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  • Seahawks Opponent Preview – St. Louis Rams

    Wrapping up the Weekly Opponent Preview with the Rams

    Seahawks Opponent Preview – St. Louis Rams

    By Scott Eklund
    Seahawks.NET
    .NET reporter Scott Eklund wraps up his weekly look at the Seahawks’ 2004 opponents. Up this week: The St. Louis Rams, who the Hawks host October 10th at Qwest Field and then travel to meet in the Gateway City on November 14th.
    Overview: Rams head coach Mike Martz isn’t considered “Mad Mike” for nothing. Since he took over as head coach in February of 2000 the Rams have had the best and most dangerous offense in the NFL.

    The offense has been known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” since the 1999 season (the franchise’s first and only Super Bowl title), but the offense began to show signs of slowing down toward the end of 2003 and many think Martz and his offensive coaches will look more to a ground game that features a sure Hall-of-Famer in Marshall Faulk and first-round selection RB Stephen Jackson.

    Gone is former defensive coordinator Lovie Smith left St. Louis to coach the Chicago Bears and in his place Larry Marmie, a long-time friend of Martz, who will stick with basically the same defense with only a couple of variations.

    Martz still focuses on the offense and he has plenty of talent at his disposal. However, some key parts have left and those that remain are getting older and aren’t the players they once were.

    Offense: The Ram offense will still be high-flying and very explosive, but look for Martz and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild to use more of a power-running game to help out new starter QB Marc Bulger.

    Saying Bulger is a “new” starter is sort of a misnomer. Bulger has started 22 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and ineffective play by former starter Kurt Warner. Warner was an icon in the Gateway City and Bulger will have lots of pressure on him to perform at a high level.

    In 2003 Bulger completed 63.2% of his passes for 3,845 yards, 22 TDs and 22 INTs. Bulger isn’t very mobile, but he has enough pocket-awareness and savvy to move around enough to allow things to happen down field. Bulger’s two biggest faults are his decision-making and is youth. He still does not see the field as well as Warner and sometimes that gets him into trouble.

    Bulger’s strength lies in his live arm, accuracy and his calmness under pressure. If he can cut down on the untimely interceptions (see last season’s Divisional Playoff loss to Carolina) he could be a special QB. As it stands the jury is still out on whether he will be an elite QB or just an average signal-caller.

    Behind Bulger is grey-beard Chris Chandler. Chandler thows a great deep ball, understands defenses, and is a good leader. Chandler has the ability to help the team get through two or three weeks in case Bulger is hurt. Rookie Jeff Smoker will be brought along slowly as his talents and firey attitude make him a perfect Martz protégé.

    Behind Bulger will be an excellent backfield. Surefire Hall-of-Famer Marshall Faulk still has some gas left in the tank but injuries have limited him the past few seasons. He is still one of the best at catching passes out of the backfield and if he gets the ball in the open field, he still has the jets to take it the distance.

    Last season Faulk rushed for 818 yards and 10 TDs. He was injured in week three against the Seahawks and missed five weeks while recovering from a broken hand. When he came back he was a workhorse running for over 100 yards five times in the final nine weeks and helping lead the team to the playoffs.

    With Faulk struggling to stay healthy the last four seasons and the lack of a game-breaker to take his place, the Rams were giddy with excitement when Oregon State RB Stephen Jackson was available when their selection came up in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft.

    Jackson is much bigger than Faulk (6’2”, 235 lbs) and he is already adept at picking up blitzes in pass protection. Jackson is a bruiser who has decent speed. He is only an average pass-catcher and he must improve in this area if he expects to start for Martz. Fans can look for Faulk and Jackson to get lots of time together in some offensive sets.

    At WR, the Rams have two elite wideouts, one sure handed receiver and two players who have talent but have yet to show it.

    Veterans Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce are two of the most dangerous wideouts in the league and Bulger has the luxury of throwing to both of them. Holt is the go-to guy, catching 117 passes for 1,696 yards (14.5 yard average) and 12 TDs. He has enough speed to get deep, but he excels at the intermediate routes. His open field running is also very good and he catches almost everything thrown in his direction.

