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  • Rams aren't turning yards into points

    Rams aren't turning yards into points
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    12/01/2004

    Isaac Bruce is leading the NFL in yards gained by a receiver, but the offense isn't scoring as many points as the Rams need.
    (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)


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    Despite the accolades for Peyton Manning, Daunte Culpepper, Donovan McNabb, etc., no NFL quarterback has thrown for more yards this season than Marc Bulger.

    Bulger has thrown for 3,267 yards, a pace not far off Kurt Warner's franchise record of 4,830 yards passing in 2001.

    Despite all the headlines garnered by Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Marvin Harrison and tight end sensation Antonio Gates, there is no receiver in football with more yards than Isaac Bruce. Bruce has 1,026 yards on 67 catches.

    Consider also that Torry Holt is on a pace for more than 80 catches and more than 1,100 yards, although his numbers are down from his league-leading totals of a year ago. And that youngsters Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis are getting better every week, developing into potent complementary receivers.

    That's the good news. The bad news is that those yards aren't showing up on the scoreboard. The Rams have scored 17 points or fewer in five of their 11 games this season. Eleven teams are averaging more points than the Rams' 21.5 points a game.

    In short, the Rams haven't been productive enough on offense to carry their defense.

    "It's all about the points," Bulger said. "We're getting a ton of yards and moving the ball, but if we can just get a little more balanced. And there's too many penalties right now."

    But the Rams have fallen so far behind in most of their recent games, that it's been almost impossible to have a balance between the run and the pass:

    Against Green Bay, the Rams trailed 21-10 by late in the second quarter and did not make it a one-possession game the rest of the night.

    After a tight first half against Buffalo, a series of special teams misadventures put the Rams down 34-17 seven minutes into the second half.

    New England broke open a close game with two third-quarter TDs.

    Against Green Bay, the Rams had several chances to at least make a game of it. They had receivers running free against an overwhelmed Packers secondary, but they scored touchdowns only twice.

    "We kept shooting ourselves in the foot," McDonald said. "We'd move the ball, and then we'd have a penalty or a mistake by somebody. ... Sometimes we couldn't find the receiver. Or sometimes we had a little pressure, or a receiver might have messed up."

    On seven separate possessions against the Packers, the Rams had the ball at the Green Bay 30 or deeper. But out of a possible 49 points on those possessions, the Rams managed only 17 points, on two TDs and a field goal.

    On the four non-scoring drives deep into Green Bay territory, the Rams:

    * Missed a field goal.

    * Threw an interception.

    * Failed on a fake field goal.

    * Punted.

    So how can the team do a better job of finishing drives?

    "Just stop the holding, offsides, and stupid stuff," Bulger said. "We get first and 10 on the 15, and then holding, and we're back on the 25. So it's tough. You've got three downs to get 25 yards. The DBs are going to sit more (and not bite on play action). They know you have to throw when you get first and 20 rather than first and 10."

    Bulger missed on two throws deep in Packers territory. Early in the second quarter, he appeared to overthrow Holt in the end zone on third and 8 from the Packers 16. The Rams settled for a field goal.

    But Martz said that Holt ran his route about 5 yards too shallow, and that otherwise the play would probably have gone for a touchdown.

    In the third quarter, Bulger underthrew Bruce in the end zone, with Ahmad Carroll intercepting for Green Bay. Bulger couldn't get everything into the throw because a blitzing Green Bay linebacker was in his face.

    "That's one of those (plays) where you know you're about to get crushed, and you throw it as far as you can - as far as your body allows you," Bugler said. "You rush your motion."

    Under those circumstances, particularly since it was first down, it's probably a throw that shouldn't have been made.

    "It's a learning lesson," Bulger said. "Maybe you just pull it down and take a sack. You hate to take one in the red zone. But at the same, if you can't finish your throw completely. ..."

    The ball's liable to be picked off.

    On the Rams' first foray into the red zone Monday, Bulger was sacked on a third-and-6 play from the Green Bay 16. It looked like Bulger held onto the ball too long.

    "We had a receiver fall down," Martz said. "That's when he took the sack. He didn't know what to do with the ball. He was getting ready to throw it, and all of a sudden the receiver's not there."

    There were some other weird occurrences Monday, including Holt being called for a false start on two occasions. "He was getting the ball," Martz said. "So he got a little anxious, I guess."

    On one occasion, Bulger was sacked for a 10-yard loss on a play where the ball was supposed to be snapped on the second count, but it came out on the first. Which explains why some offensive linemen were standing still as Bulger was being dropped.

