Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Jackson still uncertain for Sunday

Star running-back Steven Jackson received a groin injury during Sunday's game against Washington. The injury occurred during the end of the first half. It was concluded that the injury was only a strain, and that Jackson did not tear anything.

Head-Coach Steve Spagnuolo said that Jackson's availability for Sunday's game against Seattle will be determined by the Rams' head trainer Reggie Scott, as well as Jackson himself. The last thing the Rams want to do is force Jackson back too early, which may cause the injury to become more severe.

Whether or not Jackson will play Sunday will likely be a game day decision. However, there were indications that Jackson could be absent from the Rams' line-up for up to two weeks.


The Rams had some success running the ball against Washington without Jackson. It is possible that Washington did not give the proper respect to the Rams' running game, as a result of Jackson being benched; which would explain the Rams' ability to function with back-up Kenneth Darby.

We saw some new looks from the Rams' offense after Jackson left the game. They used a lot of four WR sets, which forced the opposing defense to spread out. They also used a lot of short passes that were meant to simulate some type of running game, one that didn't come from the back-field.

In a way, the absence of Jackson was somewhat helpful for the offense. Usually opposing teams stack eight men in the box to stop the run, which also gives the defense a lot of opportunities to blitz, and create pressure. However, with the multiple WR sets, the defense was spread thin as a result, which relieved some pressure from the opposing pass-rush.

The Rams will likely continue their "spread offense" against Seattle, and hopefully it will be just as effective. But how long can they pull that off before opposing teams learn to game-plan against it? The Rams don't have the talent to overcome a solid defensive game plan from an opposing team. So even though the absence of Jackson resulted in some success, it is still vital that he returns to the line-up. Whether or not the Rams will continue the spread approach after Jackson returns remains to be seen, but it was definitely nice to see the Rams open up the playbook for a change this past Sunday.

Rams vs Redskins- The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Here is "The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly" concerning Sunday's game, just to give you a better sense on how the team did, other than just an article highlighting the main events of the game...

-As always, Steven Jackson was a helpful factor during the game. His 42-yard TD run was obviously the highlight of his game. Jackson continues to look fully recovered from his back surgery this past off-season.

-Back-up running-back Kenneth Darby had a solid game in place of Jackson. Darby's performance may be due to the fact that Washington was showing no respect for the Rams' running game after Jackson left, but regardless, Darby got the job done. Darby's highlight of the game was his 12-yard touchdown run in the 3rd quarter. 

-Once again, quarterback Sam Bradford exceeds expectations. He had a couple of questionable throws (such as his interception), but he still continues to impress, as he threw for 235 yards and 1 TD Sunday. Bradford continues to look like the latest in the recent surge of successful rookie quarterbacks; such as Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Ben Roethlesberger, and (to a lesser extent) Mark Sanchez. But when you consider the quality of team Bradford is on, as oppose to those other quarterbacks, it is hard to not get excited about the Rams' future.

-Bradford was able to get some help from his receivers. Tight-end Daniel Fells had a couple of key receptions, including a touchdown. Wide-receiver Mark Clayton had another successful day, grabbing five catches, and racking up 85 yards. Receiver Danny Amendola continues to be a weapon in the slot, as he had over 50 yards on the day. It was also nice to finally see Brandon Gibson get involved (3 catches for 33 yards), as he has not played in the first two games.

-The Rams' defense continues to look like a solid unit, as they held Washington to only one touchdown. The solid young core of this defense is clear to anyone; this core includes defensive-end Chris Long, linebacker James Laurinaitis, and cornerback Bradley Fletcher (who had an interception Sunday). Those three players will be very good for the Rams, for a very long time. However, the veterans also helped out; safety James Butler had a fumble recovery (that he returned inside the 10-yard line), and that fumble was forced by linebacker Na'il Diggs. Defensive-end James Hall recorded the Rams' only sack of the day.

-It has been the same story with the defense ever since the preseason. The line is not getting enough pressure, which gives the opposing quarterback too much time, and that forces them to rely too heavily on the defensive-backs. A pass-rushing defensive-end, to play on the opposite side of Chris Long, should be a high priority this off-season.

-Steven Jackson made his contribution with the touchdown, but he did not perform particularly well the rest of the game. With his other nine carries, he only gained 16 yards. His 42-yard score kept his average above 5 yards per carry.

-Jason Smith is not impressing a lot of people. He had two penalties on the day, and when he wasn't getting flagged, he was on his back. What the scouts saw in him, I'll never know. But whatever they saw, I hope it shows up sometime soon.

-Special teams gave up a blocked field goal at the end of the first half. It was the second time this season that they've allowed a blocked kick, and kicker Josh Brown also missed a field goal against Oakland last week. The field-goal unit needs to get their act together, because this is absolutely unacceptable.

-Steven Jackson's groin injury could be trouble if he misses significant time. The injury is only a strain, and he is considered "day-to-day", which means it will likely be a game time decision whether he plays or not against Seattle. On Sunday, the Rams seemed to do fine without him, and it allowed them to experiment with passing schemes we haven't seen before, but it will only be a matter of time before opposing teams react effectively to those schemes. Jackson is still the core of this offense, and they need him back on the field.

-The red-zone offense was pretty brutal. The offensive-line has struggled to make holes for the running-backs during goal-line situations all season. At the end of the first half, while the offense was on the goal-line, they had about six opportunities to score a touchdown, and failed each time. It was actually pretty pathetic. And to make matters worse, the blocked field-goal was the end-result. This team has to do better with their goal-line offense.  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Rams' Future WR Watch: Week 4

After four weeks, the three active receivers are all tied with two TD catches, but Michael Floyd leads the receivers in receptions, as well as receiving yards. This week was the final week of AJ Green's suspension, and it should be interesting to see what Green does upon his return. Green is widely considered the best receiver in college football.

MICHAEL FLOYD- NOTRE DAME 6'3" 227 lbs: Week 4 VS Stanford.- 8 receptions 110 yards 0 TD
                                     SEASON:  24 receptions 339 yards 2 TD

AJ GREEN- GEORGIA 6'4" 212 lbs: Did not play. Green is serving a four-game suspension for illegal contact with an agent.

JULIO JONES- ALABAMA 6'4" 220 lbs: Week 4 @ Arkansas- 5 receptions 55 yards 0 TD
                                    SEASON:  20 receptions 303 yards 2 TD

JON BALDWIN- PITTSBURGH 6'5" 230 lbs: Week 4 vs. Miami- 3 receptions 26 yards 0 TD 
                                    SEASON: 13 receptions 197 yards 2 TD

Rams beat Redskins 30-16: Post-Game Article

The Rams were fired up during the start of the game against the Washington Redskins. Steven Jackson started things off with a beastly 42-yard TD run. But it didn't stop there; on the second drive, the Rams were inside the 20-yard line, and Sam Bradford rolled out of the pocket, hitting TE Daniel Fells in the corner of the end-zone. The score was then 14-0; but unfortunately, the Rams we have come to know over the past few years decided to show up, and for a while things were not looking good.

The game began to even out after a drive by the Redskins that resulted in a field-goal, which was their first score of the game. That drive was actually a solid showing by the Rams' defense (other than a pass-interference call on CB Bradley Fletcher), and it is a miracle that they held Washington to only a field-goal. But on the kick-off following the field-goal, the Rams' kick-returner Mardy Gilyard fumbled the ball, and the Redskins' QB Donovan McNabb threw a TD pass on the very next play; meaning that Washington scored 10 points in only 13 seconds of play. This made the score 14-10.

Washington then scored another field-goal in the 2nd quarter, making the score 14-13. The Rams then tried to put together their final drive of the half, but Jackson received a groin injury on the drive, forcing the Rams to play back-up RB Kenneth Darby. However, Darby came through for the Rams on the drive with an 8 yard reception, followed by a 13 yard reception by WR Mark Clayton, which put the Rams on the Redskins' goal-line. But after six attempts (because of a penalty against Washington) the Rams failed to punch in a touchdown to end the half. Then it got even worse. The Rams had to settle for a field-goal, but it was blocked. It was the second blocked kick on the season for the Rams, and on top of that, K Josh Brown also missed an important field-goal last week against Oakland. Needless to say, the Rams entered the locker-room at half-time to the sound of "boo's" from their home crowd.    

Even so, the Rams still went into half-time with a 14-13 lead, even after their pathetic final drive. But that lead didn't last, as the Redskins got the ball back to start the half, which resulted in a field-goal to give the Redskins a 16-14 lead.

However, even with Jackson out of the game, the Rams were able to take the lead right back with a touchdown. Despite a couple of drops by WR Brandon Gibson, Bradford was able to throw his way into the red-zone, causing Washington's defense to completely forget about the run. Darby took advantage of that, and following a solid block by Adam Goldberg, Darby scored on a 12 yard touchdown run to give the Rams the lead once again, making the score 21-16. Darby's touchdown run was the Rams' second touchdown they've scored in the 3rd quarter in the past 19 games. 

The Rams finished the 3rd quarter on a high-note, hanging on to the lead as the game progressed into the 4th quarter. They started the final quarter off well, as they put up a field-goal to start it off, making the score 24-16.  

