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RamView, 1/3/2010: ***** 28, Rams 6 (Long)

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  • RamView, 1/3/2010: ***** 28, Rams 6 (Long)

    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 didn't get any help up front. That resulted in some painful moments. He ran right into a blitz in the 4th for a 5-yard loss. I'll say this: when he turned and screamed at Boller after the play, Jackson had the whole crowd behind him. The Rams blew a crucial 3rd-and-1 at the 49er 10 later in the 4th after Parys Haralson blew up the Ram line and met Jackson for another loss. This is the kind of day Jackson had: he'd try to run up the middle behind Mike Karney and gain nothing after the ***** backed Karney up in the hole. I trust Steven will have a lot better blocking in front of him in Miami. After all the hard work he's done this season, he deserves a nice opportunity like that to showcase his skills.

    * Receivers: A unit that's been a disgusting mess all season ended it with another disgusting performance. Donnie Avery (2-23) was the only receiver to crack 20 total yards but had to leave the game in the 2nd after a hard hit with a possible concussion. No one had more than three catches. Null didn't miss open receivers today and Boller didn't miss them much. They simply weren't there. Any time you looked downfield after the Ram QB got in trouble, everybody was still covered, and San Francisco was doing it with their best guy out injured. This receiving corps was so poorly equipped from the beginning to take on an NFL season, it's truly laughable. Avery's never looked any better than a #3 slot receiver in 2009. He and Laurent Robinson and Keenan Burton all have significant injury histories. Brandon Gibson's (3-18) very raw, though his back-to-back catches late in the 2nd helped set up a FG attempt. Danny Amendola (3-18) and Jordan Kent (1-5) are best suited to exclusive special teams roles. The TEs can block a little, but lack speed, and in Randy McMichael's (1-7) case, hands, though he didn't drop any today. They all lack the speed and skills to get open or create big plays after the catch. It's been a disaster the Rams should have seen coming and one they're going to have to clean up after significantly in the offseason. After you kick the special teams guys over to that unit, I'm not sure anybody other than Gibson's worth keeping. What a disaster.

    * Offensive line: Another disaster today was the o-line, which should have been expected, really. Rams season in a nutshell: Season-long practice-squadder Roger Allen started at guard. And got hurt in the second quarter, which moved the paripatetically-out-of-position Adam Goldberg to LG and put another season-long practice squadder, Phil Trautwein, in at RT for his first professional action. Hoo boy. The ***** were all over that like Joey Chestnut on a platter of franks, and the Rams wound up allowing a dreadful EIGHT sacks, FOUR of them by Justin Freaking Smith, and gave Jackson very little running room. Some of the sack problem was quarterbacking mistakes, but most of it was the Rams being just plain overmatched. Allen was awful in his limited action. He gave Smith a free run at Null for the 2nd 49er sack and got smoked by Demetric Evans for another. Evans didn't even put that much of a move on Allen, who looked like he was just guessing where to try to block. Goldberg had a surprisingly poor game. Haralson beat him at RT for half of the first sack of Null, and Smith just knocked him to the ground at LG en route to the 4th sack of Null. I think Goldberg was also responsible for Smith's fourth sack. He picked up Patrick Willis blitzing on the outside, but his responsibility was probably Smith on the interior rush after Alex Barron let him go. Jackson gave up the eighth and final sack to Dre Bly, his first poor blitz pickup in several weeks. Chemistry, continuity and experience are all vital to having a good offensive line. The Rams have talent on their line but end the season way short on those other qualities. It's easy to see why they've struggled but fair to say they can become better.

    * Defensive line / LB: The Ram defense played what might have been its best three-and-a-half quarters of the season but looked for all the world like they'd quit after San Francisco took a 14-6 lead in the 4th. They forced a ton of 3-and-outs or similarly short possessions. James Laurinaitis set one up by blitzing up the middle untouched for the first sack of Alex Smith in the 1st, and got another in the 3rd by breaking up a 3rd-down pass to Vernon Davis with a solid hit. Chris Long got one by swatting down a 3rd-down pass. Craig Dahl helped set up another with a free run at Smith for a sack off a safety blitz. Long and James Hall were solid against the run. Hall stuffed Frank Gore several times as the Rams held him to just 31 first-half yards. Hall got the Rams' 3rd sack, and started another 3-and-out, by pouncing on Smith as he recovered his own extremely lame fumble in the 3rd. The ***** couldn't put together any offense at all and the Rams had Smith on the run. In the 3rd, though, the ***** started finding some cracks. Gore went up the middle for 34 after David Baas pulled and engulfed Laurinaitis and James Butler's utter inability to tackle Gore doubled the length of the play. Gore followed that with a 22-yard screen inside the 5, breaking away after Long and Ron Bartell ran into one another. That led to their first TD. The second TD was a lightning bolt from Davis after the Rams had settled for their hundredth FG near the goal line of the season, and after that, I'm pretty sure the defense was mainly thinking about tee times the rest of the way. Except for Long, who had enough fire left to get into a head-butting incident with a 49er lineman late in the game and get ejected. Ejections (usually of the head coach or manager) have been known to fire up basketball and baseball teams but the Rams saw no such effect. Gore chugged through them for a couple of short TDs meeting very little resistance in the middle and an unpleasant lack of pursuit when he bounced outside. It was 28-6 at the end of the game but 14-6 when the game was done, the Ram defense doing itself a brief disservice after at least 50 minutes of excellent effort today and a season where they'd played almost every game hard from start to finish.

