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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
  • 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
    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
  • RamDez
    Seahawks Opponent Preview – St. Louis Rams
    by RamDez
    Wrapping up the Weekly Opponent Preview with the Rams

    Seahawks Opponent Preview – St. Louis Rams

    By Scott Eklund
    .NET reporter Scott Eklund wraps up his weekly look at the Seahawks’ 2004 opponents. Up this week: The St. Louis Rams, who the Hawks host October 10th at Qwest Field and then travel to meet in the Gateway City on November 14th.
    Overview: Rams head coach Mike Martz isn’t considered “Mad Mike” for nothing. Since he took over as head coach in February of 2000 the Rams have had the best and most dangerous offense in the NFL.

    The offense has been known as “The Greatest Show on Turf” since the 1999 season (the franchise’s first and only Super Bowl title), but the offense began to show signs of slowing down toward the end of 2003 and many think Martz and his offensive coaches will look more to a ground game that features a sure Hall-of-Famer in Marshall Faulk and first-round selection RB Stephen Jackson.

    Gone is former defensive coordinator Lovie Smith left St. Louis to coach the Chicago Bears and in his place Larry Marmie, a long-time friend of Martz, who will stick with basically the same defense with only a couple of variations.

    Martz still focuses on the offense and he has plenty of talent at his disposal. However, some key parts have left and those that remain are getting older and aren’t the players they once were.

    Offense: The Ram offense will still be high-flying and very explosive, but look for Martz and offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild to use more of a power-running game to help out new starter QB Marc Bulger.

    Saying Bulger is a “new” starter is sort of a misnomer. Bulger has started 22 games over the last two seasons due to injuries and ineffective play by former starter Kurt Warner. Warner was an icon in the Gateway City and Bulger will have lots of pressure on him to perform at a high level.

    In 2003 Bulger completed 63.2% of his passes for 3,845 yards, 22 TDs and 22 INTs. Bulger isn’t very mobile, but he has enough pocket-awareness and savvy to move around enough to allow things to happen down field. Bulger’s two biggest faults are his decision-making and is youth. He still does not see the field as well as Warner and sometimes that gets him into trouble.

    Bulger’s strength lies in his live arm, accuracy and his calmness under pressure. If he can cut down on the untimely interceptions (see last season’s Divisional Playoff loss to Carolina) he could be a special QB. As it stands the jury is still out on whether he will be an elite QB or just an average signal-caller.

    Behind Bulger is grey-beard Chris Chandler. Chandler thows a great deep ball, understands defenses, and is a good leader. Chandler has the ability to help the team get through two or three weeks in case Bulger is hurt. Rookie Jeff Smoker will be brought along slowly as his talents and firey attitude...
    -08-14-2004, 01:14 PM
  • RamWraith
    Seattle game could make or break Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Tuesday, Nov. 08 2005

    In terms of winning the NFC West, the Rams have reached the make-or-break point
    of the 2005 season.

    A victory for the 4-4 Rams on Sunday against 6-2 Seattle puts them just a game
    behind the Seahawks.

    However, a loss at Qwest Field puts St. Louis three games behind Seattle with
    just seven to play. If that happens, the Rams actually would have to make up
    four games on Seattle because the Seahawks would hold the tiebreaker edge by
    virtue of sweeping the season series.

    "This is a huge game for us," Rams safety Mike Furrey said. "We've set
    ourselves up nice the last couple of weeks by getting two wins, and getting
    back to .500. But this is going to be our big season-breaker."

    Or season-maker.

    "The record isn't where we would like it to be," offensive guard Claude Terrell
    said. "But we put ourselves in a position to be successful, so that's all you
    can ask for at this point."

    But to have any realistic chance of winning their fourth NFC West title in
    seven seasons, the Rams know they need a "W" in Seattle.

    "The way it looks now, probably, yeah," center Andy McCollum said. "Right now,
    it's the most important game of the year, and they're rolling pretty well."

    Seattle has won four in a row, its second-longest winning streak in coach Mike
    Holmgren's seven seasons with the Seahawks. The streak began with a 37-31
    victory Oct. 9 in St. Louis in what proved to be an ailing Mike Martz's last
    game as Rams head coach this season - and possibly his last game here, period.

    In that game, Seattle started a staggering five series in St. Louis territory
    and began a sixth on the 50-yard line. Michael Hawthorne played himself out of
    a job with shaky play at safety that day. Similarly, Reggie Hodges punted
    himself out of St. Louis with another subpar kicking day.

    Despite all that, the Rams were still in position to win until Shaun McDonald
    fumbled a punt with 3 minutes left in the game. McDonald was a last-second
    replacement on that play for Terry Fair, who said he was winded.

    Seattle has brought out the best and the worst in McDonald. Last season in
    Seattle, it was McDonald's 52-yard touchdown catch from Marc Bulger that gave
    the Rams a 33-27 victory - capping one of the biggest late-game comebacks in
    NFL history. (The Rams had trailed 27-10 with less than six minutes remaining
    in the fourth quarter.)

    It remains McDonald's favorite catch as an NFL player.

    "I always wanted to win a game like that," he said. "Especially win it,...
    -11-09-2005, 04:23 AM