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Rams beat Cleveland 24-6; The Good, Bad and Ugly

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  • Rams beat Cleveland 24-6; The Good, Bad and Ugly

    The Rams used a strong defensive effort and some terrific running by rookie Todd Gurley to defeat the Cleveland Browns today 24-6 in front of a nearly half empty stadium in St. Louis. Despite a pathetic start on offense (3 first quarter yards), a putrid 1-9 performance on third down for the game, and getting beat convincingly on time of possession (35-25 minutes), the Rams stayed with the running game, ultimately managed to spring Gurley for 128 yards, completed just enough passes, forced four turnovers and scored on defense to secure the victory in what was probably the easiest game on the schedule and certainly a must win. There is a ton of room for improvement, especially with respect to continued problems on the offensive line, but let's hope that this win represents a building block as we head into the manageable part of the schedule, and most critically, a HUGE division game at home next week against the whiners.


    The Good

    What can you say about Gurley? My conclusion, as i have stated for the last two games, is that when he gets any kind of blocking at all he is absolutely sensational and a home run threat at all times. He ran 19 times for 128 despite being negative after the first quarter behind a non functioning line, despite playing against a team dead last in the nfl against the run. He had a tremendous 16 yard hurdle run leaping over a defender and a highlight film 48 yarder (where he got a nice downfield block from tavon) to put the Rams into 1st and goal (which they promptly screwed up). Like all great backs, he gets better and stronger as the game wears on. He was hit in the backfield repeatedly and his multiple carries for losses left him 12 yards short of tying erik dickerson as the only rookie to run for 140 yards in 3 straight games. Something tells me that he may break that record later this year and will break it for sure if our offensive line can actually block consistently for a full game. He was also impressive in the passing game, gaining about 40 yards there as well and being a block away from a couple of big gains on screens. Sky is the limit on this guy, no other way to say it. He got his first 2 nfl td's, one on a simple 1 yard run (although short yardage at the goal line has hardly been a strong point for us over the last few years) and the other on a fantastic 16 yard scamper that put the game effectively out of reach.

    Janoris Jenkins. To repeat my line from two weeks ago, Jenkins needs to be signed long term. He is not only a shut down corner at this point, he is a terrific tackler who makes big plays. He caused a fumble early on that mcleod picked up and ran if for a td and 7-0 lead when he sniffed out the wide receiver bubble screen and hit the guy hard causing him to cough it up. He broke up a few passes and he made a number of outstanding open field tackles. Just a terrific player at this point and still improving.

    The Defense. Allowed only 2 field goals (had key red zone stops again), 4 sacks, 4 turnovers (fumbles) caused, one td scored, multiple hits on the qb, shut down of the running game (they had 82 yards, almost 30 of which were qb scrambles). They really helped us field position wise while the offense struggled badly throughout the first half. With the exception of one long pass that was called back for a holding penalty, they stopped big plays and so all the completions by the browns didnt result in points. We were stout on third down (they were 3-13, one conversion on a penalty for offsides). Aaron Donald had a strong game, as did Fairley (despite one stupid penalty). Special mention to William Hayes who had 2 sacks and caused two fumbles. I actually believe that Simms and Hayes are at least as good as if not better than chris long who did not play today. Another shout out has to go to Mark Barron who had 16 tackles (yes, you read that correctly) and caused a fumble while also delivering a massive blow on mcown, who we knocked out of the game, which caused them to bring in Johnny Smack my Girlfriend at the end.

    Hekker punted very well today, average of almost 50 with three inside the 20 and really helped us pin them deep all game.

    The 41 yard pass to Britt was great. Huge play in the game.
    The 88 yard 4 play drive in 1:53 was fantastic, would obviously like to see more of that. It shows what happens when gurley gets going because the defense is packing the box and cheating up over and over. At some point, you figure that play action is going to work.

    I thought adam archuletta was very good on the color commentary.

