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Rams-Seahawks: 5 Things To Watch

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  • Rams-Seahawks: 5 Things To Watch

    Rams-Seahawks: 5 Things To Watch
    By Jim Thomas

    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Seattle's Ken Lucas keeps San Francisco's Curtis Conway from making a catch last month.
    (Elaine Thompson/AP)

    Alexander the great

    When the Rams played in Seattle last season, Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander didn't arrive at the stadium until the end of the first quarter. His wife had given birth to their first child earlier that day. That prompted Rams defensive tackle Ryan Pickett to quip: "She ain't pregnant now, is she?"

    Well, that's one way to slow Alexander down. From 2001-03, he emerged as one of the most productive backs in the NFL, averaging just over 1,300 yards rushing and nearly 17 TDs a season. Alexander is no toothpick at 5-11, 225 pounds, but what sets him apart is speed and acceleration.

    "He's very fast," Pickett said. "He's got some size, but you can't tell by his running style. He's more of a scatback. If he sees something, he's gone. You want to get him before he gets started. So that's our plan."

    Alexander has been slowed by a bruised knee, an injury he suffered in the season opener. But he has still scored six TDs, tied for first in the NFL, and should be at full speed - or close to it - after resting up over the bye week. He's easily the best back the Rams have faced so far this season.

    On the receiving end

    Koren Robinson is the more hyped player, selected No. 9 in the 2001 draft. But Darrell Jackson really is the go-to guy in the Seattle receiving corps. Jackson has caught a TD pass in each of his last three games against the Rams, while Robinson caught the game-winner against the Rams with 1 minute to play last season in Seattle.

    For all of his skills, Robinson is a body-catcher prone to drops. He's dropped five balls in Seattle's three games this season. Jackson, meanwhile, is off to a great start and is on pace for a 100-catch season. Neither player is a burner, but both have good size, and good run-after-the-catch ability.

    "They know how to get open," Rams cornerback DeJuan Groce said. "They know how to beat zones; they know how to beat man coverage."

    Benefiting from all the attention given Jackson and Robinson is savvy No. 3 receiver Bobby Engram, who is adept at finding creases in zone coverage. Normally, Engram is the team's slot receiver, but he occasionally lines up outside.

    "He's real crafty," Groce said.

    Maturing Matt

    Seattle coach Mike Holmgren's patience in Matt Hasselbeck has paid off, with Hasselbeck developing into one of the league's better QBs. If allowed to get comfortable and get in his rhythm, Hasselbeck can be as effective as any QB in the league. Although not a scrambler, he has good instincts about when to avoid pressure, and is deceptively strong.

    "He doesn't run for a lot of yards, but he avoids a lot of sacks," Pickett said.

    To reinforce that point, Rams players were shown tape during the week of several plays in which pass rushers appeared to have him sacked, but didn't get him.

    Blitz city

    By unofficial count, the Rams blitzed a season-high 18 times last week against San Francisco as coordinator Larry Marmie's defense continued to evolve. The Rams sent extra pass rushers at the ***** five times on the game-opening drive alone, with one of those blitzes resulting in a drive-stopping sack.

    Another interesting sequence occurred in the fourth quarter, when the ***** had a first and goal at the Rams 4. The Rams blitzed all four times on a successful goal-line stand, resulting in three incomplete passes and a 2-yard gain.

    All three Rams sacks in the game came on blitz plays - one of which resulted in a fumble and the Rams' first takeaway of the season.

    "We want more of an attacking defense," coach Mike Martz said. "It wasn't by accident that all those big plays were off of pressure."

    Look for more of the same against Seattle, although Hasselbeck is more adept at hot reads than ***** QB Tim Rattay.

    Secondary skirmish

    So far this season, no one has been able to slow Rams WRs Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. They've combined for 57 catches for 758 yards and three TDs in four games. But in Seattle's Marcus Trufant and Ken Lucas, Bruce and Holt are up against the best set of corners they've faced this season.

    "We know both of them," Holt said. "We know what they like to do. Trufant, his feet are unbelievably quick. He's very instinctive for a second-year player. Lucas is very patient, well-coached. He reminds me a lot of Dexter McCleon."

    Lucas stays at right corner, with Trufant on the left side, so Holt and Bruce will see both corners at various times in the game, depending on the formation. Lucas employs more press coverage at the line of scrimmage than Trufant. Last year, Trufant did more pressing.

