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  • Rams look like they're plodding along ..

    Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/20/2009

    More than ever, teams in the National Football League are airing it out, with footballs flying through stadium skies from coast to coast. Teams are armed with young-gun quarterbacks, golden-oldie quarterbacks and a fleet of receivers of every size.

    Did you check some of the box scores from Sunday's games? It's crazy out there. Eight quarterbacks had 300-yard passing days, 10 threw for at least two touchdowns, and eight had passer ratings over 100. This accounting does not include Monday night's game between Denver and San Diego.

    Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, Joe Flacco, Matt Schaub, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and other quarterback Mad Men turned a slate of NFL regular-season contests into "Madden NFL 10."

    This wasn't a Sunday fluke show; the prolific passing numbers were part of an unmistakable trend. With help from STATS LLC, I attempted to research the extent of the NFL's let-it-rip mentality.

    This is what I found:

    — The current overall NFL passer rating of 84.8 would be the best since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.

    — The current completion rate of 61.2 percent would be the best since the 1970 merger.

    — The current touchdown-interception ratio of 1.53 would be the best since the merger.

    — The number of attempted passes per game (both teams) of 66.6 would be the second-highest since the merger.

    — The net yards passing (438.5) per game and gross yards passing per game (467), for both teams, would rank No. 2 since the merger.
    — The percentage of completions that result in first downs (33.9) would be No. 2 since the merger.

    — The yards per passing attempt (7.01) is the eighth-highest since the merger. And the rate of quarterbacks being sacked per passing attempt (6.2 percent) is the sixth-lowest since the merger.

    We're seeing big plays, long plays, dazzling plays and quarterbacks getting a chance to be John Unitas for the day. This fast and furious style of play is generating excitement throughout NFL venues.

    Teams are combining to score 42.3 points a game so far, which is not far off from last season's average of 44.1 points a game, which ranked No. 1 since the merger.

    All of this, of course, is bad news for the Rams, who are going in reverse, going against the league trend. With so many NFL teams flying around and scoring quickly, the Rams are plodding along with a horse-and-buggy offense. They've been left behind.

    That applies to the Rams' defense, too. Quarterbacks are completing 67 percent of their passes against the Rams this season. The Rams are surrendering 8.4 yards per attempt, which ranks 30th among 32 teams. And over the next few weeks the Rams' defensive backs will encounter Peyton Manning, Brees and Warner.

    I'm not trying to make excuses for head coach Steve Spagnuolo, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur or quarterback Marc Bulger, but let's be real here. The Rams' passing game is hardly prepared for liftoff. The Rams have had five touchdown passes all season; New England's Brady had five TD passes in the second quarter of Sunday's 59-0 win over Tennessee.

    Sunday in Jacksonville, after Donnie Avery limped off with yet another injury, the Rams were left with Bulger throwing the ball to only three healthy wide receivers: Keenan Burton, Tim Carter and Danny Amendola.

    Burton has his moments but isn't a speed guy; in 19 NFL games he has only four receptions of 25-plus yards. Carter and Amendola weren't on an active NFL roster as the 2009 season began.

    Burton, Carter and Amendola entered 2009 with a combined 93 career catches, and no more than 26 in a season. If you want to include Avery, then you can put his 72 career catches into the equation. But Avery — easily the fastest and most dangerous wideout here — can't stay healthy.

    The Rams' tight ends are OK but don't pose much of a downfield threat. Randy McMichael is averaging 11 yards a catch, which ranks 17th among NFL tight ends. Steven Jackson is one of the better receivers among league running backs, but the Rams don't go to him as often as they should. And the absence of a downfield passing game makes it easier for defenses to gang up on Jackson on his rushing attempts.

    Part of this is bad luck. The Rams are enduring a run of injuries at the wideout position. Losing Laurent Robinson to a season-ending leg injury was a blow. Not that Robinson is Jerry Rice, but at least he could get open. Avery is obviously fragile. Injuries also have dogged some of the mystery-guest receivers (Ruvell Martin among them) brought in by general manager Billy Devaney.

    Part of this is the result of poor planning.

    After dumping Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt over the past two seasons, the Rams clearly had a void at wide receiver but haven't been ambitious in restocking the position.

    The Rams drafted only one wideout (Brooks Foster) this year, and he was a fifth-rounder with a history of injuries in college ball. Upgrading at wideout through free agency wasn't a priority, either. The Rams didn't give up much in the trade for Robinson, but he ended last season on Atlanta's injured reserve list and his durability is an issue.

    It's an unhealthy situation for the Rams in more ways than one.

    In an increasingly wide-open league where teams aggressively burn defenses through the air, the Rams are stuck on the ground with no weapons of pass destruction.

  • #2
    Re: Rams look like they're plodding along ..

    Bernie left out the fact that JAX had the NFL's worst pass defense going into Sunday's game. I don't care if you are trotting out on to the field the ball boy at WR, you have to attempt a few passes over 5 or 6 yards THROUGHOUT the game to try and see if their secondary is indeed as poor as their stats. Shurmur's playcalling Sunday was simply awful and reminded me of Al Saunders or maybe even Linehan.

