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[*****] Rams' game may be flying circus

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  • [*****] Rams' game may be flying circus

    Janny Hu, Chronicle Staff Writer
    Thursday, September 30, 2004

    What was once the Greatest Show on Turf returns to San Francisco this weekend, toting a clear challenge for the *****' defense. St. Louis throws more and runs less than any team in the NFL, and if the *****' secondary doesn't tighten up, Sunday's prime-time game could morph into the greatest show on grass.

    The Rams are averaging nearly 300 yards passing per game, while the ***** have given up 513 yards through the air over their last two outings. With some of those completions tracing back to sloppy play, coach Dennis Erickson has turned to trimming mental errors in preparation for the pass-happy Rams.

    "You're going to give up passes in this league, we just don't want to give them up by making mental mistakes, by not being where we're supposed to be," Erickson said. "If a guy makes a catch and physically beats you, that's one thing. To not be at the right place when you should be, that's something that we can control."

    The burden of stopping the Rams' offense will fall mainly on the secondary, which should get a boost with the return of starter Mike Rumph. He has healed sufficiently from his groin injury and will play right corner, sliding inside on nickel packages.

    Watching last week's game from the sidelines, Rumph said he was impressed with the team's patchwork defensive line, as well as its run-stopping ability. Slowing the aerial attack, however, has proved difficult.

    "With the Rams coming in (bringing) one of the top offenses every year consistently, it poses a threat to us," Rumph said. "Defensively, we had a couple of mental breakdowns (against Seattle) that allowed them to get plays on us. (We can't) try to do too much because (the Rams) have so many plays. You can't sit out there and try to match them play by play."

    The Rams' play has been largely predictable so far. Their unbalanced offense has earned coach Mike Martz much criticism lately, as only 30 of the Rams' 110 plays have been runs. St. Louis has the league's two leading receivers in Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, and quarterback Marc Bulger tops the NFC in pass completions (79) and attempts (114).

    Still, the ***** say they don't want to get caught solely trying to defend the pass.

    "You got to play those guys true," safety Ronnie Heard said. "You can't just rely on the pass because Marshall Faulk is in the backfield, and he can whip off 100 yards gained on seven carries if you're not playing to stop the run."

    Rattay on pace: Quarterback Tim Rattay practiced Wednesday for the first time since separating his right shoulder during the season opener. If his arm continues to show improvement, he will be the starter against the Rams.

    "Is he 100 percent? No. Is he getting toward that? Yes," Erickson said. "The thing that he did do is come out and make the right throws at the right places, the mental stuff he's been doing going through this rehab."

    Rattay has suited up as the backup quarterback the past two weeks, without any practice time but with plenty of pain injections. He was sans shots Wednesday and does not plan to take any injections before Sunday.

    "It feels much better today without shots than Sunday with shots, so I'm hoping I've turned the corner," he said.

    Some of the credit might belong to Pro Bowl safety Tony Parrish, who suggested acupuncture to help Rattay's healing process. Parrish first tried the treatment when he tore ligaments in his left elbow and thumb during his first year with the team. He has been a regular user since, including this season on his calf.

    "I was just at a point where I'm trying everything," Rattay said. "It's hard to tell (what effect it's had) since I'm doing so much, but it can't hurt and I think it's helping."

    Briefly: Another week brings another defensive lineman for the ***** as Daleroy Stewart was signed on Monday. This is Stewart's third team this year; he began the season with the Cowboys and was later picked up by the Jets. Rams defensive back Aeneas Williams will return to free safety after one game at cornerback.

    E-mail Janny Hu at [email protected].

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Rams QB puts a focus on getting points
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Dec. 31 2004

    As far as quarterback Marc Bulger is concerned, the Rams' offense has spent far
    too much time bouncing between the 30-yard lines.

    "We've been getting tons of yards all year, but points are more important,"
    Bulger said. "Our confidence hasn't been shaken, but we do need some more

    Statistics support Bulger's point: The Rams are No. 6 in the 32-team NFL in
    total offense, with an average of 359.9 yards a game. But their 19.1-point
    average is good only for a 21st-place tie with Baltimore.

    That trend could be problematic Sunday, when the Rams (7-8) and New York Jets
    (10-5) clash at the Edward Jones Dome, with both teams' playoff aspirations
    hanging in the balance. The Jets have the sixth-ranked defense in the league
    (293.3 yards a game), but are even more adept at keeping the scoreboard quiet.