    "But I'm sure in this game, they'll (both) come down and press us, try to disrupt the timing of our offense, slow some things down," Holt said. "We're ready for that. We worked on some things throughout the course of the week."

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamDez
    Five things to watch
    by RamDez
    Five things to watch
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Jan. 07 2005

    Red-hot Hasselbeck

    When the teams met in November in St. Louis, Seahawks QB Matt
    suffered through one of his worst outings of the season. He
    completed only 41.7 percent of his passes, for 172 yards, with a passer rating
    of 45.1 All three totals were the second-lowest of the season for Hasselbeck.

    He has been hampered with thigh, rib and elbow injuries this season, missing
    the Arizona game on Dec. 26 because of the elbow ailment. Never a great deep
    thrower, Hasselbeck played a couple of games in which he literally couldn't
    throw deep. The elbow may not be all the way back, but Hasselbeck has been hot
    lately. Over his past four games, dating to the beginning of December,
    Hasselbeck has completed 71.8 percent of his attempts, with a passer rating of
    99.4 or better in all four contests.

    Hasselbeck remains a very effective red-zone passer. Since the beginning of the
    2001 season, he has thrown 47 TDs with just two interceptions inside the
    opponent's 20. Although not a scrambler, he's nimble for his size (6-4, 223).

    On the receiving end

    Koren Robinson has been a season-long headache, and Bobby
    has been slowed by an ankle injury. But the Seahawks remain among
    the league's best aerialists, finishing the regular season as the No. 8-ranked
    passing attack.

    The go-to guy at wide receiver remains Darrell Jackson, who set a
    single-season franchise record with 87 catches. As was the case in 2003,
    Jackson hit a lull in the middle of the season, only to finish strong. In seven
    games against the Rams, he has caught five TD passes, including a season-long
    catch of 56 yards in October.

    Robinson has missed six of the club's past seven games for various
    indiscretions. He will play today but in an unspecified role.

    Engram has only 36 catches this season, his second-lowest total in four years
    with Seattle. But after missing three games with an ankle injury, he finally
    appears to be healthy. He remains Seattle's best third-down receiver and a
    savvy zone-buster.

    Because of Robinson's problems, the venerable Jerry Rice has been
    starting in the base offense with Jackson. Rice doesn't have the speed and
    separation skills he once possessed, but he has played in more postseason games
    (28) than anyone else in NFL history. The Seahawks hope he has a big game or
    two left in him.
    Little vs. Womack

    If you ask Rams DE Leonard Little, Seattle's Chris Terry
    is one of the league's most underrated right tackles. So Little shed no tears
    when Terry went on the injured reserve list Dec. 10 with a shoulder...
    -01-08-2005, 02:20 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams - Seahawks: What to Watch
    by RamWraith
    Saturday, October 14, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    1. Hasselbeck in Check

    Without running back Shaun Alexander, the Seahawks rely on quarterback Matt Hasselbeck’s right arm to take care of the bulk of the offense. That isn’t to say that Seattle won’t try to run the ball, but Hasselbeck is well aware of his importance to the offense in the absence of Alexander.

    The Seahawks are 22nd in the league in passing offense. Hasselbeck has highs and lows, performance-wise. Against New York, he threw for five touchdown. Against the Bears, he struggled as many quarterbacks do against the Chicago defense, throwing for 196 yards and two interceptions with a 39.7 rating.

    Still, Hasselbeck presents myriad problems because he has a strong, accurate arm complemented by the ability to escape pressure and make plays with his legs.

    “He does it all,” Rams defensive end Leonard Little said. “What can you say? He’s smart, he can run with the ball if he has to, he has a strong arm. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in this league.”

    This year, Hasselbeck has been given the gift of playmakers at wide receiver. The Seahawks added Nate Burleson with a big free agent contract and followed that by trading for and signing Deion Branch. That duo joins Darrell Jackson and Bobby Engram, giving the Seahawks a solid quartet of receivers. Engram probably won’t play because of an injury, but the Seahawks are using more and more four receiver sets without Alexander in the lineup.

    “It’s like, who else are they going to get?” cornerback Travis Fisher said. “Those guys are playing very good football right now, they are looking very good, probably the best that we’ve seen so far this year.”

