No announcement yet.

Finding the Positive in the Rams' 0-2 Start

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Finding the Positive in the Rams' 0-2 Start

    by Seth Doria Seth DoriaColumnist, Featured Columnist

    Columnist Written on September 22, 2009
    In the bottom-line business that is professional sports, the most important thing that happened to the St. Louis Rams on Sunday was another loss.

    In losing 9-7 to the Redskins in Washington, the Rams are now 0-2 and two games back of the 2-0 San Francisco ***** heading into next week’s home opener against Green Bay.

    And if the Rams were a team with high expectations, falling to 0-2 would be borderline catastrophic. Three teams last year made the playoffs from 0-2, but that was an anomaly. Most of the time, 0-2 is a precursor to disaster.

    But the Rams aren’t a team with high expectations. Not even the most die-hard pie-in-the-sky Rams fan dared dream of better than 7-9 or maybe (if they were high or drunk) 8-8.

    So yes, the Rams lost again on Sunday, 0-2 is 0-2, and you are what your record says you are. But when you’re the St. Louis Rams and you’re 5-29 over your last 34 games, you learn to find the hidden positives in the bottom-line failures.

    And so it comes to pass that losing 9-7 to Washington can be considered a success in many ways.

    Red zone defense: The Redskins’ lone scores came on Shaun Suisham field goals of 21, 28 and 23 yards. Washington came close to a touchdown on one other occasion. In the fourth quarter, David Vobora stopped Clinton Portis two yards behind the line of scrimmage on 4th-and-1 from the St. Louis two-yard line.

    On each of those drives, the Rams defense held strong with their backs against their own goal-line, forcing the Redskins to settle for three rather than seven.

    Steven Jackson: Not only did Jackson finish with 104 yards on just 17 carries for a 6.1 yard average, he also got involved in the pass game with four catches for 15 yards.

    A week after not catching a single ball against Seattle, it was encouraging to see quarterback Marc Bulger take advantage of the best player on offense in more ways than one.

    The run defense: Washington did gain 125 yards on the ground, but it took them 33 attempts to get there. Not counting the three kneel-downs at the end, the Redskins gained 121 on 30 carries.

    For a team that gave up 4.9 yards per rush attempt last year and 117 yards on 19 carries to Julius Jones in Week One, it was heartening to see Clinton Portis held to just 76 yards on 19 carries.

    The pass defense: Even though Chris Cooley had seven catches for 83 yards—continuing a trend of the Rams defense getting shredded by opposing tight ends—it’s worth noting four of Cooley’s seven catches came in the first eight minutes, and six came in the first half. In a tight game that was in doubt until the end, Cooley did not have a single reception during the last 24 minutes of the game.

    Other than Cooley, no Redskins received had more than four catches or 41 yards receiving.

    Laurent Robinson: The state of the Rams' passing attack is pathetic and Donnie Avery was a total non-factor (actually worse), but Robinson did his part with six catches for 54 yards. He also had his first Rams touchdown, a beautiful high grab on a 3rd-and-goal fade pass late in the first half.

    The talk coming into this season was that Avery was the unquestioned leader and maybe Robinson could beat out Keenan Burton for the second WR position. Right now it’s Robinson leading the team in catches with 11 for 141 yards and the touchdown. He’s also been targeted a team-high 19 times, with Avery at 14.

    Now he just needs a quarterback who can throw the deep ball.

    (Consider that a tease for a column I’ll be running later this season; working title: “The Rams Should Have Taken Mark Sanchez.”)

    To go along with the pass attack, there’s a whole lot of other things the Rams need to work on. From clock management to covering the opposing tight end to evening out the time of possession, the Rams’ gotta-get-better-at list is a long one.

    But for going to 0-2, there was enough positive in this game to at least feel like there’s progress being made.

  • #2
    Re: Finding the Positive in the Rams' 0-2 Start

    Originally posted by eldfan View Post
    by Seth Doria Seth DoriaColumnist, Featured Columnist

    (Consider that a tease for a column I’ll be running later this season; working title: “The Rams Should Have Taken Mark Sanchez.”)
    I will pretend i didnt read this part, otherwise good article


    • #3
      Re: Finding the Positive in the Rams' 0-2 Start

      I was thinking the same thing 01d. Same thing.