    * Secondary: The secondary paralleled the front seven, a good first half but a meltdown in the 2nd half. Justin King continued his strong work defending short passes by breaking up a pass to Vernon Davis with Ron Bartell to kill the first 49er threat of the day near midfield. A possession after he sacked Alex Smith, Dahl broke up a 4th-down pass to Michael Crabtree with a good hit to save the Rams another score. The meltdown started on the first 49er TD drive. Bartell inexcusably let Crabtree catch an 8-yard sideline pass right in front of him on 3rd-and-6. Josh Morgan then found a hole in the Ram zone for 17, then Gore took over. The pivotal play of the game came midway through the 4th. Davis split wide and drew single coverage from the lamentable Butler, who he burned badly for a 73-yard go-route TD. Game over, man, game over, but not before Crabtree burned Dahl for 38 to set up the next TD, the rookie turning the veteran inside out with a fake. An interesting development came in the 3rd when an apparently new player – John? Johnny? - Wade got some playing time and made a nice open-field stop on a pass to Gore. Wade may actually have been the nickel back today; I don't remember seeing Danny Gorrer at all. Hard to figure why Wade was the coaching staff's red-headed stepchild all season when Butler's the one who can't play, and for a big price to boot. Can't tackle, can't cover, burned the Rams with both inabilities today. What's it going to take for this franchise to get a decent strong safety?

    * Special teams: The Rams weathered a plague of flags on a punt sequence in the 2nd quarter but still managed a decent day on special teams. The highlight of the day was the punting clinic put on by Donnie Jones and Andy Lee. Jones ended the day with a sick 50.1 average on a sicker 11 punts. Josh Brown hit a 54-yard FG to open the scoring but mysteriously missed a 45-yarder at the halftime gun, though I do not believe he missed it by much. Amendola set up Brown's other FG with a 56-yard punt return. He got up the sideline thanks to David Roach's seal block and got by the punter this time. Amendola has been a fine pickup for the Rams and should be their kick and punt returner next season. Let's just hope the offense will someday make it less regretful when Amendola just misses a TD.

    * Coaching: I really did not understand Steve Spagnuolo's 4th-down philosophy today. 4th-and-1 at our 42 early in the game, we're going for it. 4th-and-2 at the 49er 11 down 7-3 late in the game, we're kicking the FG. 4th-and-18 from our 27, down 21-6, we're going for it. Hell, we're even burning timeouts. Then 4th-11 at our 25 down 28-6, boom goes the punt. The postgame radio show linked the Rams' quitting in the 4th quarter to the moment Spagnuolo chose to kick down 7-3, and that's hard to refute. There's little reason outside of abiding admiration for Ndamukong Suh not to go for it there. Spagnuolo has to let go of a lot of his conservatism of game management next season. The great ones didn't get there without taking intelligent risks. That conservatism pervades the offensive game plan, where Pat Shurmur's still calling two-yard smoke routes on 3rd-and-6 or running Jackson up the middle three straight times after a big play. The staff reminds me of when you're first starting to drive and you think you're moving along really fast, then Dad tells you to look at the speedometer and you find out you're going 30.

    Coaching may be overrated in the estimation of how games are won and lost, but it's fair to demand the coaching staff show a tangible positive effect. Spagnuolo has done that this year as a leader. His team has played hard all season with the exception of about a quarter. They've been in games they probably didn't deserve to be in. They're on the right track motivationally. Pleyer development looks like it's getting there. All of the draft picks improved as the season went on. Special teams have gelled into something, well, special. The team's getting there developmentally, though with the glaring exceptions of WR and RBs to back up Jackson. But they're getting there. They need to get there strategically, too. Step on the gas next season, Coach.