    That will pose a serious problem to a Rams team that is banged up in the secondary. Fisher is recovering from a groin injury, but appears ready to go and will likely make the start. Fakhir Brown, on the other hand, is battling an ankle injury and his status remains in doubt. If he can’t go, Tye Hill will start and the Seahawks will almost certainly challenge him.

    Regardless, expect to see plenty of blitzing to take the pressure off the defensive backfield and plenty of the likes of Ron Bartell and Jerametrius Butler on the field.

    2. Slow Mo

    Without the services of Alexander, the Seahawks running game isn’t quite as explosive, but that doesn’t mean they will abandon the run altogether. In his place is Maurice Morris, a different style of runner, but a talented one nonetheless.

    “He’s the type of guy that can take the ball anywhere,” defensive tackle La’Roi Glover said. “He can take the ball inside or outside. He has the speed, he runs with power, and he catches out of the backfield. He does a lot of good things for them and we have to be prepared for him because he will get the ball a lot, I would imagine.”...
    -10-14-2006, 06:10 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Bernie Bytes: Rams Must Use DX Missle
    by r8rh8rmike
    Bernie Bytes: Rams must use DX Missile

    Tuesday, December 28, 2010 2:05 pm

    Sorry for my late start today ...

    Let's get going:


    * The Rams have to play wide receiver Danario Alexander at Seattle on Sunday night. They not only have to play him; they have to utilize him. Before I get into the statistics, let me declare up front that these are based on a small sample size. Which means that we shouldn't draw any firm conclusions. And that these numbers don't carry the same weight as an entire body of work over a full season. So there. You've been warned.

    That said, it's pretty obvious that the exciting rookie WR has delivered substantial impact when given the opportunity. And that he makes a difference in the Rams offense. And that he gives it a dimension that the other receivers can't provide.

    Alexander has appeared in seven games this season, four wins and three losses.

    -- In the Rams' four wins, QB Sam Bradford has targeted the DX Missile 25 times. Alexander has caught 16 passes for 286 yards, an average of 17.9 yards per reception. The haul includes a touchdown, 11 first downs, and three catches of 25+ yards.

    -- In the Rams' three losses with Alexander, he's been targeted only 7 times, with one catch for six yards. Granted, the three losses have been against winning teams, Tampa Bay and New Orleans and Kansas City. But still...

    Notice a trend there? When the Rams roll out the DX Missile and actually make him part of the game plan, big things happen. When they don't use Alexander, the passing game lacks sizzle. It's plain to see.

    There's more to it than that. Let's talk about the dimension that DX brings to the field. This season he's averaged 11 yards at the point of the catch. (In other words: how many yards downfield is he at the point of reception? This doesn't take into account the number of yards produced after making the catch.)

    That 11-yard average is the best on the team. Before getting injured, Mark Clayton averaged 9 yards at the point of the catch. The little-used Mardy Gilyard averages 8.2 yards at the spot of the catch. Other averages for the wideouts: Laurent Robinson 7.5 yards, Brandon Gibson 7.4 yards, Danny Amendola 3.7 yards.

    How about a dash of historical perspective? In the peak years of the Greatest Show on Turf (1999-2001), Torry Holt averaged 12.7 yards at the point of the catch. Isaac Bruce averaged 12.3 yards. Ricky Proehl averaged 9.3 yards at the spot of the catch.

    Which means that Alexander -- small sample size and all -- is capable of stretching the field in a way that we haven't seen from a Rams wideout since the glory days.

    In that context, it makes absolutely no sense to keep Alexander in the shed. It makes no sense to reduce him to a non-factor....
    -12-28-2010, 08:13 PM
  • RamWraith
    Holmgren can relate to Martz's health problem
    by RamWraith
    By Kathleen Nelson
    Saturday, Oct. 08 2005

    Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren has a sense of the uncertainty at Rams
    Park caused by the illness of his counterpart, Mike Martz.

    "I had a little episode myself," Holmgren said in reference to chest pains he
    suffered this spring.

    A battery of tests revealed no serious heart damage, though Holmgren missed one
    of Seattle's minicamps.

    "The doctor told me, you have to relieve some stress in your life. I said,
    'that's good advice,'" Holmgren said, trying not to make fun of the simple

    He is less cavalier and more of a mother hen about the health of his defensive
    coordinator, Ray Rhodes, who suffered a stroke last month. He has returned to
    the Seahawks' practice facility, though he has turned over the coordinator's
    on-field duties to linebackers coach John Marshall.

