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RamView, 8/21/2009: Falcons 20, Rams 13 (Long)

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  • RamView, 8/21/2009: Falcons 20, Rams 13 (Long)

    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 not as sure about him the week after next.

    * RB: Steven Jackson opened the game with a nine-yard run, but it was a long night for the RBs after that. As a group they managed only 60 yards, on 27 carries. Jackson got just three carries. Samkon Gado won promotion to second string with a strong effort last week, but he followed that with a very poor outing, netting only 5 yards on 12 rushes, with a dropped pass and a fumble. The dropped screen pass was probably best for everyone concerned, but the fumble was a backbreaker, killing a drive in the red zone near the end of the first half. Boller put the ball right where it was supposed to be; Gado never put it away. Antonio Pittman (5-15) was next and took a while to get going before having some success with his bread and butter, cutback runs. Kenneth Darby's (7-30) 21-yard draw in the last 2:00 was 1/3 of the RBs' rushing yardage on the night. He was 6-9, and Pittman was 4-3, taking away their longest runs. The Falcons might have been vulnerable to cutbacks or runs bounced outside, but that's not Gado's bread and butter, Darby was in the game in come-from-behind mode, and Pittman didn't play with his elusive style till he was almost out of the game. RB2 is back to a three-horse race. If there's any good news: the Rams worked all week on blitz pickup, and it showed. Can't blame either sack on a RB, and Gado picked up a couple of blitzes nicely. And let's go back to that very first rush. Mike Karney was in the backfield and threw a crushing block to give Jackson room. I hope we'll see a lot more of that, and much better offensive adjustment, than we did tonight.

    * Receivers: Will Donnie Avery be the #1 WR when he gets back? Laurent Robinson (5-65) had another strong game. Robinson has good hands and uses his size well. He was inches away from a monster game; he got behind the Falcon secondary right before the 2:00 warning but stumbled and had to settle for a 25-yard gain, and Boller missed what should have been a 40-yard TD bomb to him in the 2nd. Robinson beat his defender soundly both times. If the former Atlanta WR wasn't just amped up to face his old team, Billy Devaney has a real find on his hands. With all the WR injuries right now, I was disappointed no one grabbed the brass ring tonight. Keenan Burton (2-12), the ostensible WR2, made a nice move to get a first down after the catch late in the 2nd, but hasn't stood out much. Derek Stanley (2-32) came close, with a TD catch and a nice 20-yard end around (called back), though Ron Curry (1-10) was actually the third wideout. Nate Jones (2-19) made a couple of easy catches in the 2:00 drill but hurt his cause with a drop. Stanley also had a drop. Sean Walker (1-6) didn't get much action. The game-ending INT looks to have been intended for him but he got knocked off his route. The Rams did damage with the TEs. Daniel Fells (2-21) broke a couple of tackles in the 3rd on a 17-yard catch. Joe Klopfenstein (1-5) made a nice diving catch in tight quarters late in the game. If any receiver popped tonight, it was Billy Bajema (3-42), who showed good hands and was difficult to bring down. I wouldn't mind seeing some more pop from this group, though.

    * Offensive line: The Rams gave up just two sacks, and Berlin held the ball too long on one, but with the Rams gaining 2.6 yards a rush, it wasn't a successful night. The Falcons frequently put an extra man in the box and brought more guys than the Rams could block, but they missed a lot of blocks, too. Richie Incognito couldn't make it through the line and missed a block, which shut down one of Jackson's runs. I thought Adam Goldberg had a poor night at LT. He missed run blocks, and like last week, had a LB blitz right by him for a sack. The LG combo of Mark Setterstrom and John Greco could have been stronger. The Rams couldn't run to that side at all, and I know Greco missed at least one block. Setterstrom, who played at LG and center, also had a shotgun snap short of the QB that threw off a play. I watched Jason Smith on most of his plays. He started at RT and stayed there into the third quarter. There was a play where he nearly got bowled back into Boller, and Gado's best run of the night was called back because Jason was beaten right off the snap and had to hold his man. And he had a bad possession, I think in the 3rd, where Jamaal Anderson pwned him three straight plays for backfield pressures. But I also know I wished the Rams would have run behind Jason more because he was the one lineman really pushing guys around and driving them back into the pile. He had plenty of good pass protection plays, too, and often without extra help on his side. He recognizes stunts and makes the proper pickups there. I don't think it's a stretch to say Smith's progressed to the point of being solid bench depth, or that he's pretty much right on schedule.