The Rams' primary goal of the 4th quarter was to kill the clock; and despite the fact their star running-back was on the bench, the back-up's Darby and Keith Toston, with the leadership of Bradford, were able to do just that. They even scored two more field-goals in the process, making the score 30-16, and the game ended with that score.

It's been a long time since the Rams have been able to put the game on their quarterback's shoulders, and let him carry the team to a win. The Rams were unable to do that with Marc Bulger leading the team; but Sam Bradford not only carried the team today, he ran away with it. He continues to play better than anyone could have possibly expected a rookie quarterback to play.

The Rams are now 1-2, and they are now in 2nd place in the NFC West. They are only one game behind Seattle and Arizona, who have a two-way tie for 1st place. Meanwhile, the preseason division favorites, the San Francisco 49ers, are in last place with an 0-3 record. The Rams will look to move up in the division next week when they play Seattle at 12:00 PM in St.Louis.

Rams vs Redskins Preview

Every season there are teams that overcome their past futility, and make a comeback. During the preseason, the Rams, and their fans, have been hoping that the Rams would be that team in 2010. But so far, the Kansas City Chiefs are 2-0, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 2-0, but the Rams are 0-2.

An optimist would say that the Rams are two plays away from being 2-0; referring to the Clifton Ryan fumble against Arizona, and the Fred Robbins penalty against Oakland. But a pessimist does not care about those two plays, because those plays are just more excuses from a team that is full of excuses.

But whether or not you view the Rams' current 2010 season in rose-colored glasses, or in disgust, the only thing that matters is that the team is 0-2, but they are still in the hunt for the NFC West. So therefor, they will get back on the horse, and face the 1-1 Washington Redskins in St.Louis. 

Washington was one of only two teams that the Rams beat in 2008, and Washington barely pulled off a win over St.Louis in 2009. So despite the Rams futility the past few seasons, they have been able to stay competitive against the Redskins, and they even pulled off a win one of those games.

If you read my preseason preview on the 2010 season, then you  know that I am not buying into the Donnovan McNabb hype, and I don't believe that the Redskins suddenly became a solid team after signing him. But that doesn't mean that Washington does not have a solid defense, led by former-Ram LB London Fletcher, who is supported by star second-year player DE Brian Orakpo, and the troubled but dominate DT Albert Haynesworth.

Meanwhile, the Rams will have some rookies making their debuts. TE Fendi Onobun will likely receive playing time today, as tight-ends Mike Hoomanawanui, Daniel Fells, and Billy Bajema all have injuries. Onobun is a freak of an athlete; with blazing speed, and a great jumping ability he is an ideal receiver, but he struggles as a blocker. The other rookie that will likely get some playing time today is DT Jermelle Cudjo. Cudjo gained a solid reputation during the preseason, but has not seen a real NFL game yet.

The Rams offense will have their work cut out for them against this Redskins defense. But other than McNabb, the Redskins offense is nothing too dangerous. Expect a low scoring game, and expect the final score to favor the team that limits mistakes (which the Rams have not been able to do the past two weeks). If the Rams win today, the team just might receive the benefit of the doubt when discussing the first two games. But if the team loses, expect there to be pressure on this organization.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Rams need more veterans for leadership

Steven Jackson has been carrying the St.Louis Rams ever since Marshall Faulk retired, and ever since Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce grew past their primes. Anyone who has eyes can see that Jackson is an absolute warrior on the field come Sunday. Towards the end of the 2009 season, the Rams only had one win on the season (which would ultimately be their only win of 2009), and Steven Jackson was suffering a back injury. Jackson knew that the Rams were playing for nothing, as playoff hopes were long gone; but he muscled through it, and carried the team on his back until the end of the final 2009 game.

Jackson provides the solid veteran leadership that the Rams crave, but it is just not enough. Not that his contributions should not be fully appreciated, but he will not win games on his own. The Rams need more veteran leadership, like Jackson, before they can make a serious run at the NFC West.

Before the 2009 season, the Rams dumped a lot of big salaries- Torry Holt, Pisa Tinoisamoa, Drew Bennett and Orlando Pace; and before this season, the Rams dumped Marc Bulger, as well as Bulger's $60mm+ contract.

Sure, the Rams have some money tied up. The Rams signed Jason Brown in 2009, and made him one of the highest paid centers in the league. That same year, the Rams also re-signed CB Ron Bartell to a four-year $25mm contract. Not to mention their draft picks Jason Smith (six-years $61.7mm, which could make any self-respecting fan vomit) and their new QB Sam Bradford (five-years $81mm).

But despite those signings, the Rams actually have a cheap roster. However, it doesn't matter at the moment, because there is no salary cap this season (since the player's union and the owners could not settle on a new CBA). The salary cap will likely return, and when it does, the Rams are in good shape and have plenty of money to spend.

This past off-season was tricky; there were not a lot of free-agents for the Rams to sign. The lack of a new CBA made it so that players with five years (or less) of experience, that were due to become unrestricted free-agents, instead became restricted free-agents (meaning that the team that signs the player has to give up a predetermined draft pick to the former team as compensation). The Rams were not in a position to give up any of their much-needed draft picks, so therefor, the best free-agent they pulled in was DT Fred Robbins.  

The Rams will have no excuse in 2011. There will be plenty of free-agents available, and they will have plenty of money to spend. The Rams' new stability in ownership in Stan Kroenke helps as well. Some of the top 2011 free-agents include:
-WR Randy Moss
-OG Logan Mankins
-WR Braylon Edwards
-WR Santonio Holmes
-DT Haloti Ngata
-LB D'Qwell Jackson
-LB/DE LaMar Woodley
-RB Joseph Addai
-DE Robert Mathis
-WR Vincent Jackson
-OT Marcus McNeil
-DE Marcus Spears

That's just a small sample. There are many more free-agents to add to that list. The point is that the Rams need more than Steven Jackson to lead this team. Sam Bradford obviously has all of the tools to succeed, and will likely be the primary leader of the team in the future, but he needs some help right now, Jackson needs some help right now, and the Rams need help right now. The Rams should have the proper funds required to sign at least two solid veterans, such as any of the ones listed above.

This team needs to learn how to win, and Jackson can't teach them on his own. The team needs to bring in veteran leaders that have won in the past, and who can show this young team how to put away games. Winning is contagious, and it is a habit. It can not magically bloom from the efforts of the pups, but it needs to be taught. Until the proper veteran personnel arrives, this team will continue to lose, and this team will not even sniff the playoffs. It is time to end this. It is time to move on, and it is finally time for a season that is not already sealed in September.
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Rams lose to Raiders 16-14- Post-game article

The Rams start the season off 0-2 after another close heart-breaker, this time against the Oakland Raiders, losing the game 16-14. The buzz from the preseason seems to have completely evaporated, and the Rams are looking more and more like their former selves.

The first blow to the Rams came off of a missed 36-yard field goal by kicker Josh Brown. The missed kick was ultimately the difference in the game. Missed field-goals, from very make-able distances, has been a reoccurring theme for Josh Brown ever since he arrived in St.Louis. This team now has a record of 6-44 dating back to 2007; this troubled franchise, and this fan-base, can not stomach another loss due to a missed field-goal. In this blogger's opinion, it would be nothing short of outrageous if Brown is still on the roster come Monday.

But Brown's missed field-goal was not the only blooper from this unfocused team. Bradley Fletcher, Ron Bartell, and Larry Grant all dropped would-be interceptions. That makes the total of 'dropped interceptions' on the season somewhere around six; which is completely unacceptable, given there have only been two games so far this season.

It doesn't end there. In the 4th-quarter, with about three minutes left in the game, the score was 16-14, and the Raiders were about the punt the ball, to give the Rams a shot at one final drive (a field-goal would've won the game); but on 3rd down, DT Fred Robbins gave Raiders' QB Bruce Grodkowski a shove, which drew a penalty. The shove was completely unnecessary, since Grodkowski no longer had the ball (he threw an incompletion), and all Robbins had to do was back off. The penalty resulted in a first-down, and Oakland was then able to run out the clock.

Same story, different day with the Rams. Here's the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: 

THE GOOD: Steven Jackson had 125 total yards in the game. He was absolutely bull-dozing the Raider defense in the first half, but his spree came to a sudden stop at the beginning of the second-half. Not that it was his fault, he needs a hole to run through in order to gain yards, and it is up to the offensive-line to make that happen. But regardless, Jackson was definitely an asset for the Rams.

Sam Bradford might be losing some of the buzz surrounding his preseason performance, but he still had another solid outing. He was 14-25 with 167 yards, 2 TD passes, and 1 INT. Not a breathtaking performance, but he is still playing at a level that no one could have possibly predicted. Other than Steven Jackson, Bradford remains the only other clear asset for the Rams offense.

The defense had a good game overall, even though they made some mistakes. They held the opposing offense to only 16 points, and did a good enough job putting their team in a position to win the game, but it just didn't happen. They won the turnover battle, and even got a couple of sacks, but it was just not enough. Although, Oakland's offense did the majority of the damage during the 3rd-quarter, and there was no way that the Rams' defense was not completely gassed at that point. The Rams offense had one "3-and-out" after another in the 3rd-quarter, forcing the defense to stay on the field practically the entire quarter.

