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Pick Six: Keys For The Rams Against The *****

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  • Pick Six: Keys For The Rams Against The *****

    Bleacher Report by Ron Clements

    The Rams are 0-3 and, even worse, have been bitten pretty hard by the injury bug.

    In their 36-17 loss to the Green Bay Packers last week, the Rams lost leading receiver Laurent Robinson for the season with a high ankle sprain and broken fibula.

    Safety James Butler sprained his MCL and will miss at least two weeks. Cornerback Ron Bartell is nursing a couple of leg injuries and will not be 100 percent for Sunday's game against the *****.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger has a bruised shoulder, and is questionable for Sunday. Backup Kyle Boller, who played admirably for a half against the Packers and led the Rams on two scoring drives, is practicing with the first team this week.

    Offensive tackles Alex Barron and Jason Smith missed some practice time this week with leg issues.

    Then on Tuesday came news that starting linebacker David Vobora will miss the next four weeks for violating the NFL's performance-enhancing drug policy.

    To fill roster spots, the Rams made a bunch of roster moves this week. They promoted defensive tackle Leger Douzable, linebacker Dominic Douglas, and wideout Nate Jones from the practice squad.

    Jones takes Robinson's spot on the roster, putting the Rams back at five receivers with former Packer Ruvell Martin, Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, and return specialist Danny Amendola.

    The Rams are basically a walking MASH unit, and will be facing a San Francisco team that is one Brett Favre miracle away from being 3-0.

    So what can the Rams do to somehow find a victory?

    1. Get Steven Jackson into the end zone

    Jackson is the Rams best player, and offensive coordinator did a much better job of getting the ball in Jackson's hands last week. He's got two consecutive 100-yard rushing games, but has yet to find the end zone.

    Richie Incognito said the offensive line lives vicariously through Jackson, so Jackson scoring touchdowns will only boost the morale of a downtrodden team.

    2. Let Kyle Boller start

    Marc Bulger may be the $10 million man in St. Louis, but Boller gives the Rams the best chance to win. He's proven his toughness in the preseason, and against Green Bay. He's also shown a proclivity to make plays with his legs, an aspect Bulger really can't provide.

    Bulger may be an accurate passer when given time, but the St. Louis offensive line has not protected the quarterback well, and Boller can move the pocket. He's just a much more mobile quarterback, and is whom the Rams need to turn to come Sunday.

    3. Start fast

    The Rams dug themselves a hole last week against the Packers. A blocked field goal and two fumbles had the Packers up 9-0 before most fans had filed into the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams were fortunate they weren't trailing 17-0 at that point.

    Green Bay built a 16-0 lead before St. Louis got on the board. If the Rams hope to pull off a road win, then the NFL's worst scoring offense must somehow get on the board first.

    Here's what the Rams must avoid:

    1. Turnovers

    Again, the Rams had two fumbles and an interception that led directly to 13 points for the Packers last week. They did not force a Green Bay turnover, and must win the turnover battle Sunday. The Niners are plus-3 in turnover margin, while the Rams are plus-1.

    2. Big plays

    The Rams actually get a bit of a reprieve here because San Francisco running back Frank Gore is out for Sunday's game because of foot and ankle injuries. Gore leads San Fran with 241 yards and three scores.

    Filling in for him will be Glen Coffee for the second straight week. Coffee has been held in check this year with just 64 yards on 35 carries. Gore had an 80-yard touchdown run earlier, but Coffee doesn't appear to have that burst.

    Quarterback Shaun Hill is completing 63 percent of his passes, but for only 548 yards and three scores. His longest pass completion is 50 yards. Green Bay hit on three big plays last week to set up scores.

    If the Rams can keep everything in front of them and avoid the big play, they might be all right.

    3. Penalties

    Richie Incognito was penalty-free last week, although he did get into a shoving match with a Packers player. While Incognito kept his number from being called, that doesn't mean the Rams were without costly penalties.

    A long Jackson run was called back for holding and there were a couple of other penalties that negated positive plays. St. Louis does not have enough talent to shoot itself in the foot and nullify its own big plays.

    If this happens again Sunday in San Francisco, the end result will be another St. Louis loss.