    Bruce is now 32 and while he is getting a little long-in-the-tooth he still ranks in the top 10 of elite wideouts. Last year Bruce caught 69 passes for 981 yards and five TDs. Bruce still gets better separation than most receivers in the NFL and he is an underrated blocker. Bruce has some problems getting off jams at the line of scrimmage, but he is great with the ball in his hands.

    Behind the two starters are sure-handed Dane Looker and unproven second-year players Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis. Looker caught 47 passes for 495 yards and three TDs, while McDonald and Curtis struggled through injuries. Curtis is the most intriguing player, as he has the ability to stretch defenses with his speed, but it remains to be seen whether or not he can be the player that the coaches think he can be.

    TE Brandon Manumaleuna is a great blocker but he lacks good pass-receiving skills. He only caught 29 passes for 238 yards and three TDs. In the offseason the Rams went out and got a solid pass-catching TE in Cam Cleeland to help stretch the middle seem of the defense.

    Along the offensive line there are questions about how effective they will be. At LT Pace is one of the best in the entire league, but his protracted contract holdout (he was named the Rams’ franchise player for the second year in a row) could cause continuity problems at the beginning of the season.

    RT Kyle Turley is very good and he plays with a nasty attitude that makes him a throwback. His status is in question as a back condition may force him to miss most of training camp or possibly even retire. When healthy he is one of the better RT’s in the league.

    The interior trio of LG Andy McCollum, C Dave Wohlabaugh and RG Adam Timmerman seems set. Each of these three are entering their 10th season in the league and all three pass-block better than they run-block.

    If all of their line components are in place the Rams have a solid front-wall. However with Turley possibly being shelved for a while and Pace holding out, youngsters like Andy King and Grant Williams will have to step up big-time.

    This offense will still finish in the top ten of the league but look for them to grind out more wins and for Martz to continue to be a little more conservative with the young QB.

    Defense: As stated before, Marmie will have few changes from Smith’s zone-based cover 2 scheme. He will blitz a little more and from different angles, but Marmie prefers to let the players make plays and to keep the changes to a minimum.

    Like the offensive line, the defensive line has question marks all over it. DE Grant Wistrom and DT Brian Young left via free agency and 2003 first-round selection DT Jimmy Kennedy was lost for the season during the second week of camp with a broken foot. To compound concerns standout DE Leonard Little may miss time due to a suspension by the league.

    In April, Little was arrested for drunken-driving and if he is found guilty the NFL may suspend him for most if not all of the season. When healthy and with no outside concerns Little is one of the best ends in the league. Only Michael Strahan and Simeon Rice have more sacks than Little’s 39 over the last three seasons. He plays the run well and his backside pursuit doesn’t allow opposing running backs to cut back and make big plays.

    Wistrom’s spot will see five players vying for time. Veterans Tyoka Jackson, Bryce Fisher, Sean Moran, and Erik Flowers will battle it out with 2004 third-round selection Tony Hargrove for playing time.

    Jackson has the size (6’2”, 280 lbs) and the experience to have the inside track on the starting position but it remains to be seen if he can produce consistently over a 16 game season. Hargrove has the most athleticism, but he is young (just turned 21) and he did not play football for Georgia Tech in 2003 because of poor grades.

    At DT the Rams were counting on Kennedy being the disruptor they thought they drafted with the tenth overall selection in 2003. At the very least Kennedy would have seen time in the rotation with former first-rounders Damione Lewis and Ryan Pickett. Lewis has all the ability to be a good one but he has been slowed by ankle and foot injuries in his first three seasons. This is a make-or-break season for the former Miami Hurricane.

    Pickett is probably the best of the group but he must keep his weight in check and the hope is he is totally recovered from the high ankle sprain that slowed him down in 2003. He has a quick first step and his big body allows him to clog running-lanes. He has been a solid starter, but the Rams need Pickett to take the next step in order to be great.

    The linebackers for the Rams are athletic and fast and at their best they fly to ball and cause turnovers. However, because they are young, inconsistency has plagued this unit the last two seasons.

