Friday, October 28, 2011

OCTOBER MIRACLE!






In a season that will never be duplicated, a fight against odds nearly impossible to overcome, the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals have won their 11th World Series title tonight against the Texas Rangers in Game 7.


The Cardinals were 10 games behind the Atlanta Braves for the Wild Card berth on August 27th, but they clawed their way back through the month of September and clinched the Wild Card on the very last game of the regular season against the Houston Astros.


Just making the playoffs was thought to be the climax of the Cardinals' run as they were set to the face the Philadelphia Phillies in the NLDS. The Phillies led the MLB in wins with 102, so naturally many national media outlets wrote the Cardinals off.


The Cardinals, after falling behind 2-1 in the NLDS, won Game 4 and 5, which advanced them to the NLCS to face their division rivals for the Pennant in the NLCS, the Milwaukee Brewers.


The Brewers finished with 96 regular season wins and won the Central Division, boasting an explosive offense as their backbone. The Cardinals beat them in six games and took home the NL Pennant.


Despite the Red Bird's wild ride through the first two rounds of the playoffs, they were once again considered the underdogs against a Texas Rangers team that was making their second consecutive World Series appearance.


The Cardinals jumped ahead early in the series with a 2-1 lead, including a historic Game 3 that was dominated by Albert Pujols and his three home run performance. He became just the third player in baseball history to hit three homers in a single World Series game, the other two being Reggie Jackson and Babe Ruth.


But the Cards fell behind after losing back-to-back games in Arlington, which gave the Rangers a 3-2 lead in the series.


However, the series returned to St. Louis for Game 6 and 7, and that's when things got wild.


The Cardinals were losing Game 6 by three runs (5-3) entering the eight-inning. Allen Craig chipped away at the lead with a solo shot in the eight, but the Rangers still entered the bottom of the ninth with a two-run lead.


A David Freese triple with two strikes, two out and two on sent the game into extra-innings.


The Rangers again took a two run lead in the top of the 10th, but the Cardinals were able to battle back in the bottom of the inning with and RBI by Ryan Theriot and a two-out RBI by Lance Berkman, which kept the game alive.


The Rangers were not so lucky in the 11th as they were unable to put any runs on the board. David Freese led off the bottom of the 11th and ended the game with a heroic walk-off home run that forced Game 7.




Do You Believe In Miracles?


The fantasy of a juggernaut run towards a World Series title was present in the minds of Cardinal Nation ever since the team squeaked into the playoffs, but making it a reality was far from feasible.


That is, until they won the pennant. And once the team stubbornly refused to end their season in Game 6, it was already over and written in stone. The dramatic victory in Game 6 made Game 7 nothing but a formality.  


Chris Carpenter went six full innings on short rest and finished with only two runs and five strikeouts. It was the exact type of performance the team needed out of him.


Both of the runs off Carpenter came in the top of the first-inning, but a two-RBI double by David Freese in the bottom of the 1st tied it up.


Allen Craig hit a solo home run in third-inning, which gave the Cardinals their first lead of the night (3-2).


Things began to get out of hand in the fifth-inning when the bases were loaded and the Rangers walked in a run. Furcal was then hit by a pitch with the bases loaded and the two-run inning gave the Cardinals a 5-2 lead. Yadier Molina then made it 6-2 with a RBI single in the 7th.


A dominate eigth-inning shutout by Lance Lynn set up Jason Motte with an opportunity to close it out in the 9th and he came through with three up and three down.


Craig made the final catch, Yadi fell to his knees, Motte was mauled on the mound, Furcal reached for the sky, Lance Berkman hugged the nearest thing in sight, LaRussa was smiling for the first time this decade and Freese won the MVP, as well as a nifty Corvette.


Questions remain regarding 2012, particularly whether or not Albert Pujols will stick around and finish his career under the Gateway Arch, but for now the Cardinals are on top.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rams @ Cowboys: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

The St. Louis Rams (0-6) fell short once again this season, this time against the Dallas Cowboys (3-3) at Jerry World in Arlington, Texas. 


