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RamView, 8/14/2009: Rams 23, Jets 20 (Long)

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  • RamView, 8/14/2009: Rams 23, Jets 20 (Long)

    RamView, August 14, 2009
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions on the game.)
    Preseason Game #1: Rams 23, Jets 20

    Last year's disastrous preseason opener led to a disaster of a season. With tonight's game, Rams fans can hope the team has put a lot of 2008 behind it. Compare the first preseason games. Winning 23-20 instead of losing 34-13? I'll take it. Giving up 102 yards on the ground instead of 343? I'll definitely take it. The offense that settles for too many field goals and still doesn't protect Marc Bulger adequately? We'll have to wait on that. But this year's Rams are starting off on the right foot, instead of shooting themselves in it.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Marc Bulger (4-4-77) played about a quarter and a half, and when his teammates protected him, he looked sharp and threw accurately, including as good a pass as he's thrown as a pro, a 50-yard bomb he dropped right into Laurent Robinson's breadbasket in the 2nd. Protection problems, though, got Bulger sacked a startling three times and forced the offense to settle for 3 FGs. Kyle Boller got about a quarter but was pressured into an underwhelming 3-9-25 performance, relying a lot on bootlegs and swing passes. Brock Berlin was 6-8-27 but had a short night, spraining a knee while getting dragged down at the end of a naked bootleg by Zach Potter. The most impressive QB off the bench may have been Keith Null (2-2-16). After Berlin's injury rushed him into play, the Rams got a composed and ultimately game-winning play from the rookie. Sean Walker lined up wrong with the Rams at the Jet 14, but instead of blowing a timeout, Null got Walker lined up correctly before the snap and wound up exploiting a mismatch with a LB and hitting Walker for the go-ahead TD. Berlin'd better be wary or he'll get Wally Pipped. Or is that Trent Greened?

    * RB: Steven Jackson had just a couple of carries and was pulled from the game after a 13-yard gain late in the first. The competition for the spots behind Jackson got more heated when Samkon Gado (6-93) started the second half by exploding up the middle and running through the Jet secondary for a 77-yard TD. Antonio Pittman's (4-36) getting plenty of chances and still looks like the Rams' most elusive back. He bounced a run outside for 20 and forced a fumble on special teams to enhance his chances. Unfortunately, the biggest competition between the RBs tonight was to see who could pick up blitzes the worst. Jackson didn't get a block on the blitzing safety, helping LB David Harris score a sack to shut down the Rams' opening drive. Chris Ogbannaya (9-29) let Kenwin Cummings go right by him and drop Berlin for a huge loss in the 4th. The big winner(?), though, was Kenneth Darby (6-16), who looked far worse in blitz protection tonight than he ever did last season. He let a DB go right around him, creating pressure that led to Calvin Pace getting the Jets' second sack. The third came when two Jets blitzed in off right tackle, and Darby picked the wrong one to block. Adam Goldberg had the outside blitzer, and Darby's supposed to pick up the inside blitzer, but he mistakenly went outside and couldn't recover in time to prevent Donald Strickland from dropping Bulger. And now we know why the Ram defense can blitz so successfully in practice. None of the Ram backs, from Jackson on down, are worth a darn at picking it up. Still! And it just shouldn't be happening, not this badly. Blitz protection isn't something that goes into a slump, but it does count on the backs knowing what they're supposed to be doing. Unless everybody does their job, Bulger's going to get killed again in 2009, and it won't even be the offensive line's fault.

    * Receivers: At least ten Rams had catches, but none had more than two. Laurent Robinson (2-52) set up a FG with a pretty 50-yard catch of a pretty Bulger throw. He shielded the cornerback with his body and hauled the pass in over his shoulder right at his belt buckle. Sean Walker (2-18) jumped over a LB in the end zone to make the game-winning TD catch. Randy McMichael (2-25) got the opening drive going with a 15-yard catch-and-run off a swing pass but helped kill said drive with a false start. Daniel Fells didn't have a catch but his block helped spring Gado's 77-yard TD run. I don't relish picking on Joe Klopfenstein, but he helped get Berlin hurt in the 4th by getting off to a poor start on that naked bootleg play and wasn't out there for Berlin when he should have been.