    * Defensive line/LB: The Rams starters got pushed around the game's opening possession and Atlanta ran the ball down their throats. Then on the second drive, Atlanta went no-huddle and waltzed downfield, with the Rams putting no pass pressure at all on QB Matt Ryan. Michael Turner exploded for over 40 yards on the game's SECOND play. Leonard Little overplayed it, the TE ran a pattern up the line of scrimmage and took Will Witherspoon away from the play, leaving Turner a huge hole. James Laurinaitis couldn't fill that; he got picked off by the RT Little wasn't occupying. James Butler diagnosed run, but I think Turner surprised him with his burst, and he ended up with a terrible angle. Cliff Ryan and Gary Gibson got pushed around the whole drive; tackling was bad throughout. Chris Draft and Butler missed tackles badly on a sideline pass to Roddy White. Laurinaitis and Little tackled poorly on a Turner run near the goal line. James Hall got walled off like he was inside a bank vault on Turner's TD run. Turner got such a big hole it didn't even matter that Matt Ryan fell making the handoff. Gotta give the Falcons credit – they have some really well-designed, well-run running plays. They fooled the Rams on one 2nd-half pitch left where the whole defense (except, luckily, David Vobora from the far side) keyed on the fullback slamming into the hole like it was a middle run. Lack of pass rush was the story of Atlanta's 2nd TD drive. Even when the Rams blitzed, no one could get to Ryan in time. I think some of the blitzers did it too tentatively, like they're afraid of screwing something up. I know Jonathan Wade should be getting to the QB a lot faster than he did, considering he was unblocked. Little had a very quiet night. Chris Long had a couple of run stops but I didn't see him as a factor pass rushing. Draft had an off night. I watched Laurinaitis on most of his plays, with the starters in the first half. He's a fine ball pursuer but wasn't as effective tonight as he was last week because the line wasn't tying up blockers as well. Laurinaitis looks pretty good in pass coverage. He was beaten once deep by a TE but the play came back. Otherwise, his drops and coverage were solid. He had a sure INT taken from him by Will Witherspoon, who dropped the ball, but later made a diving play on Justin King's pass breakup for an INT that set up a FG. From the bench, Larry Grant forced a fumble to set up a TD. Hollis Thomas, who pretty much engulfs everything, engulfed the ball Grant knocked loose on a blitz and sack of D.J. Shockley. Darell Scott had a great sequence with the Falcons inside the Ram 20 in the 3rd. He stuffed a run on first down and dived and tripped up Shockley on a scramble on 3rd down for a sack that forced a FG. That was it for sacks, though. The reserves got a little better pass pressure than the first string, where they're still searching for effective ways to get to the quarterback. Add in that the Falcons ran for 162 yards – 5.6 a rush – and we've got a defense tonight that skidded a step back toward last season.

    * Secondary: Disappointing play by the starters tightened up the cornerback race some more. Tye Hill looked brutal on Atlanta's 2nd TD, which, in classic Fakhir Brown fashion, he never knew was coming, even though he was defending Tony Gonzalez near the end zone. And he broke in when Gonzalez broke out, making it even easier for Gonzalez to exploit his seven-inch height advantage. Ron Bartell looked outmatched early against Roddy White, getting beaten twice pretty easily on the same drive. Quincy Butler looks nowhere near as good in live action as he did in practice. Jonathan Wade and Justin King took steps forward. Wade made a couple of nice plays and supported the run well. King broke up a pass that became Laurinaitis' INT. James Butler delivered the hit of the night, clocking White on the sideline at the end of a catch-and-run. Todd Johnson picked off a deflection of a poor Shockley pass. Cincinnati is sure to test the Rams through the air next week. Time for the Rams' secondary prospects to take a big step up.

    * Special teams: Gado showed a definite edge on the scoresheet over Darby, getting a couple of late kick returns across the 30 while Darby failed to cross the 20. That's really more a factor, though, of special teams taking all night to figure out the blocking for returning Atlanta's directional kicking. A lot of the night the Falcons got their outside man around to the returner untouched. Stanley had a nice punt return and a non-return. Coverage units were highly effective, even with David Roach committing a brutal facemask penalty on one kickoff. Donnie Jones landed a couple of punts inside the 10 but killed his average with his last punt, very high but way too short at just 25 yards.

