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  1. #1
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    USA Today's Inside Slant

    The Rams weathered a storm with their win over San Francisco Sunday night, and now they head west again with a chance to make a statement against the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks are 3-0, ranked at the top of the league on defense and coming off their bye week.

    A win, and the Rams would be just one-half game behind Seattle. Lose, and the gap widens to 2.5 games. While the second half of Sunday's game plodded along, the Rams were able to show some different things throughout the game that could make Seattle's preparation a bit more vexing.

    The balance shown on offense against San Francisco wasn't as much about coach Mike Martz proving the critics wrong as it was about showing that the offense is capable of running or passing depending on the situation. And that the offensive line, while a work in progress, is coming together as a unit.

    Said Martz, about the line, "I mentioned last week that (in our) nine-on-seven drills, the offensive line has practiced as well as I have ever seen a group here practice. It was exciting to watch. So when we got into the game, we have always been pragmatic about things, that's our approach. You stand on the sidelines, you look and see that they are playing a soft cover-2, you start handing the ball off, and they start rolling pretty good. The offensive line took it upon themselves to make things happen, and they certainly did.

    "It's just like in the passing game, you hit guys and you keep going with it. You do whatever it takes to win. If you get rolling in one particular area, you'd like to mix the other in there. Our offensive line at this point allows us to do both, which is something we haven't had in a while. At this point our offensive line is playing as well as any that we've had. I'm very pleased with them."

    What Martz is also mixing in are other players. While running back Marshall Faulk had another 100-yard game and wide receiver Isaac Bruce had his fourth straight 100-yard receiving game, three players scored their first NFL touchdowns against the *****.

    In addition to some crushing blocks leading the way for Faulk, fullback Joey Goodspeed scored on a 2-yard run. Rookie running back Steven Jackson scored on a short run, while second-year wideout Shaun McDonald had a six-yard scoring play. While Dane Looker was the most-used third receiver last season because McDonald and Kevin Curtis were often injured, the latter duo is beginning to contribute more to the offense.

    "These are guys that we've been counting on" to contribute, Martz said. "This isn't the Isaac and Torry and Marshall Show. To be able to use all of those people is vital. They're integral parts of what you do offensively. It's very important. And it's hard on the (opposing) defense."

    Defensively, the Seahawks' offense will present more of a challenge to the Rams than San Francisco did, but Martz was also pleased with some of the new things done on that side of the ball. Defensive end Leonard Little was moved around and lined up as a linebacker on several plays, while rookie defensive end Anthony Hargrove is starting to see more time.

    On Little, Martz said, "Everybody in the last few weeks has turned their protection and double-teamed (him) with two linemen. That's why he's not been as productive as you would expect. So what we tried to do is move him around a little bit. I don't know how effective it was ... but we'll continue to experiment."

    And that won't be the only experiment.

    "I want to continue to change some things on defense," Martz said. "I want to be aggressive and attack people, and not let them get in any kind of rhythm in terms of what we're doing. That's kind of the direction we're headed."

    Sunday will be a huge test in all facets of the game.

    SERIES HISTORY: 12th meeting. The Rams lead 7-4, and the teams have split the season series since Seattle became a member of the NFC West in 2002. Last season, the Rams held a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter of the game in Seattle, but the Seahawks rallied to win, 24-23.

    NOTES, QUOTES

    —RB Steven Jackson continues to improve on a weekly basis, especially in the area most difficult for rookies: blitz pickup. After Jackson rushed for 46 yards in 10 carries against San Francisco this past Sunday, coach Mike Martz talked about the blitz when asked about Jackson's play.

    "I'm very pleased," Martz said "He had a real nice blitz pick-up in the second quarter, on the last drive that we had. It was a real key third down, and he picked up the blitz and rode (the defender) past the quarterback, and Marc (Bulger) was able to step up and make the throw. (Jackson) is getting better in all phases of the game. Marshall (Faulk) has helped him terrifically. Marshall is such a student of the game, and I think he holds Steven to that same standard. I think that he really understands what we are trying to do now. It's as important to be physical, blocking, as it is to be a runner. He's getting better, and we are going to use him. Marshall comes out, we put Steven in, and we don't change anything we do."

    —The team's much-maligned run defense did a solid job on San Francisco's Kevan Barlow, limiting him to one run of more than 10 yards. This week, the defense will face Shaun Alexander.

