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  • Sloppiness is still the Rams' trademark

    Sloppiness is still the Rams' trademark

    By Jeff Gordon
    STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
    09/14/2009

    Sloppiness crept into Rams Park during the Mike Martz Era, during those exciting “Shoot, we’ll fix it” days.

    Those teams routinely wasted timeouts, drew untimely penalties and coughed up the football. Those teams had the firepower to score more points than they gave away, so life was still pretty good.

    But when the Rams lost some of that firepower, things turned ugly fast. Martz’s latter-day Rams were an undisciplined mess.

    His successor, Scott Linehan, never got things under control. Hiring him as head coach of the Rams was like sending a 12-year-old crossing guard to work Times Square. It was a total mismatch.

    Every week the hapless Linehan talked about the accountability in his program. And every week there was absolutely no accountability in his program. The same players made the same mistakes game after game after game.

    Colorful interim coach Jim Haslett got the team’s attention for a couple of weeks last season, before the team reverted to its unruly ways.

    Despite Steve Spagnuolo’s best efforts, we just saw more of the same in Week 1 of this season.

    The Rams have a new team president, a newly empowered general manager, a new coach and a mostly new coaching staff. Nearly half of the players are new this season, too.

    Yet the sloppiness remains in this organization, like a pesky virus or a mutant strain of cockroaches immune to bug spray. The Rams blundered their way to a 28-0 loss Sunday, continuing their futility against the NFC West in general and the Seahawks in particular.

    Sure, the Rams played with passion. Steven Jackson was as demonstrative as we’ve seen him and even Marc Bulger was feisty.

    Of course, when the other team pounds your face into the turf you ought to get mad. Rookie Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry crushed Jackson and the Seattle defense did a tag-team number on Bulger, giving him another thorough physical beating.

    Jackson and Bulger pushed back, which is good for them.

    As for the overall game, though, it offered just more of the same:

    The Rams got the ball first, but Donnie Avery immediately fumbled it back to the Seahawks on the opening kickoff return. He did not protect the ball when he cut into traffic.

    On their first snap from scrimmage, Richie Incognito was flagged for a five-yard false start penalty. This gave Bulger a first-and-15 situation to start with, on his own 15. The Rams gained six yards on three plays and punted.

    On the Rams’ second possession, Jackson ground out a first down. But on a second-and-nine play, Incognito took a trademark 15-yard personal foul penalty. This gave Bulger a second-and-22 situation to deal with . . . and soon the Rams punted again.

    After the Rams defense created another turnover, the offense got the ball on the Seattle 38. Avery quickly negated Jackson’s 8-yard run with a holding penalty. On third-and-7 from the 35, center Jason Brown missed Bulger with his shotgun snap. Bulger did well to recover the ball and throw an incomplete pass, but the Rams had to punt again.

    After the Rams defense created another turnover, Jacob Bell earned a false start penalty to turn a second-and-4 situation into a second-and-9 scenario.

    The Rams overcame that, but a false start penalty on Randy McMichael, followed immediately by a delay-of-game penalty, knocked them out of the red zone. Then Josh Brown missed the 37-yard field goal attempt, which should be a chip shot for him.

    On and on it went. The Rams blocked a field goal and ran it back for the game-tying TD . . . only to lose the momentum-shifting play to a video review.

    It turns out they had 12 men on the field. How do you have 12 men on the field? Doesn’t somebody count how many players go out there? Aren’t these jobs assigned?

    The Rams should have led at the half. At worst, they should have been tied with the Seahawks. Instead they trailed 14-0.

    They came out with some fight in the third quarter, earning a defensive stop to start the half. But then another 15-yard penalty on Incognito ruined the first Rams possession of the second half.

    The Seahawks countered with a touchdown and that was that. The Rams played hard Sunday, but undermined their effort with mistake after mistake after mistake.

    It was astonishing, really, that so much could change with this franchise -– and yet nothing changed at all.

    So Spagnuolo must continue the clean-up. He must continue running off knuckleheads and pounding discipline into those who remain.

    He must finally succeed where his predecessors failed so horribly.

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  • schut39
    Why we didn't get to the endzone..
    by schut39
    Here is a segment of an article by Jeff Gordon from stltoday.com that I thought was pretty interesting.

