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RamView, 12/6/2009: Bears 17, Rams 9 (Long)

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  • RamView, 12/6/2009: Bears 17, Rams 9 (Long)

    RamView, December 6, 2009
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions on the game.)
    Game #12: Bears 17, Rams 9

    One day the Rams' growing pains will give way to growth, but not today. In their loss at Chicago, the offense even appeared to shrink, if that's possible. It's a team in need of a dose of Miracle-Gro. And players. Maybe even coaches.

    * QB: I hope Kyle Boller (17-32-113, 48.0 rating) didn't waste a lot of time warming up before today's game. The game plan barely asked him to make any throws exceeding ten yards. But Boller couldn't avoid a disaster of a game even with the strategic safety belt locked tightly around the Ram offense. He looked a lot like Marc Bulger did early in the season, a man in desperate need of an open receiver but getting little help downfield. Boller and the Ram offense were not exactly clutch on 3rd downs, which they converted successfully only twice in 14 tries. I have Boller for 3-of-7 on 3rd down for 11 yards, with 3 sacks. Putrid. And like Bulger early this season, Boller didn't get a lot of help from his offensive line. The Bears took away Boller's mobility, giving him nowhere to scramble and sniffing out the Rams' bootleg plays like they were with him in the huddle. So just about any time Boller dropped back, he could expect pressure from the Bears but not much of anyone to throw to or anywhere to scramble. Nope, not a formula for raging success for Kyle (or any other QB). He did help put together a successful FG drive before halftime with a couple of completions to Brandon Gibson for 30 yards, but Boller was never going to have enough to beat the Bears today. He wasn't going to beat them with accuracy. He missed some open opportunities, most notably a rare long pass for Donnie Avery late in the first that he put too much air under, allowing the safety to come in late and nudge it away with his fingertips. Boller wasn't going to outsmart Chicago, either. The game plan didn't give him the material. No pump fakes; Hunter Hillenmeyer just read his eyes to pick him off late in the game. And very little play-action, which Boller didn't really sell well the few times it was tried, except on one successful Avery end-around. You know something? Keith Null showed he has a pretty sweet play-fake back in August. Just saying.

    * RB: Whatever way you personally define what a hero is, Steven Jackson's (28-112) performing acts of athletic heroism, isn't he? Defenses put 8 and 9 in the box to stop him, his coaches make him easier to stop by making it obvious that he's getting the ball, and still he carried the Ram offense on his aching back. Jackson was still difficult to stop in the first half, in which he ran for 75 yards, slamming the Bear line over and over for 5 yards, 6 yards, 8 yards. His change of direction looked good this week, whether slaloming through the middle or bouncing a run outside. Sometimes he didn't need to change directions. He helped set up the Rams' first score with 11- and 13-yard runs off strong right-side blocks. The Bears shut the run down inside the 5 to force a FG, though. Still hanging around down 10-3, the Rams once again saw their running game bog down after halftime. Jackson found no room to run behind missed blocks and physically-dominated blockers before powering up the middle for 9 in the 4th to fuel a short FG drive, a FG Jackson was visibly unhappy to have settled for on the sidelines. It's obvious he wants to win. He yelled at the Ram sideline during the game. He didn't quit in the 4th, bouncing a run outside Billy Bajema's block for 23, efforts the offense eventually wasted with a punt. The Rams wasted Jackson as a resource today, pulling him off the field on most third downs, and ultimately would waste his game effort with another loss. Jackson's giving a lot this season to a team that looks like it's going 1-15. Let's hope that doesn't turn out to have been a wasted effort, too.