    * Offensive line: Ram QBs were sacked four times – Bulger three of them – but most of it was the fault of poor blitz pickups by the RBs, not of the offensive line itself. The Jets' first blitz was well-disguised and tricked Adam Goldberg into blocking down instead of blocking out, and Harris ran right by him en route to the Jets' first sack. The game's big play, the Gado TD run, was made possible by a very good seal block by Mark Setterstrom, with Fells sealing off the back side to give Gado a crease. Jackson's 13-yard run was sprung by nice blocks from Goldberg and Richie Incognito. The Rams picked up a blitz to give Bulger time to hit Robinson for 50 in the 2nd; might have been Darby making that play. Jacob Bell apparently left the game early and created some shuffling of the line. Roy Schuening got some plays with the ones and I believe John Greco also did. Roger Allen worked into the mix with the twos. Schuening wasn't as stiff blocking the run as I'd hoped he'd be, and he gave up a pass deflection, but he fought mightily to give Pittman a lane for a 9-yard run in the last 2:00 of the first half. The key block there was a sweet pull block by first-round draft pick Jason Smith, who had a nice, if not dominating, night, working exclusively with the twos. Vernon Gholston wasn't really much of a challenge to Smith at all. Smith was steady in pass protection and started the third quarter by knocking Ty Steinkuhler on his butt. I'd give Jason at least a B-minus. Setterstrom's good outing was tempered somewhat by his tendency to sail his shotgun snaps, throwing off the timing of plays. Phil Trautwein held down LT for the second string. The Rams ran for 4.1 an attempt, and that's leaving out the Gado TD; and as a unit they didn't give up a sack or commit a penalty. Fine work for the first week of preseason.

    * Defensive line/LB: Leonard Little got the Rams off to a rousing early start by racing around Wayne Hunter and jarring the ball out of Kellen Clemens' hand for a sack and fumble. James Hall pounced on the loose ball to set up a Rams FG. Unfortunately, that was the only sack until Eric Moore knocked the ball loose as Eric Ainge cocked to throw in the 4th. That ball ended up about 20 yards downfield after C.J. Ah You mysteriously took a big swat at the ball instead of trying to corral it. Well, at least he knocked the Jets well out of field-goal position. Pass rush wasn't strong, allowing Jet QBs plenty of time, especially when rookie Mark Sanchez was at the controls. Little didn't stay on the field long and I was a little disappointed with Chris Long, to be honest, though he did stuff a run. The Rams let a couple of long runs get loose but were very good overall at clogging up the middle and taking away running lanes. This defense has a noticeably more physical presence from its DTs and LBs than it's had in a long time. Cliff Ryan jammed up some runs and James Laurinaitis looked pretty good at MLB, getting action with the starters and some extra work with the twos. He at least broke even for the night. Sure, sometimes he'd get picked off by a guard or get knocked out of the hole by the fullback, but he also filled the lane or waded through trash nicely to stop a couple of runs. He won one heavy collision with the fullback to fill a hole and forced Thomas Jones into Chris Draft. Good stuff, though he did blow one pass coverage. Gary Gibson started and stuffed a couple of runs, but Antwon (Who?) Burton may have been the defensive star of the night. You know how the Rams have lacked a big run-stuffer like Hollis Thomas forever? Well, Burton gives them two. He, and Thomas, can stand their ground, occupy two blockers and give the runner nowhere to go unlike any recent Ram DT I can think of. Burton's even got good lateral mobility, getting outside quickly to stuff a Shonn Greene sweep in the 3rd. Thomas had a good game, too, but Burton's night was a real eye-opener. Ah You and Eric Moore were the next-best pass rushers after Little, in scrub time. Moore blew up a screen pass as well as forcing the aforementioned fumble. They gave up a couple of long runs, a well-blocked reverse to Brad Smith and a 35-yard Greene run where a lot went wrong. Burton overpenetrated and missed Greene in the backfield. Darell Scott, who had a quiet night, was turned aside. David Vobora ran up Victor Adeyanju's back, and Chris Chamberlain got out of position, to give Greene a lane and safety David Roach a wide-open stage to whiff on. Chamberlain ran the play down from behind, something he accomplished several times tonight. The Rams have to mount a better pass rush, but the run defense was the story of the night, allowing a very respectable 102 yards with 3.6 yards an attempt. Like I already said, I'll take that.