    The Rams got the ball first, but Donnie Avery immediately fumbled it back to the Seahawks on the opening kickoff return. He did not protect the ball when he cut into traffic.

    On their first snap from scrimmage, Richie Incognito was flagged for a five-yard false start penalty. This gave Bulger a first-and-15 situation to start with, on his own 15. The Rams gained six yards on three plays and punted.

    On the Rams’ second possession, Jackson ground out a first down. But on a second-and-nine play, Incognito took a trademark 15-yard personal foul penalty. This gave Bulger a second-and-22 situation to deal with . . . and soon the Rams punted again.

    After the Rams defense created another turnover, the offense got the ball on the Seattle 38. Avery quickly negated Jackson’s 8-yard run with a holding penalty. On third-and-7 from the 35, center Jason Brown missed Bulger with his shotgun snap. Bulger did well to recover the ball and throw an incomplete pass, but the Rams had to punt again.

    After the Rams defense created another turnover, Jacob Bell earned a false start penalty to turn a second-and-4 situation into a second-and-9 scenario.

    The Rams overcame that, but a false start penalty on Randy McMichael, followed immediately by a delay-of-game penalty, knocked them out of the red zone. Then Josh Brown missed the 37-yard field goal attempt, which should be a chip shot for him.

    On and on it went. The Rams blocked a field goal and ran it back for the game-tying TD . . . only to lose the momentum-shifting play to a video review.

    It turns out they had 12 men on the field. How do you have 12 men on the field? Doesn’t somebody count how many players go out there? Aren’t these jobs assigned?

    The Rams should have led at the half. At worst, they should have been tied with the Seahawks. Instead they trailed 14-0.


    As you can see, we had plenty of chances to get into the endzone and we didn't capitalize on any of our defenses turnovers. Almost every drive had penalties and mistakes which is ridiculous. If we didn't make some of those mistakes we could have put up at least as many points as the Seahawks did if not more by halftime. Our defense is doing their job for the most part, but our offense really needs to step it up. To tell you the truth, I think we could've won if it weren't for stupid mistakes. We are a much better team than what we saw on Sunday night. If we can work on getting the simple things fixed, then we will be a much better team. Hopefully next week we won't make drive-killing mistakes. If we don't, then the Redskins better be prepared for some good competition!

    :helmet:
    -09-15-2009, 08:20 PM
  • RamFan_Til_I_Die
    Futility flashback
    by RamFan_Til_I_Die
    Futility flashback
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/14/2009

    SEATTLE — The foundation for Rams football under rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo is supposed to be built on intensity, focus and attention to detail. Suffice it to say, the foundation still contains plenty of cracks, and it's going to take more than a little spackle to seal them.

    Oh, the intensity was there in Sunday's 28-0 drubbing by the Seahawks at Qwest Field. Trouble was, it frequently got out of control. (See: Richie Incognito.)

    But the focus and attention to detail? Apparently, those two qualities didn't make the trip to the Pacific Northwest.

    Granted, for 1½ quarters, the Rams showed the kind of resiliency necessary to dig out of the franchise's recent doldrums. But one mistake after another eventually took its toll. When a blocked field goal for a touchdown by St. Louis was reversed by a penalty for too many men on the field the floodgates opened.

    Seattle broke open what had been a 7-0 game before the blocked field goal play, scoring on three of its next four possessions. By game's end it looked like just another rout — complete with 10 penalties against St. Louis, 446 yards offense by Seattle and next to no production by the Rams' inept offense on third down and in the red zone.

    Despite an offseason replete with change at every level of the organization, it looked very much like, you know, the same old sorry (bleep) Rams.

    "I'm not going there," Spagnuolo said afterward. "This was the first game of the 2009 season. That's what it is. We didn't win. We're going to play the second game of the 2009 season next week."

    Spagnuolo took the blame for all the penalties. "That's a discipline thing and that falls on the head coach," he said.

    Similarly, he fell on the sword when it came to the blocked field goal, a play in which the Rams added new meaning to the mystique of Seattle's 12th Man. (When he wasn't in the stands cheering on the Seahawks, the 12th Man apparently was lining up with the Rams' field goal block unit.)