    * Upon further review: Mike Carey's already looking ahead to the playoffs, which I assume he'll be working as one of the NFL's top referees, though today's game may have lowered his crew a percentile or two. They threw flags on 49er special teams several times for blocks in the back but picked them all up. That got mind-boggling after a while, because some of them sure looked like illegal blocks. The missed call on Gibson's catch right before halftime, which the replay booth had to correct, was poor. NFL officials shouldn't miss calls I can get from 250 feet away. And Long was ejected from the game for retaliating against a late block that the official was looking right at. Hell, he got caught up in it. For Long to get the only penalty there was WWE-quality officiating, and I guarantee that had that 49er lineman been Richie Incognito instead, every official on the field would have tossed their hankies. D-plus.

    * Cheers: The main reason most of the fans filled (half of) the Dome today was to salute Isaac Bruce in what appears to have been the final game of his brilliant career. So it was a shame there wasn't better publicity about how the ***** planned to use him. Very little of the crowd suspected Isaac was only going to be on the field for the first offensive play, particularly since they didn't throw to him, running away from him instead. Otherwise we would have been on our feet when he came off the field and did a leaping celebration with several 49er receivers the way he used to do with Torry Holt. The crowd also had little idea Isaac had spent the second half in street clothes, trying to call him onto the field late in the game instead. We finally got to pay tribute to the greatest Ram WR thanks to some quick stadium camera work on the Jumbotron around the 2:00 warning. Bruuuuuuuuce. Though they may rely a little too much on pee-wee football for halftime shows, the Rams' P.R./game day people have been one of the franchise's strongest units this season. They marked Fan Appreciation Day today with discounts on concessions and an impressive array of prizes, giving away Super Bowl tickets, 50+ game-worn jerseys, and so many TVs I thought everyone in attendance was going to get one at one point. No, I didn't win anything, but my nephew and I had a blast at his 2nd Rams game, even though it was positively awful on the field. The Rams are getting some things right.

    * Fearless postseason prediction: This ought to be one of the most exciting postseasons in many years. Look at the QBs in this year's playoffs: Manning, Rivers, Brees, Favre, Warner, Romo, Brady, Rodgers, McNabb. Look at some of the potential matchups. Patriots-Colts again? Favre vs. Packers, part III? Kurt Warner's postseason return to New Orleans? The Colts, Saints, Vikings will be hard to beat in their home domes. The red-hot Chargers and Cowboys will be hard to beat anywhere. And if the playoffs are really about running and defense, why not the Bengals or Jets or Ravens? OK, now that I've hedged on everybody, how about a prediction? I know the Chargers have the Colts' postseason number, but I'm not betting against Peyton, not this year. Another long Arizona postseason run sure looks unlikely after the Packers mopped the floor with their backups today, but I also hate betting against Kurt Warner. Plus I don't mind jinxing the hell out of Bill Bidwill. Sorry, Kurt. Colts over Cards in the Big One.

    * What’s next?: The last time the Rams had the #1 pick in the draft, they drafted the winner of the Outland and Lombardi Trophies, Orlando Pace, and in his third season, they won the Super Bowl. They can try to repeat that history by selecting Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh in April, but he's only the tip of the iceberg for them to mount a postseason run in the near future. This team heads into next season very short on talent and very long on questions.

    The Ram offense had a 1,400-yard rusher and was still historically, hysterically, inept. Ten years after Warner, Bruce and Holt lit up the league, the Ram passing game is a joke. Focus on the QB all you want, but nobody who lines up behind center next season is going to succeed with receivers who can't get open or catch the ball or stay healthy. The Rams paid all season for their decision to try to play the receiver position on the cheap. Upgrading at WR and tight end with competent veterans must be the top offseason priority on offense. QB's surprisingly far down the priority list, absent any thrilling draft or free agent (Jason Campbell? Really?) prospects. The Rams would be better served to build up their offensive line depth to make up for the departures of Incognito and (please God please) Barron. They also need a big play threat to back Jackson up. But the critical need is receivers. They have to be able to stretch the field, make room for Jackson, get that 8th and 9th defender out of the box. And a ball-control offense has to have a reliable TE. Without those, as we've seen all season, the offense is a dreadful joke.