    They're giving up just 15.3 points a game, third best in the league behind
    Philadelphia (14.8) and Pittsburgh (15.1) - the top postseason seeds in the NFC
    and AFC, respectively.

    The Rams, who scored in bunches in the days of the "Greatest Show on Turf,"
    have topped 30 points just once this year. And that came in an overtime victory
    in Seattle, 33-27. More recently, the offense was limited to a total of seven
    points in losses at Carolina and Arizona, while Bulger was sidelined with a
    bruised shoulder.

    Bulger returned Monday night against Philadelphia, connecting on 20 of 27
    passes for 225 yards and a 7-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Isaac Bruce.
    Bulger said that "in warm-ups, it took a little while" to work out the
    tenderness in his throwing shoulder.

    "And then after, it was a little sore," he said. "But during the game, I think
    adrenaline takes over." He reported Friday that his arm is "not 100 percent
    yet, but it feels a little better each day."

    Decals go without fine

    Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt weren't sanctioned by the NFL for
    wearing a "92" decal on their helmets in Monday night's game, a tribute to the
    late Reggie White. They could have been subject to a minimum $5,000 fine.

    A league official said the three were warned that they were not permitted to
    display personal messages on any part of the uniform.

    "I thank the league," Holt said. "If they would've fined us, then I'd have been
    OK with it, because we felt like we were doing something good. Reggie did so
    many great things for the National Football League. A lot of us looked up to
    him - offensive and defensive players - because...
    -01-01-2005, 04:59 AM
  • RamWraith
    Big Game, Big Numbers
    by RamWraith
    Saturday, January 1, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Torry Holt has proven himself as one of the league’s best wide receivers over the course of his career. He has put up statistics in just about every season that would place him in the select company of some of the best ever to play his position.

    On Sunday, Holt will have the opportunity to do something no player in the NFL has ever done. With 44 receiving yards, Holt will become the first player in league history to have 1,300 or more receiving yards in six straight seasons.

    Along with that, Holt can move up in the ranks in Rams’ history in a number of other categories.

    Holt said the record would mean something to him.

    “Records are meant to be broke,” Holt said. “It feels good to be placed in NFL history. That’s a tremendous feeling. Just looking back at the things I have done, the records I have broken and the history that I’m making…it’s just funny to me, it’s mind-boggling thinking of what I have come from, what I’ve been through…it’s crazy.”

    Holt has 87 catches on the season for 1,256 yards and eight touchdowns. He has caught a pass in 90 consecutive games, the longest streak in Rams’ history.

    Martz said he is impressed by what Holt has accomplished, considering the injuries and difficulties he has faced in recent seasons.

    “There’s so many good things about him, he’s so competitive,” Martz said. “He plays with such great speed, it just seems like he never tires. He is in there on every snap. He’s such a rare athlete. But the last part of it and probably the most significant part is he’s really tough.”

    MIRROR IMAGES? When the Rams’ defense glances across the field in practice this week, it will get a good glimpse of what it will see when St. Louis takes on the New York Jets on Sunday.

    More often than not, a future Hall of Famer will be gearing up to run the ball right at them. Occasionally, though, a young, more powerful back will take the snaps and attempt to bulldoze his way through the Rams’ defense.

    However, on Sunday, the Rams won’t be facing Marshall Faulk (their own future Hall of Fame running back) and rookie Steven Jackson (their powerful young back). Instead, they will face New York’s Curtis Martin and Lamont Jordan.

    St. Louis is used to it, but the question remains, can the Rams stop it? New York boasts one of the league’s most powerful rushing attacks. The Jets rank fourth in the league in rushing offense with 147.2 yards per game.

    New York’s attack is led by a rejuvenated Martin, who has rushed for 1,544 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. Earlier this season, Martin became the second player in league history to rush for over 1,000 yards in his first 10 seasons, tying Barry Sanders.

    Martin is just 47 yards away from passing Eric Dickerson for...
    -01-02-2005, 04:01 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    What To Watch: Jacksonville
    by r8rh8rmike
    What to Watch: Jacksonville
    Saturday, October 17, 2009

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    What to Watch: Jacksonville

    1. Slow Mo Jo

    Few running backs in the league pack more of a punch than Jacksonville’s Maurice Jones-Drew. One week after facing Minnesota’s Adrian Peterson, the Rams get no recourse this week in facing Jones-Drew.

    The diminutive back runs with a superior combination of power and speed and he also has the ability to make plays in the passing game.