    * Secondary: You'll forgive Dustin Keller if he felt like Tony Gonzalez tonight, as the Rams were generally unable to cover him. At all. He beat O.J. Atogwe for 12 in the 1st. On a later 2nd-and-7, Laurinaitis never moved over to cover him and left him wide open four yards downfield on a play where he'd gain 16. And Keller gained 21 yards, down to the 2, on a 3rd-and-7 in the 2nd to set up a TD, courtesy of David Roach's terrible tackling. Roach had a bad night, getting undressed by a Greene fake in the 3rd that turned what should have been an 8-yard run into a 35-yarder. Roach's play there was worthy of Corey Chavous, Mike Furrey, Rich Coady, and Jason Sehorn, i.e., not good. Tye Hill leaves the night still in charge of the #2 CB spot in my eyes. He made a heady play in the first to stop a third-down pass to Chansi Stuckey short of a first down, forcing a FG. Stuckey was left all alone in the flat on a play unwisely designed to have Chris Long covering him, but Hill flew in to prevent a brewing disaster with a fine open-field play. Jonathan Wade was up-and-down. He broke up a couple of passes but looked silly when converted college QB Brad Smith beat him handily on a jump ball in the 2nd. Wade also had a couple of special teams gaffes. Justin King appeared to have a bad night, though. David Clowney beat him for 48 on Mark Sanchez's first throw in the 1st. It wasn't very reassuring to see the Rams' coverage let a rookie QB drive 93 yards for a TD the first time he took the field. Nor was it reassuring to see Clowney catch 3 for 102 yards. That includes a 50-yard TD from Eric Ainge in the 2nd half where Todd Johnson bit on play-action like a rank rookie. Clowney ended up open downfield by 10 yards for the TD pass. King got beat a couple of other times and left a door open for Bradley Fletcher. Or is that Flecther, as spelled on his uniform? Either way, I'd like to see him doing better than fighting to a draw with the likes of Wallace Wright before making him a starter. The door didn't open for Quincy Butler, either, who I was really disappointed with tonight, never moreso than the last play of the game. What do you do with a Hail Mary pass heading your way? You knock it down! No, Butler tried to catch it and muffed it into the air, where Jets could have had a chance to play it. Fortunately, rookie free agent LB K.C. Asiodu had better sense and did knock the ricochet to the ground. Disappointing results tonight after the secondary had looked so good in camp. Steve Spagnuolo's got a lot more secondary coaching to do, and they have to find a way to stop leaving the tight end wide open all the time.

    * Special teams: These new-look Rams actually made a lot of good special teams plays. Josh Brown hit 3 FGs, including a 48-yarder, and kicked everything deep. Donnie Jones averaged 46.7 a punt, 43 net, including one average-stunting attempt to pin the Jets deep. Brooks Foster recovered a muffed punt in the 4th to set up the Rams' winning TD. Pittman forced a fumble on an earlier return, but Wade blew the turnover when he failed to pick the ball up in his attempt to scoop it up and run it back for a TD. Wade also committed a special teams penalty. So did Quinton Culberson, erasing a nice weaving 27-yard return by Derek Stanley. Stanley looked shaky on punts otherwise, misjudging a couple. He lost five yards trying to backtrack after one bouncer and run away backwards with it. And Darby continues to be an adventure on kickoffs, muffing one in the end zone but recovering it. Gado can return kicks, but he comes up to top speed about as fast as your average semi from a dead start. Punt coverage chased the returner on one play instead of watching the ball, costing the Rams a chance to down a punt inside the 5. Don't get me wrong; solid but unspectacular special teams works, compared to the special teams fiascoes of the past, but I do wonder how and when they're going to establish a real threat on returns.

