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  1. #1
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    Venturi: Now a Triple Crown race

    Now a Triple Crown race
    by Rick Venturi
    Updated 14 Hours ago

    Watching the debacle in Detroit was painful. Having coached 27 years in the NFL, I fully realize there are no games that canít be won, and conversely, no games that canít be lost. The surprise for me in the battle of the two most dysfunctional franchisesí over the past few years was the margin of the outcome. Obviously, the Rams were not ready to handle success, and have to learn how to win on the road. Convincing wins in two games made the Rams even money to win in the Motor City. What transpired in Fords Field was a bit mystifying to me.

    The first 16 minutes of the game was defined by five sinking moments. First, the unsuccessful onside kick to start the game. Surprise onside kicks are smartly used to steal possessions from explosive offenses, like Peyton Manning, or here in the days of Kurt and the Great Show. To steal one from the Detroit (who won 2 of their last 36) juggernaut seems out of sink to me. Why give them a short cut, or a potential confidence builder? It was aggressive, but so was General Custer! It certainly didnít determine the outcome, but why not play nose up with this crew?

    After regrouping, the Rams drove the length of the field and fumbled in the red zone. Please guys, you donít get there that often, so please protect the ball. Almost simultaneously, the Rams dropped a lollipop interception that resembled a clown skit from Ringling Brothers. Then, in the 16th minute, Lionís return man Stefan Logan runs the kickoff back 105 yards for a TD. Those plays, along with the loss of emerging leader Mark Clayton, were all disheartening moments that seemed to put the blue and gold in the tank.

    The next 20 minutes of the game turned into a flashback of days often repeated in the last few years in the Gateway city. The Lions smelled blood, and totally dominated the next phase of the game... They consistently stymied the Rams offense, and then Scott Linehan, the former Ramsí head coach and local punching bag, went to work as the Lions play caller. With Shaun Hill, the infamous Ram killer, doing his best Bobby Lane imitation, the Lions shredded the Rams in the 2 minute drill, which felt like 15 seconds, He attacked the inside safeties and linebackers, with tight ends Brandon Pettigrew and Tony Scheffler, plus running back Jahvid Best was moving at will. To finish the drive he found a red zone match up with Calvin Johnson on Bradley Fletcher (ouch!), and all of Detroit and the state of Michigan went to get a Budweiser. If that wasnít enough, the third quarter quick throw to Burleson, and his undressing of Craig Dahl and James Butler for a touchdown, was the exclamation point on the game. It was then that disheartening turned into demoralizing!

    After a day like that, focus on the two ďAísĒ. First, admit that you got your butt kicked and second, address your issues. This coming Sunday is the first game in the My Triple Crown. If you love horse racing like I do, you know the three Triple Crown races (the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont) are the biggest and best of the year. With the Ramsí favorable schedule in which 13 games were winnable, the games against San Diego, New Orleans, and Atlanta are against the thoroughbreds. San Diego is like a 747 Jet with a hole in it. If they can patch the hole created by mind boggling poor special teams, they are the most talented team the Ramís will see in 2010.

    They are led by one of my favorite people, head coach Norv Turner. Norv is underappreciated in the league because heís not a self promoter or flashy guy. Though he has won four Division Championships, he gets no respect. Two consistent issues have plagued his career - not getting to a Super Bowl and notoriously poor starts. He has worked his way up in the business and certainly has paid his dues. He is a disciple of the terrific Ernie Zampese (an Air Coryell assistant), balanced with the pragmatism of John Robinson and Jimmy Johnson. Norv was instrumental in the success of the great Cowboy offenses. At Washington, Oakland, and San Diego, he has been an offensive force to be reckoned with. The Rams will be in for a coaching challenge this week.

    Offensively, the Bolts are the elite team in the NFL. Their excellent quarterback, Phillip Rivers, can light it up with throws to future Hall of Fame tight end Antonio Gates. In critical situations, heís going to get it folks! Norv will deafly move him around to create bad match ups. Even with the loss of Vincent Jackson, the Chargers attack with a stable of solid wide receivers, led by the always productive Malcom Floyd. Add the young (all purpose) Legedu Naanee, the speedy Buster Davis, and return guy Patrick Crayton, and you have some interesting matchups. All of them can run and they look extremely good getting off the bus. They Chargers will vary alignments so itís difficult to get a beat on them.