Not only are the Rams winless in 2011, but they have lost nine of their last ten games dating back to the 2010 season. They have not even been competitive in a single game this season. It could be argued that their game against the Redskins was close given the 17-10 score, but the score is deceiving; they were completely overwhelmed throughout that game. 


Steve Spagnuolo is on the hot seat. There's no question or debate about it like there was two or three weeks ago. 


Really, the only question is whether to fire him during the season or afterwards. 


It's possible that owner Stan Kroenke will see how the team performs in the second half of the season against weaker teams before making a final decision, but it's also possible that he'll just get fed up with the embarrassment and send him packing after one or two more losses. 


But for now, here's what the Rams did against Dallas, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly...


THE GOOD


Well, the Rams scored a touchdown against the Dallas defense. That's been a rare feat for a Rams team that only scored four total touchdowns in the first five games. With six games played so far in 2011, they have yet to score two touchdowns in a single game. So the good news is they met their peak against Dallas. 


And Donnie Jones sure can punt the ball, he's a hell of a punter. 


Other than that, the offensive line allowed only one sack (but took a step backwards in run blocking), Brandon Lloyd had a solid debut with the Rams (six catches, 74 yards) and Steven Jackson had a solid afternoon with 70 yards a a score, despite having no run lanes whatsoever.  




THE BAD


The Rams managed to get an assortment of stupid penalties, once again, such as putting 12 men on the field and jumping offsides, proving once again that this team has very little discipline (although it was still one of their better games in 2011 penalty wise).  


A.J. Feeley was not terrible in the backup role. He went 20-for-33 with 196 yards and an interception. But he was unable to establish any rhythm whatsoever despite being sacked only once. 


The defense, the group that was suppose to be a strong point in 2011, was humiliated. They held Tony Romo to only 166 yards, but he threw for a pair of touchdowns. The run defense was gutted for 295 rushing yards, with 253 of yards coming from a rookie running back (DeMarco Murray). 


THE UGLY


It's becoming increasingly clear that the Rams' coaches are in over their heads. They are so overwhelmed with the task at hand that they cannot even begin to know where to start or what to focus on. 


The group is not improving week after week like they should, in fact they are worse in many aspects. 


The look on Steve Spagnuolo's face on gameday is that of a lost child in a grocery store, checking every aisle for his inattentive mother. 


Whether it was the challenge of Cadillac Williams' fumble, running the ball for the third time in a row on third-and-long, or the refusal to utilize weapons such as Danario Alexander and Lance Kendricks in the game plan, it was perfectly clear that the coaches were outmatched. 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

St. Louis Rams: Five Keys to their Loss vs the Cowboys

The St. Louis Rams (0-6) fell short once again in a 34-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys (3-3). 


The Rams had a lot of factors working against them, such as quarterback Sam Bradford missing the game due to injury, as well as being on the road in Texas. However, excuses are getting very old for Rams fans and patience is running very thin.

The Rams needed a win, regardless of who was playing quarterback, and regardless of where the game was being played. But they failed to get it done. 


Here are the keys to their loss against the Cowboys...




1. Incompetent Coaching


The game was not only a loss for the Rams, but it was flat out boring. 


It was a snooze fest. You'd think that their 0-5 record would inspire the players to at least put up a thrilling fight regardless of the outcome, but that didn't happen. They continue to be by far the most disappointing team in the NFL this season. 


The team was completely uninspired, but apparently the players deserved a trip to Disney Land (aka tickets to the baseball Cardinals' World Series game) for their hard work, because clearly the players on an 0-5 team (now 0-6) should be rewarded. At least that's what head coach Steve Spagnuolo believes. 


The coaching staff also believes in running the ball for a third time in a row on 3rd-and-long, despite being down by two touchdowns. 


And you'd think that a coach who's been labeled as a "defensive guru" in the past would be able to get his defense to hold a rookie running back under 250 yards, but apparently scheming is not the current coaching staff's strong suit. 


Barring a spectacular second half to the season, Steve Spagnuolo will be one of two head coaches who will certainly be fired after the season (the other obviously being Tony Sparano of the Miami Dolphins).      


2. A Career Journeyman Starting At Quarterback


Sam Bradford was held out of the game with a high ankle sprain, so the Rams gave the nod to backup A.J. Feeley.