  • #2
    Re: Rams aren't turning yards into points

    Martz needs to adjust his Red Zone strategy. The offense is predicated on pass patterns of 15-20 yards. However, in the Red Zone (or, really, anywhere inside the 30 yard line), defenses have an easier time defending against these routes because they don't have to worry about the 40-50 yard pass.

    Martz needs to mix in more shorter patterns inside the 30 (screen passes, quick slants, etc.). I'd also like to see an occasional end around to McDonald or Curtis, who may be the best open field runners on the Rams right now.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams aren't turning yards into points

      Bulger is the QB on my fantasy team and all this passing is getting me lots of fantasy points. Gotta luv it for the fantasy world, but it doesn't do anything for the real world. Lots of passing yards don't equal points for this team.

      The peanut gallery at work keeps asking why the Rams are so bad with time of possession and clock management. So much passing, not much running, and lots of Faulk running out of bounds to stop the clock. Well all this passing is not good for clock management, but it is good for the Hammerheads.

      Watch out tx....I want the top spot and Bulger is going to get it for me.
      sigpic

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      • RamWraith
        Losses obscure Bulger's success
        by RamWraith
        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        09/30/2004


        With 36 seconds to play, the Rams faced a third and four from the New Orleans 19, trailing 22-17. The Saints dropped seven defenders in coverage. Four spread out across the 14, just behind the first-down line, with three more stationed deep.

        After the ball was snapped, quarterback Marc Bulger looked right. He saw Torry Holt running a deep corner route into double coverage. Shaun McDonald ran a sideline route underneath and was in front of his defender at the 13. But there was no throwing lane, particularly with Saints defensive end Charles Grant pushing offensive tackle Grant Williams back into the pocket. Bulger pumped once, then took off running.

        "I didn't specifically come up to the line looking to run," Bulger said. "The middle of the field opened up, and they had Torry covered, and they had the second guy (McDonald) covered."

        So off he went. Grant dived at Bulger's heels, missing, at the 15. As Bulger closed in on the goal line, trailing Rams offensive linemen knew what was about to happen. Left tackle Orlando Pace raised his right arm in celebration. Then center Andy McCollum signaled touchdown.

        Just to make sure, wide receiver Isaac Bruce peeled back and plastered pursuing Saints cornerback Fred Thomas at the two. An instant later, Bulger was in the end zone, giving the Rams the lead in dramatic fashion.

        "Marc played like a champion," wide receiver Dane Looker said afterward. "It just shows you what he's made of on that run to get in the end zone. A lot of quarterbacks might've taken a slide, but he wanted to win this game and he made a great play."

        Had the Rams been able to protect a 25-22 lead in the final 28 seconds of regulation, Bulger's dramatic dash might have dominated the town's football talk this week and added to his credentials as a starter.

        "Marc's always had the moniker, if you will, of being a guy that will do whatever it takes to win that game in the end," coach Mike Martz said. "Making a great throw, moving around, scrambling. ... Having the presence of mind to do that is very important. He's very quiet, but he's very, very competitive and tough. A lot like Isaac."

        Of course, this time, the Rams didn't hold the lead. The Saints won in overtime 28-25 and Bulger's TD run quickly became an afterthought. In a sense, it was a microcosm of his season. Because lost in the disappointment of a 1-2 start for the Rams has been impressive play by Bulger at quarterback.

        Bulger ranks first in the NFL in completions (79), third in passing yards (915), fourth in completion percentage (69.3), and seventh in passer rating (94.7).

        "He's playing exceptionally well," Martz said. "I think he really did a great job in terms of responding to the...
        -10-01-2004, 05:27 AM
      • RamDez
        Deep Thoughts: Rams never stopped looking long
        by RamDez
        Deep Thoughts: Rams never stopped looking long
        By Jim Thomas

        Of the Post-Dispatch
        10/21/2004



        Things haven't reached 2000 levels, when the Rams dialed long distance at epic levels and every game was a track meet. They completed 13 passes of 50 yards or more that season, and averaged almost a first down (9.36 yards) on every passing attempt.

        But the deep ball is creeping back into the St. Louis offense. Shaun McDonald caught a 52-yard touchdown pass to defeat Seattle 33-27 in overtime on Oct. 10.

        Torry Holt opened the scoring Monday night against Tampa Bay with another 52-yarder, and then closed things out with a 36-yard TD catch in a 28-21 victory.