    * Coaching/discipline: Scott Linehan and Jim Haslett ought to be ashamed of themselves if either got to watch how crisply the Rams played in many aspects of the game tonight. No turnovers, and I believe no dropped passes. They committed just 5 penalties, and one of those was an intentional delay-of-game taken by the punting unit. There weren't any “wasted” timeouts, and though Steve Spagnuolo's one challenge failed, it was a challenge worth trying. The defense stuffed the run and even forced a couple of turnovers. Special teams even looked competent, though returns weren't much to write home about. Spagnuolo had the Rams more prepared tonight than they were at least 14 weeks of last season. And I especially liked that he kept most of the starting offense on the field until they at least put together a drive of decent length.

    The Rams blitzed very little except with the scrubs, so they may be saving any fancy stuff they want to do with the starters for the regular season. Little blitzing, though, still appears to mean little pass pressure right now for the blue and gold. And they nearly got burned in the 1st with a too-cute zone blitz that left Chris Long covering WR Chansi Stuckey on 3rd-and-6 at the Ram 20. That seems a terrible down and distance for that ploy, which took a very good play by Tye Hill to bail out. The offense expectedly didn't show much in the way of wrinkles, either. They held Mike Karney out and as a result did almost no running with a fullback in the backfield. I wonder what Pat Shurmur's thinking was on the early 3rd-and-6 that ended in Bulger's first sack. The Rams went four-wide there, a curious formation I thought they'd hardly be using this year, and one very susceptible to blitzes like the one the Jets threw at them.

    Spagnuolo's decisions to go for FGs are worth at least talking about. I mean, it's not like Josh Brown needs the work; why not go for it a little bit? 4th and 13 from the Jet 16 is probably too ambitious, but why not go for it on 4th-and-2 from the Jet 21 at the end of the first half instead of just letting all the time run out? And I really hope Spagnuolo's not committed to punting on 4th-and-1 from the opposing 38 like he called for in the third quarter tonight. If he's got Karney and Jackson on the field, he should be going for that in the regular season every time it comes up.

    * Waiver bait: It's early to worry about cuts yet, but some Rams are making themselves unwanted early candidates. Roach was the worst tackler on the field. Klopfenstein ran a play so poorly he actually managed to get his QB hurt, which takes some doing. Culberson only stood out for a special teams penalty, the worst kind of preseason publicity. There's still time to save their jobs, but these guys better get it turned around in a hurry.

    * Upon further review: Pretty decent job by Terry McAulay and crew. The call on the Thomas Jones TD was right, much to my chagrin. The ball broke the plane before Larry Grant put his helmet on it and dislodged it. Can't blame Spagnuolo for challenging, though. Same thing on the play where Ah You stripped Ainge. Fine and correct initial call, but I couldn't fault Rex Ryan for challenging, either. What the refs did miss on that play was Ian Campbell getting blatantly pulled down by the jersey. I thought Darby was yanked down by a horse collar tackle in the 1st and that the refs didn't do much for QB safety the way they let Berlin get dragged down after the pass was away on his last play in the 4th. However, they didn't blow any big calls and didn't do much to draw attention to themselves – a pretty good night officiating.

    * Cheers: Martin Kilcoyne and Trent Green did a good job with the local call of the game. Green sounded like a booth veteran, quickly making insightful points after many plays. Though it did often sound like nothing short of defensive perfection will ever be good enough in Green's eyes. He seemed to expect the DBs to knock down every pass and the LBs to stop every run for a loss. Just like players, Kilcoyne seems to be improving with repetition. He was on top of down, distance and gain of last play much more than usual, while offering some accurate on-the-fly analysis of his own. The two announcers worked quite well as a team. Their worst glitch was not letting us know anything about Jacob Bell at all until late in the game. The broadcast had some glitches of its own. We missed one play in the last 2:00 of the first because TV was way late coming back from replay. Don't usually have time for those in end-of-half situations. And one drive was shoved to the background in favor of a sideline interview with Kevin Demoff. Standard, but still annoying. All in all, though, this was to me one of the best preseason broadcasts we've had locally.