    The defense didn't finish 2009 much better. 29th in total defense. 27th against the run. 25th against the pass. 30th overall. The Rams' decisions to dump capable veteran OLBs early in the season were baffling, and long strides need to be made this offseason to surround James Laurinaitis with actual professional-level talent. And with Leonard Little mulling retirement, what's already an anemic pass rush threatens to become Chris Long and little else. Long may be poised for a breakout season in 2010 but not without a legitimate threat on the other end of the line, a threat that does not appear to be on the 2010 roster. For all the Rams' offensive woes, the Rams could open the 2010 draft drafting a DT, a DE and an OLB and fill plenty of needs. If injured players like Oshiomogho Atogwe, Bradley Fletcher and C.J. Ah You all come back strong, all the better, but the Rams mustn't allow returns from injured reserve to represent the biggest part of their upgrade in talent. A supplement, sure, but not the main course.

    Steve Spagnuolo's going to be under a lot of pressure next year. The honeymoon's over in 2010. Rams Nation has been patient and let some things slide. But we are sick of losing at home. We are sick of getting blown out by mediocre division opponents. The Rams have got the Lions, Bucs, Redskins, Raiders, Chiefs on next year's schedule, along with the Seahawks twice. They won't win them all, but that's still seven highly winnable games, way up from maybe two this year. It's about time “any given Sunday” started applying to this team again, too. Spagnuolo's established himself as a good leader. Now he needs to show the defensive acumen that got him this far. His game management has to step up a level. His staff's got to show he hired the right guys. His and Billy Devaney's ability to evaluate players has to shine through. In short, while acknowledging that Spagnuolo's lining the Rams up on the right track; in 2010, we want some results. 6-10 won't kick-start any parades in St. Louis, but it's hardly a lot to ask for next season. Not when Cleveland and Oakland and Seattle won 5 this year, or Buffalo won 6.

    Make it happen, Coach. Gotta go to work.

    --Mike
    Game stats from nfl.com

  • #2
    Re: RamView, 1/3/2010: ***** 28, Rams 6 (Long)

    Good post as always! Your weekly gamepost have been a must read each week thank you

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: RamView, 1/3/2010: ***** 28, Rams 6 (Long)

      Thanks for the post and for the effort all season. I ran out of gas on my good, bad and ugly weeks ago. Its so painful to watch this team.

      My only observation to add is that its naive for anyone to believe that the Rams are going to turn this around completely until the ownership situation settles itself, especially with an uncapped year coming. We will pay Suh, but we arent going to pay much in the free agent market given the upcoming sale of the team.

      ramming speed to all

      general counsel

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: RamView, 1/3/2010: ***** 28, Rams 6 (Long)

        But we are sick of losing at home. We are sick of getting blown out by mediocre division opponents.
        Exactly. I don't know if drafting Suh in the first round is the ideal situation conerning the number of holes which need to be filled, but if the RAMS do decide to draft him, it is going to be interesting to see who else they can wrangle up.

        We need wins next season, not excuses.

        Thanks again for your game summaries. Well done.

        Last edited by ram3057; -01-05-2010, 03:31 PM.
        Always a Rams Fan............

        Rex Allen Markel

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: RamView, 1/3/2010: ***** 28, Rams 6 (Long)

          "The ****** were all over that like Joey Chestnut on a platter of franks..." Heh, Another Frankian gem!!;)

          I've enjoyed your musings again this year, Mike. Please don't be a stranger this offseason as we all can use some more of your insights and opinions.

          Looking forward to next year. Take care.


          WHAT SAY YE?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: RamView, 1/3/2010: ***** 28, Rams 6 (Long)

            Nice to see someone else saying that Avery is prob. best suited for the slot. That's what I was saying last year when I pleaded on here for the team to take Crabtree.

            Comment

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            • MFranke
              RamView, 12/20/2009: Texans 16, Rams 13 (Long)
              by MFranke
              RamView, December 20, 2009
              From Row HH
              (Report and opinions on and from the game.)
              Game #14: Texans 16, Rams 13

              There once was a team from St. Lou / That was hit with a case of swine flu / After a week's worth of vexin' / They got beat by the Texans / But they'll get to draft Ndamukong Suh.

