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Bruce and Holt: Rams Dynamic Duo

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  • Bruce and Holt: Rams Dynamic Duo

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    There was a method to Detroit general manager Matt Millen's madness when he drafted Texas receiver Roy Williams in the first round last April. Sure, the Lions already had Charles Rogers, one of the top young wideouts in the NFL.

    But if lining up one dangerous pass-catcher is good, sending out two is downright intriguing, Millen concluded.

    "The more you get, the better," he explained to reporters.

    Not so long ago, star wide receiver tandems were all the rage in the NFL: Rice-Owens in San Francisco, Swann-Stallworth in Pittsburgh, Clayton-Duper in Miami, Moss-Carter in Minnesota, etc.

    Whether it's a trend or a coincidence, those kinds of duos are hard to find today. Not in St. Louis, though, where the Bruce & Holt Show is in its sixth season and still earning rave reviews.

    "Right now, that group is myself and Isaac. That's the honest truth," Torry Holt said.

    "I don't know that there's all of a sudden shortage of great receivers in the league," said Paul Wiggin, former head coach of the Chiefs and now the Vikings' director of pro scouting. "There are still some great ones, but not many teams have two of that magnitude."

    While other wideout pairs have come and gone, Bruce, 31, and Holt, 28, continue to terrorize NFL defenders.

    "There's nobody that you can zero in on and say, 'Hey this is the guy we've got to stop,'" said Miami coach Dave Wannstedt, whose Dolphins (0-6) will challenge the NFC West-leading Rams (4-2) on Sunday at Pro Player Stadium.

    Rams coach Mike Martz feels Wannstedt's pain.

    "It makes it hard defensively to take one or the other away," he said. "When you do, one might catch two or three (passes), and the other one might catch 11."

    That was illustrated early in the season, when teams tried to double up on Holt, who last year topped the NFL in receptions (117) and yards (1,696). With added room to operate, Bruce opened with four consecutive 100-yard-plus games. Then last Monday night , when Tampa Bay limited Bruce to one catch, Holt hauled in six passes for 124 yards and two touchdowns.

    "You look around the league, and some teams have no one to throw to," Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said. "I'm blessed. I have two Pro Bowl guys."

    Big numbers

    Bruce and Holt have combined for 75 catches, the most of any wide receiver tandem in the NFL. They've piled up 1,024 yards, a total surpassed only by Green Bay's Donald Driver and Javon Walker, who have 1,040 on 70 receptions.

    With 39 catches and 537 yards, Bruce is on pace to finish the 16-game regular-season schedule with 104 receptions and 1,432 yards. Holt, who has 36 catches for 487 yards, projects to 96 and 1,299. Their totals of 200 catches and 2,731 yards would fall just short of record numbers that Detroit's Herman Moore and Brett Perriman compiled in 1995, when they combined for 231 receptions and 3,174 yards in 1995.

    Bulger has passed for 1,690 yards, second in the league to Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper (1,766). The Rams are collecting 263.3 yards per game through the air, the third-best average in the league. The Dolphins counter with the NFL's stingiest pass defense: 122.7 yards per game.

    "Miami's played all close games; they've haven't been blown out at all," Bulger pointed out. "Their defense keeps them in a lot of games."

    But the Dolphins haven't encountered a two-headed monster such as Bruce and Holt. Together, they're averaging more receiving yards per game (170.7) than all but one of Miami's foes has produced as a team.

    "I think there will be more tandems in the future, as guys continue to develop," Holt said. "But right now, there's not a lot out there that is as good as me and Isaac on a consistent basis."

    Mutual respect

    Isaac Isidore Bruce grew up in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where he planned to enjoy a rare family homecoming Saturday night. Bruce, a Memphis State product, has made four Pro Bowl appearances, and is the franchise leader in receptions (727), receiving yards (10,998) and touchdown catches (69). Only 18 players in NFL history have caught more passes, and just 13 have racked up more yardage.

    Torry Jabar Holt is a native of Greensboro, N.C., who was a consensus All-American as a senior at North Carolina State. He's been to three Pro Bowls and has topped 1,300 receiving yards in all his NFL seasons but one.