Related Topics


  • eldfan
    Rams are the new Lions
    by eldfan
    Rams are the new Lions

    Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers scores on a four-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome (By Chris Lee/P-D)BY JIM THOMAS

    Welcome to St. Louis, the Land of the Lost when it comes to professional football.

    With Detroit's 19-14 victory Sunday over Washington, the Lions snapped their league-high 19-game losing streak. The NFL's longest streak of futility now belongs to the Rams following Sunday's 36-17 loss to Green Bay at the Edward Jones Dome.

    With their latest pratfall, the Rams have lost 13 consecutive games, with an 0-3 start this season coupled with a 10-game losing streak to finish 2008.

    "It's been tough sledding for us," offensive guard Richie Incognito said. "We're in a losing funk right now. Penalties early; turnovers; that's all balled up in the losing funk. And we've really got to shake that."

    What they're trying to shake has mushroomed into a franchise-record losing streak. In the 72 years of Rams football, the team had never lost 13 games in a row until now. The previous record of 12 straight defeats was set by the Rams in 1937 and '38, tied in 1959-60 and tied again until Sunday's unlucky 13th.

    "This team is totally different than it was last year," defensive end Leonard Little insisted. "We've got some of the same people that we had last year, but it's a different attitude. This attitude's going to take us a long way in the long run because we've got guys that give effort, go out there and lay it on the line. We're going to start getting wins because of that."

    If those victories come in the near term, like next week in San Francisco, it almost certainly will have to happen without several of the team's starters. Quarterback Marc Bulger (shoulder) and safety James Butler (left knee) were sidelined in the first quarter with injuries.

    "There's some significance to those injuries," coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

    League sources later told the Post-Dispatch that Bulger has a rotator cuff injury in his throwing shoulder. He will have additional testing today, and if it's a torn rotator cuff, the injury could end his season.

    Late in the second quarter, the Rams lost their top receiver, Laurent Robinson, with what looks like a substantial right ankle injury. (Robinson was on crutches after the game.) The team's other starting wide receiver, struggling Donnie Avery, suffered an injury to his ribs late in the fourth quarter.

    "It's a struggle when guys get hurt, especially early in the game," Spagnuolo said.

    Bulger suffered his injury with just over 4 minutes to play in the first quarter when he was sacked by Packers linebacker Aaron Kampman, who got around right tackle...
    -09-28-2009, 07:19 AM
  • Rambos
    Packers-Rams: Six Things To Look For
    by Rambos
    Scribe Written on September 24, 2009
    (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) The St. Louis Rams host the Green Bay Packers Sunday in their home opener. The Rams are winless through two weeks, losing 28-0 to Seattle, and 9-7 to Washington. The Packers are 1-1 following a 21-15 win over Chicago, and a 31-24 loss to Cincinnati.

    There may be more Packers fans at the Edward Jones Dome than Rams fans with thousands of Packers faithful traveling to see their team.

    Couple that with disappointed Rams season ticket holders selling their seats, and the dome once again becomes "Lambeau South." That's how it was referred to two years ago when Green Bay came to town and left with a lopsided victory.

    If the Rams expect to stay close and have a chance to win at the end, they must do these three things:

    Establish Steven Jackson early: The Rams finally got Jackson going last week in the loss to the Redskins. Jackson had 17 carries for 104 yards, and an additional four receptions for another 15 yards. He needs more touches this week, probably 20 by halftime, to soften the Packers secondary and open it up for Marc Bulger.

    Hold onto the ball, Donnie Avery: Avery was the victim of a couple key drops last week, and is not looking like an NFL No. 1 receiver, as the Rams hoped he would be. The first receiver taken in the 2008 draft also had a fumble inside the Washington red zone that cost his team some points.

    If Avery has better ball control against Washington, the Rams win. They need him to secure the ball Sunday against the Packers.

    Cover the tight ends: The Packers have two very good tight ends in Donald Lee and Jermichael Finley. St. Louis has had trouble covering tight ends through the first two weeks of the season. Seattle's John Carlson caught six balls for 95 yards and two scores in week one, while Chris Cooley had six catches for 83 yards last week.

    If the Rams safeties and linebackers can take Lee and Finley away from Aaron Rodgers, things should be easier on the St. Louis defense.