Feeley didn't have an awful games with all things considered. He went 20-for-33 with 196 yards and an interception. 


However, he frequently under or over threw his receivers, and the offense never showed the slightest bit of rhythm. Even their one scoring drive of the game was not a result of the offense finding rhythm, but rather the result of a big gain on the ground by Steven Jackson. 


Feeley has a career quarterback rating of 69.3 and a career completion percentage of 55.7 percent. The Rams never really had a legitimate shot at beating Dallas with Feeley under center. 


With Bradford's 328 yard performance against the Green Bay Packers last week, and not to mention the addition of Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Lloyd (who had a solid game with 74 yards), it's hard to believe that the offense wouldn't have gained some extra pop with Bradford in the game. 


3. Inability to Stop the Run


James Laurinaitis and Quintin Mikell can only to so much on defense. They need support from the guys in front of them and beside them. 


Outside linebackers Chris Chamberlain, Bryan Kehl and Brady Poppinga looked like the Three Stooges when it came to tackling. 


Also, it's clear that defensive tackle Fred Robbins, despite his nearly Pro Bowl worthy 2010 season, has aged to the point of being useless.  There have been plenty of fans commenting on how the Rams should use their 2012 first round draft pick on a cornerback or receiver, but the team will be getting relief at cornerback after their top three guys return from injury in 2012, and they are already seeing relief at receiver with Brandon Lloyd and Mark Clayton (who should be ready to play soon enough). Therefore, it's possible that defensive tackle is the biggest hole on the team. 


Giving up 253 rushing yards to a rookie running back is nothing short of pathetic, and the members of the Rams' front eight should be ashamed for the further embarrassment they've brought upon their city.


4.   Turnovers


Before the game got out of hand, the Rams were only trailing 17-7, and ten of the Cowboys' first 17 points came as the result of turnovers by the Rams. 


A fumble by Cadillac Williams resulted in Dallas scoring their second touchdown of the game, while A.J. Feeley's interception resulted in a field goal. 


It might not seem like much considering the final score of 34-7, but if the Rams entered halftime with the game tied at 7-7 (maybe even winning if they scored points on the two drives they turned the ball over), then the momentum of the game in the second half could have been entirely different. 


5.  Playing On the Road


The Rams are struggling to win a single game, regardless of where the game is being played. 


It's not like the current Rams have a huge advantage at the Edward Jones Dome given their overall inferiority as a professional football team, but home field advantage could have helped them limit the damage. 


The Rams are struggling to even be competitive in their games. Outside of their game against the Redskins, they haven't even come close to winning a game. So asking them to win on the road in Dallas was asking for the moon. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cardinals Cough Up Game 2, Series Tied 1-1

The St. Louis Cardinals failed to put themselves ahead in the World Series with a frustrating Game 2 loss to the Texas Rangers. It was a tense 2-1 victory for the Rangers, but the series is still tied 1-1.


The game was a pitcher's dual in every way, which is clear due to fact only one total run was scored before the ninth-inning.


Cardinals' starter Jaime Garcia went seven shutout innings with only three hits and one walk, as well seven strikeouts before being replaced by a string of relievers after the seventh-inning.


Rangers' starter Colby Lewis had a solid outing himself. He went six scoreless innings with four strikeouts and only four hits and two walks. However, his luck ran out in the seventh-inning after giving up singles to David Freese and Nick Punto.


With the pitcher's spot in lineup coming up for the Cardinals' after Punto's single, Tony LaRussa opted to pinch hit for Garcia with Allen Craig, which brought forth a familiar situation. The Rangers replaced Lewis with Alexi Ogando to face Craig, which is exactly what happened in Game 1.


And just like in Game 1, where Craig hit a pinch hit single off of Ogando to score Freese and give the Cardinals a 3-2 lead, he singled again tonight off Ogando... to score Freese and give the Cardinals the lead (1-0).


With a perfect eight-inning by Fernando Salas and Marc Rzepczynski, Jason Motte was set up with a ninth-inning opportunity to close the game, but that's when the momentum shifted.


