Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Rams-Falcons: 5 Things To Watch

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Rams-Falcons: 5 Things To Watch

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    09/19/2004
    Trouble in the trenches

    The Falcons came out of their season-opening victory against San Francisco with major injury problems on the left side of their offensive line, making this an area the Rams could exploit.

    Atlanta's starting left guard, Michael Moore (shoulder), is out for the season. Starting left tackle Kevin Shaffer is listed as questionable because of rib and knee injuries. But Shaffer didn't practice all week, and isn't expected to play Sunday. Shaffer's likely replacement, Steve Herndon, has started 12 NFL games with Denver, all at guard. Herndon is proficient technically. He has no glaring weaknesses, but no glaring strengths, either.

    With no true backup tackle on their roster, the Falcons tried to re-sign veteran Bob Whitfield, a 10-year Falcon whom the team cut Sept. 5. But Whitfield said no thanks. DE Bryce Fisher, who registered a sack and 10 tackles for the Rams against Arizona, will line up over Shaffer - or whoever Atlanta starts at LT.

    At left guard, either Martin Bibla or Robert Garza is expected to start in Moore's place. Bibla is a scrappy type, with better than average quickness and good strength. Garza is a drive blocker and more of a power guy.


    Chasing Vick

    Line woes or not, Atlanta QB Michael Vick has the kind of scrambling and running ability to make any blocker look better.

    "He will stay alive the entire play," Rams defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "You've got to get him on the ground. When the whistle blows, then you know he can't hurt you anymore. He puts a lot of stress on your defense, and you have to play 100 percent all-out."

    The Rams' pursuit skills and overall defensive team speed will be put to the extreme test. They must stay disciplined in their rush lanes as well. Blitzing Vick may be one way to get him out of his comfort zone. The Rams defense blitzed 12 times against Arizona last week in Larry Marmie's debut as Rams defensive coordinator.


    More than Vick

    With Warrick Dunn as the feature back, Peerless Price as the go-to receiver, and Pro Bowler Alge Crumpler at tight end, the Falcons have a good set of skill position players to go with Vick.

    Dunn has superior quickness, and plays with heart and toughness. Price has decent size, and defense-stretching speed. The Falcons will move him around to create matchup opportunities. Crumpler is emerging as one of the league's top TEs. He had six catches for 82 yards and a touchdown in the first half against San Francisco, but got shut out in the second half.

    "Even with double coverage, he's a guy that's able to go get the ball, because of his athleticism and size, and ability," Rams coach Mike Martz said.


    Beware of Coleman

    The offseason addition of DT Rod Coleman has provided an immediate upgrade for the Falcons' defensive line. Over the past two seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Coleman had more sacks than any other defensive tackle in the NFL, 16 1/2. Last week in San Francisco, he had a sack, two QB pressures, and the pass breakup that kept the ***** from tying the game on a 2-point conversion with 40 seconds to play.

    Nose tackle Ed Jasper is no slouch either, according to Rams LG Chris Dishman.

    "Jasper, he's kind of a guy that people are sleeping on," Dishman said. "He's a big body, and looks like he's gotten a lot stronger this year. We've got to worry about him, too."


    Secondary opportunities?

    Atlanta hoped to upgrade its secondary by making Virginia Tech cornerback DeAngelo Hall the No. 8 overall pick in the draft last April. But Hall suffered a fractured hip socket in the Falcons' third exhibition game and could be sidelined for another month or so. That leaves journeymen Aaron Beasley, Kevin Mathis, and Jason Webster as Atlanta's top corners.

    Beasley, who had a key interception against the *****, isn't fast, but plays smart. Webster, a former 49er, is steady and highly competitive. Mathis plays much better inside covering the slot receiver than on the edge. One thing to note: Rams receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt have done some of their best work in the Georgia Dome over the years.

Related Topics

Collapse

  • RamDez
    Rams Recap: There's no stopping Vick and Falcons
    by RamDez
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Saturday, Jan. 15 2005

    The Atlanta Falcons are a very sound, very tough football team. And the Rams,
    despite all their late-season progress, are not.

    The Rams could not stop the run Saturday night. Nor could they cover punts.