    Reflecting on the effort Sunday, coach Mike Martz said, "The ***** really tried to get something going, and the same running schemes that have hurt us in the past, we shored that up a little, the stretch and cutback type of plays. Penetration by the defensive line, by and large, the entire defensive line was a exceptional. They played really well."

    Martz singled out nose tackle Ryan Pickett, said, "(He) won't get credit for anything. You're not in the position to rush the passer, so you're not going to get sacks. All you do is get beat on the whole time. You're not going to make a lot of tackles, but what you do, it's the most unselfish position in football. All you do is take the hits and try to throw them off, so the linebackers and everyone else make the play. But he was penetrating, getting back into the backfield, and being very disruptive."

    —LB Trev Faulk was named the team's special teams player of the week for his three tackles on kickoff coverage and one on punt coverage. Faulk was back on the field after missing two games because of a hamstring injury.

    Noting the problems that can occur on special teams when injuries hit, Martz said, "This (Faulk's play) goes back and reflects what I said earlier about special teams and its effectiveness, when you have those kind of players in your backup secondary and linebackers, who eventually can be starters, but when they are down or injured, it does effect your special teams. You can see the impact it has on any special teams to have those types of guys back and healthy. He certainly made his presence felt. And he is certainly capable of starting for us as a middle linebacker. He probably has had as good of camp this year as anyone we had on defense. He's just been remarkable."

    —With his 121 yards against San Francisco, RB Marshall Faulk moved into second place on the Rams' all-time rushing list with 6,206 yards. He passed Lawrence McCutcheon, who is the club's director of player personnel. Eric Dickerson is at the top with 7,245 yards.

    QUOTE TO NOTE: "Nothing Isaac does surprises me. It really doesn't. We have tried to put him in the position to make plays a little more. People understand and know Torry Holt at this point, in the past they always worried about Isaac. And Torry's quietly had such a great career here so far. Teams have made such a conscientious effort to try to eliminate him over there, of course that means that Isaac is going to get the ball. I think the combination of that and having these young receivers coming on now, is going to help us down the road." - Coach Mike Martz on WR Isaac Bruce.

    STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

    —LG Scott Tercero, who made his first start of the season this past Sunday against the *****, did not practice Wednesday because of a broken bone in his right hand. Tercero is probable for this week's game against Sunday.

    —OG Tom Nutten, who hadn't been played in a regular-season game since the end of the 2002 season until seeing action in short-yardage situations last week, worked with the first unit in practice Wednesday at left guard with Scott Tercero sidelined because of a broken bone in his hand.

    —OG Chris Dishman, who did not play last week because of a knee injury, participated in some individual drills Wednesday, but is not all the way back yet. He is listed as questionable on the injury report.

    —SS Rich Coady will start again this week with Adam Archuleta still bothered by a back injury. Coady was the team's defensive player of the game in Sunday's win over San Francisco.

    —SS Adam Archuleta will continue playing in nickel and dime defenses while recovering from back injury. His health has improved each week, but he's still not 100 percent.

    —CB DeJuan Groce (knee) could have played Sunday, but did not, and is now probable for this week. Groce took snaps with the No. 1 defense Wednesday.

    —MLB Robert Thomas (ankle) did not practice Wednesday to rest and injured ankle, but will play Sunday against the Seahawks.

    —RB Arlen Harris should be available for special teams work this week after not playing Sunday against the ***** because of a hamstring injury. Harris was active only in the event he was needed as a running back.

    GAME PLAN: The Rams' game plan doesn't change much from week to week. Offensively, they will mix and the run and pass and see which is working early, although they are always confident the passing game will be there. The line will have to control a Seattle front four that has been very active against the run and pass. On defense, avoiding the big play is paramount. Against San Francisco, the Rams defense allowed just one pass of 20 or more yards and one run of 10 or more yards. In the previous three games, the totals were nine and 18, respectively.

    MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams LT Orlando Pace vs. Seahawks DRE Grant Wistrom - Pace and Wistrom have had their share of battles in practice over the last few years before Wistrom left for Seattle in the offseason as a free agent. Pace isn't beaten by many defensive ends, and he knows Wistrom as well as anyone.