    C.J. Ah You, playing in his first NFL regular-season game, blocked Olindo Mare's 49-yard field goal attempt, with Quincy Butler scooping up the football and racing 51 yards for a touchdown to tie the score 7-7 with 49 seconds left in the first half.

    But there was a booth review on the play, which can happen when there is under 2 minutes to play in either half.

    "In replay, under 2 minutes, the replay booth takes over the game," referee Pete Morelli told a pool reporter. "One of the categories they have the ability to review is 12 men on the field. ... They count every play."

    They counted 12, with Ah You being the extra man on the field. A terrible play, to be sure, but the Rams had several chances to...
    -09-14-2009, 09:25 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams flagged down
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Monday, Nov. 13 2006

    SEATTLE — There was running back Steven Jackson chugging for the end zone, and
    what shaped up as a victory-clinching touchdown. Seattle defenders were tugging
    and poking at him from every direction — some of it legal, some of it
    apparently illegal.

    There was guard Todd Steussie hustling in to "push the pile," and help Jackson
    into the end zone. Wide receiver Isaac Bruce coming in over the top. Throw into
    the mix what appeared to be a slow whistle to end the play by referee Gerry
    Austin's short-handed officiating crew.

    Some Rams players started celebrating. Center Richie Incognito came into the
    pile late. And then, into this organized chaos came a penalty flag.

    Incognito, known for his hothead ways in college, was whistled for a personal
    foul.

    "I was surprised it was on me," Incognito said. "I thought it was on them."

    Nope. Incognito's penalty opened the door just a crack for Seattle, and the
    opportunistic Seahawks barged through once again. Incognito's penalty gave the
    Seahawks excellent field position on the ensuing kickoff. The end result was a
    38-yard field goal by Josh Brown with 9 seconds remaining, giving the Seahawks
    a 24-22 victory over the beleaguered Rams.

    Just four weeks earlier, Brown's 54-yarder at the buzzer gave the Seahawks a
    30-28 victory over St. Louis in the Edward Jones Dome. It is now official.
    Brown is the worst thing to happen to the Rams in terms of kickers since Adam
    Viniateri of the Super Bowl XXXVI champion Patriots.

    If not a dagger to the heart of St. Louis, Brown's field goal Sunday was at
    least a staggering blow. At 4-5, the Rams have lost four in a row. Seattle
    (6-3) is in the catbird's seat for its third straight NFC West title.

    "It's pretty frustrating," coach Scott Linehan said. "You can't let it get to
    you. That's easier said than done. But my job as well as everybody else's on
    this football team is to keep hanging in there as tough as it gets. It doesn't
    get any easier when it starts mounting up."

    It's mounting up, all right. This was a game when the St. Louis defense was
    pummeled in the first half. When the offense couldn't get anything going
    downfield all day. When left tackle Orlando Pace was lost for the season with a
    triceps injury. When Seattle's Nate Burleson delivered a backbreaking 90-yard
    punt return for a score midway through the fourth quarter.

    Through all that, the Rams still had a chance to win on Jackson's 14-yard TD
    run with 2 minutes 30 seconds to play. The Rams were up 22-21 when Incognito
    was whistled...
    -11-13-2006, 05:49 AM
  • RamWraith
    Burleson sparks Seahawks to huge NFC West win
    by RamWraith
    By John Clayton
    ESPN.com


    Five weeks ago, Nate Burleson looked like a $49 million goat, who instead turned out to be the most unexpected hero. By being called for an illegal formation instead of a false start in the final seconds of the Seahawks-Rams game in St. Louis, Burleson saved Seattle a 10-second run-off penalty, giving Josh Brown the chance to kick a game-winning 54-yard field goal as time expired.

    On Sunday in a steady downpour in Seattle, Burleson eliminated any confusion about his role. He made the game-saving 90-yard punt return for a touchdown with 8:19 left that put the Seahawks in position to beat and, just as importantly, sweep the Rams.

    How the Seahawks got to Brown's game-winning this week (a 38-yarder) involved two goats in Rams colors. (Goats? Ouch)!)

    Nate Burleson's 90-yard punt return for a TD may have been the spark that propelled the Seahawks past the Rams. "I don't know if I was a hero in the last Rams game because honestly I thought I lost it for a second. Tears were welling up in my eyes," Burleson said. "Today, though, I'm not the hero. The heroes were the guys blocking for me and Josh Brown."

