Monday, November 15, 2010
Around the NFC West: Rams' road woes
By Mike Sando
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' road struggles are confounding to all involved, particularly after this 23-20 overtime defeat to the 49ers. I thought this was the first game of the season when the Rams' problems in the secondary stood out as the No. 1 reason the team lost a game. The Rams had previously masked or at least overcome those issues. They could not stop the 49ers from making big play after big play in the passing game. Defensive end Chris Long broke up a pass in the end zone and that might have been the best pass defense the Rams played. Miklasz: "Look, the Rams are in second place instead of first place because of this losing habit. These road losses are significant. They aren't random events. This has become a trend. And these Rams' yack jobs away from St. Louis are why the Seattle Seahawks lead the NFC West with a 5-4 record. The Seahawks -- a seriously flawed team -- are 2-3 on the road. The Rams are 0-4. Hence, Seattle (5-4) has a one-game lead on the 4-5 Rams."
From Miklasz earlier: Sam Bradford has impressed Kurt Warner.
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers a Rams report card with a D-plus grade for coaching. Coats: "OC Pat Shurmur opened the game with four-wideout sets on three of the first four snaps. He stayed creative early, but again turned conservative as the Rams tried to hold a lead. DC Ken Flajole oddly chose to go with four-man rushes on a number of crucial pass situations. HC coach Steve Spagnuolo could be challenged for passing up a 52-yard FG try early in the fourth quarter and the Rams up 17-10. And why did Kevin Dockery start at CB over Bradley Fletcher? That cost the Rams dearly."
Also from Coats: The 49ers' big-play offense took advantage of the Rams. Long: "We had more big plays we gave up today than we did all year. That's the difference. Really, that game falls squarely on our shoulders defensively."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo defended the Rams' decision not to blitz in a critical situation. The 49ers made enough big plays to make any coach nervous about taking chances.
Also from Thomas: Rams cornerback Ron Bartell laments the team's inability to make stops when the 49ers faced highly unfavorable down-and-distance situations late in the game.
More from Thomas: The Rams again came close to winning on the road.
Brian Stull of 101ESPN St. Louis looks at highs and lows from the Rams' performance. On the plus side: "Sam Bradford completed his fourth game without throwing an interception and led the team with a late drive down the field to tie the game. Steven Jackson had 148 yards from scrimmage, including a hard run for a touchdown and a big catch to set up the game-tying field goal."
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis says the Rams are a young team that needs to be careful about how much swagger it possesses following victories.