    Bruce and Holt each caught a touchdown pass in the Rams' 23-16 Super Bowl victory over Tennessee following the 1999 season. Holt's 9-yarder put the Rams up 16-0 in the third period; after the Titans rallied to tie, Bruce's 73- yarder with just under 2 minutes to play won it.

    Both emphasized that a key component of the collective effectiveness is their mutual respect, which, Bruce noted, produces a shared sense of selflessness:

    Holt, on Bruce: "We all are fortunate as receivers to sit back and watch him work, to see how he goes about his business and then to see it carry over to game day. He makes everybody raise their level of play."

    Bruce, on Holt: "He's one of the better players in this league, not only at his position but at any position. I've learned a lot from him since he's been here."

    Another factor, Holt pointed out, is their almost uncanny awareness of what the other is thinking and doing.

    "We don't really have to talk a whole lot," he said. "We understand what we both have to do in order for us to be successful on that particular play."

    Both have flourished in the "fast and furious" offensive approach that Martz consistently has deployed - and staunchly defended - first as the Rams' offensive coordinator under Dick Vermeil and then in four-plus seasons as head coach. They came of age with Kurt Warner tossing them the ball, and they've continued their assault with Bulger at the helm.

    Still, Bruce said, it's more than the system that makes them click.

    "I feel like both of us, if we were placed into another offense, we could be productive in it, no matter what," he said. "Because I believe that we're first and foremost football players, and somewhat smart. So I think we could adjust.

    "It just so happens that we're playing in this offense, which is a vertical offense. It gives us a chance to get the ball in our hands and get up the field."

    Much to the consternation of defensive coordinators leaguewide.

    "It's an incredible problem," said the Vikings' Wiggin, who with a laugh added, "Thank goodness I don't have to put together defensive game plans anymore."

  • #2
    Re: Bruce and Holt: Rams Dynamic Duo

    and that's why we should have traded Bruce for the Ravens MLB LOL


    Related Topics


    • RamWraith
      Rams achieve career milestones
      by RamWraith
      By Bill Coats

      MINNEAPOLIS — Promising wideout Kevin Curtis, who has caught 90 passes for 1,194 yards in three seasons with the Rams, found it difficult Sunday to wrap his arms around the mushrooming numbers that teammates Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt keep piling up.

      "It's one thing to come in one year and catch a lot of balls, but those guys have been doing it year in and year out, forever," Curtis said. "They're unbelievable."

      On a day when a 27-13 loss to the Minnesota Vikings extended the Rams' late-season fade, Bruce and Holt nonetheless added to their glittering career statistics and moved up in the record books:

      Bruce, who had five catches for 66 yards, moved past Charlie Joiner into 10th place on the NFL's career receiving-yards list (12,181). He also became the 14th player in league history to record at least 800 receptions (804).

      Although Bruce, 33, said he was "happy, mainly for the organization" to reach such milestones, he didn't want to dwell on their meaning. "I feel like I've got a long career ahead of me," said the 12-year veteran from Memphis State. "So I'm not really ready to put a punctuation mark behind it. I just move on, move to the next week."

      With 10 catches for 95 yards, Holt topped the 600-reception mark (602). In the process, he passed Henry Ellard - his position coach - for second place behind Bruce on the franchise's career list.

      Holt, 29, also boosted his yards-per-game average to 86.6, the highest in NFL history among players who have appeared in at least 50 games.

      The seventh-year pro from North Carolina State said he was particularly pleased to get his 600th catch in the same game when Bruce latched onto No. 800.

      "Any time I can go over any milestone with Isaac is something that I'll cherish for the rest of my life," Holt said. "He's a warrior. I've always said he's the epitome of a professional athlete, a guy who comes in week in and week out and prepares himself to go out and play hard to help his football team win ballgames."

      As for his own accomplishments, Holt said: "It's tough to really relish in that when your team is suffering the way we're suffering. It's a situation that I haven't gotten quite used to. We're used to winning around here, used to the locker room being a lot of fun."

      Also, Marshall Faulk picked up 32 yards on four catches, moving past Larry Centers to become the NFL's career leader in receiving yards among running backs (6,801). Faulk declined to talk with reporters after the game.

