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Will the ***** bring their "blitz-a-thon?"

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  • Will the ***** bring their "blitz-a-thon?"

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    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.

    Normally this is a personnel grouping tailored to running the football. And because Najeh Davenport had just gashed the Rams around left end for 31 yards on the previous play, the Rams had every reason to think run.

    That probably explains why safety Antuan Edwards, in an otherwise strong Rams debut, bit on Brett Favre's play fake. That may not have been too big of a problem if the Rams had 11 guys on the field. But they had only 10 - four defensive linemen, three linebackers and just three defensive backs.

    So when Edwards, who was playing close to the line of scrimmage, took the bait on Favre's fake handoff, there was no deep help on his side of the field as Packers tight end Bubba Franks raced by. Franks caught a 29-yard pass, to the Rams' 10.

    Green Bay scored on the next play, taking a 21-3 lead. Even though the Rams defense was caught shorthanded, no one on the team had the presence of mind to call a timeout.

    Extra points

    With a roster spot available, the Rams have promoted tight end-fullback Nick Burley from the practice squad to the active roster. ... Defensive starters Leonard Little and Pisa Tinoisamoa were used on kickoff coverage against Green Bay with good results and are expected to run down kicks Sunday, too.

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  • RamWraith
    Still a long way to go for 3-1 Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Sunday, Oct. 08 2006

    GREEN BAY, WIS. — There is a part of the Rams' psyche that takes great pride in
    the team's 3-1 start and its share of first place in the NFC West.

    "No one outside of this place was expecting that out of us, so it's a good
    feeling right now," tight end Joe Klopfenstein said.

    "Everyone had us finishing third or fourth in our division, stuff like that,"
    defensive end Leonard Little added.

    But then reality, and common sense, kicks in.

    "We're excited," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "But at the same time it's too
    early in the season. ... So we can't get complacent, or say we're a great
    football team. We're only 25-percent done (with the season), and we have the
    hard part of our schedule coming up. And it's not going to be easy this week
    either up in Green Bay."

    And why should it? Nothing has come easy for the Rams this season. All four
    contests have been one-possession games, with the trailing team at least in
    position to tie in the closing minutes.

    "Every team in the league right now has one or two plays that make a difference
    in the game," Bulger said. "There's no sure things every week in the NFL."

    The Rams are living proof. Conventional wisdom has held in only one of their
    games so far: holding serve at home last week against Detroit. They were
    expected to lose against Denver and Arizona, but won. Somehow, they found a way
    to lose, for the third straight time over two seasons, to the inferior San
    Francisco ***** in Week 2.

    "You don't want to get greedy and wish you were 4-0, but you watch the *****
    get killed every week. ... " Bulger said. "But we have been fortunate in a
    couple of situations."

    Yeah, like the back-to-back fumbled snaps by Bulger and Kurt Warner at Arizona.
    Or the pass interference call that was waved off last week against the Lions.
    So the Rams should be anything but complacent heading into Sunday's game
    against the 1-3 Packers.

    "They have a lot of weapons," defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "They have a
    pretty darn good scheme. They have a coach who knows kind of what we like to
    do. It's a situation where if you go up there sleeping, or you take them
    lightly, you'll get your head beat in. So we can't let that happen."

    The Packers have a Pro Bowl running back in Ahman Green, and a Pro Bowl wide
    receiver in Donald Driver. (Driver may not play due to injury.) And there's
    also the matter of the legendary quarterback (Brett Favre), and the legendary
    venue (Lambeau Field).

    -10-08-2006, 03:32 AM
  • ramavenger
    Rams aren't turning yards into points
    by ramavenger
    Rams aren't turning yards into points
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    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)

    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...
    -12-02-2004, 08:46 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

    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
  • Azul e Oro
    Packers offensive woes sound familiar
    by Azul e Oro
    by Tom Fanning,
    posted 09/24/2009

    Quarterback Aaron Rodgers said this week that Green Bay's offense is at its best when it can find a rhythm, but their struggles on first and second down have contributed to the Packers' inability to develop that during the first two games.

    After ranking fifth in the league in 2008 in third-down conversions with a 44.2 percentage, the offense has seen a drop-off there through the first two weeks of this season, converting just 10-of-27 (37.0 percent) opportunities, which ranks tied for 20th in the NFL.