THE BAD: All though the defense was not completely at fault, since they got little help from the offense, it doesn't mean they didn't have some problems. The pressure was just not enough. Other than the two sacks, and a couple of select drives, the pressure was non-existent, and the Oakland quarterbacks had all the time in the world to throw. Unless the Rams call for an all-out blitz, their defense is incapable of getting any pressure.

However, the defensive-line wasn't getting much help. The defensive-backs were dropping potential interceptions, and leaving receivers wide-open. There were also some plays that exposed poor tackling on the Rams' part.

Outside of the defense, the offensive-line did not get it done. Bradford was getting hit, and feeling pressure all day. With that kind of protection, I fully expect Bradford to get injured at some point this season. Left-tackle Roger Saffold was even removed from the game at one point, due to a missed blocking assignment. And right-tackle Jason Smith has been nothing short of nauseating since getting drafted #2 overall in 2009.

A trade for Vincent Jackson is sounding better everyday, as Bradford got little help from his receivers. The receivers were completely over-powered. Don't let Mark Clayton's 2 TD catches (his only catches of the game) fool you, he was not able to get separation, and was shut down for the most part. Danny Amendola seems to be the only receiver on the team that is worth anything; but lets face it, he is nothing more than a slot receiver. He is not big, or talented enough to carry the load, or provide a sure target for Bradford.

THE UGLY: You don't have to look far to find something ugly about this game. It could be Robbins' penalty, Brown's missed field-goal, or the fact that the team is now 6-44 since the 2007 season opener. Or you could get a little more cynical about it, and point out the fact that head-coach Steve Spagnuolo is 1-17 as a head-coach; or that General Manager Billy Devaney, in his third season with the team, has yet to bring in one pro-bowl caliber player.

Call me foolish, but didn't the clock run-out for former head-coach Scott Linehan after losing eight games in a row? You could make an argument stating that Linehan didn't have to feel pressure until his third season, but Linehan also went 8-8 during his first year (Spagnuolo went 1-15). As much as I admire the intensity that Spagnuolo has ignited in the team, it just isn't enough. And the truth is, with a new owner, and a 1-17 start, Spagnuolo might not have the luxury of a third season, like Linehan had. 

OVERALL: It was a very tough loss, and with a 6-44 record since 2007, every loss is a tough one. But when a loss is this close, it is flat out unacceptable. I would not be the least bit surprised if the next home game (vs. Washington) is blacked out, due to a lack of ticket sales. And it will be interesting to see if Devaney and Spagnuolo make any roster moves, possibly as a result of feeling pressure from owner Stan Kroenke. If they do feel the need to make a move, they are certainly in a position to make a blockbuster move, as Vincent Jackson is available for trade, and will likely be traded by Wednesday (due to a dead-line stating he will be suspended for six weeks, as oppose to four weeks, if he is not traded by Wednesday at 4 PM). It is clear that wide-receiver is a huge need for the Rams, and at the very least, a move for Jackson would be a sign that Spagnuolo and Devaney are committed to winning NOW, and not next season. 

Rams' Future WR Watch: Week 3

The third week of the college season has come to it's conclusion, and here are the stats of the top receivers in college ball. Once again, AJ Green (possibly the best of them all) is still being held out by the NCAA, due to a four game suspension for illegally contacting an agent.

Michael Floyd's performance at Michigan State will be hard to beat. He didn't break the 100-yard barrier, but he got in the end-zone twice. Julio Jones had a solid game as well, but not as good as Floyd. Jonathan Baldwin will try to top both of them Thursday vs. Miami (FL). 

Here are the results:

MICHAEL FLOYD- NOTRE DAME 6'3" 227 lbs: Week 3 @ Michigan St.- 6 receptions 81 yards 2 TD
                                     SEASON:  16 receptions 229 yards 2 TD

AJ GREEN- GEORGIA 6'4" 212 lbs: Did not play. Green is serving a four-game suspension for illegal contact with an agent.

JULIO JONES- ALABAMA 6'4" 220 lbs: Week 3 VS. Penn St.- 5 receptions 106 yards 1 TD
                                    SEASON:  15 receptions 248 yards 2 TD

JONATHAN BALDWIN- PITTSBURGH 6'5" 230 lbs: Week 3 vs. Miami- Game is on Thursday, I will update after the conclusion.  
                                    SEASON: 10 receptions 171 yards 2 TD

Rams vs. Raiders Preview

A quick preview for the Rams vs. Raiders game this afternoon, in Oakland...

Two sub-par teams, looking to make a name for themselves, will duke it out in Oakland,CA. The Rams have displayed a solid run-defense in the preseason, but their defense loosened up a bit against Arizona. The Raiders, a poor team that is primarily known for their defense, gave up 38 points to Tennessee, including over 200 yards rushing.

The Rams will look to expose the Raiders' poor run-defense that they displayed last week. Look for Steven Jackson to become the primary factor for the Rams' offense this week. Rookie Sam Bradford will have a role in the game, especially if the Raiders stack eight men in the box to stop Jackson, but either way, Bradford's role will be somewhat reduced from last week, where he threw the ball over 50 times.

The Raiders have some very young, and inexperienced players on offense in Darren McFadden, and Darius Heyward-Bey. They also have a new QB in Jason Campbell, who is learning a new system in Oakland. The youth on the Radiers' offense prevents it from being a dangerous threat. If the Raiders win, it will be because the Rams made too many mistakes on offense, and the Raiders' D showed up ready to play. But DT Richard Seymour being inactive today certainly helps the Rams' chances on offense.

When a team goes 1-15 the previous season, there are no easy games. But that doesn't mean that Oakland is not one of the easier teams on the Rams' schedule. Rams fans see Oakland on the schedule, and think to themselves "easy team, easy game"; but when Oakland looks at the schedule and sees St.Louis, they are thinking the exact same thing. Oakland is looking to bounce back from their embarrassing opening-day performance, so a win this week will not come easy, but it is definitely a possibility.

Inactive Players:

DT Clifton Ryan
TE Michael Hoomanawanui
CB Kevin Dockery
LB Chris Chamberlain
CB Justin King
WR Brandon Gibson
TE Fendi Onobun
G John Greco

Kyle Boller
CB Walter McFadden
RB Michael Bush
S Hiram Eugene
LB Travis Goethel
G Robert Gallery
WR Chaz Schillens
DT Richard Seymour

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Cardinals Update- No more post-game articles

The result of watching the 2010 Cards daily.

I am no longer going to write post-game updates after every Cardinals game. We all know where the season is heading, and it is not good. Every game is very repetitive- the pitching is great, but the bats could only score a run, or two; or the bats finally come alive, but the pitchers took the night off. Same story, different day. This is a blog, not a news site. So I will not do an update for every game anymore, nor will I write about anything involving the Cardinals, until there is something to write about. When the off-season finally arrives, and certain players, certain coaches, and certain members of the front-office, are dragged to the guillotines, then there will something to write about.

Until then- the Cardinals just got swept by the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium for the first time in 22 years; Jake Westbrook finally decided to show up, only because he was facing the (much superior) player he was traded for, so he decided to start carrying some of his dead weight; and they are seven games behind the Cincinnati Reds.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Cardinals vs Cubs update: Cards lose 5-1

Just a quick run-down of the Cardinals vs. Cubs game- The Cardinals lost to the Cubs 5-1. Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija, of the Cubs, got the win. Cardinals' starter Jaime Garcia got the loss.

Garcia went 6 innings; giving up 7 hits, 4 runs (2 earned), with 4 strike-outs, and only one walk.

Alfonso Soriano only got 1 hit, but it was a 2 RBI base-hit. Aramis Ramirez also got and RBI; but the real killer was Geovany Soto, who went 3-for3, with an RBI.

The Cards were, once again, cold at the plate. The exceptions were Matt Holliday, who went 2-for-4, with and RBI (the only Cardinal RBI of the game); and Yadier Molina, who went 2-for-2, and drew 2 BB.
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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rams vs. Cardinals Post-Game

If nothing else, the game was very exciting, and entertaining. Arizona was ahead 17-13 when they got the ball back, with less than two minutes left in the game. It seemed as though the outcome was sealed; but running-back Tim Hightower fumbled the ball, when all they had to do was run out the clock, and the Rams recovered.

A moment like that made it seem as though rookie quarterback Sam Bradford, and the Rams, were destined to win their home-opener. But they were unable to take advantage of the dramatic turn of events. Some may argue that coach Steve Spagnuolo displayed poor clock-management; but it doesn't matter, because there was more to this loss than just the final drive.

Several key mistakes were the difference in this close game- Dropped passes, a critical fumble, a blocked field goal, more dropped passes, and an interception (I only mention one, because the other two picks were understandable, as Bradford had no other choice but to force the pass).

It was a very close game, but still... "If this would've happened, if that would've happened, if only..." Rams fans are tired of that. We've heard that 15 times last season, and now the team is 6-43 (dating back to 2007). That is why any loss is devastating for this team, especially when it could have been won so easily.

Here is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly...

