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Around the NFC West: Blaming Spags

11/28/2011

A four-game stretch with games against Seattle, Cleveland and Arizona (twice) was supposed to provide a respite for the St. Louis Rams.

Did not happen.

The team lost three of those four games, including a 23-20 home defeat to Arizona in Week 12, and now must play four of its final five against teams with winning records.

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says it's getting tougher to believe in coach Steve Spagnuolo because the team is getting worse as the season progresses. Burwell: "Spagnuolo committed the sort of glaring coaching errors that under the best of circumstances get owners looking at you sideways, and in the worst of circumstances -- such as a loss that sends your team falling deeper into the abyss of another lost season -- gets a giant target plastered on your chest. Add this to the growing list of games we've seen far too many times this season. This was a game against a bad foe that didn't deserve to win. But it was yet another game the Rams gave away, and they gave it away because of failed decisions by the coach." Noted: It seems like every decision Spagnuolo makes backfires in the worst way. His decision to punt on fourth-and-1 in the third quarter went from questionable to regrettable when Patrick Peterson returned the punt 80 yards for a touchdown.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' futility right before halftime was typical for this team. Thomas: "After a 26-yard reception by Brandon Lloyd to the Arizona 3, the Rams had a first down, 43 ticks left on the clock and a timeout in their pocket. They ended up kicking a 35-yard field goal just before halftime. How does that happen?" Read on.

Also from Thomas: a reshuffled offensive line struggled against Arizona. Noted: My impression watching the game was that the Rams' line was holding on for dear life. I'll re-watch the game to see whether Darnell Dockett was held as much as the Rams appeared to hold him.

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com offers up a Rams report card with no grade higher than the "B" handed out to the secondary for its efforts against a struggling John Skelton.

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' run defense might have sewn up a No. 32 ranking for the season after allowing 228 yards to Beanie Wells. Rams cornerback Justin King: "It was two runs. It wasn't like he was chunking us for 15 yards a clip and pounding it down our throat. He capitalized on some different gaps we didn't cover. He didn't do anything out of the ordinary. He did what a great NFL back does. He makes you pay for your mistakes." Noted: Yes, Wells gained half his yardage on two runs. He still averaged roughly 5 yards per carry on his remaining runs. All defeats are not the same. Those featuring lots of rushing yardage for the other team are particularly demoralizing.