    I dont really know where to put Foles today but i will put him on the good side since (i) we won, and (ii) the numbers would have been better but for a couple of brutal drops and terrible pass protection. The throw to britt was very nice and a key play in the game. I would like to see some slants and more short throws, but that is really a play calling issue i think. Foles was 15-23-164, but most importantly he didnt throw any INT's. I think he can play better, but i can't say he was bad today and he was good enough to win with the defensive effort despite generally lousy offensive line play, especially in pass protection (or lack thereof). 7-14 for 68 yards at half didnt look too pretty.

    Nice 35 yard kickoff return on the end around by Bailey on the opening kickoff. Fisher is the best in the nfl on special teams coaching and has been for years.


    The Ugly

    Back to back offsides by Quinn and Hayes gave cleveland a first down to keep a drive alive that ultimately resulted in a field goal.

    It pains me to type Cook's name. Nice play and throw by Foles to give us a first down at the 13 yard line and he coughs up one that he actually catches. He has got to be on the list of most overpaid guys in the nfl at this point.

    First and goal at their 8 yard line, we go backwards 7 yards and get no points after Jamon Brown gives us a big sack on second down and the line cant block on first or third down.

    First quarter, 3 yards, almost 12 minutes time of possession to 3 minutes for us. Against a better team, that is going to bit us as the defense will tire out if we cant make any first downs until late in the second quarter (we only had 108 total yards in the first half!).


    The Bad

    To repeat my weekly mantra, we will be as good or bad as our offensive line allows us to be. In the first quarter, and for most of the first half, the line was offensive all right. Foles was getting hit hard again and gurley had no holes at all. We are going to need to play better, much, much, much better at the offensive line spots, especially on the right side where i thought we were terrible all game. The offense came into the game averaging 297 yards per game, dead last in the nfl, and we didnt do much better than that in this game and so much of that in my view is on the offensive line not creating enough holes, not providing time to throw, and creating negative plays. If we didnt win this game, for sure the offensive line would be in the ugly category.

    Lousy game for The Leg. I dont care if he can kick it 100 yards if he can't kick it straight it doesnt help us much. The missed 35 yard field goal was terrible. The 63 yarder had plenty of leg but wide. We dont have the kind of offense that should permit chip shot misses on the field goals.
    Too many penalties, 9-75, including 5 pre snap penalties, 4 offsides on the defense.

    1-9 on third down is not going to cut it, and a lot of that is on the offensive line because we were in terrible down and distance early. Too many times seeing gurley hit in the backfield then penalties.

    Lousy drop by Britt on the first play of the game.
    We can do a better job covering the tight end (he had 102 yards on us).

    After their first fumble, we dont get close to scoring a td, total failure by the offensive line and we settle for a field goal when we could have really taken control of the game.


    SUMMARY

    Today we saw the Fisher model of success for the Rams. Play great defense (especially on 3rd down and in the red zone), create turnovers, pound gurley and use a little play action to beat teams. It worked well today for a 24-6 win, but let's keep in mind that the Browns are not a good team. Too many blown opportunities and way too slow a start offensively with an offensive line that continues to struggle as teams stack the box against gurley.

    THe game vs. the whiners is a turning point in the schedule. No messing around, this is a game we should win at home. THeir defense is tough and they will be ready for gurley, we are going to need a great defensive effort and need to be able to throw at least a little bit. Once again, turnover battle and red zone play will be critical. Keep Kapernick in the pocket and make him beat you with his arm, not his legs. He makes mistakes when contained, and let's hope ayers is ok because we are very think at linebacker and this kind of game is where we really, really miss Tree.

    If we can beat the whiners, we are 4-3, maybe have some momentum, and have a legitimate chance to cause real damage during the season depending on whether we can get improvement out of the offensive line. I shudder to think about what steps toward mediocrity at best that lie ahead if we lose next week. Meanwhile, a win is a win and Rams fans have to take them and celebrate whenever possible.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel
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