      Overall it's a great look at what actually went right for us in this second game. If we keep improving every week, eventually those L's will turn into W's.
      I believe!:ram:


      • #4
        Re: Finding the Positive in the Rams' 0-2 Start

        Bulger did well he threw no picks, and only once did i see a redskin almost pick it off and it was a D-Lineman.Why is Sanchez even a factor? If Sanchez was on the rams he would probably be worse then Bulger, considering our offensive line's cohesiveness.

        On top of that i see a team that is improving. Atleast we didnt get blown out 4 games in a row this season. We are on the scale up to winning. and our defense is great in the red zone. When everyone "gels" as a team i see great things for this rebuilding rams.

        I am still pushing for my much predicted 7-9.

        Go rams.
        Last edited by hawaiianpunch; -09-23-2009, 10:26 AM.


        Related Topics


        • Rambos
          St. Louis Rams Defense is Solid
          by Rambos
          St. Louis Rams Defense is Solid, Offense Still a No-Show in Loss to Redskins by Ron Clements
          Ron ClementsScribe, Featured Columnist
          45 articles written
          346 comments written
          26 fans
          View Profile
          Send a Message

          Scribe Written on September 20, 2009
          (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) The St. Louis Rams got one side of the ball playing well, while the other is still playing catch-up.

          The Rams defense held Washington without a touchdown in five red zone possessions, but the offense was limited to just 245 yards. Washington was able to get three Shaun Suisham field goals, and held off a late rally for a 9-7 win over the visiting Rams.

          Steven Jackson was the lone offensive bright spot for the Rams, gaining 104 rushing yards on 17 carries, and adding four catches for 15 yards.

          Washington dominated time of possession, slowly wearing down a solid Rams defense to control the clock late.

          Still, the Rams had a shot at a game-winning drive in the final two minutes, but Marc Bulger threw three straight incompletions on the final possession.

          Bulger completed barely over 50 percent of his passes, going 15-of-28 for 125 yards. It didn't help that Donnie Avery and Randy McMichael were plagued by drops. Avery also lost a fumble inside the Redskins' 10 late in the game.

          "I am proud of how hard the team fought," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo told the Rams Radio Network. "We are disappointed. There are no moral victories in football. We were a play or two away. There are positives here, but there are details we have to iron or else we’ll continue giving games away."

          The Rams were able to score their first points of the year as Bulger connected with Laurent Robinson for a five-yard score with 3:57 remaining in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 58-yard Jackson run, and gave the Rams a 7-6 lead.

          Despite O.J. Atogwe forcing a fumble late in the first half to prevent a Redskins score, the offensive ineptitude squandered a pretty good defensive performance.

          They weren't without faults, however. The Rams gave Jason Campbell a lot of time in the pocket to find receivers. Campbell was only sacked once—by James Hall—and the Rams run defense was inconsistent.

          What hurt the Rams the most on defense was the same thing that plagued them last week at Seattle—an inability to cover the tight end. A week after John Carlson burned St. Louis with six catches for 95 yards and two scores, Chris Cooley grabbed seven balls for 83 yards.

          With Green Bay's tight end duo of Donald Lee and Jermichael Finley coming to St. Louis next week, that should make most Rams fans cringe at the prospect of what those two might be able to do with Aaron Rodgers tossing them the ball.
          -09-20-2009, 04:48 PM
        • r8rh8rmike
          Burwell: Rams Find More Ways To Extend Frustration
          by r8rh8rmike
          Rams find more ways to extend frustration

          Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell

          LANDOVER, Md. — On one end of FedEx Field were the Washington Redskins, trotting off the home field to an unsettled chorus of 87,780 ambivalent fans. There were few ringing endorsements in the throes of this unsightly 9-7 victory over the visiting Rams, only relief that their imperfect heroes had been resourceful enough — or darned lucky — to barely find enough ways not to lose.

          And while there may be no ringing endorsements descending from the stands in FedEx for the home team, these football-savvy folks are wise enough to know that what they have — flawed as it may be — sure does beat the alternative. The alternative was your St. Louis Rams — winless in 11 months — who keep working hard as ever for their new boss, the resiliently positive Steve Spagnuolo, but so far have nothing to show for it but a proficiency for administering gut-twisting, self-inflicted wounds.

          Two weeks into his first season as the Rams coach, Spagnuolo is 0-2, and his team has not exactly practiced what the inspirational new coach has been preaching.