    * Who’s next?: The Rams have a win and some wind in their sails, but have some important areas to fortify in order to build on that against Atlanta in v. 2.0 of the Dome next Friday night. The offense absolutely has to get its blitz protections straightened out, or Marc Bulger won't even make it to the regular season. There'll be plenty to watch on offense. Can Jason Smith build on tonight's acceptable outing? Will Laurent Robinson have an edge going up against his old team? How will the RB situation behind Jackson shake out?

    The Rams don't figure to see a lot of Falcon offensive leaders Matt Ryan and Michael Turner, but they especially need to step up their pass rush if they're to prevent getting lit up by last year's NFC Cinderellas. The secondary needs to step up, too, and play a lot more like it practices. Lest we forget, the Falcons have the actual Tony Gonzalez now, and the way the Rams (didn't) covered the TE tonight, he may be in line for a 200-yard night.

    It's funny. Last year the Falcons were the downtrodden team most of the league saw as an automatic win on the schedule entering the season. But they instituted wholesale changes and made an impressive run, from castoffs to the playoffs. Now the Rams are trying to emulate that run, with some of “their” people, like Robinson and GM Billy Devaney. We'll take another step Friday night finding out whether that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery or a subpar impression act.

    -- Mike
    Game stats from

  • #2
    Re: RamView, 8/14/2009: Rams 23, Jets 20 (Long)

    Really good read, i hope shurmer can work with our rb to get them a better understanding of the blocking scheme. because if you take away those 3 blown blocks, our QB's were standing upright all night


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    • MFranke
      RamView, 8/27/2009: Rams 24, Bengals 21 (Long)
      by MFranke
      RamView, August 27, 2009
      From The Couch
      (Report and opinions on the game.)
      Preseason Game #3: Rams 24, Bengals 21

      The Rams took a hard knock early from the stars of Hard Knocks, but rode the turnover wave again to bounce back for their second preseason victory, and bounce back from last week’s tough loss. Overcoming their flaws tonight with opportunism and resiliency, this team’s showing the character Steve Spagnuolo’s trying to instill in them. They’re far from perfect, but unlike the last two seasons, they’re playing like believers.

      * QB: It was a nice night to be Kyle Boller (14-20-96, 1 TD), as he led a long TD drive in the 1st to reset the team’s momentum from a poor start. Boller showed fine poise in the pocket, nice mobility I should have given him more credit for last week, and good accuracy on most of his passes. It helped that everything was to the middle of the field this week instead of the more difficult outside throws Boller’s been struggling with. But it helped more that he made critical plays during the two TD drives he led. A screen to Steven Jackson with a blitz coming converted a 2nd-and-long, and again later with a Bengal bearing down on him, Boller found Ronald Curry on 3rd-and-7 to keep the 1st TD drive alive. Boller kept the 2nd TD drive afloat with clutch play, a tough 2nd-down scramble followed by a bullet slant pass to Laurent Robinson for a first down at the Bengals 5. Factor in 2 or 3 drops by his receivers, and Boller had as good a night as you could want him to have, especially since it left out those difficult deep throws that vexed him last week. The QB3 battle, meanwhile, has turned into an unpretty war of attrition, with neither of the back-benchers showing much tonight. Brock Berlin was 2-5-21 in the 3rd, and in the 4th, Keith Null (1-4-24) suddenly turned into 2000 Rick Ankiel, making high, wild throws and looking little like a player who had developed into one of the surprises of training camp. Even his one completion was a dubious play, a ball unwisely chucked into coverage but caught by Sean Walker across midfield. Not sure what made Null so uncomfortable tonight – less work from the shotgun? Bengal blitzing? But he looked as bad making sideline throws as Boller did last week, and the clash at QB3 is going to come down to a tiebreaker next week.