    Strongside OLB Tommy Polley is a great cover linebacker and he finished tied for the team lead with four interceptions and led the team with 12 passes defensed. If Polley can continue to improve against the run, something he has worked diligently on in his three seasons, he could be a Pro Bowl player.

    MLB Robert Thomas improved greatly in his second season after a forgettable rookie season, when he played out of position on the outside, and his run support and strength at the point of attack make him ideal for the middle. He is still learning his position and sometimes he guesses the wrong gap and big runs occur, but his 70 tackles and two sacks show he may come on big in his third season.

    On the weakside Pisa Tinoisamoa was all over the field registering 78 tackles, two sacks, and three interceptions. He finished second on the team with six tackles for loss and he plays at full speed all the time. His second season should see more big plays and the Rams expect him to contend for Pro Bowl recognition sooner rather than later.

    The secondary has a lot of players but it remains to be seen whether they can get it done year in and year out.

    SS Adam Archuleta and FS Aeneas Williams are the leaders of the defense and they both are playmakers.

    Archuleta has the size of a linebacker and the speed of a defensive back. He tied for the lead in tackles with 78, had five sacks and one interception. Archuleta is great in run-support but is not great in pass-coverage, although he has improved.

    Williams just keeps moving along, making a seamless transition from cornerback to free safety. He is an underrated hitter and he still has a nose for the ball getting four INTs and one touchdown. When teams go to three-receiver sets he moved up to play corner in the slot and if he continues to do that rookie S Jason Shivers could see an increased role.

    The corners are a bit undersized and thus the cover 2 zone is well utilized in the Rams defense. Travis Fisher and Jerametrius Butler are the two starters and both had solid seasons on the outside.

    Fisher has above average closing speed and his 11 passes defensed, four INTs and two TDs showed he can make plays when given the chance. Bulter got out of Smith’s doghouse, winning the starting job during camp and holding on to it for the entire season. Butler is good in run support, finishing with 71 tackles, but his four INTs and 10 passes defensed also show that he has good cover skills as well.

    The Rams must improve against the run or this could be a long season. In 2003 they surrendered over 128 yards per game and teams exploited their young linebackers. If Little gets suspended the DBs will struggle to hold their coverage long enough and it is imperative that Pickett and Lewis live up to their overall potential.

    Special Teams: K Jeff Wilkins had one of the most prolific seasons ever for a kicker in 2003. He made an NFL record-tying 39 field goals (in 42 attempts) and won the scoring title with an incredible 163 points. Wilkins has a great leg and at the age of 32, he should have plenty left. Old man Sean Landeta, 42 and entering his 20th NFL season, started the season slow but finished strong averaging almost 43 yards a punt and registering only five touchbacks. He is a great directional punter and his ability to pin teams deep will help the defense.

    The last time the Seahawks and Rams played: It was week 15 of the 2003 and the Rams were looking to avenge a controversial week three loss in Seattle. A rollercoaster game at the Edward Jones Dome saw the “Controversy Monster” rear its ugly head as the Seahawks lost a heartbreaker 27-22.

    The Hawks drew first blood when Seahawks middle linebacker Orlando Huff came on a delayed blitz and sacked QB Marc Bulger in the endzone for a safety, allowing the Seahawks to take a 2-0 lead.

    The Hawks’ offense struggled early on and was ineffective, but that was not the case for the Rams. Bulger went to work late in the quarter and hit wide receivers Dane Looker and Isaac Bruce with long gains and rookie CB Marcus Trufant was called for defensive holding on 3rd and 15 allowing the Rams an extra set of downs.

    Bulger then hit WR Mike Furrey with a 13 yard pass on 3rd and 12 and soon there after RB Marshall Faulk took it into the endzone from 5 yards out…Rams 7, Seahawks 2.

    After Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted by CB Travis Fisher, Bulger immediately went to work hitting WR Isaac Bruce with an 18-yard TD pass to extend their league…Rams 14, Seahawks 2. Hasselbeck then went to work with his own set of receivers, hitting TE Itula Mili with two 15 yards passes and then WR Darrell Jackson with a 9 yard TD pass 7:07 into the second quarter. The drive was 7 plays and 72 yards and the Seahawks had life…Rams 14, Seahawks 9.