    * Receivers: As much as one can tell from TV, the Ram receivers weren't open very often today. Jackson had the most catches, with 4; Brandon Gibson (3-38) and Donnie Avery (3-30) just 3 apiece. Danny Amendola had one catch for no gain and a drop. Two of Gibson's catches were key to the Rams' first FG drive; the longest was a 21-yarder he caught while kneeling, getting up and scrambling for 12 yards after the catch. Gotta like that YAC ability and his ability to improvise, but where was he the rest of the day? Where was Avery? His longest catch, for 18, came in garbage time. His best play was actually a run, a 15-yard end-around off the best, though never close to duplicated, play fake of the day. The Rams are trying to use his speed on plays like that and on smoke routes, but where was he the rest of the day? Receivers are easier to cover kept in a small box, and Charles Tillman is a good CB, but I wasn't expecting Zach Bowman to shut down the Rams all day, were you? Instead it's his helmet right on a ball caught, then fumbled, by Gibson in the 2nd, with safety Al Afalava returning it all the way back to the Ram 15. Randy McMichael (3-18) doesn't have the initial burst to get open on the bootleg plays the Rams were trying to him. So is it the talent that's being used, or how the talent's being used? Feels like some of both this week.

    * Offensive line: Run-blocking was usually there for Jackson today, but pass-blocking usually wasn't for Boller. The Bears got to Boller the Rams' first drive with just a 4-man rush, with Adewale Ogunleye whipping Adam Goldberg right off the snap and Alex Barron getting beaten nearly as badly on the left side. Goldberg was rarely a match for Ogunleye's speed. The Bears DE just missed out on a couple more sacks, and the worst play I can think of with that speed mismatch going on is a naked bootleg in that direction. Which the Rams of course ran several times, and Ogunleye blew up several times. Ogunleye helped create the other two Bears sacks as well, though one has to be called a coverage sack, with the line giving Boller forever to throw. Barron was little better. Big pressure came on his side on Boller's INT, and Barron had to commit a brutal hold in the first after getting ripped but good by Alex Brown's rip move. Goldberg fared a lot better run-blocking, and Jacob Bell also had a good-looking game with a lot of good pull blocks. Jason Brown got pushed around a lot, though. Jackson's not going to get far on plays where the center just gets shoved backward into him. Randy McMichael started slowly, failing on a couple of blocks that would have sprung Jackson for big gains. But on the Rams' first FG drive, he sprung Avery on a smoke route, then, along with Ruvell Martin (!), sprung Jackson for 13 down to the Chicago 5 and got FIRED UP. The right side got dominated on 1st-and-goal, though, and Billy Bajema had a rare fail at fullback on 2nd-and-goal, to lead to just a FG there. Bajema was probably the Rams' best blocker today. He and Richie Incognito helped Jackson get 11 in the 2nd (Incognito came off injured later, replaced by Mark Setterstrom). Bajema had a block on the 13-yard run and picked off a run-blitz and sealed the edge tight for Jackson's longest run, a bounce outside RT for 23 in the 3rd. Too bad the run-blocking success they had didn't carry over to pass pro's side of the ledger.