      * RB: What does Steven Jackson (5-12) have in common with the President of the US? They both get a LOT of August off. Jackson had just 6 touches tonight, most of them handoffs with no room to run where he got stuffed. He had one 10-yard run, but a key play of the first TD drive was a 2nd-and-11 screen pass where he hurdled a tackler and scooted for the 1st. Samkon Gado (5-33) stepped in that same drive at RB2 and loudly announced “I’d like to keep this job, please,” with a 9-yard power run and a 16-yard cutback run for a TD that put the Rams back in the game. Also helping Gado keep RB2: Antonio...
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    • MFranke
      RamView, 8/21/2009: Falcons 20, Rams 13 (Long)
      by MFranke
      RamView, August 21, 2009
      From Row HH
      (Report and opinions from the game.)
      Preseason Game #2: Falcons 20, Rams 13

      Preseason is easy to overreact to; trust me, I'm an expert at it. The Rams definitely showed flaws, some painfully familiar, while getting overpowered by the Falcons tonight. But just as those weren't the 1999 Rams who won in New York last week, those weren't the 2007-08 Rams last night. While not ignoring the minuses, we'll be better off heeding the timeless words of Allen Iverson. We're talking about practice!

      Position by position:
      * QB: Now that I know Kyle Boller is dating former Miss California Carrie Prejean, who joins a list that includes Tara Reid and Petra Nemcova, all I can think now when I see him is, “Stoney Case”. If Boller (9-16-91) was as rusty in the singles scene as he was on the field tonight, he'd be dating Madeline Albright. Boller was about as accurate as a rookie weatherman at times. Most of his sideline passes were adventures. At least two of them should have been picked off. Laurent Robinson was open by a good couple of yards for what should have been a 40-yard TD in the 2nd, and Boller threw a bomb out of bounds that the WR couldn't even get to. He had Randy McMichael open by a mile on a dig route deep in Atlanta territory in the 2nd and threw the pass into the ground, short of him by yards. He had Keenan Burton open on one sideline pass, pumped, then had to roll out Burton's direction and throw him the pass on the comeback, that way he could get it out there. Yikes. I understand Boller's coming off shoulder surgery, and that he had men in his face on some of his throws, but everybody else understand that we're going to miss Marc Bulger if he stays hurt. A lot. I'll try to account for Boller's rust and that we've been spoiled by pinpoint-accurate throwers like Bulger and Kurt Warner for a decade. But Boller's numbers on the night were inches from being Ryan Leaf-quality. Speaking of Leaf, his protege Keith Null (6-9-56) had a pretty nice 4th quarter, though Null should look good in the 2:00 drill; that's basically his college offense. Null was accurate, threw the ball into some tight spots, showed a sweet play fake, and ran the offense and stood tall in the pocket with poise. He drove the Rams right down the field from their 35 toward the tying TD before Sean Walker got knocked off his route on a 4th-down blitz, and Null's spot pass for him was intercepted in the end zone. But it looks more and more like the kid's got “it”. That may be a bad thing for Brock Berlin (5-8-71), though he didn't have a bad 3rd quarter. His TD pass to Derek Stanley was a suh-weet throw. He couldn't keep the momentum going, though, taking a sack the next possession despite having plenty of time to throw and Jerome Johnson out in the flat lonelier than a pork chop at a vegan buffet. Thank you! I'll be here all week. So will Berlin, though thanks to Null's emergence, I'm...
      -08-22-2009, 11:40 AM
    • MFranke
      RamView, 9/3/2009: Rams 17, Chiefs 9 (Long)
      by MFranke
      RamView, September 3, 2009
      From Row HH
      (Report and opinions from the game.)
      Preseason Game #4: Rams 17, Chiefs 9

      The St. Louis Rams – 2009 Missouri state champs! But more important than that, believe it or not, were the final intrasquad contests, at nearly every position. RamView will now take on the daunting task of breaking down those battles while not detracting from the historical nature of the Rams bringing the storied Governor’s Cup back east…