    Bulger had the answer, hitting Holt on a 40 yard touchdown pass even though Trufant was right next to Holt and ready to make a play. A big play on the drive was CB Shawn Springs getting called for pass interference on 3rd and 3.

    Before the half the Seahawks added a Josh Brown field goal and entered halftime trailing the Rams 21 to 12.

    Brown had the only points of the third quarter, nailing a 38-yarder and soon after the fourth quarter had started Rams K Jeff Wilkins added a 33-yarder…Rams 24, Seahawks 15.

    Alexander had a good series leading the Hawks on a 7 play 56 yard drive and went over from 2 yards out and the Seahawks, who had been horrible on the road, thought they had a good chance to come out with a big win against the division rival.

    Wilkins added a 46-yard field goal late in the quarter and the Rams thought they had it sewed up with only 2:37 left.

    Hasselbeck drove the team to midfield and with little time left, Hasselbeck lofted a 50-yard pass to WR Bobby Engram who had gotten behind the Rams defenders. Engram began to reach for the pass and just as he was lunging for the ball, he collided with the Back Judge and the play was ruled an incomplete pass. Hasselbeck, Engram and the entire Seahawks sideline protested but to no avail.

    With no time remaining, Hasselbeck lofted a “Hail Mary” type pass to WR Koren Robinson and it was knocked down by CB Dejuan Groce.

    The Hawks felt snake-bitten in that they had lost three weeks earlier under questionable calls by game officials.

    Hasselbeck had a solid game passing for 246 yards, one TD, and one INT. Alexander was excellent running for 125 yards a touchdown and Jackson had a big day catching six passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.

    Bulger was solid as well, throwing 2 touchdowns and completing 20 of 32 for 236. Faulk got 85 yards on the ground and one touchdown and Holt caught six passes for 100 yards and one touchdown.

    The Rams lead this series 8-3 and have won three of the last four.

    2004 Projection: With questions along both lines this team needs some players to step up and take over. Faulk is still solid and the selection of Jackson gives them a nice big-back to throw at teams to give them a different look.

    Bulger is now “the man” and the pressure is squarely on his shoulders to replace the popular Warner behind center. If Bulger can cut down on his interceptions and make better decisions the offense should continue to be potent even with the questions along the offensive line.

    On defense, the linebackers must continue to be active and the line must gel and perform to expectations.

    Look for the Rams to battle the Seahawks for the division title and to, at the very least, be a viable wild-card playoff contender. Don’t look for them to go deep into the playoffs as the questions might not get answered this season.

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamDez
    The ‘Hawks? In 2004, It’s a Lock!
    by RamDez
    The ‘Hawks? In 2004, It’s a Lock!
    By Seahawks.net Doug Farrar

    However, before the Seahawks can take their “rightful place” at the top of the NFC West, there’s a bit of knocking off to do…the 2003 Division Champion St. Louis Rams are still a serious threat, they’re the established winners, and they’ll be a headache all year. So, in the spirit of competition (and to hopefully establish a friendly rivalry between Seahawks.NET and GridironGateway), I thought it was high time that a fan of each team state their case. You’ll read the take of my esteemed adversary David Spalter (also known as "AvengerRam" on the ClanRam forums) not to mention my rebuttal…and here’s why I believe that the NFC West crown in 2004 can only go to our Seahawks.

    Let’s get the obvious out of the way first…the Seahawks and the Rams are the only two teams with a real shot at the division, a fact to which even the most ardent ***** and Cardinals fans would have to bend. The Cardinals might be a team to look out for down the road (hiring Denny Green and drafting Larry Fitzgerald and Darnell Dockett will do that…they might even play spoiler this year), but the Niners are smack-dab in the middle of what they want their fanbase to believe is an intelligent, reasoned “rebuilding program”. Uhhh…sure. According to .NET salary cap guru “The Hawkstorian”, SF has around $20 million in total 2004 cap hit reserved for players that aren’t even on their ROSTER…what else are they going to say? All I know is that the next time I’m playing poker, I want at least one ***** executive at the table. It’s clean-up time!