    "Ray was a very serious situation," Holmgren said, adding that he keeps a close
    watch on Rhodes to keep him from overextending himself and refuses to allow
    Rhodes to return full-time until doctors give the OK. "I'm kind of hard on him.
    He's just starting to come out on the field."

    Dealing with Rhodes' illness was just the latest transition for the Seahawks'
    defense, which features seven new starters. The makeover stemmed from the
    Seahawks finishing 26th overall in defense last year. Through four games, they
    are 14th.

    "It's no different than the situation we were in St. Louis a few years ago,
    where we kind of blew up the defense and then we went out and made it to the
    Super Bowl that year," said defensive end Grant Wistrom, who left the Rams
    after 2003 to sign with Seattle. "We still have a long way to go, but I like
    the guys we have and I like the defense, more so than the defense we had last
    year. It's a lot more fun to go out and work with guys you enjoy."

    Injuries have forced changes on offense, where starting wide receivers Darrell
    Jackson and Bobby Engram are out for Sunday's game against the Rams. Jackson,
    suffering from a knee injury, was third in the NFL with 29 catches after four
    games. Engram (knee) was fourth with 27. Their replacements would be Peter
    Warrick and Joe Jurevicius, who have caught one and seven passes, respectively.

    "Guys get hurt, and the next guy has to step up," Holmgren said. "If you ask
    the players, they think they should be playing, not the guy who is starting.
    Now these guys will get a chance. They've worked hard to get themselves in this
    position. But can I say, will it be the same? No, I can't"

    The game plan might include...
    -10-09-2005, 07:53 AM
  • RamWraith
    Big division game in St. Louis--ESPN Insider
    by RamWraith

    Big division game in St. Louis

    Why To Watch
    This Week 5 matchup features a chances to get a jum in the NFC West standings. Both the Seahawks and the Rams are coming off frustrating losses last week and will look to right the ship Sunday. In order to pull off the road upset, Seattle must cut down on its penalties and get RB Shaun Alexander going early on against a Rams run defense that surrenders 4.1 yards per carry.
    St. Louis, on the other hand, will look to keep the tempo high and continue to spread the wealth via the air to their playmaking foursome of WR's Torry Holt, Shaun McDonald, Dane Looker and Kevin Curtis. In order to come out on top, Rams' QB Marc Bulger must cut down on the interceptions after throwing three to Giants defenders in last week's loss.

    When the Seahawks have the ball:

    Rushing: Extending drives and chewing up the clock are crucial when playing the pass-happy Rams on their fast track inside the Edward Jones Dome. If you look back at the Seahawks' offensive performance against the Redskins last week, there was very much to be encouraged by. The unit spread the wealth efficiently in the passing game, it failed to turn the ball over once, and it averaged 5.2 yards per carry in what was an overall balanced outing. However, penalties and a lack of red zone execution proved costly in the loss. If the Seahawks are to steal one on the road this week, they must cut down on mistakes and do a better job of executing at the end of drives, as the Rams can put points on the board in a hurry when playing at home.

    The interior trio of "wave" DTs Ryan Pickett, Jimmy Kennedy and Damione Lewis make it difficult to establish an inside running attack against the Rams. However, the Rams are vulnerable off-tackle and on the perimeter, where Leonard Little and Tony Hargrove often get too far upfield and leave a crease to penetrate. Little is far more active versus the run and will make more plays in pursuit, so it will be important to either run at him or be conscious of sealing him off on the backside. The Seahawks must utilize their size advantage on the perimeter and part of a plan that should include 25-plus carries for RB Shaun Alexander, who has already rushed for 455 yards and six touchdowns on 84 carries this season.

    Passing: Seattle's pass protection is outstanding and it should be a huge advantage in Sunday's game. The Rams have done a better-than-average job of getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks this season, as they have notched 10 sacks in four games. However, they do not have the front-four personnel to consistently get to QB Matt Hasselbeck, who has been sacked just six times. Little is the only front-four member that could create a mismatch for the Seahawks, as ROT Sean Locklear is only a rookie and could be overwhelmed by Little's variety of...
    -10-05-2005, 04:54 AM