THE GOOD:  Fans that didn't actually watch the game might be discouraged by the fact Bradford had three picks. But the truth is, as mentioned earlier, two of them were the result of Bradford airing the ball out on a 4th down, as a last chance, and only out of desperation. Bradford actually had a phenomenal game for his NFL debut. Has anyone ever heard of a rookie QB (in their first game) throwing the ball 52 times, completing 32 of those passes, for 253 yards and a TD? Has anyone ever seen a rookie QB change so many doubters into believers, and look like a poised veteran this early in their career? It is clear that the Rams have a potentially great quarterback on their hands.

Other than Bradford, star RB Steven Jackson had a solid game. The line didn't give him lot of room, at least not consistently, but he pounded away for 81 yards on 22 carries. Also obtaining good stats, was the newly acquired receiver Mark Clayton. Clayton had 10 catches for 117 yards, but he wasn't as helpful as the stats indicate. He made some good plays, and got great separation, but he had some key drops that hurt the offense.

The defense played with some intensity, and put some hits on QB Derek Anderson. Anderson was actually banged up at one point, and started to favor his ribs; he will likely be hurting tomorrow. The intensity also ignited a couple small scuffles, but nothing major enough to draw penalty flags.

THE BAD:   The special teams allowed Arizona to block a field-goal in the first-quarter of the game, and that turned out to be huge. Arizona still won by four points, but during the Rams' last two drives of the game, things could have gone differently if the play-calling was aiming for field-goal range, rather than a touchdown. 
As briefly mentioned, when discussing Clayton, drops from the receiving core were devastating. One of Clayton's drops came in the first-half, and had he caught the ball, he likely would've made it into the end-zone. Another key drop in the game, one that really stood out, was a drop by Laurent Robinson on the final drive, which lost them a 1st down.

The pass-defense really slipped up towards the end of the game, which resulted in Arizona scoring the touchdown that took the lead. It seemed as though the defense just completely ignored Steve Breaston. And CB Ron Bartell, though he was very solid against Larry Fitzgerald for most of the game, screwed up his coverage on Fitzgerald in the end-zone, which allowed Arizona to take the lead.

THE UGLY:  Clifton Ryan, you have got the be kidding me. Many Rams fans believe that DT Clifton Ryan is an underrated player in this league, but I disagree. I've always thought he was average, and he proved me right by losing the starting job to journeyman Gary Gibson. Ryan made the biggest play of his mediocre career by picking up a fumble, and heading to the end-zone. However, Breaston was able to catch up to him, and knock the ball loose. It was the biggest play Ryan has, or ever will make, and he managed to screw it up.

OVERALL:  It's hard to watch a team, that has lost so many games the past few seasons, lose again in a close game. Arizona kept on handing the Rams opportunities on a silver platter, but they just couldn't capitalize, and made a lot of bone-headed mistakes; the same kind of mistakes that have haunted this team in the past. It was a lack of focus that lost the Rams this game... a game they should have run away with.

But despite the fact they lost, it was a good game, and they still looked much better than the Rams of the past three seasons. They made a lot of stupid mistakes, but played some very good football at times. For example; Bradford's TD pass at the end of the first half... it was a very gutsy call by Spagnuolo to throw the ball on 4th down, on the one-yard line, at the end of the half; but the team was able to execute and get the TD. Is there any doubt that Marc Bulger would've screwed up that play?

The point is- this team did enough to have fans encouraged for the future. There are a lot of sub-par teams that the Rams will face this season, and Arizona wasn't even one of those teams (almost though). The Rams take on the troubled Oakland Raiders next week, for their first "easy" game of an easy schedule. Most fans realize that the Rams aren't making the playoffs this year, but if they can exit the season encouraged, then it should go a long ways.

Rams' Future WR Watch: Week 2

At 6'5" Jonathan Baldwin is a dangerous red-zone target.

Once again, here is a look at the weekly performances of the NCAA's top receivers. The Rams will likely be looking for a primary target for Sam Bradford in April, for the 2011 Draft. 'STLsport' will track these college receivers all season. 

MICHAEL FLOYD- NOTRE DAME 6'3" 227 lbs: Week 2 VS. Michigan- 5 receptions 66 yards 0 TD
                                     SEASON:  10 receptions 148 yards 0 TD

AJ GREEN- GEORGIA 6'4" 212 lbs: Once again, did not play. Green will serve a four-game suspension for illegal contact with an agent.

JULIO JONES- ALABAMA 6'4" 220 lbs: Week 2 VS. Penn St.- 4 receptions 49 yards 0 TD
                                    SEASON:  10 receptions 142 yards 1 TD

JONATHAN BALDWIN- PITTSBURGH 6'5" 230 lbs: Week 2 vs. New Hampshire-    6 receptions 100 yards 1 TD                                                                
                                    SEASON: 10 receptions 171 yards 2 TD

Late Update: Cardinals lose to Braves 6-3 (Saturday 9/12)

This is a late update; but the Cardinals lost to the Atlanta Braves yesterday, in extra-innings, with a score of 6-3. I wish I could write some more in-depth articles on the Cardinals' season (other than game updates); but the fact is, there is nothing to dissect, or analyze. The team is a long-shot to make the wild-card, and the division race isn't even close. Other than Albert Pujols' milestone (becoming the first player to hit 30+ HR, 100+ RBI, and .300+ BA, for ten seasons in a row) , and Adam Wainwrights Cy-Young consideration, there won't be a lot to discuss until the off-season gets underway.

But about last night... Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook had a somewhat solid outing (compared to most of his starts so far with the Cards), he only gave up 2 runs (both earned), and had 3 strike-outs. He gave up 7 hits in his 6 innings, and also had 5 BB.

Dennys Reyes took over for Westbrook, and he continues to struggle (after just recently returning from injury). Reyes gave up a home-run in the 7th inning to Jason Heyward. Jason Motte finished the inning for Reyes; Motte gave up a hit, but was able to get out of the inning without causing any damage. Ryan Franklin and Kyle McClellan pitched two innings each, and they were perfect, other than a walk given up by McClellan. Mitchell Boggs lost the game in the 12th inning, after giving up a 3-run bomb to Alex Gonzalez.

At the plate, the bats were cold for the most part. Brendan Ryan was the only Cardinal to get multiple hits (2-for-5), and Pujols got all three of the Cardinals' RBI's, which put him over 100 RBI's on the season. Two of his RBI's came in the 6th inning, when he doubled with Skip Shumaker and Ryan on base. His third RBI came in the 8th inning when he scored Brendan Ryan (for Ryan's second run of the game) off of a single.

The pitching was pretty solid, outside of Boggs and Reyes, but the bats just couldn't get it done. Nothing new to see here, this game was just another typical game for the 2010 Cardinals.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Rams vs. Cardinals Pre-game Preview

     September 10th,2010 By:Steven G. of STLsport

The Cardinals' dangerous air-attack retired with Kurt Warner.

In a way, it is hard to believe football is back already, and in other ways, the wait was excruciating. But nonetheless, the NFL season will kick-off tonight (Thursday Sept. 9th) with the Vikings, and the Saints. The rest of the NFL will follow, Sunday Sept. 12th.

The Rams will start off the season against a division rival, a team they have not defeated since 2006, the Arizona Cardinals. The Rams will look to get off to a good start, and climb out of the cellar of the NFL. While the Cardinals will look to defend their 2009 NFC West title, and prove they can play without Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, and Karlos Dansby.

The Vegas betting line favors Arizona by four. But Ram fans have been optimistic about this game, as a direct result of rookie QB Sam Bradford's phenomenal preseason performance.

Here is a comparison of the two teams...


Quarterback: As mentioned, Bradford has been great so far for the Rams. It has been clear for a while that he would ultimately get the opening-day start against Arizona. But even though he played well in the preseason, the regular season is a different story. The intensity rises to a whole different level, and Bradford must be prepared for that. However, unlike the preseason, Bradford will have the luxury of Steven Jackson in the backfield for the entire game, as oppose to just one drive. The Rams will run the ball, and try to take pressure off of Bradford. If the Rams can get Arizona to respect their run game, then Bradford just might have some success through the air. But either way, it will certainly be a difficult test for Bradford, given it's his first start, and he will be facing one of the better defensive-backfields in the league.

The Cardinals will no longer have a Hall-of-Fame caliber QB under center. Warner's protégé, Matt Leinart, was released by the Cardinals, and now the team will have to rely on Derek Anderson to run the offense. Anderson's best season (by far) came in 2007, when he made the pro-bowl (as an alternate) after throwing 29 TD vs. 19 INT, with 3787 yards. Anderson has never obtained a decent completion percentage, even in 2007 his completion percentage was only 56.5%... a career high. Last season, for the Browns, Anderson (in seven starts) had 3 TD passes, 10 INT, and only 888 yards. He will have some weapons in Arizona (Larry Fitzgerald, Steve Breaston, and Tim Hightower) that he didn't have in Cleveland, but it is clear that Arizona will likely run the ball more than anything.

Running-Back:  The Rams are thin at running-back, but their primary back is one of the best in the game. Jackson proved in the preseason that he is fully recovered from his April back surgery, and he is ready to carry the load. Jackson led the NFC in rushing yards in 2009, and he will be the Rams most dangerous weapon on offense. If Arizona stacks eight men in the box to stop Jackson, then they will have trouble stopping Bradford's arm; and if Arizona loads up on DB's to stop Bradford, then Jackson will run all over them. Jackson staying on the field, for the entire season, will be key to the Rams' offensive success in 2010.