    * Defensive line / LB: Holding Matt Forte to 91 yards and the Bears to 120 total looks almost respectable compared to the last few weeks. James Laurinaitis got 12 tackles and was in on a bunch of stuffed runs early on. James Hall was very active early. He and Larry Grant stuffed Forte on back-to-back goal line plays in the 1st, but the stand ended on 3rd down when Chris Williams (in place of Orlando Pace) took care of Hall and Chris Long couldn't budge the tight end. Long whipped Williams to score one of the Rams' two sacks of Jay Cutler in the 3rd, but got stopped way too often by solo run-blocking by the TE. Pressure on Cutler was pretty good, even on the Bears' big plays, though not at all on the 71-yard pass to Bennett. Long and Hall got into the backfield enough to make Cutler nervous and flush him. It didn't equal sacks – Leonard Little got the only other one, a gift for touching Cutler down after a fumbled shotgun snap – but after the early huge coverage breakdowns, they got the Bears off the field. Good back pressure from Long helped force a three-and-out in the 2nd, Little's “sack” forced another, then Long's sack forced another in the 3rd. Then, though, the Bears got more serious about running and put the Rams back on their heels. Forte went right at a TE-dominated Long on 3rd-and-1 for 7. Hall was dominated on a 9-yard sweep. Cliff Ryan stopped a goal line run, getting off the ground to beat Olin Kreutz, but the Rams still couldn't stop that last Bears TD. They did keep the Bears within mathematical reach. Victor Adeyanju blew up a smoke pass to force a 3-and-out. James Butler atoned a little for an atrocious game by stuffing a couple of Kahlil Bell runs the next drive. But they failed to pin the Bears inside their 5 late. Forte went up the middle for 15, with Long getting spun completely around and Leger Douzable getting about blocked into Lake Michigan. Forte went up the middle for 8 more after Ryan got flattened. It took a great open-field tackle by Justin King, covering up for horrible overpursuit by Long, to shut that drive down, but Boller restarted it with a quick INT. And Forte went through David Vobora's arm tackle for 12. But the Rams bowed up before the 2:00 warning. Paris Lenon made a nice play to force Forte back into Ryan. And when Ron Bartell stopped Forte on 3rd-and-6, the D had gotten the offense the ball back a second time in the last 4:00 with a chance to tie the game. The Ram front seven may not have been great, but they were pretty good, a far cry ahead of where they've been lately. Hall and Ryan set a good early tone. Adeyanju's improving with playing time. Laurinaitis is still everywhere. Grant was clutch at the goal line and Lenon and Vobora weren't getting abused. I'm really concerned about his run defense after today, but Long was a decent factor in pass rush. Again, nothing great, but enough to win if the team shows up in some other areas. Which it didn't.

    * Secondary: Oshiomogho Atogwe got the secondary off to a hot start by stripping the ball from Matt Forte to force a turnover on the game's second play. The rest of the secondary, though, only followed his lead in terms of being THE POLAR OPPOSITE. Devin Hester burned them for 48 on Chicago's very next play as disappointing Ron Bartell bit on his second stop fake and bitterly disappointing James Butler lost track of the ball, spinning right round like a record, baby. Quincy Butler then gave up a 36-yard end zone DPI, running Johnny Knox over without looking for the ball. The next possession unbelievably went even worse. Tasked with stopping the Bears on 3rd-and-9, the Rams instead let Earl Bennett get loose for 71. Laurinaitis' drop wasn't deep enough, and Bennett split Atogwe, who slipped, and useless SS Butler, who barely even ran in pursuit, to the point I assumed he was injured. No, he was back on the field the next possession, I guess with the invisible piano still on his back. Bartell got lucky at the end of that drive, never turning to find an end zone pass to Hester, but Hester's failure to keep both feet in bounds seemed to change the Rams' luck. They went on a string of five three-and-outs, with Dahl forcing one with a tackle-for-loss and Bartell nicely breaking up a slant pass for another. Bartell's illegal use of hands helped out a 3rd-quarter drive, though, which ended when Justin King misread a play, broke back a step in the Ram end zone, and got run over by crossing receiver Devin Aromashadu. Bennett curled in front of that mess at the goal line for a 3-yard catch and Chicago's 2nd TD. It's been a brutal season for the Ram secondary. Bartell's been a disappointment. Quincy Butler and King aren't physical and are still trying to figure out the game. Jonathan Who? Somebody Wade? James Butler is awful though I still assume he's playing hurt. Atogwe's been the only bright spot. And he had to leave the game right before halftime with a shoulder injury. I can't believe this team's damn luck sometimes.

    * Special teams: After Chicago returned an ill-fated pop-up kickoff to midfield to open the game, it was a superb day for Ram special teams. Josh Brown actually hit some clutch kicks, banging FGs from 28, 48 and 50 to help the Rams stay in it. Danny Amendola was very frisky on returns, with a 43-yard kick return and a 30-yard punt return. David Roach (!) made one of the key plays of the day by sniffing out, and stopping, a fake FG flip to Greg Olsen in the 2nd. He and Kenneth Darby had key blocks on the long punt return; credit Daniel Fells, Bajema, Grant and Samkon Gado for great blocks on the long kick return. Coverage of Chicago's lethal return game was excellent. Newcomer Jordan Kent was terrific all game; his and long snapper Ryan Neill's efforts on one return shut Devin Hester down for about a 10-yard loss. And Donnie Jones, with nice help from Kent at the other end, was amazing punting, killing FOUR punts inside the 6 and a couple of others inside the 20. Thanks to Jones and company, the Rams actually dominated the field position battle for the majority of the game. They won the day on special teams with an effort that better teams typically turn into wins. Tom McMahon keeps this up, he'll be running a whole team one of these days.