      The Rams (5-8) have dropped four of their past five games and are in danger of posting just their second sub-.500 record since 1998. From 1999 through the 2004 season, the Rams went 64-32 and qualified for the...
      -12-12-2005, 05:13 AM
    • UK Ramfan 83
      Bruce and Holt still diving then ?!?!
      by UK Ramfan 83

      Sorry if this has been said before. I'm new to the board, though not to the Rams..(25yrs and counting)

      I noticed this trend started about 7yrs ago between Holt and Bruce, and infected the likes of Az, and Prohel a little bit..

      They catch the ball in open field, and then as they approach 'ANY' defender that is in front of them....well,.....they just fall to the floor at the tacklers feet?!

      I hated watching that when it all started, and I noticed that they were doing it again on Sunday a bit. Now I don't get access to very many games on tv, so I don't know if they have never 'stopped' this practice. It looks lame, and re-enforces the stuff that used to get said by the likes of Joe Horn and some of the Bucc's players, that the Rams play soft..

      I'm all for avoiding injury, and no, they aren't the biggest and strongest of receivers, but come on, cover the ball, dip your head, and .....BAM!
      You don't see other 'slight' receivers doing it. I don't think I have ever seen Marvin Harrison do it, and he is similar in stature (not size) to Bruce and Holt.

      Impetous is an odd thing you know guys! You may just run over a few of them, or at least cause a miss tackle.

      Not only that, but it looks real wet!

      But hey, is it just me who is seeing it creep back in? (That's if it never left in the first place!)

      -11-20-2007, 12:20 PM
    • HUbison
      Holt and Bruce should get more respect
      by HUbison
      I've never understood why Holt and Bruce aren't held as high as other receivers around the league. I mean look at the performance of some of the premium receivers over the past 5 years:

      Per season average:
      Marvin Harrison --- (Ind) 108 rec. , 1451 yards , 13 TDs
      Torry Holt --- (St. L) 86 rec. , 1359 yards , 8 TDs
      Terrell Owens --- (SF/Phi) 85 rec. , 1263 yards , 12 TDs
      Randy Moss --- (Minn) 84 rec. , 1303 yards , 12 TDs
      Hines Ward --- (Pitt) 82 rec. , 968 yards , 7 TDs
      Tony Gonzalez --- (KC) 80 rec. , 986 yards , 8 TDs
      Joe Horn --- (NO) 79 rec. , 1146 yards , 9 TDs
      Mushin Muhammad --- (Car) 76 rec. , 1014 yards , 6 TDs
      Keyshawn Johnson --- (Tam/Dal) 76 rec. , 997 yards , 5 TDs

      It's easy to see that Holt ranks at the very top among the elite receivers, but what is truly amazing to me is how well Bruce does compared to the #2 receivers behind each of these superstars. Here's how the #2 receivers for each of the above teams fared (as a season average) over the same time span:

      Ind. --- 55 rec. , 777 yards , 6 TDs
      Isaac Bruce --- 78 rec. , 1182 yards , 8 TDs
      SF/Phi --- 39 rec. , 454 yards , 3 TDs
      Minn --- 49 rec. , 730 yards , 6 TDs
      Pitt --- 52 rec. , 694 yards , 4 TDs
      KC --- 47 rec. , 792 yards , 4 TDs
      NO --- 42 rec. , 615 yards , 5 TDs
      Car --- 51 rec. , 712 yards , 3 TDs
      Tam/Dal --- 41 rec. , 549 yards , 2 TDs

      I'd say Bruce can hold his own among the elite receivers, but to compare him with the #2's playing behind these other elites really shows just how good not only Holt, but Bruce really is.
      -05-17-2005, 08:39 AM
    • RamWraith
      Bruce, Holt bright spots in Rams' dismal season
      by RamWraith
      By Jeff Gordon

      As you would expect, receives no shortage of fan complaints about our hapless Rams.

      The “Greatest Show on Turf” has turned into the “Debacle in the Dome.” There is no end to the suffering in sight.

      Absentee president John Shaw, de facto GM Jay Zygmunt, beleaguered coach Scott Linehan, battered quarterback Marc Bulger, chatty running back Steven Jackson . . . well, pretty much everybody at Rams Park is taking hits during this lost season.

      But when fans whine about wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, well, your cyber-correspondent feels compelled to step in and defend these perennial stars.

      Holt just earned his seventh Pro Bowl invitation, proving how widely respected he remains within league circles. His peers haven’t forgotten how good he is.