      * QB: Whoever won the fight at third QB tonight didn’t do it by knockout. Brock Berlin (9-17-97) probably had the better night, despite a bad interception deep in the Rams’ own end in the 2nd. Berlin underthrew what was supposed to be a quick out for Daniel Fells. Hard to believe he didn’t see DaJuan Morgan out there, so I’m assuming the throw was worse than the decision was. Berlin played the second quarter and led the Rams on an earlier TD drive, making several nice throws along the way. After being robbed of a 33-yard TD pass thanks to Derek Stanley’s brutal drop, he hit Nate Jones on the sideline at the 6 with a 27- yard pass, and shortly after, drilled a pass to Fells in traffic at the goal line for the go-ahead TD. Berlin’s engineered some TD drives this summer; his ability to finish drives has to work in his favor. Keith Null (9-17-78) auditioned the whole second half, hitting only one long throw of note, as 23-yarder to Sean Walker. Null didn’t show a lot of touch on what you’d have to call classic WCO throws. Several of the five-yard slant-variety throws he made were high, hard ones his receiver couldn’t handle. Easy there, hoss. Null also fumbled on a completely-blown running play and walked right into a sack in the 4th. Tonight’s starter was actually Kyle Boller (3-4-24), who barely broke even if you take away the 18 yards he lost on just two sacks. I have no idea what the decision’s going to be at QB. Taking the snap from center, having to deal with blitzes, Null hasn’t looked ready to run the offense the last couple of weeks. Yeah, about as ready as Berlin was to play in Cincinnati a couple of years ago. And Steve Spagnuolo’s last team in New York wasn’t that concerned about entering recent seasons without much experience at third string, like Andre Woodson or Hefty Lefty Lorenzen, both 7th-round picks iirc. The guess here is that Berlin’s really going to wish he had that interception back. Waiver bait: Berlin.

      * RB: The muddle behind Steven Jackson on the depth chart got even more muddled when Samkon Gado (6-17) left the game due to a rib injury. And even more muddled because the other backs didn’t make much of their golden ticket. Antonio Pittman (3-3) made a couple of nice blitz pickups but didn’t find much running room. Kenneth Darby (3-14) weaved through the middle nicely a couple of times. Chris Ogbannaya (12-41) got extensive work in the 2nd half. He popped a couple of 10-yard runs early but spent the rest of...
      -09-04-2009, 12:14 PM
    • MFranke
      RamView scrimmage report: 8/7/2009
      by MFranke
      RamView, August 7, 2007
      Team Scrimmage Report from Lindenwood College

      Hey, St. Louis may have figured out it's time for some football. A capacity crowd of 7,000 watched tonight as the Rams locked horns with one another in the closest atmosphere to a live game they've seen so far this preseason. The problem is, I'm not really sure exactly what we all learned tonight. The Rams might have answers right now to a couple of their myriad issues, but there are still an awful lot of questions left blank thus far on their 2009 NFL entrance exam.

      Position by position:

      * QB: Marc Bulger looked solid enough, though I'm not ready to proclaim he's “back” like they just did on the 10 o'clock news. The short passing game clicked and Bulger especially made some nice throws into tight spaces. He found Keenan Burton and Donnie Avery downfield a couple of times and is still working really well with Randy McMichael. He was picked off from the goal line by Quincy Butler on an attempted out route to Laurent Robinson. Butler really jumped that route, so I'm not sure if Bulger's throw was the problem there. At least I hope not. That wasn't Bulger's only INT, though; Craig Dahl picked off a deep throw to end the offense's first two-minute drill. Nobody inspired much confidence behind Bulger. Kyle Boller was under pretty good pressure much of the scrimmage and chucked a couple of INTs – one a dumb throw into double coverage, another 10 yards past the nearest receiver and right to the deep safety, I think Dahl again. The TE cut off his route early on that second INT, though, and I'll bet he wasn't supposed to. At least in Boller's mind. I actually started worrying about Boller before the scrimmage started; I don't think he made a single good throw to the sideline in warmups. Brock Berlin lost the snap from center on his first play, really bad timing since the Rams were starting that drive at their goal line. Keith Null didn't show a lot of zing on his deep throws, and he badly missed on a timing route into the end zone during goal line drills, but he drilled a pass into the end zone the next play for a TD on what had to be his best throw of camp so far. Null also showed off a pretty nice play-fake. They're doing well enough by-and-large with the short passing game, but there were a lot of misses deep.