    So the Falcons will roll into the NFC Championship Game after thrashing the
    Rams 47-17 at the Georgia Dome.

    The Falcons ground the Rams defense into little bits, opening huge seams for
    running backs Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett. In the first half alone, the
    Falcons rushed for 239 yards.

    Two hundred and thirty-nine in one half! The Falcons finished with 327 rushing
    yards, averaging a whopping 8.2 yards per carry.

    Quarterback Michael Vick beat Larry Marmie’s defense with his feet AND his arm,
    scrambling out of trouble to make big plays downfield.

    Mix in some more horrendous special teams play by the Rams -- surprise,
    surprise -- and they were doomed.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger tried to rally his team, but the mounting deficit, the
    absence of receiver Isaac Bruce (groin strain) and the loss of guard Tom Nutten
    (sprained knee) made the comeback impossible.

    As the game got away, the Rams became submissive and accepted a terrible
    beating from the Falcons. The defensive front seven surrendered and the
    offensive line allowed Bulger to get tossed around like a crash test dummy.


    THE GOOD


    * With Bruce sidelined, the Rams needed more from Marshall Faulk –- and he
    quickly established himself by running for 24 yards on the Rams’ first four
    plays of the game.


    * That rushing success set up Bulger’s play-action bomb to Kevin Curtis -–
    good for 57 yards and the game-tying touchdown.


    * On the Falcons’ second possession, safety Antuan Edwards made a nice break
    on a Vick pass -– and nearly picked it off for a touchdown. Vick and Edwards
    both wanted that play back.


    * Linebacker Tommy Polley made a nice break on Vick's next throw, breaking up
    a pass meant for tight end Alge Crumpler.


    * On a 21-yard third-down completion to Curtis, Bulger got exceptional
    protection from his offensive line.


    * Rookie running back Steven Jackson finally got rolling with two carries for
    14 yards, propelling the Rams back toward scoring position.


    * Bulger kept the Rams alive with his pump-and-throw 28-yard touchdown pass to
    Torry Holt. That allowed the Rams to cut the Falcons’ lead to 21-14.


    * With the Falcons marching toward another score, Polley pounced on a break
    when an untouched Vick stumbled, fell and fumbled away the ball.


    * Jeff Wilkins buried...
    -01-16-2005, 03:44 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams need answers to Falcons' pass rush
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Jan. 12 2005

    By noon Tuesday, Blaine Saipaia already had watched two Atlanta Falcons game
    tapes, and he was going back for more after a lunch break.

    Some offensive linemen can rely on experience in preparing for an opponent. But
    as Saipaia says: "I don't have any past experience."

    Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against Atlanta marks just his sixth NFL
    start and 11th game overall. Saipaia was on the sidelines but didn't dress when
    the Falcons shellacked St. Louis 34-17 on Sept. 19. He was one of seven pregame
    inactives for the Rams.

    So he has no personal experience to go on against Atlanta - just game tape. And
    what he's seen on tape this week is an eyeful.

    "I'd say that their defense is relentless," Saipaia said. "I think they just
    rely on their tenacity."

    If the dazzling play of quarterback Michael Vick was the No. 1 reason the
    Falcons won on Sept. 19, the play of Atlanta's defensive line was reason No.
    1A.

    "They've got good people up front," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "They're big,
    physical guys who get off the ball quickly. They do a great job of penetrating,
    bull rushing, and changing things up."

    Last September in the Georgia Dome, just about every member of the Rams
    offensive line had some rough moments. Chris Dishman, then the Rams' starting
    left guard, got beat by underrated Falcons defensive tackle Ed Jasper for a
    sack. Grant Williams, then the Rams' starting right tackle, had a tough time
    against Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney.

    Late in the third quarter, Jasper got behind right guard Adam Timmerman on a
    key third-and-1 play, dropping Marshall Faulk for a 2-yard loss.

    The Rams had the momentum at that point, but were forced to kick a field goal,
    tying the game at 17-17 after Jasper's stop. The Falcons proceeded to score the
    game's final 17 points.

    All told, the Rams managed only 30 yards rushing in the game, their
    second-lowest total of the season.