              * QB: If you were to argue that Keith Null (18-27-173, 81.2 rating) lost the game today, I'd have a hard time refuting it, due to two costly turnovers. After the defense turned Houston over in the 1st, Null led the offense's opening possession across midfield before dropping a snap from center, which blew the timing of a scheduled handoff to Steven Jackson. Null still tried the handoff, but Jackson didn't look ready for it anymore, and Mario Williams recovered the gaffe to set up a Houston FG. Many areas of Null's game are developing, but one that regressed was the simple exchange from center, as he put two or three snaps on the ground today. That's an issue Null had better get a grip on quickly. Null's other huge error was an interception early in the 3rd. Coming as it did from the Houston 25, it cost the Rams at least 3 points, and the Texans would score 7 for themselves off the turnover. Trying to avoid a sack from Antonio Smith, Null fired while going down and was picked off by Dominique Barber. With experience, Null will learn that eating that ball would have been better there. I won't rip Null for those plays like I would if Marc Bulger or Kyle Boller committed them, because those two veterans should know better and execute better. And Null's just trying to make a play both times. He's trying to get the ball in Jackson's hands on the fumble, certainly a good thought. He appeared to have Ruvell Martin open on the INT; he just needed to remember at that moment that he isn't Brett Favre. Null continues to hang tough in the pocket. He'll stand back and make throws at times where you'd see Bulger cringing for impact, or Boller scrambling off with unpredictable, mostly not good, results. Null's got the team behind him. You can see he cares out there. The defense sees it, too. They were all tapping Null on the helmet, promising to pick him up after the INT. (They didn't.) The coaches' confidence in Null has already increased. He got to try a couple of long balls; one barely too long, one pretty underthrown. They had him throwing on 4th-and-1 in Ram territory right before the INT. Null hasn't developed killer rapport with one receiver yet, but he's hit nine different guys in both of his starts so far. One INT today is certainly an improvement over last week's five. I didn't see all the double-clutching he did last week, either. A lot of what's good about Null's game comes because he gets the ball out quickly. He's accurate on the short stuff. He can get throws off with a man in his face. The offense had good rhythm a lot of the day. There was just one 3-and-out, the inevitable Ram post-halftime fizzle. Null's...
              -12-21-2009, 02:52 PM
            • MFranke
              RamView, 12/27/2009: Arizona 31, Rams 10 (Long)
              by MFranke
              RamView, December 27, 2009
              From The Couch
              (Report and opinions on the game.)
              Game #15: Arizona 31, Rams 10

              2009 can't end soon enough for the Rams, and without Steven Jackson today, they were playing their first preseason game of 2010 anyway, absorbing yet another blowout loss to Arizona. Ndamukong Suh's starting next week, right?

              * QB: Both in “rookie moments” and incomplete skills, Keith Null (20-31-171, 3 INT, 50.0 rating) showed significant holes in his game today. He started the game with a poor screen pass and a near-pick forced into double coverage. The pass-rush clock in Null's head needs some tuning; he might have been able to avoid a couple of the sacks he took. Other times, he avoided sacks, but with really dumb plays, putting some balls just up for grabs. Null gave Greg Toler a gift INT in the 1st, simply chucking a ball into double-coverage under heavy pressure, not even looking where he was throwing. Null had some recognition issues. Adrian Wilson came in totally unblocked to sack him in the last 2:00 of the game; Null didn't seem to know it was coming. 3rd-and-1 at the Ram 35 in the 3rd, with defenders creeping up to put nine in the box, maybe a good time to check off or call a time out instead of handing off to Chris Ogbonnaya. No gain, Rams punt. Null's long accuracy still needs much improvement. He missed Brandon Gibson by a couple of yards late in the 1st and overthrew the TD pass to him in the 3rd, necessitating a circus catch. A deep ball for Donnie Avery in the 4th – a TD if thrown well – was instead well-underthrown and picked off by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Null was picked off one more time, the veteran Wilson toying with him, reading his eyes and baiting him into a dumpoff to Randy McMichael in the 4th. I don't think the ball was even out of Null's hand before Wilson stepped in front of McMichael for Arizona's third INT. Null's not bad at stepping up in the pocket and he's not bad throwing on the move. He had to do both quite a bit today under pressure from Arizona's pass rush. His best pass of the day was a bootleg pass up the sideline to Billy Bajema for 12 to start the 4th quarter. He hit Donnie Avery for 13 on 3rd-and-8 the next drive to set up a FG. Sweet throws. The mistakes are starting to mount, though, and Keith Null's going to have to show he can function better under the type of pressure a team like Arizona, or San Francisco next week, can create if he's going to progress to the next level as an NFL QB.

              * RB: One of today's big shockers: Ram RBs gained 85 yards on 20 carries even with Steven Jackson in street clothes, with back and assorted injuries finally leaving him unable to answer the bell. Jackson's had no reliable change-of-pace back behind him all season; suddenly this week, Kenneth Darby (11-40) and Chris Ogbonnaya (9-45) were back there showing the speedy, shifty style of RB play the Rams have been looking for from their backups...
              -12-28-2009, 12:28 PM
            • 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, 12/6/2009: Bears 17, Rams 9 (Long)
              by MFranke
              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...
              -12-07-2009, 11:25 AM
            • 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
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