    Those are the three things the Rams must do.

    They must avoid the following three things:

    Giving Aaron Rodgers time in the pocket: Rodgers has a strong, accurate arm, and will pick apart most secondaries when given enough time. The Packers have allowed an NFL-high 10 sacks through two games, and starting tackle Chad Clifton is out with an ankle injury. The Rams got their first, and only, sack of the year last week.

    They must take advantage of a weak Packers line and force Rodgers to throw under duress.

    Picking up dumb penalties: In week one, it was four personal fouls, including two from Richie Incognito. The Rams were also penalized for having 12 men on the field, which negated a...
    -09-24-2009, 05:49 PM
  • MFranke
    RamView, 9/27/2009: Packers 36, Rams 17 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, September 27, 2009
    From Row HH
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Game #3: Packers 36, Rams 17

    Trying to give the Packers more than they expected today, the Rams bogged down in turnovers, penalties, and a defense yet to learn that bend-but-don't-break doesn't mean bend over backwards. And in the end, the Rams may have been the ones getting something they weren't expecting. Like maybe a quarterback controversy?

    * QB: Marc Bulger (3-4-23) had a painful day that came to a painful end. He wiped out modest early success with a fumble inside his own 20 late in the 1st quarter, as Aaron Kampman wheeled around right tackle and stripped him from behind. Bulger was just too unaware of that non-blind-side pressure and not protecting the ball well enough there. Luckily, that only cost the Rams three points. Bulger was also injured on that play, what’s currently being called a bruised shoulder. Kyle Boller (16-31-164) entered in the 2nd, and after opening with his best Rick Ankiel impression, settled down and sparked the Rams into turning a blowout into a competitive game. He kept a drive alive with 3rd-down passes to Laurent Robinson and Kenneth Darby before firing a perfect pass to Daniel Fells in the far right end zone for the Rams’ first TD. That drive also featured Boller insanely trying to lead-block for Jackson, throwing a big hit on a cutback. Boller answered again after Green Bay extended the lead to 23-7, taking the offense 84 yards in under 2:00, capped off by another perfect TD throw to Fells, this time in the far left end zone. Key plays to set that up: a 16-yard pass to Keenan Burton and a 13-yard scramble. Boller ran 4 times for 31 yards, which looks like a necessary release valve for the Rams’ stuttering offense, while also being a gear Bulger doesn’t really have. But after pulling within 23-14 at halftime, Boller couldn’t sustain momentum. The Rams settled for a FG when Boller scrambled and threw a pass well short of Donnie Avery inside the 10. Unfortunately he didn’t see Danny Amendola breaking open late for an easier first down. A deflection nearly intercepted by Johnny Jolly killed another drive, as did a Randy McMichael drop. Things gradually fell apart for Boller as the Packers consistently got good pressure on his rollouts. Down 12 again in the 4th, Boller could only produce a weak 3-and-out and then an interception by Charles Woodson, jumping a telegraphed pass over the middle for Amendola. Accuracy’s an issue for Boller that it isn’t for Bulger. Boller missed several open receivers on the sidelines, in a variety of ways, too; overthrows, one-hoppers, you name it. Despite the pretty TD passes, I haven’t known Boller to be a very accurate sideline thrower. That and the pick helped drop his passer rating to 75.2, or about where Bulger’s been all season, but while scoring double Bulger’s TD output for the season. I know, I know. The most popular player on a losing football...
    -09-28-2009, 02:12 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams keep turning over the same old leaf
    by eldfan

    Here's all you need to know about the state of Rams football, 2009:

    At halftime Sunday, the Rams had outgained mighty Minnesota by 50 yards. Steven Jackson had outrushed Vikings super back Adrian Peterson, 48 yards to 35. And Kyle Boller had a passer rating that was 21.3 points better than fabulous Brett Favre.

    Yet the Rams STILL trailed by two touchdowns entering the locker room at halftime, 17-3.

    "We can't get a break," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "Every flag, every call's going against us. Everything you can think that's bad is happening right now. So we've just got to try to battle and play above it, and just keep playing hard."