    In one of the key plays of the game, Falcons defensive end Brady Smith went
    wide around left tackle Orlando Pace and stripped the ball from Marc Bulger in
    the end zone for an Atlanta touchdown. In the blink of an eye, that turned a
    24-17 Falcons lead into a 31-17 advantage with 11 minutes 48 seconds to play in
    the fourth quarter.

    "I didn't even realize until I watched the film that (Smith) came from the left
    side," Bulger recalled Wednesday. "Because usually, when the ball gets taken
    from you, it's from the front side. I didn't know he wrapped all the way...
    -01-13-2005, 04:40 AM
  • RamDez
    Five things to watch
    by RamDez
    Five things to watch
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Jan. 14 2005

    Dunn and Duckett

    There's a lot more to Atlanta's league-leading rushing attack than QB
    Michael Vick. With 1,106 yards, the underrated Warrick
    Dunn
    finished with his third 1,000-yard season in eight NFL campaigns.
    Slight in stature at 5 feet 9, 180, Dunn isn't afraid to take it between the
    tackles but still has breakaway speed.

    "He's capable of going the distance at any time, and we know that," Rams coach
    Mike Martz said. "There are very few backs in the league who can
    really do that."

    T.J. Duckett is the Falcons' 254-pound change of pace. Although he
    missed two late-season games with minor knee surgery, Duckett played more as
    the season progressed and has become the Falcons' goal-line back. After taking
    a 31-17 lead over the Rams in September, Atlanta pounded the St. Louis defense
    with Duckett, who had eight carries for 43 yards in the fourth quarter.

    On the receiving end


    Atlanta had the league's 30th-ranked passing offense, and only Pittsburgh had
    fewer passing attempts than the Falcons' 395 in the regular season. The Falcons
    didn't have a wide receiver with more than 45 catches, or more than 575 yards.

    Peerless Price hasn't come close to fulfilling the potential he
    displayed at Buffalo two seasons ago. Former Chicago Bear Dez White
    has speed but never has posted big numbers in five NFL seasons. Some feel the
    team's No. 3 receiver, tall and rangy Brian Finnernan, is the
    Falcons' most reliable wide receiver.

    But put the three of them together, and they total just 1,203 yards, or less
    than either Torry Holt (1,372) or Isaac Bruce
    (1,292) of the Rams.

    The Crumpler factor

    The Falcons' go-to receiver is tight end Alge Crumpler, a two-time
    Pro Bowler. Even though he missed Atlanta's final two regular-season games with
    a knee injury, Crumpler set the franchise mark for catches by a tight end with
    48 this season. Atlanta coach Jim Mora says he has the best hands of
    anyone he's seen other than former Minnesota great Cris Carter.

    No doubt, the Falcons were taking notes last week when Seattle TE Itula
    Mili
    caught six passes for 98 yards against the Rams. If totally healthy,
    Crumpler represents a huge challenge for Rams linebackers, particularly
    Tommy Polley, but also strong safety Adam Archuleta. When
    the teams met in September, Crumpler had a 33-yard reception late in the third
    quarter, setting up the go-ahead TD for Atlanta in what was then a 17-17 game.

    "The tight end is such a factor (blocking) in the running game, then all of a
    sudden he's downfield, with all of the...
    -01-15-2005, 02:46 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams need answers to Falcons' pass rush
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    01/12/2005

    By noon Tuesday, Blaine Saipaia already had watched two Atlanta Falcons game tapes, and he was going back for more after a lunch break.

    Some offensive linemen can rely on experience in preparing for an opponent. But as Saipaia says: "I don't have any past experience."

    Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against Atlanta marks just his sixth NFL start and 11th game overall. Saipaia was on the sidelines but didn't dress when the Falcons shellacked St. Louis 34-17 on Sept. 19. He was one of seven pregame inactives for the Rams.

    So he has no personal experience to go on against Atlanta - just game tape. And what he's seen on tape this week is an eyeful.

    "I'd say that their defense is relentless," Saipaia said. "I think they just rely on their tenacity."

    If the dazzling play of quarterback Michael Vick was the No. 1 reason the Falcons won on Sept. 19, the play of Atlanta's defensive line was reason No. 1A.