    * Coaching: I used to have goldfish. Once when I moved them to a larger tank, they were too stupid to realize it for a long time. They stayed in the area of the small tank and swam around in circles, without the will to do anything different. They only figured out they had more room by accident. There's my insight into the mind of Pat Shurmur, who again this week was apparently unable to even conceive the idea of stretching the field, or trying anything different, keeping the passing game in the small tank for pretty much the first 58 minutes. Shurmur is Jerry Rhome all over again. It's little surprise the Rams were a woeful 2-for-14 on 3rd down; nearly every 3rd-down pass was thrown short of the needed yardage. (Please take the naked bootleg out back and shoot it, huh?) The Rams especially weren't going to get away with that with Jackson off the field for almost every 3rd down, about the most knuckleheaded way possible to manage his injury. So Shurmur was darn sure to use Jackson when he had him on the field, handing off on 1st down about 75% of the time. Jackson was a respectable, though highly unofficial, 18-95 on 1st down, despite the Ram offense's high predictability making him easier to stop. If only there were a way to fake the other team into thinking Jackson was going to run. You could loosen up the defense. Make the safeties worry about more than the Rams' in-over-their-heads receivers. You could keep him on the field on 3rd down and make the defense account for him, with minimum additional injury risk! Great Amos Alonzo Stagg's ghost, how could a football team pull off such a miraculous deception?

    Why don't the Rams use more play-action? You, I, Trent Green, Dick Stockton, were all begging for it. Steven Jackson was begging for something; you could see him yelling at the sideline at one point. Richie Incognito got in a shouting match with Shurmur. The players don't believe in the game plan; is that enough for everybody? The Rams have the ideal person in the NFL to set up a lot of play-action and appear to run it very little, which baffles me. Its benefits would have seemed obvious by Week Freaking Thirteen. No, Shurmur would rather hand off on 2nd-and-22, throw useless 7-yard slants on 3rd-and-19 (that one turned into the fumble returned to the Ram 15), or hand off on 3rd-and-11 inside the opposing 40 to preserve the field goal opportunity. Yeah, the Rams have bad receivers, bad tackles and a bad second-string QB. But none of them are helped by the near-absences of balance and deception in the offensive play-calling. Are the Rams that much worse than Oakland? They've beaten Philadelphia, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh this year. The Rams have to abandon all hope against 4-7 Chicago?

    Defensive coaching is way ahead of the offense, though I fail to comprehend why the Rams have NO defensive back capable of turning and finding the ball. I swear I saw some run blitzing this week after pleading for it last week, like the 3rd-and-2 where Dahl dropped Forte for a loss early in the 2nd. Ironically, as Trent Green pointed out, they got burned big on plays actually designed to fake Cutler into checking down, but unlike the offense, the defense appeared to quit trying what wasn't working. As far as game-management, I don't disagree with the FG on 4th-and-goal late in the half. You would hate to come away without a score after your first good long drive, and the Rams were getting the ball back after halftime. I wanted Spagnuolo to fire off some timeouts after Cutler's fumble after the FG. Not sure if that's too much killer instinct on my part or not enough on the Rams'.

    But Steve Spagnuolo'd better change something here, quickly. The apparent player revolt at the revolting offensive game plan isn't good for anyone. What this coaching staff has done best is to keep everyone on the same page and playing hard despite the record. You'd like to write off other issues as rookie hiccups. Well, we're deep into the season now. Nobody's a rookie any more. The coaching staff's free pass is running out and it's time to start earning some trust. A competent offensive game plan, and Shurmur's capable of making one, would be a good start. Give the offense the reins or show it the whip; whatever it takes to get this horse moving.