          He said he wanted a tough, passionate, smart team that would find ways every Sunday to compete and win ballgames. So far, Spags' Rams have gotten the tough and passionate part down cold. But it's been an excruciating challenge watching them as they attempt to nail down Step No. 3. For the second week in a row, the Rams found just enough maddening ways to lose a game that they could have realistically won.

          "We have some work to do," an obviously disappointed Spagnuolo said after the game. "It doesn't happen overnight. I never expected it to happen just like that. Just because you preach it and worked on it in the offseason in training camp, there's no guarantee it's going to happen in the game. A game's different. The speed of the game's different. Guys think differently and coaches think differently."

          Unlike a week ago, it wasn't penalties that killed the game-winning opportunities for the Rams. They cleaned that up fairly well (six penalties for 45 yards). Instead, this time it was the untimely matter of bad execution and questionable strategies that turned a potential victory into the Rams' 12th consecutive loss.

          Donnie Avery was the most obvious goat of the day, but he certainly wasn't the only one. The first wide receiver picked in the 2008 draft, and the guy who was a hero in last year's 19-17 upset victory over the Redskins, had major ball security issues, dropping at least two passes and fumbling the ball inside the 5-yard line on a potential go-ahead scoring drive early in the fourth quarter.

          The dropped passes could have been forgiven if only Avery had just held on to the ball when the Rams needed him the most. Midway through the third quarter...
          -09-21-2009, 02:26 PM
        • r8rh8rmike
          Defense Makes Progress
          by r8rh8rmike
          Defense makes progress

          BY BILL COATS

          LANDOVER, Md. — Nearly two years had passed since the Rams held an opponent without a touchdown. Just a week had gone by since Seattle torched them for four TDs.

          While the Rams' defense didn't morph into the Monsters of the Midway in seven days' time, it did show at least modest improvement in Sunday's 9-7 loss to the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field.

          "You can definitely take some positives away," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "But we play to win, and we just couldn't get it done. A few mistakes here and there, and they ended up costing us."

          Despite drives of 83, 74 and 64 yards, the Redskins could muster just three field goals. They finished with 362 total yards, 84 fewer than the Seahawks racked up in their 28-0 win.

          The last time an opponent failed to reach the end zone against the Rams was Nov. 18, 2007, in a 13-9 victory at San Francisco.

          "Red-zone defense is important, because offenses are talented and they're going to move the ball," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "But when it does get down there, you have to be able to stop them and hold them to field goals, and that's what we did."

          Particularly encouraging was the resistance vs. the run. Last week, Seattle rolled up 167 yards on the ground and averaged 4.9 yards per attempt. The 'Skins rushed for 125 yards, averaging 3.8 yards.

          Washington's longest run produced 14 yards, compared with a 62-yard dash to the end zone by the Seahawks' Julius Jones last week.

          If the Rams had been stingier on third downs, their numbers would've improved even more. The Redskins converted on seven of 15 opportunities, sustaining their long marches while also ratcheting up quarterback Jason Campbell's stats. He completed 23 of 35 passes for 242 yards, without an interception.

          "There certainly are no moral victories," safety James Butler said. "But iron out some details on third down and we'll be a whole lot better."

          Said Bartell: "It's a new defense for us. We're learning, and we're getting better every week. But we're going to have to overcome those small (errors), because they're killing us."

          The Rams nearly had a safety, end Chris Long sacking Campbell inches from the end zone. And they came up with a big stop on a late fourth-and-1, giving the offense one final shot.

          Trouble was, Marc Bulger & Co. had 96 yards of green in front of them, with just 1 minute, 55 seconds remaining and no timeouts available. Four incompletions later, the 'Skins took over and ran out the clock.

          Earlier, Redskins coach Jim Zorn decided to go for the first down on fourth-and-1 at the Rams' 20 with 3:47 to go, and running back Clinton Portis churned...
          -09-21-2009, 03:10 PM
        • eldfan
          Result that matters eludes Rams again
          by eldfan

          LANDOVER, MD. — Progress? Yes. Results? Not quite. And that's what made Sunday's 9-7 loss to Washington all the more excruciating for coach Steve Spagnuolo and the Rams.

          "I'm very disappointed," Spagnuolo said. "There's no moral victories in this league. But I'm mostly disappointed in the fact that we've got a football team that works their butts off, and they haven't had a chance to feel victory yet. We've got a long ways to go here."