Rams' RB Steven Jackson will finally get to play 4 quarters in 2010, vs. Arizona
Arizona has a solid duo at running-back in Beanie Wells, and Tim Hightower. Wells is looking for a break-out year, after a solid rookie campaign (793 yards, 7 TDs, 4.5 yd/carry). Wells has been banged up this week, and has not practiced (bruised knee); his status for Sunday is not 100% certain. Typically with Arizona, when they have a player listed as "questionable", 9 times out of 10 that player doesn't play. That is just Arizona's style when it comes to injury reports. But with or without Wells, the Cardinals will have Tim Hightower, who is their ideal back for passing, and goal-line situations. If the Cardinals want success on offense, it will have to be on the ground. But luckily for the Rams, their run-defense has been very solid throughout the preseason.

Wide-Receiver:  The Rams traded for Mark Clayton from the Baltimore Ravens. Clayton should be a pretty solid receiver, and is an ideal replacement for Donnie Avery (who is out for the season with a torn ACL). Reports indicate that Clayton is catching onto the Rams offense quickly, but it is uncertain if he will be ready for Sunday (though he seems to think so). If Clayton is limited, then the primary target for Bradford will be Danny Amendola, who has emerged as a dangerous slot receiver; and Laurent Robinson, who had a quiet preseason, but has been a productive receiver in the past. Brandon Gibson will also see some action on the outside (due to his size and physicality); and Mardy Gilyard, as well as Dominique Curry, may also be worked into the mix. Curry will likely see time on special-teams.

It is also worth mentioning that Bradford has favored his tight-ends throughout the preseason. Particularly, Mike Hoomanawanui, who caught Bradford's first two TD passes during the preseason. But Daniel Fells, and blocking TE Billy Bajema, will likely be the starters.

Arizona lost their pro-bowl WR Anquan Boldin to Baltimore. The presence of Boldin made it difficult to double-cover all-pro WR Larry Fitzgerald, who is possibly the best receiver in the NFL. But the luxury of Boldin is now gone. The team still has Steve Breaston, who posted a 1000+ yard season in 2008, and Fitzgerald is at the top of his game, but having Anderson deliver the ball will hurt the Cardinals.

Offensive Line: The Rams' offensive-line had a rusty start against Minnesota in the preseason; but since then, the line has gelled, and has been playing much better. Rookie Roger Saffold has been a pleasant surprise; he has been one of the better linemen on the team, and has already earned the starting LT job over (2009 #2 overall pick) Jason Smith. Smith will be the starting RT, and is a solid run-blocker, but needs some polishing when it comes to pass protection. LG Jacob Bell has been a disappointment ever since he signed as a free-agent in 2007, but was finally able to play at an acceptable level at times during 2009 season. Part of Bell's improvements are due to C Jason Brown, who was made the highest paid center in the league last season, after signing a free-agent contract with the Rams. Brown has been a solid foundation, and is one of the better centers in the league. Utility-lineman Adam Goldberg will start at RG; Goldberg is a solid back-up, and he will start Sunday. OG John Greco might steal the job from Goldberg whenever he fully recovers from his injury; he is back on the field, but needs to get up-to-speed before starting.

The Cardinals will still have LT Levi Brown, C Lyle Sendlein, and RG Deuce Lutui, as returning starters for their line. Each of those players have started on the Cardinal's line (for all 16 games) the past two seasons, and will be the starters again, for a third season straight. On top of that, the addition of pro-bowl LG Alan Faneca (from the New York Jets), will provide a solid upgrade for their line. RT Brandon Keith will be a starter for the first time in his career, and for the most part, he is an unknown.  


Defensive Line: The Rams have struggled to establish a consistent pass-rush during the preseason. The Rams lack a beastly pass-rusher, but they are hoping Chris Long emerges as somewhat of a pass-rush threat, and has a break out year in the process. George Selvie has been outstanding, at least for a 7th round pick (2010); he has missed some time lately due to injury, but he should see some playing time in pass-rush situations. During run situations, veteran James Hall should get the majority of the snaps at DE, opposite Long.

Fred Robbins has been a solid defensive-tackle so far for the Rams. Robbins did not get a ton of playing time during the preseason, but in his limited time, he has been able to get some push up the middle. The other starting DT will be Gary Gibson, who stole the starting job from Cliftom Ryan during camp. Ryan, and DT Darrel Scott, will rotate in-and-out with Robbins and Gibson.

The Rams' d-line has been very solid against the run, which will be very beneficial this Sunday, because Arizona's offense will strongly depend on the run. But if the Rams really want to get ahead in the game, the line must also provide a pass-rush.

Arizona has a solid DE in Darnell Dockett; whichever Rams' OT faces Dockett will have their work cut out for them. Calais Campbell had a solid year for Arizona in 2009, but it was his first year as a starter. It is not clear yet if Campbell will continue his success in his second year; but if he's at the top of his game, he could possibly cause some problems. NT Bryan Robinson is just average; with Jason Brown at center for the Rams, their o-line should be able to focus on Dockett and Campbell effectively.

Linebacker: James Laurinaitis will lead the way for the Rams' linebacking core, as he looks to build on his promising rookie campaign, which led to him getting a vote for 'defensive rookie of the year'. Larry Grant has been a beast in the preseason, and has rightfully earned a starting role at OLB. Veteran Na'il Diggs will start at the other OLB spot. They have been solid against the run, but it would be nice to see the linebackers help out in the pass rush. The linebackers will be busy all day, as Arizona will likely run the ball for the majority of their offensive plays.

Joey Porter is a sack machine, and even though he has a knee injury, he will be expected to play Sunday. Hopefully Porter's injury slows him down a bit, or else he might be dangerous against the Rams' inexperienced tackles. The Cardinals are pretty weak at MLB, Paris Lenon is one of their inside-linebackers, and as most Rams fans know, he is nothing to worry about (Lenon was a starting linebacker for the Rams in 2009). The other inside-linebacker is rookie Daryl Washington (2nd round pick 2010), who shouldn't be a major factor, due to inexperience. Clark Haggans will start at OLB opposite Porter. Haggans is experienced, and a solid starter, but he is not an elite player.

Defensive-Backs: The Rams have struggled against the pass so far, at least in the preseason. It has probably been due to the lack of a pass-rush, and the fact that their starters have been limited. OJ Atogwe will be starting at FS, and he has been absent from the line-up for most of the preseason. The sure-tackler, SS Craig Dahl, will be the other starter. Ron Bartell will the the primary CB; Bartell has been a solid starter for the Rams, but had a down year in 2009 due to injury. Opposite Bartell, the impressive second-year player Bradley Fletcher will be the other starting CB. Fletcher showed a lot of promise during his rookie campaign, but was placed on the IR early on, due to a season ending knee injury. Fletcher looks to be fully recovered from his injury. Overall, the Rams' secondary should be much improved from the preseason, with all of their starters playing full-time.

The Cardinals have a very strong secondary, and it is clearly the strong point of their defense. Adrian Wilson is one of the best strong-safeties in the game, and is a very solid tackler. Newcomer Kerry Rhodes started 14 games for the New York Jets in 2009, when the Jets finished with the best defense in the NFL. Rhodes is a solid replacement for Antrel Rolle, who left the Cardinals this past off-season as a free-agent. Dominique Rogers-Cromartie made the pro-bowl last year, which was only his second year in the league. Roger-Cromartie, and Wilson, are the two players that make this possibly an elite unit for the Cardinals.

OVERALL: The Cardinals' offense is not as dangerous as it has been the past two seasons. Their new QB, Anderson, is prone to making mistakes. If the Rams' defense remains solid against the run, then the Rams should be able to effectively contain the Cardinals' offense.

Arizona's defense has surrendered 45 points in each of their last two (real) games. If their defense plays that way against the Rams, then it will likely be an upset. If the Rams run the ball well, allowing them to open up the passing game, then that could also result in an upset.

If the Cardinals win, it will be because their run game is too much, or their pass game is miraculously better than expected, or because their defense stiffened up from last season. But, it could also be a little of all three of those things. Either way, I don't expect either team to "blow out" the other team, but the Rams certainly have a good shot at starting off their season on the right foot; by beating Arizona for the first time since 2006.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Carp and the Cards fall short, losing 8-6 to Atlanta

The Cardinals were able to score some runs, including a solo shot by Chris Carpenter, helping his own cause, but it was not enough to beat the Atlanta Braves.

Carpenter, the Cardinals co-ace, only pitched five innings- giving up 8 runs on 8 hits, including 6 earned runs. Relief pitcher Jason Motte did not look as sharp as his last appearance, he gave up 2 hits; but neither he, Mitchell Boggs, or Kyle McClellan, gave up any runs.

At the plate, Carp hit a HR, as mentioned; but Matt Holliday had the best night at the plate, he was 3-for-4 with 3 RBI's, and 2 runs scored. He also hit his 26th HR of the season, a 2-run shot in the 3rd inning.