      At some point Thursday night, Bruce will climb into third place the NFL’s career receiving yards list.

      Ike is a mortal lock to reach the Pro Football Hall of Fame – given his incredible career statistics and his Super Bowl heroics -- and Torry is on pace to become one of the sport’s all-time great players as well.

      These are two of the greatest receivers of their era, period. And they can still play.

      So why do fans complain?

      Their biggest beef is their habit of hitting the deck after catching passes in traffic. Fans apparently want to see them absorb vicious hits and gang tackles while pursuing a few extra yards. Fans want them to cross the border separating bravery from stupidity,

      These complaints have increased this season, since Linehan’s safety-first offense hasn’t sprung a lot of big strikes to Bruce and Holt. They aren’t making a lot of catches while hitting defensive seams in stride.

      Protection breakdowns, line injuries and quarterback injuries also diminished the passing game. A few untimely fumbles and pass drops also marred Holt’s season.

      “I did have some mishaps and I could have done some things better, but I think overall, through the course of the season, I thought I played pretty consistent,” Holt told reporters Tuesday. “Not to the level that I did in the past for numerous reasons but I felt I was staying somewhat consistent.”

      Holt is averaging just 2.3 in yardage after catch, the worst “YAC” among leading receivers. But how many of his catches come right at the sideline or in a stationary position in the middle of the field?

      Holt and Bruce work very hard to stay on the field and remain productive. They don’t pace themselves, as Randy Moss did in Minnesota and Oakland.

      They don’t battle coaches and alienate teammates, as Terrell Owens did in San Francisco, Philadelphia and Dallas.

      They don’t put show ahead of substance, as Chad Johnson has done in Cincinnati....
      -12-19-2007, 03:46 PM
    • RamWraith
      Bruce grabs spotlight with key catches
      by RamWraith
      By Bill Coats
      Monday, Oct. 02 2006

      On a day when Isaac Bruce moved into the No. 10 spot among NFL pass-catchers,
      he made the No. 1 and No. 1A grabs for the Rams in their 41-34 nail-biter over
      the Detroit Lions.

      A 14-yard catch from quarterback Marc Bulger in the first quarter Sunday was
      the 828th reception of Bruce's 13-year career, pushing him past Larry Centers
      into the top 10 on the league's career list. But a pair of Bruce's catches in
      the last 2 minutes were more significant in boosting the Rams' record to 3-1.

      The Lions led 34-33 when Bruce latched onto Bulger's short toss to the right
      side and slipped into the end zone. The 5-yard touchdown — his first score of
      the season — made it 39-34 with 1 minute, 56 seconds left, and then Bulger
      found Bruce over the middle for a 2-point conversion that provided the final
      margin in the win against the Lions and Mike Martz, the Rams' former head coach.

      "I know Coach Martz, and this was a big game to me," Bruce said. "It was a good
      time to get the first" touchdown.

      Bruce had been relatively quiet in the Rams' first three games under Martz's
      successor, Scott Linehan. Bruce had collected 13 catches, seven fewer than
      fellow wide receiver Torry Holt.

      But with the Lions deploying their top cornerback, Dre' Bly, to shadow Holt,
      Bruce exploited the strategy. He collected 100 yards on seven catches, both
      season highs.

      "It's like, pick your poison," said Holt, who added 102 yards on six grabs. "If
      you're going to double (team) me, then he's going to kill you. If you double
      him, then I'm going to have an opportunity."

      Bulger said, "When you have that, it's a nice luxury. You can't take away both;
      it's impossible."

      Holt holds the franchise record for games with 100 or more receiving yards,
      with 41. Bruce has 40.

      "I'm happy for Isaac," Linehan said. "He's like all the other guys, just
      hanging in there through all the transitions. They're just trying to see how
      they fit in and what we're trying to get done."

      The Rams had not produced more than 18 points in a game before unloading on
      Detroit. For the second week in succession, they established season bests in
      total yards (427) and passing yards (328), and seem to be getting in sync with
      Linehan's offense.

      "I think we're just going to continue to get better and better each week out,"
      guard Adam Timmerman said. "I don't know if it's rhythm or timing or what it
      is, but it's starting to roll now, and that's a great sign."
      -10-02-2006, 04:08 AM