    The goats Sunday were Rams coach Scott Linehan and Rams guard Richie Incognito. Linehan made the bonehead decision to go for it on fourth and a long one instead of settling for a likely sure-thing field goal after winning a coach's challenge early in the fourth quarter.

    It looked as though the Rams had taken a 19-14 lead when Jeff Wilkins kicked a 35-yard field goal, but just before the ball was snapped, Linehan threw his red challenge flag at a sideline official. Turns out Kevin Curtis made a catch about a yard-and-a-half short of a first down at the Seahawks 12-and-a-half yardline.

    Instead of trying the field goal again -- this time it would have been no more than a 30-yarder and just for the record, Wilkins was 11 for 11 from inside 40 yards entering the game -- Linehan went for the first down. The play was a disaster. Fullback Paul Smith didn't hear the play call in which he was supposed to float into a short pass route to force a Seahawks defender into covering him low. Smith just stayed in the backfield, messing up the play. Two Seahawks defenders then had coverage on the Rams' main target, tight end Joe Klopfenstein. With little open, quarterback Marc Bulger tried to make a tight throw that went incomplete.

    Trailing by only two points instead of five, the Seahawks needed to only get a field goal to take the lead instead of a touchdown, easing their margin of difficulty to win the game. That difference became very apparent when Incognito made bonehead decision No. 2.

    Rams halfback Steven Jackson scored a 14-yard touchdown to counter Burleson's touchdown return to give the Rams a 22-21 lead with 2:30 left in the game. Someone on the Seahawks defense ripped...
    -11-13-2006, 07:44 AM
  • RamWraith
    'Everyone looks down on us now'
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    09/22/2008

    SEATTLE — As the Rams walked into the visitors' tunnel late Sunday afternoon, 37-13 losers to the Seahawks, there was no escaping the wrath and derision of the Seattle fans.

    "Whole Team Quit on Coach Scottie" read one sign.

    "U Ladies Are the Worst" read another.

    And then, verbally, came perhaps the worst shot of all from one of the Qwest Field faithful: "You're the worst team in Missouri!"


    Ouch! But that's Rams football, 2008. They have become a national punch line to jokes about bad football in the NFL.

    "Everyone looks down on us now," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "It's real popular to beat up on us. And we deserve it."

    That's because the Rams keep providing more material for critics to work with.

    Example No. 1: On second and 3 from the St. Louis 29 late in the first quarter, Seahawks running back Julius Jones was seemingly trapped at the line of scrimmage. But would-be tackler Tye Hill failed to wrap up, and Jones broke free for a touchdown that gave Seattle a 17-0 lead.

    Jones wouldn't have gotten there had not Matt Hasselbeck taken out two Rams defenders with a single block. That's right, not one but two defenders taken out by ... a quarterback!

    "It wasn't that big of a deal," Hassebeck said. "It was a little bit like bowling. You get one pin, and the other one goes down, and you act like you did it on purpose."

    In this case, the bowling pins were cornerback Ron Bartell and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe.

    Example No. 2: After Rams linebacker Gary Stills recovered a muffed punt by Michael Bumpus, St. Louis took over on the Seattle 23 early in the second quarter. This was the moment. This would be the Rams' first venture into the red zone all season.

    Uh, not so fast. On first down, Steven Jackson was tackled for a 2-yard loss on a sweep left. On second down, Jackson was stopped for no gain on a sweep right. On third and 12 from the 25, Bulger threw incomplete in the end zone for Dane Looker, so out trotted Josh Brown to kick a 43-yard field goal.

    The Rams finally made it into the red zone later in the half. On their 119th offensive play of the season, the Rams ran their first play inside the opponent's 20-yard line. A 10-yard reception by rookie Donnie Avery gave the Rams a first down at the Seattle 15 with 4½ minutes left in the half. Another Brown field goal followed.

    Example No. 3: Showing signs of life in the third quarter, the Rams trailed 27-13 after taking the second half kickoff and marching 80 yards for a score. Looker's 21-yard reception from Bulger was the team's second TD of the season.

    After the St. Louis defense forced a punt, the Rams were set to take over on their...
    -09-22-2008, 06:04 AM
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