    "I think we need to help (Aaron) more, and number one is winning more on first and second down and creating better third-down situations for him to be competitive in," Head Coach Mike McCarthy said. "Our biggest problem on offense is the down-and-distances we have been playing in generated by the negative plays we have had."

    The Packers' 17 negative plays through two games, which doesn't include penalties, are the second most in the league, behind only Minnesota's 19. Besides the league-leading 10 sacks Green Bay has allowed, it also has had six negative rushing plays and one passing play that lost yardage.

    That has played a large part in the Packers' need to pick up 10 yards or more 12 times on 27 third downs, second only to San Francisco's 16. In 2008 when the offense converted at a higher clip, Green Bay faced third-and-10 or more just 57 times all season.

    "When you are putting yourselves in third-and-12s, third-and-16s, third-and-20s, guys know they can pin their ears back and come after you," guard Daryn Colledge said. "We have got to run the ball well, establish it, and put ourselves in some short down-and-distances and let A-Rod and these receivers do what they do best."

    Of those 12 third-and-10-plus situations in the first two games, the Packers converted just one of them, a 22-yard pass from Rodgers to tight end Jermichael Finley on a third-and-10 on Green Bay's final possession against Cincinnati.

    Of the Packers' 27 third-down plays, 16 of them (59.3 percent) have been third-and-8 or more, with just two conversions. Compare that to the 8-of-11 (72.7 percent) third downs they have converted when they are looking at third-and-7 or less, and the impact of the negative-yardage plays is obvious.

    Getting into those improved third-down situations starts with production on first down, and that hasn't been there to this point either. Green Bay has gained just 213 yards on the opening down, second to last in the NFL, as the Packers rank last in the league in average yards to go on second down at 9.37.

    That number has also been impacted by the sacks that the Packers have allowed, with six of the 10 coming on first down for a total yardage loss of 42 yards. It only makes sense that when they are facing long-yardage situations...
    -09-25-2009, 10:46 AM
  • RamWraith
    More struggles drop Rams below .500
    by RamWraith
    By Jeff Gordon
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist

    The Rams made plays on the big “Monday Night Football” stage. In fact, they made dozens of them.

    For stretches, they played impressively against a red-hot, playoff-bound opponent on the road.

    But the Rams, now 5-6, couldn’t muster a winning performance at Green Bay. They committed a turnover here, allowed a big run there and failed to stop quarterback Brett Favre when the Packers got in scoring range.

    So the result is what most experts predicted: A 45-17 Packers victory that kept the Rams from climbing back into the NFC West lead.

    The Rams had no trouble piling up yardage on the Packers. But protecting the ball and finishing drives, that’s where they fell short.

    They handed the Packers the game’s first touchdown on Isaac Bruce’s fumble. Then their first two first-half forays into the red zone netted just three points.

    Green Bay was able to race to a 21-3 lead while hardly breaking a sweat. The Rams tried to battle back in the second half, but quarterback Marc Bulger threw a third-quarter interception into the Packers end zone to kill the rally.

    Then the Rams tried a fake field goal that backfired and, well, things just never got better up at Lambeau Field. The painful loss was capped by still another Bruce fumble that led to still another Packers touchdown in the game’s final minute.



    --Rookie defensive tackle Brian Howard delivered, dumping running back Najeh Davenport for no gain on the first Packers possession, helping the defense score a quick three-and-out stop. That was about the only time the Rams would stop the bulldozing Davenport in this game.

    --Coach Mike Martz had an interesting offensive game plan for this game, featuring both Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk as runners and receivers. His play-calling also caught the Packers in their base defense early on with some four-receiver sets.

    Too bad the offense didn’t do a better job in the red zone during the first half, when the game was still in question.

    --Hey, a crunching kick coverage tackle – delivered by linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa on return man Antonio Chatman in the second quarter. Ouch!

    --With the Rams desperately needing points late in the first half, Bulger completed four passes to young wide-outs Shaun McDonald (two) and Kevin Curtis (two). These youngsters can play.

    Those completions set up Bulger’s last-minute touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce in the first half, which cut the Packers halftime lead to 21-10. At that point, the Rams had 225 yards offense and the 11-point deficit to show for it.

    --Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna played big with his 26-yard reception over the middle in the third quarter, going up to catch the ball in...
    -11-30-2004, 05:26 AM