    The Draft/Free Agency: The Rams’ first-round pick of RB Steven Jackson may have been a good choice in theory, but in practice, this is a case where going “Best Player Available” may hurt them in the end. By taking Jackson and passing over several notable (and desperately needed) defensive players, St. Louis, in the words of Little Richard, “got what they wanted and lost what they had”. With Grant Wistrom off to Seattle and Leonard Little’s future in serious doubt (a situation which had availed itself at the time of the draft), the Rams come into 2004 with major potential deficiencies on the line. The Rams pulled off what could be their best reach pick in the sixth round with QB Jeff Smoker, who could be great and only dropped so far due to personal issues that Smoker himself sorted out. Don’t know why, but there’s a little part of me that’s rooting for him to make it work.

    The Seahawks, in passing up Jackson and selecting Texas DT Marcus Tubbs, addressed need first. Seattle also drafted for potential (FSU linebacker Michael Boulware, who will be converted to safety), and depth in the offensive line (T/G Sean Locklear). They may have a steal of their own with fifth-round pick WR D.J. Hackett, a tough, smart potential possession receiver.

    While it’s difficult to grade drafts at the time they happen...
    -05-27-2004, 11:47 PM
  • Nick
    Three-peat! Rams dump Seattle again
    by Nick
    Three-peat! Rams dump Seattle again
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    01/08/2005

    The NFL has had 8-8 teams in the playoffs before. But an 8-8 team has never won a playoff game . . . until Saturday afternoon in Seattle.

    Using a diverse offensive attack and clever play-calling, the Rams toppled the Seahawks 27-20 in a predictably exciting wild-card game.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger threw the game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Cam Cleeland -– Cam Cleeland! -– with 2 minutes 11 seconds left.

    Then the Rams defense mustered one final stop to secure their third victory over the Seahawks this season.

    The Seahawks had one last shot to force overtime. But on a fourth-and-four play from the Rams 5, Matt Hasselbeck scrambled around and then bounced an incomplete pass off Bobby Engram.

    So the Rams move on.

    We’re certain the national media will find more reasons to slap coach Mike Martz around this week, but we’ll give the man his due. Burned timeouts aside, he designed and called an excellent game plan to beat Mike Holmgren’s Seahawks on the road.

    (Had the Seahawks possessed receivers that could actually catch the ball, they would have won. But, hey, that’s their problem.)


    THE GOOD


    * The Rams came out firing. After establishing running back Marshall Faulk as a receiver with two quick completions, quarterback Marc Bulger went up top to an uncovered Torry Holt for a 52-yard gain.

    Why run the ball when the Seahawks secondary stands transfixed while Holt runs his deep pattern? That play sent Bulger sailing toward a 313-yard passing performance.


    * Bulger came back to Holt, who knifed into another gaping hole in the Seattle zone to make a sliding catch for a 15-yard touchdown.


    * Cornerback Travis Fisher was paying attention when receiver Darrell Jackson dropped Seattle’s first pass of the game. Fisher managed to field it before it hit the ground for a rare Rams interception.


    * On their second trip to the field, the Rams defense earned a three-and-out stop. Nice.


    * Bulger found another huge hole in the Seahawks defense, bombing over the top of safety Michael Boulware to speedy Kevin Curtis for 50 yards. Cha-ching!


    * Faulk covered the remaining five yards in two carries, pushing the Rams' lead to 14-3 early in the second quarter.


    * How sharp was Bulger? How about that pinpoint 22-yard pass to Isaac Bruce through a tiny seam in the second quarter? Brilliant.


    * The combination of defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, with a big hit on Hasselbeck, and safety Adam Archuleta, with the pass break-up, combined to thwart the Seahawks on a big third-down play late in the first half.