    They are deep at running back with the rookie Ryan Mathews, the dependable Mike Tolbert, and the diminutive but electric Darren Sproles. These guys can run it, and Turner will create problems for your front and edges with shifts and motion. You must adjust or die! You must be alert for matchups in the passing game with Sproles on linebackers. Other than James Laurinaits, the Rams have serious issues in this regard.

    The most average part of the Chargers machine is their offensive line. They will be bolstered with the return of their outstanding left tackle, Marcus McNeill. It will be his first game back, so attack that side with stunts and games. The vulnerable side is right tackle (either Brandyn Dombroski or Jeromey Clary) and right guard, Tyronne Green. When the Chargers get derailed itís because of pressure on Rivers. Rivers has pocket movement and awareness, but his overall mobility is limited and can be forced into bad throws.

    Though not quite as talented on defense, the Chargers play tough and opportunistic. They are very solid against the run, with an excellent linebacker corps. They are led by linebackers Shaun Phillips, Kevin Burnett, Stephen Cooper, and Antwan Applewhite. With Shawne Merriman, Larry English, and Brandon Siler nursing injuries, Phillips has taken over the leadership role. He has become a top rusher and can bring it off the edge, so you must have a protection plan. Quentin Jammer is a big time corner, but the rest of the secondary is pedestrian. You must force their backers and safeties play in space with possession patterns and loose play screens... If you need a deep ball go after right corner Antoine Cason or nickel back Donald Strickland.

    The San Diego special teams are an absolute disaster. This unit has taken a potential (5-0) team, and transformed it into a (2-3) outfit. This unit gives up points (30 so far) like they are free cups of water. I do believe the injuries to their linebacker corps have filtered down to affect this outfit.

    To win this game, the Rams must come to the party equipped to play sixty minutes. Theyíve got to stay in it and win it in the fourth quarter. The Chargers will be ready at kick off, but after watching the Detroit film they will not be in a four-quarter mentality no matter how hard the coaches preach... In a game like this, the Rams must focus on what they do best, and not over think the Bolts. To pull off this upset, the blue print is straight forward;

    Must win every phase of special teams. If you need starters to do it, DO IT!

    Must win the time of possession with the offense. You have to mix runs with processions passes, and screens to stay ahead in the count. You must create third and manageable downs and convert them. You must score, while keeping Rivers off the field. Red zone 7ís.

    On Defense, you must stop the 2 back runs and eliminate big plays. When you get to third down, get pressure off their right side. Please use C.J Ah You some, at left end, for rush purposes. He will, at least, use speed, and not simply bull rush on stiff right tackles. Find that Red zone form again.

    When the games on the line, and the Bolts need a play, think about a full out blitz on Rivers or double coverage on Gates.

    Finally, Spit out Sundayís game before this column goes to print, and prepare to play and win. You canít undo what has happened. You canít dwell on injuries. So focus on the moment. There are no asterisks placed on NFL outcomes because of deficiencies, so man up and attack the Chargers!

    On to the Derby!

  2. #2
    C-Mob 71's Avatar
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    Re: Venturi: Now a Triple Crown race

    You know what? After thinking about it, I don't think the Chargers are as good as everyone thinks they are.

    Boom said it.

    Now Rams, go show everyone that you guys can compete for a division in the NFL!

  3. #3
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    Re: Venturi: Now a Triple Crown race

    the recievers are going to have to come up big in this one... or else this one will be showed on every frontpage on nfl sites for blowouts...

    its a safe bet to start your san diego players on fantasy... i know i will...

  4. #4
    NJ Ramsfan1 is offline Registered User
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    Re: Venturi: Now a Triple Crown race

    St. Louis will have to play an outstanding football game to beat a Chargers team that is much better than its record. We will not back into a win here, and multiple guys are going to have to step up if we hope to win.

    Rivers will have a field day if we do not pressure him or get good coverage from our corners. This is my biggest worry.

    The toughest team we've played yet- and a VERY big test for our football team.

  5. #5
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    Re: Venturi: Now a Triple Crown race

    I HAAATEEE to be negative, but at this time its all our team is showing when we need them most. I can give you ten reasons why I think we wont win this game.

    1) We have a problem stopping the run especially off the edge with speed backs
    2) we couldnt even stop shaun hill and he sucks; we give up too many passing yards
    3) trouble covering the TE ; in this case , its gonna be Gates
    4) They are angry at their last loss even though we are too at ours
    5) We got blown out by the Lions geez yikes!
    6) S-jax is not 100 percent
    7) no threat at WR
    8) poor special teams play
    9) poor clock management
    10) Conservative play calling

    Having said that

    Chargers 31
    Rams 17

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