    * Upon further review: Peter Morelli and crew might have called the best game of the year. They called DPI well other than the one King got away with on 3rd-and-9 in the 4th. They made the correct call on Hester's non-TD catch in the 1st, not right away, but quickly enough to give Spagnuolo a refund on his challenge flag. Excellent call on the hold that produced Knox's long kickoff return. Those get missed far too often. And a correct call on Lenon's horse-collar of Forte a little later, though way after the play. My main complaint was going to be Devin Aromashadu's pick of King on the TD pass to Bennett, but the contact looking incidental and King not having position probably make it a legitimate non-call. Damn, I may have to break out the Golden Whistle for Morelli today. A-minus.

    * Cheers: Dick Stockton and Trent Green got the call for Fox, were Ron Pitts and John Lynch sick this week? Stockton's been around long enough to have called Decatur Staleys games but wasn't too bad. He didn't blow near as many spots as he usually does. Both he and Green were all over the Rams' poor offensive game plan (any chance you're available, Trent?). Green was good on color, though he's still got a little Rams bias to kick. He broke down replays well and made many correct calls before the referees did. I don't know if Stockton's been demoted or Green's been promoted, (I don't think they're usually a team) but the two work well together and are worth another listen.

    * Who’s next?: One of the Rams' worst seasons ever will next pay a warped tribute to their greatest season, as they travel to Tennessee for a Super Bowl XXXIV rematch, unfortunately without Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Az Hakim, Rickey Proehl, Orlando Pace, Adam Timmerman, Tom Nutten, Fred Miller, Kevin Carter, Ray Agnew, Grant Wistrom, D'Marco Farr, Keith Lyle, Todd Lyght, Jeff Wilkins, and certainly Mike Jones, not to mention Dick Vermeil and that one offensive coordinator. Sigh. (Leonard Little's still around, though.)

    If that's not the main media angle for next week, then it's sure to be the faceoff between the league's top two RBs, Chris Johnson and Steven Jackson, though that may ultimately prove an unfortunate one for the Rams. Remember Johnson exploding all over the Ram defense last preseason? (And Quinton Ganther? And Omar Cuff?) He went into today leading the league not just in rushing yards, but also yards after contact. The Rams played the run well enough today, but are they ready for the option? The college play has become a dangerous weapon for the Titans now that Vince Young has taken over at QB and rallied Tennessee to a 5-1 run after an 0-6 start. The Rams will be severely tested to keep those two in check on the ground and force Young to throw, which seems the most reliable path to leaving Tennessee with a win.

    The Ram offense doesn't really raise much hope of that happening, though. Tennessee's respectably in the top 10 in run defense, led by all-pro LB Keith Bulluck. The Rams have had trouble blocking Kyle Vanden Bosch since he was in pee-wee football. They're not afraid to blitz, getting to Peyton Manning three times with safety blitzes today. The 5-1 run has also coincided with the return of their top two corners, Nick Harper and huge hitter/dirty player Cortland Finnegan, to full health. The Rams' best hope could be to pick on Chris Hope, a(nother) strong safety very beatable with the deep ball. Of course, that'd mean hitting Tennessee with play action. As if.

    Six weeks ago, this looked like a winnable game for the Rams, but now, both teams are a lot closer to their form of last year. That's a moment the Titans want to return to; they went 13-3. But it threatens to become an event horizon for the Rams, impending doom they're being helplessly pulled back into. This week will inspire a lot of living in the past in Rams Nation. It may take a lot of luck for the team to relive the right time.

    Game stats from

  • #2
    Re: RamView, 12/6/2009: Bears 17, Rams 9 (Long)

    I was upset by this game. So many players stepping up and making great plays. I thought the defense played really well. They stopped them so many times. Hester and another bear had nice catches that the secondary did not defend and the dpi near the endzone cost us. Other than that the defense was playing very well and making stops. Holding them to a FG and holding Forte out of the endzone for a couple of plays showed me some defensive chemistry. I see them getting excited over good plays and communicating.