      * RB: Very limited action for Steven Jackson – 3-4 snaps – and Kenneth Darby, and on just about any sweep, the refs were blowing the whistle before the back could get out and turn the corner, making it hard again to figure how well many running plays actually would have fared. Samkon Gado started at fullback; I do not believe Mike Karney played. Gado's RB3 ahead of Antonio Pittman, but Pittman showed some of the nice footwork and elusiveness that makes him worth keeping around. Chris Ogbannaya and Null collided on one attempted handoff and had a lengthy discussion on the field over who was at fault....
      -08-08-2009, 01:07 AM
    • MFranke
      RamView, 8/10/2007: Rams 13, Vikings 10 (Long)
      by MFranke
      RamView, August 10, 2007
      From The Couch
      (Report and opinions on the game.)
      Preseason Game #1: Rams 13, Vikings 10

      It's always good to win, preseason or not, but even more important than the Rams coming out on top in this year's preseason opener were the significant contributions they got from rookies and young players like Brian Leonard, Jon Alston, Jonathan Wade and Derek Stanley. And oh, yeah, Adam Carriker. That train has left the station and is building a head of steam. Hey, wait for me!

      Position by position:
      * QB: Brock Berlin (6-9-65) didn't do anything to hurt his chances of making the team tonight, playing the 4th quarter and leading the offense on the game-winning FG drive in the last 2:52. His nice throw and big completion to Derek Stanley for 21 on 3rd-and-13, right after the 2:00 warning, was the key play of a drive that saw him go 5-6 for 60 yards. Ryan Fitzpatrick (13-21-117) entered the game late in the first half and led the offense to a FG, but his night was marred by a Dontarrious Thomas 83-yard INT return TD. Facing one of a million Minnesota blitzes on the night, Fitzpatrick chucked the ball in the direction of Dominique Byrd, who was flying wide open down the seam, but the pass went right to Thomas. It looked like the heavy pressure Minnesota got forced Fitzpatrick's bad throw, but it's also possible that Byrd was supposed to break off his route with the blitz coming and didn't. Don't read too much into Fitzpatrick throwing two INTs – the other was a Hail Mary to end the first half. He wasn't bad overall considering the pressure he was under and some of the hits he took; he's still firmly the #3 QB. The only QB not to lead a scoring drive tonight was Marc Bulger (6-7-42), who also threw a pick, also under very heavy pressure. The pass was intended for Randy McMichael, but Ben Leber deflected it to Dwight Smith for the INT. Bulger and Torry Holt got to clicking together almost right away, the key thing to take away from Marc's performance. Gus Frerotte went 5-6-32 and played only one drive, the Rams' TD drive in the 2nd quarter.

      * RB: A short night for Steven Jackson, who came out after just two catches for eight yards. He wasn't even in for the whole first series, Brian Leonard saw considerably more action, 9-36 rushing and 5-30 receiving. He isn't a burner by any means, but he's an effective inside runner and looks like a very fluid, natural receiver. Bulger and Frerotte already seem confident in him as a target. Leonard's highlight drive was in the 2nd quarter. He kept it alive taking a swing pass for 8 on 3rd-and-6, making a nice catch on the move, and he finished it with a 10-yard TD run behind a big block by the legal firm of Milford Brown. Hard to get much flavor for the three-way battle for #3 RB. Travis Minor (3-7) may have entered the game with the lead, but Kay-Jay Harris (3-25) probably won the night, dragging the whole Viking defense...
      -08-11-2007, 09:59 AM