    Rams rushing defense vs. Seahawks RB Shaun Alexander - The Rams' linebackers will have to stay disciplined in their gaps and keep Alexander from breaking any long runs. If they can do that, and get Seattle into passing situations, DE Leonard Little will try to get the best of RT Chris Terry, as well as move around the line.

    Rams WRs Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt vs. Seahawks CBS Bobby Taylor and Marcus Trufant - Two of the best receivers in the game against two very formidable corners should make for some great battles all game.

    INJURY IMPACT: OG Tom Nutten is healthy at just the right time. Nutten came out of retirement when he signed in August, but then injured his toe on the second play of his first preseason game. Nutten played against the ***** Sunday, and was able to practice at left guard with Chris Dishman (knee) and Scott Tercero (hand) both limited.


  2. #2
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    Re: USA Today's Inside Slant

    Martz singled out nose tackle Ryan Pickett, said, "(He) won't get credit for anything. You're not in the position to rush the passer, so you're not going to get sacks. All you do is get beat on the whole time. You're not going to make a lot of tackles, but what you do, it's the most unselfish position in football. All you do is take the hits and try to throw them off, so the linebackers and everyone else make the play. But he was penetrating, getting back into the backfield, and being very disruptive."
    And this is exactly why I refuse to call Pickett a bust. He doesn't get sacks, he doesn't chase down RBs in the backfield, what he does is his job. His responsibility (and others like Ted Washington, Casey Hampton, Tony Siragusa circa. 2000) is to occupy as many blockers as possible. The more lineman he uses up, the clearer the shot our LBs have on QB/RB. If Pickett gains ground in the backfield as he did against San Fran, that's a bonus.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  3. #3
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    Re: USA Today's Inside Slant

    It's about time don't you think? I watch the defense and against the whiners was the first time this year both Pickett and DLew stuffed the HOLE instead of trying to run around it.

  4. #4
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    Re: USA Today's Inside Slant

    There are two very simple things that worry me the most about this game:

    1. Seattle is coming off a bye week.

    2. Martz is 0-2 in Seattle.

    I really hope Marmie has that defense flying around Sunday. And if Anthony Simmons is gonna be spying on Faulk again, run Steven Jackson right at him instead.

  5. #5
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    Re: USA Today's Inside Slant

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan
    It's about time don't you think? I watch the defense and against the whiners was the first time this year both Pickett and DLew stuffed the HOLE instead of trying to run around it.
    I can't completely agree with you, on Pickett at least. I agree that DLew appears to be trying to fill a "Sapp-like" inside pass rush instead of stopping the run. The problem of course being that DLew is not "Sapp-like" and most likely never will be. When we drafted DLew, I remember one commentator describing him as a "poor man's Warren Sapp". It's taken a while (too long), but I think he is starting to live up to even that back-handed compliment.

    Pickett on the other hand, has played quite well as the middle stopper when he's been healthy. In 2002 & 2003 (except for dealing with the ankle sprain), Pickett has done a good job of plugging the middle. There's nothing Pickett can do about LBs that play the wrong lane.

    Some have pointed to Stecker's 5.9 ypc against us as a knock on Pickett. Truth is, if you remove Brooks scrambling out of the pocket & Stecker's 42 yard TD (which was a result of Howard leaving his hole, not Pickett's inability to fill one), the Saints averaged 3.17 ypc.

    My point is this: our run defense may be struggling, but I don't think it's because of Pickett.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  6. #6
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    Re: USA Today's Inside Slant

    DEFENSE DEFENSE DEFENSE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :ramlogo:
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


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

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    Re: USA Today's Inside Slant

    We need a BIG GAME from the "D" this week to be sure. I like that Marmie is putting the wrinkles in the D to keep our opponent guessing. The key is those two DT's. as they go so goes the defense. It's gonna be a tough game for sure, but I think we can keep it close and win it in the end if they can close the game. Run the ball and run it often, don't give up Martz. It'll pay off in the fourth quarter. I'm looking for Jackson to get more carries and having a big day. Alexander WHO ??? Jackson's gonna be the talk of the town come Monday !!!!

    Go Rams....
    Trample the Weak/Hurdle the Hawks !!!!!

    Maineram :ramlogo:
    and out of the ashes rise ...The Breakfast Club !

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    Re: USA Today's Inside Slant

    And if Anthony Simmons is gonna be spying on Faulk again, run Steven Jackson right at him instead.
    Let's see what he can break this week!

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