    * Coaching/discipline: The Falcons attacked the Rams' running game by bringing the safety up into the box almost constantly. The Rams, for their part, never adjusted for it, running on nearly every first down play. I know it's preseason and teams don't put out the fine china, so I'll stay confident they won't be so predictable in the regular season and will dial up more play-action passing against teams that deploy Atlanta's strategy tonight. The offensive call I hated most was the flatout stupid draw play to Darby on 3rd-and-5 with 1:00 left from the Atlanta 12. Why are you doing that when Null's throwing as well as he is? And are you really expecting that to work twice in four plays? I also hated, hated, hated the decision to kick a FG on 4th-and-2 from the 6-yard line earlier in the 4th. Josh Brown doesn't need the work! It's preseason, show a little gusto! The only advantage I can think of for a FG there is that it lessened the chance of a tie game, which nobody wants in preseason (and Coach Spagnuolo damn sure better have been going for 2 had they scored the late TD.) They also continue to insist on running zone blitzes with the opponent in the red zone. I think that's a terrible spot on the field for that, but we'll see. I don't consider tonight's loss any kind of blemish on the nascent Spagnuolo regime. Life will be a lot different with Jackson on the field more than three plays, Boller not starting, and regular-season game planning, in all three areas of the game. The defense still doesn't blitz much with the starters in. Scouting last week's Falcons game should have indicated their penchant for directional kickoffs, but the Rams played less than prepared for it. The regular season will be much different. For the second straight week, the Rams committed just 5 penalties and won the turnover battle. If they're really worse than they looked last week, they're also better than they looked this week.

    * Waiver bait: David Roach had some good run stops, but ripping the returner's helmet off on the kickoff, with no one else around for several yards, accident or not, is about as dumb a penalty as I can imagine. Bajema's big night probably seals the deal for Klopfenstein and Eric Butler. Nate Jones and Sean Walker sure didn't get much time, even given the Rams' injury situation at WR. Quincy Butler needs to play like he practices, which I know I'm not saying for the first time. Chris Ogbannaya was curious by his absence.

    * Upon further review: Mike Carey's brother Don refereed tonight's game, mostly without problems. Frankly, it should have been an easy game to officiate. There weren't many difficult calls to make. Atlanta had to burn a challenge on a play incorrectly called a fumble. After Quincy Butler got a questionable DPI in the 3rd, Atlanta LB Tony Gilbert mugged Bajema over the middle without a flag the next drive. That wasn't very popular with the fans, and replay showed we were right. I give Carey and crew a C.

    * Extreme makeover, Dome edition: Maybe not extreme (I can't resist a mediocre pun), but the changes at the Dome are distinctly for the better. The star of the show is the massive new video screen behind the north end zone. It's huge, almost as wide as the end zone; it's crystal clear and it gives an extra wide angle for replays. I'm pretty sure God watches Sunday Ticket on a TV like that. OK, maybe a little bigger. The south end zone looks silly in comparison, though, with a much smaller video screen surrounded by what appears to be new luxury seating. Yes, Dancing Elvis has left the building. A major plus is that commercials have been cut way back, in favor of entertainment during breaks, ranging from player and cheerleader interviews to the infamous “Kiss-Cam” to apparently the crash highlight reel from America's Funniest Home Videos. The fans ate it up. The out-of-town scoreboard will show four games at a time now, and there's also a board for fantasy stats. That's where the game clock used to be; it's by itself on a lower level now, which will take some getting used to. My main dislikes: the stadium clock's gone, and the trivia question was not only ridiculously easy, it wasn't even about football! The new PA announcer's another plus. He keeps the crowd engaged without going over the top, gives the stadium good energy without sounding like an idiot. Good choice to tell the fans to get on their feet when the team is introduced. Sets a good tone. The halftime show, traditional for the first preseason game, was pee-wee football. White paint behind the upper levels seems to lighten the interior and give the Dome a little more of an open feel, dumb as that may sound. And – do you believe in miracles – I think they've even got the sound system straightened out (after just 14 years). It sounds like “Thunderstruck” is going to be the kickoff song, though they also played it for Atlanta once. FGs were followed by “Jump Around”, and the TD was followed by “Zombie Nation”. And that last one's gonna have to change, because I don't need to be reminded of the end of Super Bowl XXXVI whenever the Rams score. But even with that, the gameday experience at the Dome has taken a big step forward.

    * Who’s next?: On to Cincinnati for game 3 of the preseason, traditionally and supposedly the most important game prior to opening day. The Bengals have scored 14 points in two weeks (actually winning Thursday night, though), and haven't signed first-round draft pick Andre Smith – this is not a team I need to see moving up and down the field like the Falcons did tonight. Felonious Chris Henry and supreme clown Chad JOHNSON are proving a potent pair. Henry has both Bengal TDs and close to 200 receiving yards in two games. JOHNSON, who I will never call by his ridiculous gimmick last name, though I will occasionally call him “Funfundachtzig”, is also putting up strong receiving numbers. Apparently never wanting to see an end to his self-aggrandizing clown show, Bengals HC Marvin Lewis had JOHNSON kicking extra points and kickoffs last week, with Shayne Graham injured. J.T. O'Sullivan's had a couple of effective outings for Cincy at QB, though I assume the Rams are going to get a heavy dose of Carson Palmer. Defensively, they're stopping the run pretty well, and they got to Patriot QBs 4 times Thursday night. They're benefiting from the return of Keith Rivers and the emergence of second-year tackle Pat Sims. Rey Maualuga wasn't on the stat sheet Week 1 but had three tackles in New England. The Bengals also aren't getting lit up via air, though I couldn't say the last time they had a secondary that garnered much respect. I wouldn't be against giving Boller almost all of this game to knock off his apparently considerable cobwebs, and let Berlin and Null duel it out against Kansas City.