    In the second half, the thoroughbred took over in the unbeaten Vikings (5-0), a team that currently has the look of NFC title contender. Minnesota had touchdown drives of 90, 80, and 80 yards in the final two quarters to pull away to a 38-10 victory.

    Yes, Marc Bulger was seven for seven for St. Louis in the fourth quarter, including a 27-yard TD pass to Donnie Avery in relief of injured starter Kyle Boller. But by then, the Vikings were treating the game like a preseason contest in mid-August. Only one of their 11 defensive starters was on the field.

    So let's go to the tote board. The Rams remain winless for '09 at 0-5; their franchise-record losing streak has been extended to 15 games. And they have been outscored 146 points to 34 this season.

    "In order to be a good football team, you can't turn the ball over," Bartell said. "Can't have penalties. Same thing that's been beating us all year. Right now, we're not a good football team."

    Not even close. Nonetheless, the Rams had several chances to make a game of it in the opening three quarters. In this, the 300th game in "St. Louis" Rams history — a total that includes preseason, postseason and regular-season contests — the Rams found a new way to lose.

    Of their four turnovers Sunday, St. Louis' offense had three inside the Minnesota 10 against a Vikings defense regarded as one of the league's best.

    "I don't know if I've ever seen that before," left guard Jacob Bell said.

    — On first and goal from the Minnesota 1 early in the second quarter, Jackson never seemed to gain control of a handoff from Boller, with defensive end Jared Allen recovering the loose football at the 4. It looked like a botched exchange but Jackson took the blame: "It's on me, dropping the ball," he said.

    — On second and 6 from the Minnesota 8 late in the second quarter, Boller completed a pass to tight end Daniel Fells inside the 5. But Vikes linebacker Chad Greenway popped Fells from behind, the ball popped out, and fellow linebacker E.J. Henderson recovered at the 2.

    -10-12-2009, 11:53 AM
  • eldfan
    Rams Continue Their Futility
    by eldfan
    Rams Lose 36-17, Continue Their Futility
    By Jeff Gordon

    The Rams needed to make a stand Sunday to show their fans – and themselves – that progress is coming with the New Regime.

    They failed dismally. Some faces changed in this defeat, but familiar problems remained.

    The Rams staggered to their 13th loss in a row and 30th in 35 games, falling to the Packers 36-17 in their home opener at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.

    “I was disappointed with the result, but I wasn’t disappointed with the effort,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said after the game, repeating his familiar refrain.

    With a horrific offensive start, the Rams fell behind 16-0 less than six minutes into the second quarter. They got a spark when quarterback Kyle Boller replaced starter Marc Bulger — who departed with a bruised shoulder.

    The Rams fought back to cut Green Bay’s lead to 23-17 . . . and then their comeback bid ran out of steam.

    The Rams got two TD receptions by tight end Daniel Fells, 163 total yards from Steven Jackson, 187 return yards from Danny Amendola and a 53-yard field by Josh Brown.

    And now the bad news:

    Bulger and Jackson turned the ball over with first-quarter fumbles. Both mishaps put the Packers into scoring position.
    Brown had a 48-yard field goal attempt blocked.
    Despite his two TD passes, Boller finished with a dreary passer rating of 75.2. He misfired on 15 of 31 passes and threw a late interception.
    Working against the makeshift Packers line, the Rams front seven didn’t apply much pass pressure. These guys let Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers break containment and scramble for 40 yards and a touchdown.
    Overall, the Rams defense allowed 402 yards as Rodgers posted a passer rating of 126.9. He kept bombing away, hitting one big play after another in the Rams secondary.
    “You try to bounce back after those big plays, but they kill you,” Spagnuolo said.

    Top Rams wide receiver Laurent Robinson left the game with an ankle injury and starting safety James Butler suffered an MCL injury. Those injuries left a bad team even more shorthanded.

    “Laurent had done some good things for us in some key situations,” Spagnuolo said. “We’ll have to have other guys step up.”

    And Butler, Spagnuolo said, “he kind of runs the show back there.”

    So the Rams, 0-3, sank to the very bottom of the NFL. The Detroit Lions won today, so there can be no team worse than this one.

    Spagnuolo says he doesn’t want to discuss the past, but he has done nothing to this point to break the three-year pattern of failure.
    -09-27-2009, 02:52 PM