    “He’s a great back with a low center of gravity and he’s a guy you need to bring the whole defense to tackle,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said. “We just played one like that so it was good practice. I think we will be up to the task. We just have to tackle low and tackle well.”

    Jones-Drew is 10th in the league in yards from scrimmage though he hasn’t had as many touches as he’d like in recent weeks. Still, he’s excellent around the goal line and has scored five touchdowns, tied for fourth in the NFL.

    As usual, it always starts with stopping the run for the Rams, an area in which the defense has greatly improved this season. To slow Jacksonville’s offense, slowing Jones-Drew is the first priority.

    “We face a lot of great backs,” defensive end Leonard Little said. “He adds on to what we already saw so we have got to be disciplined in our run game and not get out of our gaps and stuff like that.”

    2. Getting Garrard

    Much like they have faced no shortage of talented backs, the Rams have also seen plenty of mobile quarterbacks with the ability to make plays with their legs as much as their arm.

    Guys like Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck have presented problems in their ability to make something happen out of the pocket when the play breaks down.

    Jacksonville brings a player of similar caliber to the table in the form of David Garrard.

    “He has been doing it there for a long time and they have a lot of confidence in him,” Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “They went with him a couple years ago. Dirk Koetter who is the offensive coordinator down there is outstanding and he is doing the things that fit Garrard’s capabilities as an athlete. He is tough; one tough cookie to bring down. He is real strong in the lower body. You see a lot of guys bounce off of him when he is in a sack situation. He extends the down like some other guys we have played and that makes it tough.”

    This season, Garrard has thrown for 1,129 yards and five touchdowns with a rating of 86.6. Perhaps more important, he’s thrown just one interception and is one of the best in the league at taking care of the ball and managing the game.

    Containing Garrard in the pocket is imperative and when the Rams get opportunities to get sacks (Jacksonville is young at...
    -10-17-2009, 08:05 PM
  • RamWraith
    USA Today's Inside Slant
    by RamWraith
    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...
    -10-07-2004, 02:02 PM
  • RamWraith
    Offense Looking to Break Out
    by RamWraith
    Thursday, September 22, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    During the heyday of the Greatest Show on Turf, the formula was simple. Take the Rams’ total yards gained, add in the points the team scored and the results were wins, lots of wins.

    But the first two weeks of this season have exploited a glitch in the old Rams’ formula. Against San Francisco in week one, St. Louis put up plenty of yards (405) and a decent amount of points (25), but left with a loss. Last week against Arizona, the Rams posted just 297 yards with 17 points and found a way to win.

    Of course, the circumstances for each game were far different. For instance, St. Louis had all kinds of trouble converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns against the *****, which kept its point and win total down in that game. Against Arizona, the Rams struggled to sustain success after a dominant opening drive.

    “If the stats are there great, if not and we’re winning then that’s great too,” quarterback Marc Bulger said. “I feel like I know what I’m doing; it’s just a matter of how the game progresses on how much we are going to throw the ball for what the stats will be. I’m not worried, but I’m not extremely happy. There’s room for improvement, but we’re not too far off.”

    Fortunately for the Rams, the defense has been good enough to keep the offense in a position to win games at the end. St. Louis allowed just 217 yards to the *****, allowing the Rams a shot to win at the end. Against the Cardinals, the Rams actually put the game in the hands of their defense and came out on top when that group came through with a stand in the last minute.

    “These games are different,” Bulger said. “You get behind, you throw the ball a lot and last week with the heat we seemed out of sync. We’ll get there. We have got to help the defense out. Fortunately they have been bailing us out a little bit.”

    There is no doubting the offensive talent the Rams have. Bulger ascended to near the top tier of quarterbacks in the league last year. Steven Jackson is one of the most exciting young running backs in the league and the emergence of Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald gives the Rams a pair of sidekicks for star wideouts Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce.
    Combine those skill position players with a veteran offensive line and the offensive outburst many are expecting should be coming soon, shouldn’t it?

    “I believe it’s right around the corner,” Bruce said. “We’ve been moving the ball pretty easy. We’ve been in the red zone a lot. We just haven’t capitalized with touchdowns.”

    With a home opener against a young and injured Tennessee defense on the slate this week, the chance for that outburst would seem to be there. Then again, you never know if or when it will happen.

    “I think it could happen at any given time,” Holt said. “It could happen this weekend,...
    -09-23-2005, 04:18 AM