Albert Pujols was quiet, he went hitless on the night. Actually, despite the score, most of the team was quiet at the plate. Holliday and Carpenter were the only Cards to get any RBI's, and Brendan Ryan (along with Carp and Holliday) were the only players to get multiple hits.

The Cardinals' bats, and pitchers, have struggled to get in sync all season. If one shows up, the other is no where to be found.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Cards get blown out by the Brewers, losing 8-1 (last night)

Albert Pujols hit his 36th home-run of the season last night against the Brewers, but that was the only highlight of the game for the Cards. Starting pitcher Jaime Garcia has had high and low points all season; but, for the most part, has been consistent as of late. However, last night was an exception- Garcia only pitched four innings, and the gave up seven earned runs, off of seven hits.

Other than Pujols, the only other starters to get hits were Colby Rasmus, and catcher Matt Pagnozzi (who filled in for Yadier Molina). Brian Anderson also got a hit, but it came off of a pinch-hit.

The only other positive from last night's game, other than Albert's home-run, was Jason Motte. Motte just recently returned from injury, and has been a major asset for the Cards' bullpen; he pitched 1.1 innings without giving up a hit or a walk. Motte's return should benefit the Cards in September.

The Cardinals remain six games behind the Reds. Cincinnati has lost four games in a row, so the Cardinals had a chance to reduce their deficit to only four games, but failed to capitalize in the last two games. With only 25 games remaining, they are not out of the hunt, but they need to go on a tear if they want to make the playoffs. The Reds are cold right now, so losing the last two games could ultimately prove to be fatal. I fthe team doesn't get going right now, then they are done. 

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Cardinals lose to the Brewers 4-2, failing to cut the deficit in the Central

The Cardinals had a chance to cut their deficit in the Central division to five games behind the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds lost to the Colorado Rockies 4-3. But, the Cardinals failed to take advantage, and will remain six games back. 

Kyle Lohse continued to struggle on the mound. In only 5 innings he gave up 4 runs (all earned), but he was able to strike-out five, and only walked two batters. Mitchell Boggs had a solid outing in the 6th inning, he got a strike-out, and gave up no hits. Blake Hawkesworth was shaky in the the 7th inning, giving up two hits, but he got out of the inning with no damage done.  Hawkesworth bounced back in the 8th inning, getting three straight outs.

Catcher Yadier Molina, and outfielder Colby Rasmus, had the Cardinals' only two RBI's on the night. Only Rasmus had multiple hits for the Cardinals tonight. When the score was 4-2 in the 8th inning, Molina represented the leading run at the plate, but did not get the hit when it counted, he went down on a called third strike; it was his second strike-out of the night. 

The Cards had no hope of a comeback in the 9th inning. The Brewers, and the away crowd, were so jacked up over Trevor Hoffman's possible 600th save (which he achieved), that there was just no way that Randy Winn and Aaron Miles were going to battle that intensity (neither of them belong in the Majors, they are both disgustingly awful players, 100% useless to this team, or any team).

Monday, September 6, 2010

Rams Future WR Watch: WEEK 1

AJ Green may be the best, but is currently benched due to NCAA investigation
Everyone knows that when drafting a franchise QB number one overall (Sam Bradford), the first step is to protect him (Roger Saffold-2nd round 2010, Jason Brown- Free Agency 2009, Jason Smith- 1st round 2009); and the second step is to surround him with reliable targets.

I think Mark Clayton was a good start. He is a very talented receiver, who has been under-performing due to external circumstances (Kyle Boller, Steve McNair injury, and his 2009 divorce with his wife). The one season everything was going right for Clayton (2006), he had a good relationship with his family at home, and a good quarterback, which resulted in 900+ yards receiving. Not that I'm saying nothing is his fault, but when he has been in the right situation, he has been an effective receiver.

But even if Clayton has a big year, his past indicates that the Rams can't count on him to put up big numbers year-in and year-out. Danny Amendola has been a pleasant surprise, but he will never be anything more than a slot receiver. Not that there is anything wrong with that, he is great in the slot, but a slot receiver can not be a big, sure target for the quarterback. And Donnie Avery, Laurent Robinson, and Keenan Burton have been haunted by injuries.

So therefor, I think many Rams fans are looking at the 2011 draft as the draft where we find Bradford a primary target; a prototypical sized receiver that can rack up receptions, yards, and touchdowns.

The 2011 draft should be loaded with receivers in the first round. The four main receivers that fans are watching this collegiate season: Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd- 6'3" 227 lbs. JR age:20; Georgia WR AJ Green- 6'4" 212 lbs. JR age:22; Alabama WR Julio Jones- 6'4" 220 lbs. age:21; Pittsburgh WR Jonathan Baldwin- 6'5" 230 lbs. JR age:21

I will follow the progress of these receivers, week-by-week. Starting with this past weekend:

MICHAEL FLOYD- NOTRE DAME 6'3" 227 lbs: Week 1 VS. Purdue- 5 receptions 82 yards 0 TD

AJ GREEN- GEORGIA 6'4" 212 lbs: Did not play, under investigation by NCAA for illegal contact with an agent.

JULIO JONES- ALABAMA 6'4" 220 lbs: Week 1 VS. San Jose St.- 6 receptions 93 yards 1 TD

JONATHAN BALDWIN- PITTSBURGH 6'5" 230 lbs: Week 1 @ Utah- 4 receptions 71 yards 1 TD

It look like Jones is off to the best start. Jones was plagued in 2009 by a lot of drops, he will be looking to improve his focus. A young receiver does NOT want to get labeled by scouts as a guy who drops balls. Green needs to get on the field, he is very likely the best of the bunch, but not playing will really hurt his stock. Floyd and Baldwin both has decent starts to their seasons. Floyd will look to stay healthy all year, after being plagued by injuries during his college career. It should be a tight race.
Floyd has the talent to be the best, but has been plagued by injuries.


Cardinals defeat the Brewers 8-6

The Cardinals have won three out of their last four games, beating the Brewers 8-6. Their deficit in the Central division is now 6.5 games behind the Reds (who are currently losing by one run, in the 6th inning against Colorado). If the Reds lose today, then the Cards will be 6 games behind.

Starting pitcher Jake Westbrook pitched for 6 innings. He gave up 5 hits, and 2 runs. Both of his runs were earned, and they came off of a pair of home-runs, hit by Ricky Weeks and Corey Hart. Reliever Mitchell Boggs replaced Westbrook in the 7th inning, and picked up the win. Boggs had 2 SO in 1.1 innings, but also have up a hit and a run. Kyle McClellan, who pitched .2 innings, was the only Cardinal pitcher to not give up a run. Trevor Miller (1 run) and Ryan Franklin (2 runs) also made appearances.

Yadier Molina was the star for the Cards at the plate today. He hit his 6th HR of the season, a grand-slam off of Todd Coffey in the 8th inning. His grand-slam was what ultimately won the game, and Molina was the only Cardinal to get multiple hits (2-for-4). But, Albert Pujols, Pedro Feliz, and Matt Holliday all had RBI's as well.  

The Cardinals will have their work cut out for them tomorrow, with Kyle Lohse (2-7) on the mound vs. Chris Narveson (10-6). The Reds are in the middle of a tough series against the rolling Colorado Rockies. The Cards need to make the most of the opportunity, and dominate Milwaukee.

Rams trade for Raven's WR Mark Clayton

Chris Mortensen of ESPN has announced over twitter that the St.Louis Rams have traded for the Raven's WR Mark Clayton. The 28 year old Clayton is a former 1st round pick, and has been the Raven's #2 WR (opposite Derrick Mason) for the past five seasons.  The Rams will likely have to send a late round 2011 pick to the Ravens for compensation. 

Clayton's best season came in 2006, he had 939 yards and 5 TDs. In 2009 he only had 480 yards and 2 TDs, but was injured for 4 games. Clayton figures to be a suitable replacement for the injured Donnie Avery, but Clayton has a history of injury himself- In his five NFL seasons, he has yet to play a complete 16 games; but, he has played at least 10 games in every season. Having a replacement for Avery for 10 games is better than no replacement at all.

Danny Amendola, Mark Clayton, and Laurent Robinson should be the top three receivers for the Rams; with Brandon Gibson, Mardy Gilyard, and Keenan Burton as back-ups.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Cardinals take the series from the Reds

The St.Louis Cardinals defeated the Cincinnati Reds this afternoon 4-2, the Cardinals have now won the series 2-1. The Cardinals have had pretty good success against the Reds in 2010, and they will now look to carry the momentum through September.

Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter was phenomenal. He picked up his 15th win of the season, and he struck out 11 batters. He gave up 6 hits in 7.1 innings, and gave up 2 runs (both earned). Trevor Miller and Kyle McClellan finished the 8th inning for Carpenter, and Ryan Franklin closed the game, getting the save. None of the relief pitchers gave up a hit.

Matt Holliday was the star at the plate. He hit his 25th HR of the season in the 6th inning off of Homer Bailey. It was a 3-run shot that made the game 4-2. Pedro Feliz got the only other RBI in the game, he got a base hit in the 5th inning, scoring Colby Rasmus. Holliday and Rasmus both had multiple hits on the afternoon; and Holliday, Rasmus, and Jon Jay all had extra-base hits.