    "They've got good people up front," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "They're big, physical guys who get off the ball quickly. They do a great job of penetrating, bull rushing, and changing things up."

    Last September in the Georgia Dome, just about every member of the Rams offensive line had some rough moments. Chris Dishman, then the Rams' starting left guard, got beat by underrated Falcons defensive tackle Ed Jasper for a sack. Grant Williams, then the Rams' starting right tackle, had a tough time against Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney.

    Late in the third quarter, Jasper got behind right guard Adam Timmerman on a key third-and-1 play, dropping Marshall Faulk for a 2-yard loss.

    The Rams had the momentum at that point, but were forced to kick a field goal, tying the game at 17-17 after Jasper's stop. The Falcons proceeded to score the game's final 17 points.

    All told, the Rams managed only 30 yards rushing in the game, their second-lowest total of the season.

    In one of the key plays of the game, Falcons defensive end Brady Smith went wide around left tackle Orlando Pace and stripped the ball from Marc Bulger in the end zone for an Atlanta touchdown. In the blink of an eye, that turned a 24-17 Falcons lead into a 31-17 advantage with 11 minutes 48 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.

    "I didn't even realize until I watched the film that (Smith) came from the left side," Bulger recalled Wednesday. "Because usually, when the ball gets taken from you, it's from the front side. I didn't know he wrapped all the way around. We were going for the home run from our own end zone, and that's the risk you take when you have to hold on to the ball that long for a home run."

    Bulger wanted to throw deep for Isaac Bruce on a second...
    -01-13-2005, 01:59 PM
  • RamWraith
    The offense, not defense, will have to stop Vick
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Jan. 13 2005

    Playoff update: The Rams don't have the Seattle Seahawks to kick around
    anymore. As exciting as it has been to watch the Rams come to life, momentum
    can only take them so far. And this week the Rams are going to Atlanta.
    Unfortunately, they can't return to Seattle to torment Mike Holmgren and the
    NFL's most gutless team.

    It's one thing to travel to the Pacific Northwest and slap around the feckless
    Seahawks. After all, the Rams did that in the regular season, before they
    supposedly found a righteous path to their newfound glory.

    A playoff win is an impressive achievement, but was anyone really surprised to
    see the Rams hold off Seattle? The terrain, and the challenge, have changed.
    Now the Rams move up in class. Now they go to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome
    hothouse. Now the Rams must face the Falcons, who clobbered them by 17 points
    in the second game of the season.

    "They lined up and whipped us, and whipped us good," Rams coach Mike Martz
    said. "And not because we didn't have somebody. They lined up and physically
    whipped us on both sides of the ball."

    And now the Rams face their own version of Mission Impossible: They have to
    trap Michael Vick, who bobbed and weaved through an overwhelmed, overheated,
    oxygen-deprived, arm-tackling, flat-footed Rams defense on Sept. 19.

    In a one-man demonstration of futuristic quarterbacking, Vick all but used the
    game to film another Nike commercial, with Rams' defenders serving as extras
    and props. Vick rushed for 109 yards, averaging 9.1 yards a carry, and
    completed 73 percent of his throws. Vick played at 70 mph. The Rams crawled
    along in the slow lane.

    "Obviously, Michael Vick did what he wanted," Rams quarterback Marc Bulger
    said.

    Vick is basically the best option quarterback in football history.

    The Rams may be able to prevent Vick from going off again, but I tend to doubt
    it. The Rams did a superb job of halting Seattle running back Shaun Alexander
    last week, but Atlanta is a different beast. When Seattle opts to run, everyone
    in the stadium knows Alexander will carry the ball. But Atlanta isn't as
    formatted. Vick can zoom off on a designed bootleg. Vick can fake a run and
    slip the ball to halfback Warrick Dunn. Vick can hand off to 242-pound
    bulldozer T.J. Duckett. Or Vick can drop back to pass, then launch himself on a
    scramble.

    Tapping into such grand diversity and extreme athleticism, the Falcons led the
    NFL in rushing. Coach Jim Mora wisely plays to this strength. When the Falcons
    get the early lead, which is often the...
    -01-14-2005, 04:31 AM
Working...
X