard to watch this team right now. I think frustrating is the best word to describe it. The effort is there, I don't think that's up for debate. The Rams are playing hard and giving what they have, but the same old mental errors and problems continue to plague them. It's like at any given time there are three leaks in the dam and only two wads of gum to plug them with.

- For the second conseuctive week, the defense showed signs of improvement. Say what you will about the quality of the Eagles offense, but 201 yards allowed is pretty impressive. Obviously, the missed tackles (especially on Ryan Moats' 59-yard touchdown run) continue to pile up, but there is no denying that the Rams are doing a better job of getting off the field.

- I believe a big part of that improvement comes from the blatantly more aggressive defensive scheme. The added blitzing and movement is helping the Rams put to use their most valuable pieces on defense. Leonard Little played extremely well, along with the rest of the defensive line, consistently getting pressure and even breaking through for some sacks.

- The fundamental errors on both sides of the ball continue to hurt the Rams and that is really maddening. Every time it appears the tackling is getting better, someone like Moats breaks a big one. Every time the offense gets in a rhythm, there's a dumb penalty. There is no exucse for 15 penalties. Those mistakes kill drives and never has that been more evident than it was today.

- It was a tough day for rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. I have advocated using him to give him a chance to learn and be ready to be the backup for the rest of the season, but maybe he isn't giving the Rams the best chance to win right now. It's debatable whether he or Jamie Martin should be starting, but if the Rams are going based on the guy that gives them the best chance to win, it's certainly a debate that has merits on both sides. Fitzpatrick's ball is floating and he has made some bad decisions. Again, he is a rookie and that is expected, but I never thought I'd see the day where the Rams' passing game is as stagnant as it was today.

- For proof of that, check out the total combined catches and yards for Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce: five catches for 32 yards. There have been games where one of those guys puts up those kind of numbers.

- Nice to see the commitment and performance of the running game today. Steven Jackson was running hard and was more decisive. When he left with injury, Marshall Faulk showed flashes of the Faulk of old. Still, why was Faulk not in the game on the team's final drive? He was the team's best offensive weapon at that point. Nothing against Arlen Harris, but Faulk was getting it done.

- Another strong game from kicker Jeff Wilkins. Wilkins continues to have a Pro Bowl-caliber season. Were it not for Arizona's Neil Rackers, Wilkins would be a shoo in for Hawaii. Maybe he should still get some consideration.

- Something else I never thought I'd see...the Rams have now lost three consecutive home games. Remember when the Edward Jones Dome used to be where opponent's winning streaks went to die? Clearly, that aura is gone and a big reason for that has been the performance of the team this year. Still, it's surprising to see.

- Pisa Tinoisamoa has as much heart as anyone I've ever been around. He HATES losing. His teammates and coaches hate it too, but you get the impression that he is literally disgusted by it. He continues to play and he made a nice interception and return to set up the Rams' first score. No doubt that he can be counted on to finish the year strong.

- Obviously, there are a lot of emotions that go with playing in this league, but all of the celebrations for making a tackle 25 yards down field need to come to an end. Celebrate when you make a play. I did like Anthony Hargrove's dance moves after his sack. Nothing wrong with a little jig when you do make a play like he did.