    Special teams did a great job of getting us great field position all day long and Josh Brown had a good day. He made three good FGs, two of them well long ones. New guy Kent, great play downing the ball. Amendola had some great returns.

    So disappointed in the offense and boller. Failure to move the ball and score with that field position is horrible. I hope the coaching staff is going to make some changes there. Play calling needs to be adjusted, Boller needs to be coached, or maybe we give Null a chance, receivers need catch the ball, O line is a mess. I hope the rest of the team is not turning on them. Each group can only control their piece. Hopefully defense and special teams are getting some credit for keeping us in games and giving the offense the best opportunity that they can.

    What happened to Martin? Why was he not in there?

    Yes I can see them working the Johnson versus Jackson angle for the next game.

    Thanks for the write up reading it every week.


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    • MFranke
      RamView, 11/29/2009: Seahawks 27, Rams 17 (Long)
      by MFranke
      RamView, November 29, 2009
      From Row HH
      (Report and opinions on and from the game.)
      Game #11: Seahawks 27, Rams 17

      Bland, play-it-safe, joyless, unentertaining football ruled on the Rams sideline again today as they dropped their TENTH straight to the mediocre-long-ago Seahawks. The Rams are the German food of the NFL. Ach.

      * QB: Kyle Boller's numbers, (28-46-282), especially the JeMarcusian 67.5 passer rating, may look better than they were in context, the context being he was running for his life all day. He kept the Rams in it for a while. The big difference between Boller and Marc Bulger is Boller's mobility, of course. With Seattle blitzing almost every play, Bulger would have left this game in worse shape than Tiger Woods' SUV. Boller was able to escape some of the rush, and his mobility helped get the Ram offense into a good rhythm at times. He started the game hitting Randy McMichael for 12 on a rollout and the Rams rolled right into scoring position early. (And didn't score.) His TD pass to Donnie Avery was off a bootleg. Boller made some good reads, especially in finding Ruvell Martin (!) wide open a couple of times for big gains. He didn't make enough, though, and might fairly have avoided three of the four sacks he took. Jordan Babineaux and Patrick Kerney got to him to kill a drive in the 1st because he held the ball too long. Babineaux was a delayed blitzer; you can't let that guy get to you. He scrambled for no gain late in the 2nd after missing Danny Amendola open on a shallow cross, though that drive still ended in a FG. The Rams' initial drive of the 2nd half ended in a huge loss on a rollout where Boller couldn't find a man, though he could have had McMichael breaking open late with a pretty tough throw. Boller's accuracy wasn't consistent; he missed some open opportunities with high balls or one-hoppers. But the worst part of Boller's game continues to be the crushing turnovers. Seattle took a 14-7 lead late in the 1st half on Justin Wilson's 65-yard return of a pass tipped by Kelly Jennings. Boller really couldn't win on this play. He forced an outside pass for Donnie Avery into double-coverage, but what was he going to do? It was fourth down. Jennings made a fine play (as long as it wasn't a penalty) on the ball and Wilson cashed in a lucky bounce. Boller's 2nd INT seemed a lot more preventable, though just as painful, coming in the end zone with the Rams still down 14-10. He rushed and back-footed a throw for Amendola that's a TD if he leads the receiver, but the pass was woefully underthrown and almost fair-caught by (again) Babineaux. Seattle turned that into a FG and eventually surged into a 17-point lead, called off the dogs and let Boller rack up some cosmetic yards, including a 16-yard near-TD scramble late in the game. Boller's a gamer, for sure, and seems to give the offense a shot of energy when he's in there. And he had to overcome some regression from the...
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    • MFranke
      RamView, 10/4/2009: ***** 35, Rams 0 (Long)
      by MFranke
      RamView, October 4, 2009
      From The Couch
      (Report and opinions on the game.)
      Game #4: ***** 35, Rams 0

      Erasing any doubt they are the NFL's worst team, the epically inept Ram offense and bumbling special teams handed the ***** THREE touchdowns today en route to a truly embarrassing loss, extending the franchise's losing streaks to 14 overall, 12 in the NFC West. Even the SCLSU Mud Dogs never looked this bad.