    Having seen a lot of vanilla D and non-adjusting O from the Rams for a couple of weeks, I'm eagerly awaiting a game that's treated much more like a regular-season game, and this should be the week. Let's see a game where the offense adjusts to what the defense is doing. Let's see the defense get after the QB aggressively like we're expecting them to in the regular season. How good or bad they look at pass rush, run defense, establishing the running game and red zone offense, should give us some idea of how far along Extreme Makeover: Rams Edition has come, and how much farther it has to go. Grab your hard hats, and enjoy the show.

    -- Mike
    Game stats from nfl.com

  • #2
    Re: RamView, 8/21/2009: Falcons 20, Rams 13 (Long)

    Thanks a lot for the detailed analysis, Mike. It's an excellent post in its own right and a godsend for those of us unable to watch these pre-season encounters.

    Sounds like a very mixed bag as far as the players go but it's early days and a lot of these guys aren't going to be starting in week one of the regular season. Worried about the OL's inability to clear the way for our running backs (I still don't know why Roy Schuening isn't getting more of a chance, unless he's injured) and about the secondary, but no doubt Spags will set about fine-tuning these units.

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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...
      -08-28-2009, 12:54 PM
    • MFranke
      RamView, 8/14/2009: Rams 23, Jets 20 (Long)
      by MFranke
      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...
      -08-15-2009, 02:30 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, 11:14 AM
    • 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, 12:07 AM
    • MauiRam
      Ram View From The Couch ..
      by MauiRam
      August 21, 2010
      By M. Franke
      (Report and opinions on the game.)
      Preseason Game #2: Rams 19, Browns 17

      Questions on offense continued to dog the Rams in the Dog Pound, even as they won the game in Cleveland. Suddenly this week, the o-line was the best part of an offense that sputtered in the red zone, lacked open receivers, lacked an NFL-quality backup RB and appeared to lack trust in its $50 million rookie QB. All questions that will need answers by the time the Rams play games that count.

      Position by position:
      * QB: A.J. Feeley (5-6-45, 1 TD, 137.5 passer rating) was in a far better groove tonight than he was last week, leading the Rams on a nice, long TD drive to start the game, in what would turn out to be his only series. He made some accurate throws into tight spots, and certainly used his tight ends well, hitting Billy Bajema twice for nice gains and Daniel Fells over the middle for the Rams' lone TD. He kept that drive alive with a 3rd-and-2 quick slant to Danny Amendola, firing just as he was getting clobbered in the head by blitzing LB Chris Gocong. Feeley also hurt the thumb on his throwing hand on that play and got the night off early. For a night, Feeley appears to be everything the Rams expected when they signed him: unspectacular, but steady and comfortable in the system. It was a frustrating night, though, for Sam Bradford's fans, if not for the first overall pick himself. The QB everyone's expecting to be the Opening Day starter has yet to be remotely turned loose, stuck for another week in what I like to call Pat Shurmur's goldfish bowl, even though his pass protection was significantly better than last week. It's like signing Lance Armstrong to your racing team and then sticking him on a tricycle. I don't know what we, or even the Rams, can learn from a night of Bradford (6-14-24, 54.3 Page Ranking) throwing dumpoffs and useless screens to Chris Ogbonnaya, except to wonder if this coaching staff has anywhere near the trust in their rookie QB the rest of the world has assumed they have. Bradford made some rookie blunders. He stared down the receiver on his first pass and nearly got pick-sixed by Eric Wright. He bobbled the snap a couple of plays later, though unlike even many veteran QBs will do, he didn't try to force the handoff anyway and managed to scramble around for a minimal loss. Bradford didn't get sacked tonight, a tribute to his pass protection and his own pocket awareness. He checked down well against a couple of blitzes and slid away from pressure well when he had to. There was a 3rd-and-15 in the 2nd where he checked down to Ogbonnaya with Amendola seeming to be open on a deeper route, but other than that he stayed on the tight leash the game plan kept him on. He got to make a couple of probing throws toward the end zone, but both were broken up by blanket coverage. Actually, both looked underthrown, so maybe Bradford could use some work getting the timing down...
      -08-22-2010, 01:09 PM
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