          Spagnuolo apparently was so disappointed that it took him nearly 25 minutes from the end of the game to address reporters. The NFL's so-called 10-minute cooling off period wasn't nearly enough for Spagnuolo to collect his thoughts after this setback.

          The Rams got 100 yards-plus rushing from Steven Jackson, achieving some degree of balance offensively. The defense was stellar in the red zone, limiting the Redskins to just three field goals in four trips inside the 20. Actually, all four of those red zone trips advanced inside the 10.

          And the Rams cut down significantly on their mistakes from the season-opening fiasco in Seattle. Trouble was, they still made enough Sunday to start 0-2 for the third consecutive season.

          "It is a cliché that you take one or two plays out of a game and the outcome changes," Spagnuolo said. "But in this particular (game), that would be true. Because there were certain plays in there that if they went differently, we might be on the other end of the win-loss column."

          The most obvious — and most costly — mistake happened early in the fourth quarter. Trailing 9-7, the Rams marched methodically from their 25 to the Washington 9, overcoming a false start penalty on tight end Daniel Fells and left tackle Alex Barron's second holding penalty of the day.

          On third-and-4 from the 9, quarterback Marc Bulger completed a pass to Donnie Avery for first-down yardage at the 5. But Avery was rocked by Redskins safety Chris Horton, the ball popped out, and Washington cornerback Carlos Rogers fell on the fumble.

          "I was just trying to get more yards," a disconsolate Avery said. "I was trying to get YAC (yards after contact) on the play, and ended up fumbling. I let the team down."

          Avery has been responsible for the only two Rams turnovers this season, losing a fumble on the opening kickoff return last week in Seattle.

          Even after Avery's miscue Sunday, the Rams' offense had two more possessions to take the lead. But the first series stalled at the Washington 41. On fourth-and-2, Spagnuolo sent out the punting unit, but then flanked punter Donnie Jones out to the left and lined Kenneth Darby behind center in a variation of the wildcat formation.

          However, this was no trick play. The Rams never intended to run the ball; their sole intention...
          -09-21-2009, 07:35 AM
        • eldfan
          Rams running back has nowhere to run
          by eldfan
          By Jim Thomas

          Even on a day when Marc Bulger had only 17 handoffs, Seattle's strategy in dealing with Steven Jackson and the Rams' running game was painfully obvious.

          Time after time, in those critical final seconds before the ball was snapped, the Seahawks would creep a safety toward the line of scrimmage, an eighth defender to help keep Jackson bottled up.

          "There were eight down there quite a bit," Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "With a running back like we have, I think that's something we're going to see. And I would anticipate that Washington will do the same."

          It's simple gridiron math. By sending a safety into the box — the area roughly from offensive tackle to offensive tackle along the line of scrimmage — the defense is committing eight players to stop the run. In base formations, most offenses have only seven blockers in that same area: five offensive linemen, the tight end and the fullback.

          So in what's commonly described as a game of inches, having an extra body to tackle the running back can make a huge difference.

          Jackson expected a lot of "eight in the box" against Seattle. Ditto for Washington on Sunday at FedEx Field, and really for every Sunday.

          "That's just going to be my mindset for all 16 games that we have," Jackson said. "I anticipate for the rest of the year that defenses are going to put eight men in the box because we're just so young at the wide receiver position."

          It makes all the sense in the world for defenses to gang up on Jackson.

          "I mean, right now he's our best football player on offense," tight end Randy McMichael said. "A lot of teams know that, and they want to take him away. We've got to find a way as receivers and tight ends to make plays.

          "And even if they do have eight-man fronts, we need to get seven guys (blocked), and let Steven make the one guy miss. It's all about just staying on your man a little bit longer and helping 'Jack' find somewhere to run."

          Easier said than done, particularly in more obvious running situations. Against Seattle, Jackson gained only 19 yards on eight carries on first down, a traditional running down. That's only 2.4 yards per carry. But on second and third downs, when defenses have to be more concerned with the pass, Jackson averaged six yards per carry (eight carries for 48 yards).

          Jackson should see plenty of Washington middle linebacker London Fletcher, the former Ram, on Sunday. "He's a tackling machine," Jackson said. "From what I see on game film, he kind of mirrors the running backs. So it should be a good matchup with myself and him."

          Fletcher had 18 tackles last week in the Redskins' season-opening loss to the New York...
          -09-20-2009, 08:06 AM