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    • RockinRam
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      by RockinRam
      Good morning, afternoon, evening, late-nite, etc...
      Sunday, the four members of the NFC West went 0-4 and were outscored 120-49. The NFC West is a joke. But then again, you already knew that. So hit me with a 15-yard penalty for piling on by stating the obvious. But let's get specific and take a look at the latest carnage:
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      -- Seattle (5-5): The Seahawks were ravaged for 494 yards in a 34-19 loss at New Orleans. Drew Brees zapped Seattle's defense for 382 yards and 4 TDs passing and completed passes to 10 receivers. Seattle has given up at least 475 yards in three of its last four games. SEA cornerback Marcus Trufant had to leave Sunday's game with an apparent concussion. And remember how a lot of peeps believed Marshawn Lynch was the missing link that would transform the Seattle running game? Uh, no. Well, since Lynch was acquired from Buffalo, he's averaging 3.1 yards on 81 carries (six games.) At New Orleans Lynch lost two fumbles, dropped two passes and was benched. Seattle QB Matt Hasselbeck is playing well; he completed 32 of 44 passes for 366 yards at N.O. But the Seahawks kick too many field goals. Four in New Orleans, with only one TD.
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    • eldfan
      Oct. 4: Could Rams Be Worst Ever?
      by eldfan
      Oct. 4: Could Rams Be Worst Ever?
      By Bernie Miklasz
      Email this Share this Print this Digg Yahoo! Del.icio.us Facebook Reddit Drudge Google Fark Stumble It!
      Let’s cut to the chase:

      I’ve been covering the NFL for nearly 30 years, and I think the 2009 Rams are the worst non-expansion year team I’ve seen. Well, at least as they are right now, at this moment, sitting at 0-4 following an embarrassing 35-0 beating from the San Francisco *****. I could be wrong, of course. I didn’t sit here and do 12 hours of research to support my “worst ever” observation. That’s all it is; an observation. And this opinion can be revisited and updated in a few weeks, or at the end of the season, as more games are played, and as the Rams progress, or regress.

      But I haven’t seen a mess as big as this for a long time.

      What about the 2008 Detroit Lions? They went 0-16. When we’re talking “worst,” they’re the leader in the clubhouse in terms of record. And if the Rams win a game or two, they won’t be the worst. But up to this point, the trend is ominous. At least the 2008 Lions scored points, around 15 per game. And those Lions had (and still have) a big-time playmaker at WR in Calvin Johnson. At least there was some sizzle. And the ‘08 Lions were competitive at times, losing five games by 8 points or less. Overall, the 2008 Lions lost their games by an average of 15 points. Through four games, the Rams have lost by an average of 21 points.

      What about the 2008 Rams, who went 2-14? Well, they were hideous, sure. And we will never forget that beatdown by the NY Jets at the Meadowlands; the Rams were down 40-0 at the half and lost 47-3. But overall, the 2008 Rams lost their 14 games by an average of 15 points. The ‘09 squad is losing by an average of three TDs so far.

      And the Rams don’t score. Not much, anyway. The 2009 Rams have been shutout twice in four games, and were held to 7 points in a third game. They didn’t even have a red-zone possession at San Francisco. They had only 177 yards against the *****. And for the season, the Rams are averaging 6 points per game. Abysmal. For historical perspective, consider this: the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs — a winless (0-14) expansion team widely considered the most futile outfit in NFL history — averaged 8.9 points per game. Those expansion Buccaneers had more game than what we’ve seen from the ‘09 Rams offense.

      The Rams have scored 7 points, total, in three road games this season. Through four games, they have converted only 31.4 percent of third-down plays — and that would be the worst by a Rams team since STATS LLC began storing third-down conversion rates in its data base in 1991.

      The Rams are averaging 258 yards per game, and if that holds, it would be the 25th-lowest output by an NFL offense since the 1970 merger.

      The Rams’ average of 6 points per game would be the worst by an NFL...
      -10-05-2009, 06:55 AM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Bernie: Could Rams Be Worst Ever?
      by r8rh8rmike
      10.04.2009 8:13 pm
      Oct. 4: Could Rams Be Worst Ever?
      By Bernie Miklasz


      Let’s cut to the chase:

      I’ve been covering the NFL for nearly 30 years, and I think the 2009 Rams are the worst non-expansion year team I’ve seen. Well, at least as they are right now, at this moment, sitting at 0-4 following an embarrassing 35-0 beating from the San Francisco *****. I could be wrong, of course. I didn’t sit here and do 12 hours of research to support my “worst ever” observation. That’s all it is; an observation. And this opinion can be revisited and updated in a few weeks, or at the end of the season, as more games are played, and as the Rams progress, or regress.

      But I haven’t seen a mess as big as this for a long time.