      * QB: That crashing sound you heard was the Kyle Boller bandwagon going into a ditch, after a Rams season-low 13-24-108 today for a 48.6 passer rating. It wasn't for lack of a good start. He beat a blitz and hit Donnie Avery for 21, and later hit Daniel Fells for 18, to set up a FG attempt in the 1st. His best play of the day may have been a 3rd-and-5 throw to Randy McMichael late in the 1st half. Ray McDonald had jumped offside and was bearing down on him, but a very composed Boller hit the TE for 8 and the first down across midfield. Boller deserves credit for hanging in tough and taking quite a few shots. One thing that hurt his game today was that the ***** shut down his scrambling lanes. And Boller suffered from plenty of what's been sinking the Ram offense all season. He got little help from his offensive line or the running game. Decent offensive gains were erased by penalties. There's nothing Boller could do about special teams gaffes or crappy play-calling or lousy blitz pickups. And it's doubtful he could have done anyfthing about Patrick Willis' two perfectly-timed blitzes for sacks. Other downs saw him with sufficient time to throw, but lack of an open receiver led to a throwaway. Pressing to make a play despite these problems in the 3rd, Boller committed a grave error. Rolling right, he committed the cardinal sin of throwing back across his body and back to the middle of the field. Thinking he had Keenan Burton open, Boller hit Willis instead, for a 49er pick-six that broke open the dam, 21-0. Possibly Burton should have done a better job coming to the ball, but that's a throw a QB of Boller's experience should be smarter than to try. Though Boller may have been the problem on that play, it's hard to argue he was the main problem with the Ram offense today. He made most of the plays that were there for him to make. There just weren't that many to make. It doesn't matter much if it's him, or Marc Bulger, or Keith Null, or Brock Berlin, or Norm van Brocklin, who takes snaps for this offense right now. It doesn't look equipped or even designed to do anything other than blow up on the launching pad.

      * RB: Ineffective day for Steven Jackson, 23-79 rushing, just 3-6 receiving, with a third of his rushing yards coming after the ***** were already up 35-0. Jackson got some decent run blocking in the first half. Opening play of the game, Randy McMichael and Mike Karney give him a massive gap on the right side, but he can’t hit it and only gains a yard. A variety of Jackson’s...
      -10-05-2009, 01:28 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
    • MFranke
      RamView, 1/3/2010: ***** 28, Rams 6 (Long)
      by MFranke
      RamView, January 3, 2010
      From Row HH
      (Report and opinions on and from the game.)
      Game #16: ***** 28, Rams 6

      The Rams began the decade as kings of the NFL but ended it the lowest of the low, capping off the worst three-year run in NFL history with another lackluster loss to another division rival. Rags to riches to rags. Dirty, smelly rags.

      * QB: It was a day for Keith Null (7-17-57 yards, 50.4 rating) to forget, and thanks to a partial concussion suffered after getting battered for two-quarters-plus, he may not remember this game by the time he gets up Monday morning. And he won't want to, though the really scary thing is, I think Null did about everything he could do today. He didn't commit a turnover despite relentless 49er pressure. He scrambled (or tried) a few times after a few games of being glued to the pocket. He took charge at the line of scrimmage with audibles and did his best to keep the ***** off balance with hard counts. Null's game is still progressing. Unfortunately, though, if I may try to read Null's mind, the day went a lot like this: “OK, drop back... first option, not open... second option, he's not open, either... third option... GAAAH!” The ***** stopped Steven Jackson and Null didn't get any help from his receivers or much from his offensive line. He earns the blame for only one of the FIVE times he was sacked (and don't forget his scrambling saved a couple more). He only took about a 3-step drop during a screen play in the 3rd, and when the line turned Justin Smith loose, he was already practically in Null's lap. Deep drop on the screen, rook. Unfortunately, Smith's hit knocked Null out of the game and brought back the uninspiring Kyle Boller (4-11-23, 44.9 rating) one last time. Boller missed a couple of rare open receivers, though in his defense he was also under siege just about every play. Poor blitz recognition was Boller's downfall. Jackson ran smack into a blitz for a five-yard loss in the 3rd and immediately turned around after the play and chewed Boller out. A veteran QB's got to recognize that coming and check to something else. Boller missed it again late in the 4th when Dashon Goldson blitzed in for the SEVENTH of San Francisco's EIGHT sacks. Boller came in cold, and also avoided committing a turnover, but comparing how the veteran handled the 49er pass rush today to how the rookie did, I can't make much of a case for keeping Null behind Boller any more, or, to shorten the sentence, keeping Boller any more. The Rams didn't gain anything with him on the field this season in any capacity.