    ...
    -01-08-2005, 11:22 PM
  • RamWraith
    St. Louis Rams Team Report--Good overview of the team
    by RamWraith
    Posted on the Footballguys.com site.
    St. Louis Rams Team Report
    Offense by Bob Magaw; Defense by Bob Magaw; OL by Chris Smith; Kickers and Returners by Mike Herman


    Quarterbacks
    Starter - Marc Bulger
    Backups - Jamie Martin, Jeff Smoker, Ryan Fitzpatrick

    Starting Quarterback: Bulger signed an extension prior to 2004 which put an end to an increasingly divisive QB controversy. His inaugural camp getting first team reps fostered the telepathic WR rapport preferred in Mad Martz's passing lab. Bulger shares the same HS as Dan Marino and a similar lightning quick release and catchable ball. When in rhythm, he drops passes into the smallest windows in the league and can pick apart virtually any NFL defense. Taming the mind boggling myriad of Rams formations and shifts reduced INTs (22-14 from '03-'04). Other signs of maturity included going through progressions faster, seeing the field better, hitting second and third targets and passing downfield more accurately. Bulger is cool under fire and is garnering attention for his late game heroics. The Rams had a yardage (#6 NFL) and scoring (#19) disconnect in '04. If Alex Barron stops the horror at RT, beast Steven Jackson unleashes the rushing attack and Holt/Bruce maintain their stature as an elite duo, a "Perfect Storm" confluence could elevate red zone efficiency and bridge the gap between Bulger's elite yardage numbers (283.1 YPG #4 NFL) and pedestrian passing TD total (21).

    Backup Quarterback(s): Martin was brought back in the wake of last season's disastrous Chris Chandler signing. While unspectacular, a career backup who has played 27 games in six seasons (some merely in relief or mop up duty), with a mediocre 14/13 TD/INT ratio, Martz feels secure knowing Martin's familiarity with the intricacies of the system and ability to execute it proficiently if needed. Smoker was a sixth rounder in the '04 draft who likely would have gone higher if not for a public battle with substance abuse. He won Martz over with the forthright manner in which he detailed his problem and rehab efforts. Smoker was perhaps best known for being part of a record-setting battery at Michigan State with Charles Rogers. Though Bulger is the man, Smoker is expected to battle Martin for #2 QB in camp. While lacking prototypical size, positive attributes include a strong arm and unflappable aura. Harvard QB Fitzpatrick should master Martz's brainy playbook quickly.

    Running Backs
    Starter - Steven Jackson
    Backups - Marshall Faulk, Arlen Harris
    Fullback - Joey Goodspeed, Madison Hedge****

    Starting Running Back: Jackson was declared the starter in the offseason. He had a full yard higher (5.0) YPC average than Faulk and could be a more dangerous red zone weapon at this stage. With the future HOFer a shell of his former self, the Rams pounced on Jackson in the 2004 draft (parting with a fourth to move...
    -05-12-2005, 05:08 AM
  • RamWraith
    Big division game in St. Louis--ESPN Insider
    by RamWraith
    http://insider.espn.go.com/nfl/scout...meId=251009014

    Big division game in St. Louis


    Why To Watch
    This Week 5 matchup features a chances to get a jum in the NFC West standings. Both the Seahawks and the Rams are coming off frustrating losses last week and will look to right the ship Sunday. In order to pull off the road upset, Seattle must cut down on its penalties and get RB Shaun Alexander going early on against a Rams run defense that surrenders 4.1 yards per carry.
    St. Louis, on the other hand, will look to keep the tempo high and continue to spread the wealth via the air to their playmaking foursome of WR's Torry Holt, Shaun McDonald, Dane Looker and Kevin Curtis. In order to come out on top, Rams' QB Marc Bulger must cut down on the interceptions after throwing three to Giants defenders in last week's loss.


    When the Seahawks have the ball:

    Rushing: Extending drives and chewing up the clock are crucial when playing the pass-happy Rams on their fast track inside the Edward Jones Dome. If you look back at the Seahawks' offensive performance against the Redskins last week, there was very much to be encouraged by. The unit spread the wealth efficiently in the passing game, it failed to turn the ball over once, and it averaged 5.2 yards per carry in what was an overall balanced outing. However, penalties and a lack of red zone execution proved costly in the loss. If the Seahawks are to steal one on the road this week, they must cut down on mistakes and do a better job of executing at the end of drives, as the Rams can put points on the board in a hurry when playing at home.