Motte led off the inning by giving up back-to-back hits to Ian Kinsler and Elvis Andrus. LaRussa then pulled Motte from the game and replaced him with Arthur Rhodes, who gave up a sacrifice fly to score Kinsler. Lance Lynn then replaced Rhodes. Lynn gave up another sacrifice fly that put the Rangers ahead ahead 2-1.


There was some hope in the bottom of the ninth after Texas closer Neftali Feliz gave up a lead-off walk to Yadier Molina, but Feliz managed to strike out the next two batters (Nick Punto, Skip Schumaker). Rafael Furcal made the final out with a pop fly to right-field.


The Cardinals will have Friday off and the series will continue with Game 3 on Saturday in Arlington, Texas. The series will not return the Busch Stadium until Game 6.

FOX World Series Infrared Camera Picks Up Shocking Footage

The St. Louis Cardinals took Game 1 of the World Series over the Texas Rangers at Busch Stadium with a final score of 3-2. 


The Cardinals' solid start to the World Series on top of an already historic post-season run has many wondering what kind of magic has really been occurring at Busch Stadium this Fall. 


Thanks to Fox's new infrared cameras that they've introduced for the World Series, we've been able to get a glimpse beyond the human eye to reveal the real cause of the Red Bird's wild run through October...

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Photo Credited to Bob Loblaw, member of STLtoday.com

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Brandon Lloyd: How the Trade Helps the St. Louis Rams in 2011


ESPN and the NFL Network have been updating us all day on the trade the St. Louis Rams made to acquire All Pro wide receiver Brandon Lloyd. 

The trade came just a day before the NFL trade deadline (Tuesday, Oct. 18) and came as a result of the Denver Broncos announcing over the weekend that their Pro Bowl receiver is on the trade block.

It was reported Sunday night that the San Francisco 49ers were showing the most interest in Lloyd, but now it's clear that the Rams always had the most interest. Perhaps Denver thought they could convince St. Louis that their division rivals were about to make a move.

The Rams got Lloyd for sixth-round pick, at least for now. If Lloyd pulls in 30 or more catches in a Rams uniform, then it will be upgraded to a fifth-round pick.

Fitting In With the Rams

As recently as Sunday, the Rams oldest receiver was the 26-year-old Mike Sims-Walker, who was just released in order to make room on the roster for Lloyd. 

Now all of the sudden the Rams have acquired the 30-year-old veteran Lloyd, as well the 29-year-old Mark Clayton who was just reunited with the team after spending six weeks on the PUP list. In the matter of one day, they went from having zero veteran leadership at the position to having two capable players who have been in the league for a while. 

That added experience is invaluable when so many of their receivers are so young, such as Danario Alexander (23), Brandon Gibson (24), Greg Salas (23) and Austin Pettis (23). The Rams receivers have been struggling with mental errors, such as multiple dropped passes, so it's good that they now have a pair of veterans to turn to for advice. 

What Lloyd also does is knock everyone down a peg. 

Lloyd will obviously face the opposing team's top cornerback, while Danario Alexander (who has been very good already this season) will now face No. 2 corners. Mark Clayton and Greg Salas will see a lot of nickel backs and outside linebackers, while Lance Kendricks will see middle linebackers. As a result, everyone should be able to produce slightly better by facing lesser talent. 

Another thing the Rams have been greatly struggling with is pass blocking. 

If Lloyd can make an impact and become the legitimate receiving threat he was in Denver, then there's a greater chance that either him or another receiver will be able to get open quickly, which Rams receivers have not done very effectively up to this point. 

A better receiving corps means better routes; the better the routes, the quicker the quarterback can throw the ball; the quicker he throws the ball, the less he gets hit; and a quarterback who gets hit less makes the offensive line look a lot better. 

Brandon Lloyd is a good pick-up for the Rams, but it's also important to maintain expectations.

Despite leading the NFL in receiving yards in 2010 (1,448), Lloyd is not a Calvin Johnson-caliber receiver. He's a very good receiver, but he's not capable of carrying an offense on his shoulders. It's going to take solid production from the other 10 members on offense for him to reach his potential. 

If the other offensive players can play at a higher level and give Lloyd some support, then he should be very productive for the team and will help them win football games.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Rams Trade For Pro Bowl Receiver Brandon Lloyd

The St. Louis Rams made a trade with the Denver Broncos today which made the Rams the new home for Pro Bowl wide receiver Brandon Lloyd.