The Cardinals are still 7 games behind the Reds in the Central Division, but they remain in the hunt. The Cards have had pretty good success against the Reds this season, and if the Redbirds can squeeze into the playoffs (via wild-card), then they should be able to beat the Reds in a playoff series. But they have to get on a hot streak, or else their season is done. It is now or never for the 2010 Cardinals. 

Receivers Alexander and McRae signed to the practice squad

Mizzou fans can take a sigh of relief; because star Missouri Tiger WR Danario Alexander is back with the Rams. Alexander, an un-drafted free-agent, signed a two-year contract with the Rams in August. But yesterday, teams were required to cut their rosters down to 53 players, and Alexander was one of the cuts, along with his fellow WR Brandon McRae. Alexander and McRae were both signed again today, this time to the practice squad.

Alexander and McRae both have prototypical NFL receiver measurables. McRae is 6'4" and 205 lbs. Even more impressive is Alexander, who stands in at 6'5" and 221 lbs. Alexander ran the 40-yard dash in a blazing 4.4 seconds, and he also led the NCAA in receiving yards, with 113 reception for 1781 yards and 14 TDs.

Alexander has not been able to practice at full-speed ever since the Rams signed him. He has a history of knee injuries, and he is still experiencing atrophy in his left knee, as a result of his latest knee surgery. But when Alexander heals, he figure to have monster potential. If everything goes as scheduled, then I would expect to see Alexander on the field, for the Rams, by mid-to-late season.    

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Your 2010 St.Louis Rams...

It's probably not 100% official, General Manager Billy Devaney will likely look at some players that were cut from other teams. There will probably be a few tweaks with the roster, hopefully in the form of a back-up RB, or a WR. But for now, the Rams have met the 6:00 PM deadline, and have cut their roster down to 53 players.

Here is the final roster, as of now: 
QB- Sam Bradford, AJ Feeley, Thad Lewis

WR- Danny Amendola, Laurent Robinson, Keenan Burton, Brandon Gibson, Mardy Gilyard, Dominique Curry

RB- Steven Jackson, Kenneth Darby, Keith Toston

FB- Mike Karney
TE- Daniel Fells, Mike Hoomanawanui, Billy Bajema, Fendi Onobun

OT- Roger Saffold, Jason Smith, Renardo Foster

OG- Jacob Bell, Adam Goldberg, John Greco

C- Jason Brown, Hank Fraley


DE- Chris Long, James Hall, George Selvie, CJ Ah You, Eugene Sims

DT- Fred Robbins, Gary Gibson, Clifton Ryan, Darrel Scott, Jermelle Cudjo

OLB- Na'il Diggs, Larry Grant, Chris Chamberlain

MLB- James Laurinaitis, David Vobora, Josh Hull

CB- Ron Bartell, Bradley Fletcher, Kevin Dockery, Jerome Murphy, Justin King

S- OJ Atogwe, Craig Dahl, James Bulter, Darian Stewart

K- Josh Brown
P- Donnie Jones

LS- Chris Massey

Cardinals lose to Reds 6-1

The Cards took the first game of the series last night, shortening their lead to 7 games behind the Reds. But the Reds took their 8 game lead right back, beating the Cardinals Saturday afternoon 6-1.

Cincinnati's starting pitcher, rookie Travis Wood only gave up 5 hits and 1 run to the Cardinals. Wood was also able to help his own cause at the plate, hitting a solo HR in the 4th inning. Reds' rookie relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman took care of business in the 8th inning. Chapman's fastball can hit 100mph pretty consistently.

Wood and Chapman were just too much for the Cardinals' bats. Matt Holliday was the only Cardinal to get an RBI, and he was the only Cardinal to get multiple hits in the game. The Cards did not have any extra-base hits the entire game.

Starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, once again, struggles to find his 18th win of the season. Wainwright only pitched 5 innings, and gave up 7 hits and 5 runs; although only 2 of the runs were earned.

If the Cardinals would've swept the Reds this series, the would only be 5 games behind leaving the series. Now, the best they can do is leave the series 7 games behind. October is nearing, and the division race seems to be done. The Cardinals' only hope is the wild-card.

Rams make some more cuts... UPDATE: More players cut (5:50PM)

The Rams have made some more cuts as they near the 6PM deadline. All NFL teams must have their rosters down to 53 players by the deadline. 

-OLB Bobby Carpenter, who was acquired via the Alex Barron trade with Dallas.
-CB Marquis Johnson
-OL Ryan McKee
-DE Victor Adeyanju
-WR Brandon McRae

More cuts...
-WR Denario Alexander
-RB Chris Ogbannaya
-LB Devin Bishop
-C Drew Miller

Sam Bradford named Rams starter; Rams may be looking at Vincent Jackson; Rams make some cuts

Rookie #1 overall pick- QB Sam Bradford, will start for the St.Louis Rams in 2010

Not that the Rams coaches were going to start AJ Feeley, at least not with a straight face, but an announcement will come today, from the Rams organization, announcing that Sam Bradford will be the starting quarterback for the St.Louis Rams.

Several different Post-Dispatch writers, and ESPN writers, have confirmed this via Twitter.

Bradford had a tremendous preseason, in the past two games he was 24-for-28 with 204+ yards and 3 TD passes. The Rams achieved a 3-1 record in the preseason, and the Sam Bradford era will officially begin September 12th in St.Louis vs. the Arizona Cardinals.

Rams may be interested in WR Vincent Jackson

 Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch has also reported that he has two unnamed sourced indicating that the Rams are interested in San Diego Charger's WR Vincent Jackson. Jackson would provide a primary target for Sam Bradford, in place of the injured Donnie Avery. Jackson would require a trade, probably involving at least a 2nd round draft pick in 2011, and then the Rams would need to meet his contract demands.

Jackson will serve at least a 3-game suspension for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy. If Jackson has another violation, then he will be suspended for the entirety of the 2010 season. Jackson does not fit coach Steve Spagnuolo's "4 Pillars" philosophy (Faith, Character, Core, Team Values), but he certainly would be a weapon for the Rams offense.

Meanwhile, the Rams have cut QB Keith Null, and have opted to keep rookie QB Thad Lewis from Duke. Null has some experience as a starter from the 2009 season, but Lewis and his mobility bring the potential of a wild-cat package.

Also getting cut from the Rams today (9/4) : S Kevin Payne, DT Ernest Reid, and LB Cardia Jackson; on top of TE Darcy Johnson, WR Jordan Kent, S Brett Johnson, C Tim Mattran, LB Devin Bishop, and CB Antoine Thompson, who were all cut yesterday (Friday, 9/3) 

Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter has gone completely insane

SI writer Jim Trotter has lost his mind, diving head first into the Pete Carroll love fest.

When the discussion of the NFC West comes up, concerning the 2010 season, most rational football fans agree that the clear-cut favorite in the division is the San Fransisco 49ers. No one really disputes that, given that the reigning NFC West champion's, the Arizona Cardinals, lost some key players this past off-season (Kurt Warner, Anquan Boldin, Karlos Dansby, among others).

Most realistic people would probably have the Arizona Cardinals finishing in 2nd place. They won't have the same pop as they did in '09, obviously, but they still have the best WR in the game (Larry Fitzgerald), and they also have a duo of solid running-backs that can carry the load (Beanie Wells, Tim Hightower). No one expects great things from Arizona, but they are the favorite to finish in 2nd place, and rightfully so.

The only real dispute in the NFC West is- who will finish in 3rd place? A rationale argument could be made for either the St.Louis Rams, or the Seattle Seahawks. Personally, I don't even think it is close, I think that the Rams clearly have a superior team in every way.

But in Sports Illustrated's 2010 NFL Preview edition- SI writer Jim Trotter not only put Seattle ahead of St.Louis, he put them ahead of Arizona as well. He had the Seattle Seahawks finishing in 2nd place in the NFC West, and in the process he made it clear to all of his readers that he is 100% completely insane.

It would be one thing if I could see where he is coming from, but I can't. The Seahawks do not have one single star player. The Rams have Steven Jackson, and the Cardinals have Larry Fitzgerald. Who do the Seahawks have? Deion Branch? Give me a break.

Seattle has a 35-year-old, ineffective, washed-up QB in Matt Hasselbeck. They have a sub-par RB in Julius Jones. Their best WR is TJ Houshmandzadeh, who is a number 2 at best, and is pretty useless with Hasselbeck at QB. On the defensive side, they have LB Lofa Tatupu, and that's about it. They have the potential of Aaron Curry and Earl Thomas, but that doesn't mean much.

The only possible explanations for Trotter's decision is 1) It was a shot in the dark, a random pick, because he wanted to throw a curve-ball and make things interesting. Or (most likely) 2) The National media's inexplicable love affair with head coach Pete Carroll continues.

I know that Carroll was a big shot at USC, and coached a great team there. But, he hasn't had a lot of success in the NFL. His combined record as an NFL head coach is 33-31. It is not a terrible record, but it certainly doesn't warrant the hype, and expectations, that the media has built up for him. He coached the Trojans, which is a school in a large market (L.A.), and it is on a coast; combine both of those facts, and it is a recipe for a love fest with the national media. That is why his Seahawks were picked to finish 2nd; because he came from a large market, and a coast team, so Jim Trotter and the rest of the national media refuses to make a rational opinion, and decide to kiss Carroll's feet instead.