        Through six games this season, the Rams have connected on eight pass plays of 30 or more yards, which is twice as many as they had at this point in '03. Quarterback Marc Bulger is averaging 8.01 yards per passing attempt, nearly 1 yard higher than the team average in both the '02 and '03 campaigns.

        "Marc's throwing the deep ball like he had in the past," coach Mike Martz said. "For a while there, he wasn't throwing it as well. I think he is just very confident right now about throwing the deep ball. Very confident."

        Martz has regarded Trent Green, the former Ram now with Kansas City, as one of the best deep passers around. Martz felt Bulger displayed a similar touch in 2002, when he got seven starts in place of an injured Kurt Warner.

        But that touch wasn't always there in 2003, when Bulger started from Week 2 through the rest of the season. "He was a little tentative with the deep ball," Martz said. "You get a guy running down the field, and he didn't want to miss him."

        As a result, Martz said the Rams placed extra emphasis on throwing deep in practice during minicamps and training camp. Getting a full offseason and preseason to throw with the top receivers didn't hurt, either, in terms of timing and chemistry. Bulger didn't do that entering the '03 season because Warner was the starter.

        Is Bulger throwing the long ball better this season?

        "Maybe," Bulger said. "For me, I haven't done anything different. But we're hitting them. That's all that matters, I guess."

        As to why that's the case, it could be the extra practice repetitions. Or greater familiarity with his receivers. Or simply the kinds of coverages the Rams are seeing in games. It's probably all of the above.

        "We have a lot of deep balls called throughout a game," Bulger said. "But you only get that certain look you want maybe once out of every five times you call a deep ball. We've been fortunate with some of the coverages we've (gotten), and that's probably just a good job of game planning."

        Bulger also points out that there's a lot more to throwing
        ...
        -10-23-2004, 01:52 AM
      • Nick
        [PD]: Victory eases frustration of failures in red zone
        by Nick
        Victory eases frustration of failures in red zone
        By Bill Coats
        ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
        10/09/2006

        GREEN BAY, WIS. Scoreboard operators around the NFL no longer quake at the sight of the Rams' offense taking the field. Yet quarterback Marc Bulger and his mates seem to squeeze out just enough.

        "We might not be where we want to be; we all love to score points," running back Steven Jackson said. "But we're moving the ball effectively, through the air and on the ground. And I have no complaints once you have a 'W' on the board."

        The perfectly balanced attack that coach Scott Linehan dialed up -- 30 pass plays, 30 runs -- amassed 327 yards and two touchdowns Sunday in a 23-20 victory at Lambeau Field. But the Rams squandered three other opportunities inside the Green Bay 10-yard line, and only a late fumble by Packers quarterback Brett Favre spared them a wrenching defeat.

        "We had great field position," Bulger said. "But it didn't work out, and we've got to get better at that."


        The Rams got into the end zone on two of their first four possessions. Bulger connected with wide receiver Torry Holt for a 6-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Then Bulger found wideout Kevin Curtis for a 3-yard TD that gave the visitors a 14-10 halftime lead.

        "It's always good to get in the end zone," said Curtis, who hadn't scored this season. "But as long as we've got more points at the end of the game, whatever it is, it's enough."

        Still, the Rams could have put away the Packers and avoided the tense moments at the end, had they been more efficient near the goal line. Kicker Jeff Wilkins provided all their second-half scoring on field goals of 31, 26 and 20 yards.

        Wilkins was called on when promising drives stalled after reaching the Green Bay 9, 8 and 1-yard lines. It's been a season-long theme, save for last week's 41-point outburst vs. Detroit.

        "We're getting it done," said wideout Shaun McDonald, who contributed two catches for 30 yards and a 28-yard punt return. "All that matters is the 'W.' We've got four right now, and we're trying to get this next one and go into the bye 5-1."

        The Seattle Seahawks, two-time defending NFC West champs, stand in the way of that aspiration: They will visit the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, and center Richie Incognito noted that unless the Rams stop wasting chances, their luck could come to an abrupt halt.

        "When we play the better teams, like Seattle, we're not going to get away with stuff like that," he said. "No field goals; we've got to put up six."
        -10-08-2006, 10:26 PM
      • Nick
        Rams are red-faced about woes in red zone - PD
        by Nick
        Rams are red-faced about woes in red zone
        By Jim Thomas
        St. Louis Post-Dispatch
        Monday, Sep. 12 2005

        Had the Rams been on their game offensively in the red zone, Sunday's special
        teams follies in San Francisco would have been reduced to sidebar status.
        Albeit, a very important sidebar.