      * RB: Despite a very quiet afternoon, Steven Jackson (20-63) ended the season the leading rusher in the NFC and with a richly-deserved Pro Bowl berth. Jackson was able to get outside around right end a couple of times for nice gains and got a couple of decent gains off Randy McMichael blocks, but the ***** dominated the line of scrimmage and Steven usually...
      -01-04-2010, 12:35 PM
    • MFranke
      RamView, 10/12/2009: Vikings 38, Rams 10 (Long)
      by MFranke
      RamView, October 11, 2009
      From Row HH
      (Report and opinions from the game.)
      Game #5: Vikings 38, Rams 10

      The baseball Cardinals bowed out of postseason after an abysmal lack of production in scoring opportunities, and today, the Rams topped that. Three turnovers inside the 10 were their undoing in a loss to the Vikings that should have been a lot closer. St. Louis has a bad sports hangover right now, and more hair of the dog isn't helping any.

      * QB: If Kyle Boller (20-31-209) could wave a magic wand and change a handful of plays, he would have won the starting job for the rest of the season today. One play he'd like to forget was his pratfall that turned the Rams' opening possession into a Vikings TD. He motioned to dump a screen pass over a madly-charging Kevin Williams' head and lost the ball on the way up in classic Football Follies fashion. And, of course, with the Rams' luck this year, the ball went to Jared Allen on a clean bounce, and he scooped and ran for a 52-yard TD. Boller perservered, though. He led the Rams on a 93-yard, 7½-minute drive that started late in the 1st quarter. A 62-yard drive got the Rams inside the 10 late in the half. Boller led a 15-play, 72-yard, 6-minute drive late in the 3rd. From all that, you'd think the Rams would have come away with a lot of points. Plus, Boller had the screen pass working, was finding his tight ends, and was even getting the ball downfield successfully and stretching the defense. He did miss one big chance to make a play. 3rd-and-2 at the Viking 16 during the first drive, he rolls right and tucks and scrambles for a yard, missing Avery breaking open in the corner of the end zone on that side. Much of the time, though, the Rams looked opportunity right in the eye, and opportunity poked them the eye Three Stooges-style. The 1st-quarter drive ended when Boller and Steven Jackson blew a handoff at the one-yard line and Allen (again) recovered the fumble. Boller hit Daniel Fells at the 3 just before halftime only to see the young TE lose the ball. After nearly getting his head ripped off by Kevin Williams during the 3rd-quarter drive, Boller toughly hung in to finish it out. But Bennie Sapp made two plays to deny the Rams TDs. He broke up what would have been a 44-yard TD bomb to Keenan Burton down the sideline, and a few plays later, broke up what would have been a 9-yard TD pass to Donnie Avery. Boller's throws were perfect; sometimes, the defense just makes a play. But after that, Tyrell Johnson picked Boller off in a crowd in the end zone. Likely still feeling the effects of Williams' personal foul, Boller was done for the day. That brought Marc Bulger back to the field, and he put up impressive numbers in the 4th - 7-for-7 for 88 yards and a TD – though against a Minnesota D playing much softer than they were in Boller's three quarters, as their multi-touchdown lead dictated. Avery came back for an intentionally-underthrown 27-yard pass...
      -10-12-2009, 10:36 AM