Lloyd led the NFL in receiving yards in 2010 with 1,448 yards. He also had 11 touchdown catches.


Lloyd's career year in 2010 with Denver was the result of head coach Josh McDaniel's offense. McDaniels is now the offensive coordinator for the Rams, so Lloyd should fit nicely into the team's current scheme.


The Rams have been desperate for playmakers, especially after losing Danny Amendola for the season during Week 1.


The Rams figured their offense could get a significant boost with both Lloyd and Danario Alexander lined up on the outside. Lloyd's 18.8 yards per catch average in 2010 hints that that the Rams are getting a downfield threat, which they've needed for a long time.


It's unclear whether or not Lloyd can match his 2010 production, especially since he was pretty average during his first eight NFL seasons, but even if he doesn't bring that same production, he still offers something that the other Rams receivers clearly don't have— the ability to consistently catch a football.


Lloyd has only dropped one pass in five game for the Broncos in 2011. If he can be just as sure-handed in St. Louis, then he will immediately be an improvement.


Lloyd is not a Calvin or Andre Johnson caliber receiver, despite being the top receiver in 2010, but he's certainly worth the gamble. A sixth-round pick (which could turn into a fifth-round pick based on his production) is a small price to pay for a player that could potentially payoff huge dividends.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The St. Louis Cardinals Win the Pennant!

After being 10.5 games out of the wild card as late as August 26th, the St. Louis Cardinals have put together maybe the most impressive and historic drive towards an NL Pennant in baseball history. 


The Cardinals won a wild card berth on the very last game of the regular season, which put them into post-season play. 


They faced the Philadelphia Phillies, who won 102 regular season games, in the NLDS, winning in Game 5 with the score of 1-0 after ace Chris Carpenter put together a historic three-hit complete game shutout.


The Cards then entered the NLCS to face their Central Division rivals, the Milwaukee Brewers. 


The Brewers took the first game, but the Redbirds took a win before the series headed back to Busch Stadium. The Cardinals took a Game 3 victory, but lost the Game 4. The final game in St. Louis was a convincing 7-1 victory for the Cardinals, but they were forced to head back to Miller Park for Game 6. 


The Brewers are known for their power in Miller Park, and it showed in Game 6. 


The Cardinals' Game 6 starter Edmond Jackson gave up three homers and four runs in the first two innings, which is certainly not an ideal start. 


Unfortunately for the Brewers, the Cardinals had some offense as well. 


A four-run first-inning, the result of a Lance Berkman RBI and a three-run home run by David Freese, forced the Brewers to play catch-up from the start.  


Rafael Furcal had a solo shot in the second-inning. The third-inning was another four-run inning highlighted by a two-run shot by Albert Pujols. 


At that point the Cardinals were winning 9-4 and the Brewers were overwhelmed ever since, but that didn't stop the Redbirds from scoring two in the fifth and one more in the eighth. 


Despite limping to the barn with the bullpen due to a short lived game by the starter for a sixth consecutive time, the Cardinals finished with 13 hits and beat the Brewers by the score of 12-6. 


The Cardinals won the NLCS four games to two. It is their third NL Pennant since 2004. It is the team's 18th NL Pennant, and they have won more Pennants than any other National League team in the last 15 years. 


The Cardinals will face the Texas Rangers in the World Series. Ace Chris Carpenter is set to be the Game 1 starter. 

St. Louis Rams Week 4 Report Card: Grading Every Unit

Another week and another loss for the St. Louis Rams (0-5) at Lambeau Field against the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers (6-0). 


Despite 441 total offensive yards by the Rams, their only score came on a Josh Brown field goal. The final score was 24-3. 


Green Bay entered the game averaging 34.6 points per game, so the fact the Rams held them to 24 points was a positive. In fact, the Packers scored less points against the Rams than any other team they've faced in 2011. 


If you're a Rams fan and watched the game already at peace with the fact that they would not win, then you saw a lot of positives and some familiar negatives, but overall you saw a considerable amount of improvement. 


