Monday Afternoon
Monday, November 14, 2005

-Seattle pretty much outplayed the Rams in every aspect of the game Sunday. I felt like I was watching the Rams circa the San Francisco game at the beginning of the season. Remember that team? The team that marched around the field, but couldn't put the ball in the end zone. The team that gave up way too many big plays on defense. That was the team that showed up Sunday, not the one that showed signs of fight and life in the weeks before the bye.

-There is nothing more frustrating than watching a team that can't convert in the red zone. Obviously, it's the NFL and there are good defense out there and you can't expect a 100 percent conversion rate inside the 20, but to be one-of-five is particularly bad. I'll get to the fake field goal and the fumble in a minute, but the one that might have really hurt still resulted in points. Coming out of halftime, Seattle had a chance to take a big lead. Linebacker Dexter Coakley came up with a huge interception. If the Rams score there to tie it, they probably steal the momentum and have a great shot to win the game. Instead, they stalled out and settled for a field goal. When you are fortunate enough to get turnovers in this league, you absolutely must convert them to points. The Rams got two turnovers yesterday and managed to convert those to just three points.

-I'm certainly not against the fake field goal call in the situation it was used, but I don't like the sequence that led to it. There's nothing wrong with attempting to draw the Seahawks offsides then using a timeout even if they know that's what you are trying to do. Coming out of a timeout, though, would seem to allow the opponent to talk up the possibility of a fake. By that point, it was obvious the Rams wanted seven points instead of three (otherwise they wouldn't have tried to draw Seattle offsides). So, the Seahawks go to the sideline and their special teams coach tells them the variety of things that could happen coming out of the timeout. Marcus Trufant stays home instead of coming for the block off the edge and the Rams leave with no points. That's a big swing in the game.

-The Rams clearly made an effort to get tight end Brandon Manumaleuena more involved in the offense Sunday. He did a nice job in that, but ball security has to be the No. 1 priority in the red zone. Sure, fumbles happen, but when it's third-and-1 and you make a catch in the red zone, you protect the ball and take your first down.

-This defense is like one of those hitters in baseball that either hits a mammoth home run or strikes out with a whimper. It seems like there is no in between with this group. It either comes up with a big turnover or stops the opponent for little to no gain or gives up a huge play. The Rams are 30th in the league in defense, not many teams win a lot of games when they are allowing huge plays and yards like this team.

-It was nice to see Coakley make a big play Sunday. Coakley has looked more comfortable in recent weeks and is starting to settle in. It helps that he is on the field more.

-Mike Furrey made a nice interception, but his best play was probably the interception that he didn't get. Furrey had a nice pass breakup that was nearly his second pick. He appeared to have control going to the ground, but lost it as he landed. That play reminded me of the touchdown catch that Michael Hawthorne "lost" in the sun and resulted in a touchdown. Furrey would have at least knocked that ball away and he threw himself in there with no regard for his body. That's the kind of reckless attitude you need to have at free safety.

-Marc Bulger looked fine in his return, but it was clear the timing wasn't there with his receivers. His numbers are slightly deceiving, but one thing that can't be held against Bulger was the interception. Perhaps that ball still gets picked off, but the fact is that Kevin Curtis shook the defender out of his shoes and was subsequently tackled. If Curtis doesn't fall there, he is probably open down the field. There was no call on the play, but I suppose it evens out considering some of the other calls that might have bounced the Rams way.

-I simply don't understand all of the neutral zone infractions that were called. I got a chance to run through some of the game on tape this morning and it seemed like there was nothing out of the ordinary on a number of the offsides calls. Like holding, officials could probably call a neutral zone infraction on nearly every play.

-Where was the pressure on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck? The Rams had been so aggressive in play calling defensively before the bye and it seemed like the blitzing and pressure was dialed down considerably. The defensive line has to get more push and Anthony Hargrove has to get better with his recognition skills and staying at home. His overpursuit will always be exploited by backs as talented as Shaun Alexander.

-The offensive line had trouble with pressure coming up the middle. That happened in the first game too and was surprising considering how well the line played against Jacksonville's defensive tackles. Seattle was playing without Marcus Tubbs and looked vulnerable to an attack up the middle. But the Rams couldn't get much going up the middle.

-Alex Barron continues to struggle with some growing pains. I still think he will be a Pro Bowler before his career is done, but he is going through a rough period right now. It must be remembered that he's a rookie, though, and those kinks will be worked out in time.

-The season is by no means over. Considering the schedule, the Rams are capable of running off a nice streak. With so many teams with winning records in the NFC, it's going to be tough to secure a wild card berth. It seems that to make the playoffs, it will take at least 10 wins. That's not out of the question, but it's going to be tough.