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

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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