But if you were holding out hope that the Rams would somehow upset the Packers, igniting a juggernaut run to the NFC West title, then chances are you were emotionally crushed for the fifth time in a row.


The Rams did some good things on the field, but there was obviously some slackers as well, given the 21-point loss.


Here are the Week 6 grades for each unit...




QUARTERBACK: B



Sam Bradford is on an 0-5 team and threw for 321 yards against the defending Super Bowl champs and has fewer interceptions (two) than the quarterback of that team, Aaron Rodgers (three).

It's pretty obvious that he's not a problem for the Rams. 


There's are unintelligent people from every NFL fanbase, so the Rams are no exception. You might find a Rams fan out there willing to throw Bradford under the bus, but it's completely unwarranted. 


However, he's not perfect either.


Despite his 321 yards, his grade get knocked down a bit for having no touchdowns as well as for under throwing Danario Alexander in the end-zone, resulting in an interception.


The Rams might be dying for weapons at receiver, or for lineman who can block. They may even be panicking a bit when it comes to finding Steven Jackson's eventual replacement at running back. But the last thing anyone should be concerned with is the quarterback position, the Rams have solidity at that spot moving forward.




OFFENSIVE LINE: D+



The Rams offensive line gave up six sacks when they faced the Washington Redskins two weeks ago, so in comparison to that game they looked pretty good.

But then again, five shopping carts lined side-by-side would've performed better against the Redskins than the Rams' offensive line. 


All-in-all, they made some strides during the bye week and looked like a much more respectable unit, but they were still very average. Combine that with some false starts and holding penalties and the group is still leaving a lot to be desired.



RUNNING BACK: B+

Steven Jackson entered the game against the Packers completely healthy. It was his first time entering a game healthy since the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. 


Jackson rushed for 96 yards on 18 carries (5.3 yards per carry) against a defense who's much stronger against the run than the pass. 


Cadillac Williams also had some success against the Packers in a relief role. He had 24 yards on four carries (6.0 yards per carry) as well as a nine-yard reception. 


It was a solid effort by the backfield, but their biggest gain was only 13 yards, and they failed to find the end zone (not that they were ever in a position to score), so there was some room for improvement.




RECEIVER: B-



The receivers had a solid outing when considering how poorly the Rams offense has been moving the ball at times this season. 


After some impressive moments in 2010, everyone knew Danario Alexander possessed some big-play talent. At 6'5" with a solid 4.3 second 40-yard dash, he was considered a potential weapon, but the major concern was whether or not his knee would hold up after numerous operations. 


Not only has his knee held up fine since starting the 2011 season, but he's been phenomenal in an offense that's been starving for more playmakers. 


Alexander had six catches for 91 yards against the Packers and is leading Rams receivers with 287 yards. He didn't play receiver during the team's Week 1 match-up against Philadelphia, but if he continues his production, he could eventually be on pace for a 1,000-yard season.


He wasn't the only one with a solid game. Rookies Greg Salas and Lance Kendricks both had over 70 yards. Salas led the team in receptions with eight.


Brandon Gibson also contributed with four catches for 43 yards.


It would've been a great outing if they pulled in a few touchdowns, but instead, they had none. Combine that with a few dropped balls, which is a recurring theme with them, as well as a false start penalty on Kedricks, and the group loses some points.




DEFENSIVE LINE: C



The Rams defensive line was incapable of pressuring Aaron Rodgers. 


The pocket was solid and edges were secure. When a quarterback as good as Rodgers feels comfortable, you cannot expect to win. 


Green Bay receivers were running wild, which is partially on the secondary, but the line is to blame as well. When Gary Gibson is the only one to record a sack, something is wrong. 


However, it wasn't all bad—for the first time in 2011, the Rams defense did not allow a team to rush for more than 100 yards. The Packers are not known for their running game, but holding them to under 100 yards on the ground (96) is a moral victory at the very least.




LINEBACKERS: A



Throughout the first, third and fourth quarters, the Rams defense held the Packers to only three combined points. The difference was the 21 points scored in the second quarter. 


It was mentioned in the introduction to this article that the Rams defense held the powerful Green Bay offense to fewer points than any other team that has faced the Packers in 2011. 