      The 2009 Rams aren’t entirely responsible for what happened last year — there are a lot of new players on the roster — but the fact is, the team has lost 14 consecutive games. That’s the longest current streak in the NFL and the longest streak in franchise history. They have lost the 14 in a row by an average of 17 points. In a competitive league where many games go right down to the wire, the Rams are routinely routed by the opposition.

      What about the 2008 Detroit Lions? They went 0-16. So when we’re talking “worst,” they’re the leader in the clubhouse in terms of record. And if the Rams win a game or two, they won’t be the worst. But up to this point, the trend is ominous. At least the 2008 Lions scored points, around 15 per game. And those Lions had (and still have) a big-time playmaker at WR in Calvin Johnson. At least there was some sizzle. And the ‘08 Lions were competitive at times, losing five games by 8 points or less. Overall, the 2008 Lions lost their games by an average of 15 points. Through four games, the Rams have lost by an average of 21 points.

      What about the 2008 Rams, who went 2-14? Well, they were hideous, sure. And we will never forget that beatdown by the NY Jets at the Meadowlands; the Rams were down 40-0 at the half and lost 47-3. But overall, the 2008 Rams lost their 14 games by an average of 15 points. The ‘09 squad is losing by an average of three TDs so far.

      And the Rams don’t score. Not much, anyway. The 2009 Rams have been shutout twice in four games, and were held to 7 points in a third game. They didn’t even have a red-zone possession at San Francisco. They had only 177 yards against the *****. And for the season, the Rams are averaging 6 points per game. Abysmal. For historical perspective, consider this: the 1976 Tampa Bay Bucs — a winless (0-14) expansion team widely considered the most futile outfit in NFL history — averaged 8.9 points per game. Those expansion Buccaneers had more game than what we’ve seen from the ‘09 Rams offense.

      The Rams have scored 7 points, total, in three road games this season. Through four games, they have converted only 31.4 percent of third-down...
      -10-05-2009, 08:20 PM
    • RealRam
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      Before the L.A. Lakers had their Tinseltown fame and glory, the NFL Rams had Hollywood and most of Southern California since they moved to Los Angeles in 1946.

      Even in 1957, several years since the Rams had won the NFL Championship ('51), they would still draw huge crowds -- to the tune of 102,000 fans in the Memorial Coliseum. That was the 50s. Last century.






      Fast forward some 50 years and the Rams, now in St. Louis, suddenly became a marvel by virtue of their scoring prowess and precision. It was awfully exciting to see the Rams offense pour it on...



      *. GSOT
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      *. Super Bowl XXXIV Champions, etc.





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    • Nick
      Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB (1/3/11)
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      Bernie Bytes: Monday Morning Backup QB
      BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist | Posted: Monday, January 3, 2011 11:19 am

      Good day. (I think.) For a Rams fan, the New Year came crashing in on Sunday night and it wasn't much fun. I'm assuming the morning after is rough. Can we turn back the clock and do the game over? I guess not.

      Anyway ...

      I'm not inclined to search for the ol' silver linings when a team squanders an opportunity to win a division by playing so miserably against a highly beatable opponent. I expressed those views in an online piece that I wrote late Sunday night, just in case you missed it. But obviously, if we want to look for it, there was some benefit to losing:

      1. The Rams will select 14th in the 1st round of the 2011 draft, rather than 21st. That could turn out to be significant. (And Seattle, which would have had the 8th pick by losing, will draft 21st overall.)

      2. Rams GM Billy Devaney will have to get a wide receiver or two for this team to give the passing game an upgrade and more dimension. I think Devaney would have done that, anyway. But the futility of the passing game and the terrible performance by the receivers in the 16-6 loss to Seattle was valuable in reminding everyone that Sam Bradford needs some help to get this offense to a higher level. The Rams simply cannot come back and peck away with small ball again in 2011.

      3. The loss should give owner Stan Kroenke even more motivation to get involved and push his football people to be more aggressive.

      There's much more to it than that, of course. We'll elaborate in Tuesday's column...

      MOVING ON ...

      * When he meets with the media Monday afternoon, expect Rams HC Steve Spagnuolo to defend the limited use of Steven Jackson by citing the team's many three-and-out drives. And how that made it difficult for the Rams to get into their full stride, which would have included more runs for Jackson. This is pretty much what Spagnuolo told reporters after the game in Seattle.

      Well, I don't think I'm buying it. The Rams had seven three-and-outs Sunday. And Jackson handled the ball on only three plays during those series. He didn't touch the ball at all on four of the seven three-and-outs. So I'm not sure what the coaches were waiting for. The Rams had one very nice drive in the game, going 13 plays and 83 yards for a FG that cut Seattle's lead to 7-3. Jackson got the ball six times on the march: four carries for 26 yards and two catches for 15 yards. He handled the ball on six of the first nine plays on the drive, including one sequence of four consecutive plays where he ran it or caught it. And the Rams put together an impressive drive (well, at least until it stalled in the red zone.) I don't think this was a coincidence. Because of the defense that the Rams were facing, Jackson should have had a more extensive...
      -01-03-2011, 12:24 PM
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