        But the Rams, once the gold standard for red-zone production in the NFL,
        misfired time after time inside the *****' 20-yard line. And that, as much as
        anything, was the reason for Sunday's surprising 28-25 loss at Monster Park.

        "Offensively, we had a lot of opportunities - we really did - to make some
        plays," coach Mike Martz said in his Monday press conference. "And we just
        didn't make 'em for whatever reason."

        By the numbers, the Rams had a productive day. Even with 46 yards subtracted
        from the total because of Marc Bulger's seven sacks, the Rams finished with 405
        yards of offense. That ranked them fourth in the NFL before the
        Atlanta-Philadelphia Monday night game.

        Despite all those yards, the Rams were held to four field goals until late the
        fourth quarter. After running Steven Jackson nine times in the first quarter,
        Martz had to get away from the ground game as the Rams fell further and further
        behind on the scoreboard.

        And despite Bulger's 362 yards passing, most of them came in small chunks. Only
        three of Bulger's franchise-record 56 passing attempts resulted in completions
        of 20-plus yards. In comparison, San Francisco had four completions of 20-plus
        yards in just 18 attempts by quarterback Tim Rattay (and wide receiver Arnaz
        Battle on a couple trick plays).

        That might explain why ***** cornerback Mike Adams crowed afterwards: "We're a
        much faster team than they are. Don't get me wrong; their receivers are fast,
        but our secondary is much faster. We matched up very well against them."

        Adams might have been singing a different tune if the Rams had a productive day
        in the red zone. But St. Louis scored a touchdown on only one of five trips
        into the red zone - settling for Jeff Wilkins field goals on four other
        occasions.

        "By and large, we didn't play very well offensively in that game," Martz said.
        "I'm not very happy with our offense whatsoever. But we obviously can play much
        better, and I think we will."

        In their first four red-zone trips, the Rams ran 15 plays and had minus-5 yards
        to show for it. And that's not counting a 5-yard false-start penalty against
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        "It was just some broken plays," Martz said. "Some things where guys just
        didn't execute very well. And I can do a better job....
        -09-13-2005, 05:56 AM
      • RamWraith
        Will the ***** bring their "blitz-a-thon?"
        by RamWraith
        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        12/04/2004
        To blitz or not to blitz?

        That is the question San Francisco must answer Sunday against the still-potent Rams passing game. Last week against Miami, the ***** blitzed 31 times in 60 defensive plays. And that's how the 'Niners have attacked opposing offenses in recent weeks - with what Rams coach Mike Martz has called a "blitz-a-thon."

        "Yeah, I think anywhere from 50 to 60 percent of the time, you're getting some sort of pressure out of them," Martz said. "And they're good at doing it. They've got good speed at the linebacker position. They do a real nice job with their schemes. They attack your protections."

        But the Rams gave San Francisco defensive coordinator Willy Robinson something to think about because of the way they handled the blitz against Green Bay.

        Unofficially, the Packers blitzed the Rams 16 times Monday night, sending as many as eight pass rushers at quarterback Marc Bulger on three occasions. Bulger went 10 for 15 passing against the pressure, including a 56-yard completion to Isaac Bruce.

        (On one of those 16 blitzes, the Rams got a first down because of a defensive holding penalty.)

        Because of that success, Bulger isn't expecting to see the ***** blitz half the time Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

        "Especially after what we did to Green Bay against the blitz, I think they'll hold back a little bit," Bulger said. "But if they want to bring it 50 percent of the time, that'll be beneficial for us, I think."

        Martz said Bulger's development has reached the point where the Rams are becoming as good in attacking the blitz as they were in the heyday of Kurt Warner and the Greatest Show on Turf.

        "That's the evolution Marc's going through," Martz said. "You kind of hope they blitz. He's so good with the ball, and where to go with it."

        It also helps that young slot receivers Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald are becoming more adept at "hot reads," that is, knowing when to alter their routes when a blitz is coming.

        One man short

        It's been hard enough for the Rams to play defense with 11 men this season. But they had only 10 men on the field late in the second quarter Monday against Green Bay, and they paid for it in a big way.

        On first and 10 from the Rams' 39 with 3 minutes 37 seconds to go in the first half, the Packers came out in "jumbo" personnel. They had two tight ends, a fullback, a running back and only one wide receiver.

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        That probably...
        -12-05-2004, 06:26 AM
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