Surely someone had to do something positive on defense to accomplish this. 


The answer: the linebackers, particularly James Laurinaitis. 


Laurinaitis and Chris Chamberlain, who started in the place of Ben Leber, were flying around the field. 


They are the primary reason the Packers converted only four of their 13 third-down conversions. They also played a major role in limiting the Packers run game and holding them under 100 yards.




SECONDARY: C-



The Packers produced very little offense on the ground, which obviously means the majority of their offense came through the air. 


Aaron Rodgers threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, and the Green Bay receivers ran wild.

Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings combined for 186 receiving yards. Throw in a 35-yard touchdown catch by James Jones and it's clear it was not the secondary's finest game. 


The only thing you need to see to get an idea of their performance is watch Jordy Nelson's 93-yard touchdown catch. Darian Stewart and Al Harris were in the area, but they collided with each other while attempting to make a tackle, which allowed Nelson to break free. It was very symbolic of the groups overall performance.

Safety Quintin Mikell, as usual, was an exception. He was solid, as expected, and he had a great tackle for a loss in Green Bay's backfield, which denied the Packers on a third-and-one conversion.


Safety Craig Dahl had an interception, which also does something to help the secondary's grade as well. 
Overall, the group is really hoping cornerback Rod Hood is ready to play as soon as he gets up to speed.





Saturday, October 1, 2011

Will Spags Feel the Heat If the Rams Lose Tomorrow Against Washington?

Prior to the season, if you said that Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo could be on the hot seat four games into the 2011 season, you would be called crazy.


Last season the Rams bounced back from a terrible 1-15 2009 season. They finished with a 7-9 record and missed the playoffs by one game and rookie quarterback Sam Bradford was the offensive Rookie of the Year. Also, the defense was ranked 12th in points allowed per game.

But given the current state of the team, will Spagnuolo's job be threatened with a loss against theWashington Redskins this coming Sunday?


Logic says that Spagnuolo is safe, even if the Rams lose Sunday and fall to an 0-4 record. 


The Rams are still very much in the hunt for the NFC West title, with a much lighter second half of the season. Even if they lose Sunday, there is still time to cover ground in their embarrassingly weak division. 


The Rams enter their Bye Week after this Sunday. Then they enter a grueling three-game stretch against the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints.


However, they'll see some light at the end of the tunnel with two games against each of their woeful division opponents, as well as the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals. They also finish the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are the only clear playoff team on the second half of the Rams schedule.


But winning football games is not like riding a bicycle. If the Rams enter their Week 9 matchup against the Arizona Cardinals with six or even seven losses, can anyone really expect the demoralized team to just flip on a switch and win games? 



It might take the Rams some time to find a groove during the second half of the season, which could result in a very disappointing outcome when considering the city of St. Louis was fully anticipating a division title. 


You can blame it on the schedule or injuries, but truthfully a fanbase that has witnessed their team win only 13 games in the previous four seasons combined is not going to be very forgiving when it comes to excuses, especially considering the hype that surrounded the team entering the season.


The fans may call for blood. 


And honestly it might not even take until the end of the season. 


With a team that is showing very little emotion at the moment, and with three very tough losses to start the season, can owner Stan Kroenke stomach three or four more consecutive losses that are just as troublesome?


If the downward spiral continues, the Rams could perhaps turn to offensive coordinator Josh McDaniel to finish the season as the interim head coach, given his coaching experience in Denver, and the team would likely find a new coach in the offseason.

It's not as if it's too soon to pull the trigger, at least not by the standards of other teams. 


Jim Mora, Mike Singletary, Tom Cable and Eric Mangini were all fired by their respective teams. They were all hired in 2009, the same year Spagnuolo was hired by St. Louis.



But the best thing the Rams can do as a franchise is get back on track and win football games.


Continuity wins in the NFL, so bringing in a new coaching staff will only set the franchise back even further.


Not to mention, if the Rams clean house, Sam Bradford would be forced to learn his third different system in as many years, which is not good for a young quarterback, unless the team is fine with him turning into another Alex Smith.  


So if the Rams want to avoid disaster and several more years of setbacks, the team needs to figure out how to win—and soon.