Have fun Seattle... Because your SI preseason ranking will be the highlight of your season.    
The National media is kissing Carroll's ass like never before.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Cardinals break losing streak, beating the Reds 3-2

Tonight (9/3/10) the Cardinals were able to snap their five game losing streak, beating the Cincinnati Reds 3-2. Brandon Phillips received a warm welcome from the Busch Stadium crowd. The Reds have now lost five games in a row to the Cardinals, and have not beat the Cards since Phillips made his negative comments. If the Cardinals can miraculously meet the Reds in the playoffs then it seems as though they will have the edge.

Skip Schumaker and Jon Jay each had 1 RBI and 1 run scored; Jay's RBI came off a triple in the first inning. Albert Pujols got the team's third RBI of the night (2nd inning). Schumaker and starting pitcher Jaime Garcia were the only Cardinals with multi-hit nights.  

Garcia picked up win number 13 on the season. He continues to make a strong case for the ROY award. In 6.2 IP he had 6 SO, but also gave up 3 BB and 6 hits, including a HR hit by Paul Janish (3rd inning). Garcia gave up 2 runs, both of them were earned.

Reliever Mitchell Boggs had a solid outing, including a SO, when he finished the 7th inning for Garcia. Set-up man Kyle McClellan faced some tough at-bats, but he manage to get the hold. Closer Ryan Franklin sealed the deal in the 9th, he got 1 SO, and picked up his 23rd save of the season.

The Cardinals have a long way to go if they want to see the playoffs. But winning the series against Cincinnati (or even better, sweeping them) would certainly be a good start. If the Cards do have a solid series against the Reds, then let's hope that this time they are able to carry the momentum over to the next series, unlike last time.

Video Update 9/3/10

Those of you is search for the video of Bradford's performance... It's not going to happen this week. I know the videos are the main attraction around here, so I apologize.

The local station that aired the game had the movie "Changing Lanes" in the time slot (when it was suppose to be the game). I didn't realize they were actually airing the game instead until about 30 minutes into the game. I saw last week that NFL Network would be airing the game at 8PM tonight, but they aren't airing the game anymore (or I misread it), so I won't be able to do a Bradford video this week.

Check back during the regular season, I'll continue to post video of Bradford's entire performance every game this season (which should be every offensive play). Hopefully by then I can figure out a more sophisticated way to record the videos, but no promises.

Thanks you for reading,
-Steven G. of STLsportblog

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Rams vs. Raven Post Game 8/2/10

*If you're looking for the videos, read the note at the bottom of this article.

The Rams finished the preseason on a high note, beating the Baltimore Ravens 27-21, and obtaining a 3-1 record for the preseason. The team looked sloppy against Cleveland, and had some low points against Minnesota (they also had a lot of positives against the Vikings). But the team looked very dominate against the New England Patriots, and dominated again against the Baltimore Ravens. Here is a look at tonight's game; The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly:

Is there any question about who will be starting at quarterback week 1? If Sam Bradford's performance against New England didn't seal the deal, then his game against the Ravens did. Bradford was perfect on the night, going 6-for-6 passing, with 68 yards, and a TD pass to TE Billy Bajema.  If coach Steve Spagnuolo does not start Bradford after his sharp performances this week and last week, then it'll be clear that the coaches predetermined (a while ago) that Bradford won't be the starter, for at least the beginning of the season.

DT Fred Robbins continues to look like a solid addition, at a position that needed some help. He was able to get some pressure tonight, something that Rams fans have not seen out of the DT position for a while.  And the defense as a whole was finally able to create pressure, and even create some turnovers (something we haven't seen a lot of in the preseason).

As I suspected, star RB Steven Jackson was held out of the game completely; but back-up RB Kenneth Darby was able to move the ball just fine; he averaged over 6 yards per carry. Keith Toston continues to look decent, he had 10 carries for 47 yards (4.7 average).

The success of the passing game, and the running game, can be attributed to the offensive line. The front five looks light-years ahead of where they were against the Vikings three weeks ago. The o-line will likely be 100% healthy come week 1, and if they stay healthy the whole season, then it will be the first time in three years that the majority of the line has been healthy for most of the season.

Even though the pass defense look slightly improved, they still did not do a good enough job. Bradley Fletcher had a good night overall, but the rest of the unit needs some more work. Troy Smith was able to put up 237 yards passing, but lucky for the Rams, Smith is a little erratic, and blessed them with two interceptions. 

Chris Ogbannaya continues to look useless out of the backfield. He has yet to average even 2 yards per carry in the preseason. He started as the primary back-up in the first preseason game against Minnesota; but by the end of the preseason tonight, he was only used in garbage time.

Also on the "bad" side... The coaches' upcoming decision for a third-string QB. Keith Null and Thad Lewis have both looked good in the preseason, but they can only keep one of them. Null comes with some regular season experience, but he didn't play very good in the games he appeared in. I could go on the field and play QB for the Rams in a real game, and do terrible, but why would I get any credit for that? Lewis lacks the experience, but I think he should be the pick, given his potential as a wild-cat QB.

Chris Chamberlain's speed. The last play of the second half, the ball was tipped when leaving QB Troy Smith's hands, was grabbed by Chamberlain, and he was off to the races. It was a great play, and the only reason I'm putting this play in the "Ugly" section is because there was really nothing else to put here. He had about a 15 yard head-start on number 34 for the Ravens (RB Jalen Parmele), and made it to about the 15 yard line, but Parmele was able to save the TD. It was much more entertaining than disappointing, but I probably wouldn't feel the same way if that happened in the regular season (last play of the half), and the Rams were losing.

Rams fans have to be encouraged by the team's performance during the preseason. The rookie franchise QB is performing better than anyone could have possibly expected at this point. The defense is looking like a unit that can win some games. Steven Jackon is running well, despite his back surgery this past off-season. The offensive-line is looking much better than three weeks ago. And to top it all off, they have an easy schedule. You know things are good when the Rams are generating more buzz than the St.Louis Cardinals.

*NOTE: Thanks to the fine people at KRBK, who listed the movie "Changing Lanes" in the Rams' time slot, I did not know the game was on TV until 30 minutes into the game (the only thing their station has that's worth a crap, and they don't know what to do with it) So therefor, the video of Bradford's performance won't be up until tomorrow night.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Rams vs. Raven Preveiw

Ravens' QB Marc Bulger will return to St.Louis for the preseason finale.
I won't do a complete, position-by-position preview this week; due to the fact that the starters barely play in the fourth preseason game. But after the game, I will still post a video of Bradford's performance, as well as some other select plays from the game. But here are some points to watch for... 

Former Rams QB Marc Bulger will return to St.Louis, and will be looking for some revenge during the fourth week of preseason play. How will the St.Louis crowd react? How fired up will he be? We shall see. Bulger is currently fighting with QB Troy Smith for the Ravens' back-up QB job. Meanwhile, rookie QB Sam Bradford (who will start again; AJ Feeley is still out with a thumb injury), and the rest of the Ram' offense, will look to build on their success against the New England Patriots.

When most people think of the Baltimore Ravens, they think of Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, and the great defense they've built. The Ravens' offense has been playing second fiddle to their defense for a while now; but recently, the offense has been gaining some attention, with the emergence of Joe Flacco, the acquisition of WR Anquan Boldin, the ageless receiver Derrick Mason, and the solid 2009 campaign of RB Ray Rice.

The Rams' offense will not feature two starting wide-outs; Donnie Avery (out for the season, with a torn ACL), and Laurent Robinson (mid-foot sprain). Keenan Burton would be starting, considering the injures to Avery and Robinson, but Burton is injured as well (swollen knee), and will also be held out of the game. Danny Amendola is currently the team's top, healthy receiver, but the Rams might not risk Amendola, due to the other injuries. Mardy Gilyard should get a decent amount of reps; and it will also be interesting to see if Denario Alexander makes his debut as a Ram.

Star running-back Steven Jackson will be limited. He might play the first series, or two, with Bradford; but the Rams will likely pull him early. Kenneth Darby, Keith Toston, and Chris Ogbannaya will get the majority of the carries on the ground.

The Rams' defense had a solid showing against the Patriots last week. But the defensive backfield continues to struggle against the pass. The weak pass defense, so far this preseason, could possibly be due to the lack of a consistent pass rush. Look for the Rams to call more blitzes in order to utilize the linebackers into the pass rush; and also, watch for Chris Long to elevate his game. Those two aspects may improve the pass rush, and the pass defense in general.   

Starting players barely play in the last preseason game. It is usually a series or two, and then they are pulled. It would be nice to see if Bradford can move the ball against a top defense, like Baltimore; because that could give him an extra confidence boost before the season, and it will make the decision (who to start at QB?) easier for coach Spagnuolo (as if it's not already an easy decision).

But the primary goals of this game should be- 1) Don't get any key players injured; And 2) Play the back-ups as much as possible, so the coaches can make an educated decision on who makes the roster, and who gets cut.