    The interior trio of "wave" DTs Ryan Pickett, Jimmy Kennedy and Damione Lewis make it difficult to establish an inside running attack against the Rams. However, the Rams are vulnerable off-tackle and on the perimeter, where Leonard Little and Tony Hargrove often get too far upfield and leave a crease to penetrate. Little is far more active versus the run and will make more plays in pursuit, so it will be important to either run at him or be conscious of sealing him off on the backside. The Seahawks must utilize their size advantage on the perimeter and part of a plan that should include 25-plus carries for RB Shaun Alexander, who has already rushed for 455 yards and six touchdowns on 84 carries this season.

    Passing: Seattle's pass protection is outstanding and it should be a huge advantage in Sunday's game. The Rams have done a better-than-average job of getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season, as they have notched 10 sacks in four games. However, they do not have the front-four personnel to consistently get to QB Matt Hasselbeck, who has been sacked just six times. Little is the only front-four member that could create a mismatch for the Seahawks, as ROT Sean Locklear is only a rookie and could be overwhelmed by Little's variety of...
    -10-05-2005, 04:54 AM
  • RamWraith
    Team Report: St. Louis Rams
    by RamWraith
    from Footballguys.com

    Team Report: St. Louis Rams

    Quarterbacks

    Starter: Marc Bulger
    Backup(s): Jamie Martin, Jeff Smoker, Ryan Fitzpatrick [r]

    Starting QB:
    Bulger signed an extension prior to 2004 which put an end to an increasingly divisive QB controversy. His inaugural camp getting first team reps fostered the telepathic WR rapport preferred in Mad Martz's passing lab. Bulger shares the same HS as Dan Marino and a similar lightning quick release and catchable ball. When in rhythm, he drops passes into the smallest windows in the league and can pick apart virtually any NFL defense. Taming the mind boggling myriad of Rams formations and shifts reduced INTs (22-14 from '03-'04).

    Other signs of maturity included going through progressions faster, seeing the field better, hitting second and third targets and passing downfield more accurately. Bulger is cool under fire and is garnering attention for his late game heroics. The Rams had a yardage (#6 NFL) and scoring (#19) disconnect in '04. If Alex Barron stops the horror at RT, beast Steven Jackson unleashes the rushing attack and Holt/Bruce maintain their stature as an elite duo, a "Perfect Storm" confluence could elevate red zone efficiency and bridge the gap between Bulger's elite yardage numbers (283.1 YPG #4 NFL) and pedestrian passing TD total (21).

    Backup QB:
    Martin was brought back in the wake of last season's disastrous Chris Chandler signing. While unspectacular, a career backup who has played 27 games in six seasons (some merely in relief or mop up duty), with a mediocre 14/13 TD/INT ratio, Martz feels secure knowing Martin's familiarity with the intricacies of the system and ability to execute it proficiently if needed.

    Smoker was a sixth rounder in the '04 draft who likely would have gone higher if not for a public battle with substance abuse. He won Martz over with the forthright manner in which he detailed his problem and rehab efforts. Smoker was perhaps best known for being part of a record-setting battery at Michigan State with Charles Rogers. Though Bulger is the man, Smoker is expected to battle Martin for #2 QB in camp. While lacking prototypical size, positive attributes include a strong arm and unflappable aura. Harvard QB Fitzpatrick should master Martz's brainy playbook quickly.

    Running Backs

    Starter: Steven Jackson
    Backup(s): Marshall Faulk, Arlen Harris
    Fullback(s): Joey Goodspeed, Madison Hedge**** [r]

    Starting RB:
    Jackson was declared the starter in the offseason. He had a full yard higher (5.0) YPC average than Faulk and could be a more dangerous red zone weapon at this stage. With the future HOFer a shell of his former self, the Rams pounced on Jackson in the 2004 draft (parting with a fourth to move up two spots) when he swam in deeper first round waters than expected. He...
    -06-03-2005, 12:56 PM
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