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Week Fourteen: Post-Game Observations
Well, where to begin?
Despite how poorly they played, I hope Rams fans enjoyed seeing this team on primetime, as I suspect itís not going to happen again for a long while. This team simply looked abysmal, and they did it in front of a national audience. While I donít think Rams owner Stan Kroenke is going to make any moves during the season, this kind of performance surely hurt the already slim chances of the coaching staff and front office personnel to hang onto their jobs.
First things first Ė Steven Jackson is a fighter. 123 total yards, half of which came through the air as a receiver. While his rushing numbers werenít fantastic, he was out there running hard and with purpose on every play, breaking off a couple of nice jaunts. Everyone felt the frustration he exuded during the Ramsí second goalline stand as offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels clearly outthought the situation by trying everything imaginable besides pounding the rock with his Pro Bowl caliber runner. Itís a shame that such a talented running back as Jackson will go down in history for playing the majority of his career for a poor organization.
Handing the ball off to Jackson for some reason was the clearly injured and impaired Sam Bradford. I questioned prior to the game why the Rams would even think of starting Sam, due to the risk of aggravating the injury as he did when he was rushed back earlier in the season. Word today from the Rams is Ė shocker! Ė Bradford is ďextremely soreĒ and will have to be monitored closely this week. So what exactly was accomplished by playing him? While I agree Bradford could use the reps, the risks far outweigh those benefits in this situation. He looked inaccurate and rusty, completing only 12 of 29 attempted passes. His lone interception was thrown well behind his receiver, allowing the Seattle defender to grab it. With nothing to play for and an injury to recover from, Iím baffled as to why this team doesnít shut Sam down and start preparing him for next year.
The rest of the offense was uninspired, though it certainly could be worse. Brandon Lloyd remains the only receiver on this roster worth talking about right now. He led the team with five receptions; no other receiver caught more than one pass. Lance Kendricks had a nice crossing route reception, but was a ghost the rest of the game. For the second year in a row in Seattle, Danario Alexanderís biggest moment in this game was a drop, this time in the endzone. Brandon Gibson has completely disappeared on a team looking for playmakers to step up; nice job answering the challenge, Gibby! When you consider the state of the offensive line, they actually didnít perform as poorly as youíd imagine. Jackson had some holes to run through, although they werenít a regular occurrence. Bradford was sacked three times, one of which was the fault of tight end Billy Bajema. So all in all, it could have been a much worse outing for the group.
Defensively, the Rams were far from great, but you have to think this unit would have fared better with some better help on the other side of the ball. The Ramsí defensive ends were all active at times throughout the game. Chris Long, Robert Quinn, James Hall, and even C.J. Ah You made their presence felt, but only were able to muster two sacks against a depleted Seahawks offensive line and a quarterback not particularly known for his poise. Yet Tarvaris Jackson had his second most efficient game of the season against the Rams, which is hardly a surprise. The Rams have been allowing opponents to set records against them all season, so it seems like everyone is getting a seat at the table. At linebacker, Laurinaitis nearly had a potentially game-changing interception and Brady Poppinga recovered a botched handoff between Jackson and Seattle running back Marshawn Lynch, but otherwise the unit was quiet on the night. The fact that Lynch amassed 115 yards on 23 carries with a touchdown shows the run defense could have done a better job. Itís not as if Lynchís yardage came on one big run; his longest gain was his 16-yard touchdown. There were a number of times when he made Rams defenders miss what should have been easy, fundamental tackles.
In the secondary, itís a broken record. The Rams are just fielding warm bodies at times. I remember a number of curses being spouted at my television as Jackson scrambled and looked as if he was throwing the ball away, only for its destination to be a Seahawks receiver open on the sideline. Justin King continues to demonstrate why he should be out of the league in 2012; if you consider a back-up someone who can step in and play adequate football in the event of a starter going down, then King doesnít even fit that description. Chris Smith wasnít much better, though his worst moment of the night clearly came on the Ramsí first punt of the game, where Smith inexplicably allowed a Seahawks rusher into the backfield, resulting in a blocked punt for a touchdown. Quintin Mikell was relatively quiet, though Darian Stewart was all around the field for both good and bad reasons. There really isnít much more you can say about this group; at this point, the Rams are just fielding warm bodies and hoping things work out for the best.
Finally, the coaching. Good lord, this one wasnít pretty. Letís start with the big one: how is this red zone offense so colossally bad? First and one, wildcat snap to Jackson for no gain. Second and one, naked bootleg for a quarterback with a bum ankle, intentional grounding. Third and eleven, incomplete pass. Settle for a field goal. Next trip, first and one, Cadillac Williams (?!) rushes for no gain. Second and one, gimpy quarterback asked to run a QB sneak, no gain. Third and one, Alexander drops a pass on the back line of the endzone, but Seattle inexplicably gives the Rams another shot with an undisciplined taunting penalty.
So what do the Rams do on first and one? Awful attempt at a back shoulder fade to Lloyd. Second and one, Bradford throws an uncatchable ball between two potentially open receivers. Third and one, on this teamís ninth attempt at running a successful play during a one-to-go situation, an outburst from Steven Jackson finally reminds this coaching staff that they have a stud running back. What do you know, Jackson scores after a traditional handoff. Memo to the coaching staff: Jackson is the best player on your team. You may want to get him involved when youíre near this ever-elusive thing called the end zone.
Yes, you can point to the shortened offseason affecting the Ramsí ability to install a complex offensive scheme. Yes, you can point to the injuries. Yes, you can point to the lack of talent and the regression of players. You can point to all of these things as legitimate reasons why the Rams are 2-11 right now. But thatís no excuse for the lack of leadership present from this coaching staff. They fail to put their players in successful situations, whether itís utilizing their best offensive weapon or asking their injured quarterback not only to play but to move around with numerous deep drops and play-action passes.
At some point, heads are going to roll, because itís unfathomable to me that an owner can watch such a pathetic national performance and then keep the men who were responsible for it.
Re: Week Fourteen: Post-Game Observations
Thanks Nick -- excellent article despite facing an inevitable and strong magnet to draw the Rams down.
[It was difficult to see my Rams on primetime yesterday.]
-12-13-2011 #3Registered User
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Re: Week Fourteen: Post-Game Observations
Great write up, Nick. I appreciate your efforts as I know this has got to be painful and depressing for you to have to write about another dirge-like performance from the Rams.
Speaking of depressing, the most painful thing for me was the fact that this "game" was shown on national TV to an audience of people who are used to somewhat competitive "NFL" quality performances. I don't know about you but I have in the past taken some solace in the fact that usually the only ones that have to watch this drivel are Rams fans and the fans from our weekly executioner...er..opponent.
Yeah, no doubt they are laughing as the feeble Rams stink up the joint with yet another wretched attempt at playing this sport. But I was always somewhat comforted that NOBODY else saw it. That no matter how putrid the Rams played there was always the hope of plausible deniablity. I'm not sure exactly what that term means to others, but for me it is being able to explain to people that the Rams lost but the score was not..*really*...ahem....*cough*...*cough*... indicative of how the game went...*wheeze*...
Well, that's not really the truth but what they don't really know won't hurt 'em is/was my motto. Unfortunately, after last night's debacle my cover has been completely blown. What can I say now? Wait 'til next year? AHAHAHAHA!! No, really what is there to say?
At any rate does anybody know where I can get a good discount on some paper bags? I figure I'm going to be needing them for awhile to come...
Man, am I going to miss the joy of anonymity...
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