Monday, December 20, 2010
Around the NFC West: Rams outclassed
By Mike Sando
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams found themselves outclassed across the board against Kansas City, including on the coaching front. Miklasz: "Don't ask me what the Rams' game plan was on offense, because I have absolutely no idea. Don't ask me why the Rams' offensive line has suddenly turned into a row of wobbly Christmas trees, leaving Sam Bradford vulnerable to some wicked hits. Bradford looks fatigued; in one stretch Sunday he completed only nine of 27 passes. And why wouldn't Bradford be laboring some? Bradford's receivers can't get open, his line isn't protecting him, and his coaches haven't provided an innovative play since a month ago in Denver. Welcome to Marc Bulger's old world, Sam." It felt like that for long stretches Sunday. I thought the Chiefs' defensive front won quite a few one-on-one matchups, making it tough for Bradford to find receivers. I also thought the receivers often were not open.
Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams need to get some help for Bradford. Burwell: "His offensive line let him down because they failed to protect him against the clever heat that KC defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel was concocting. It was bad enough that they couldn't play stout enough to handle the pressure that was coming early and often up the middle and off the edges. But they further compounded it by being jittery and self-destructive with five false-start penalties that wrecked legitimate scoring opportunities. His receivers let him down because they couldn't get open downfield when that heat was coming. Only tight end Daniel Fells averaged more than 10 yards a catch. Bradford went the entire first half without completing a single pass to a tight end or wide receiver for more than 8 yards."
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Chiefs fans made themselves heard in the Edward Jones Dome. Thomas: "Most distressing to Rams officials was the fact that the lower bowl of the stadium -- which is almost exclusively the domain of season-ticket holders -- was littered with Chiefs fans. That was particularly the case between the 40-yard lines, where there were basically as many Chiefs fans as Rams fans. What that meant is that lots of Rams fans sold their tickets to Chiefs fans for this game."
Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams cornerback Ron Bartell showed no quit when the Chiefs' Jamaal Charles broke a long run late in the game. The Rams had pulled within a touchdown in the final five minutes when Charles got loose. Bartell caught him after 80 yards. Bartell: "When you're scratching and clawing tooth and nail, trying to get into the playoffs, no play is meaningless. Every play is a big play this time of year."
Also from Coats: a Rams report card with a "D" grade for Bradford.
Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com runs through issues affecting the Rams against Kansas City. Wagoner: "Penalties weren’t the only culprit in the offensive struggles though as the Rams began to have issues protecting quarterback Sam Bradford. After that opening drive, the Rams mustered just 31 net yards on their next nine possessions. On only one of those, did the Rams gain a first down. That type of lull just can’t happen, especially against a talented team like Kansas City."
Also from Wagoner: The Rams find themselves in a tough spot heading into a home game against San Francisco. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "I do fully believe in this football team. I know one thing typically throughout this season when we have had our backs to the wall that we have bounced back. I fully expect these guys to do that. Now this team we have coming in here is pretty good. It’s going to be a heck of a challenge but hey, that’s what the NFL is all about. It’s the end of the season, having great challenges. We have a great one and we will attack it appropriately."
Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat says the Rams' margin for error is gone. Meanwhile, Spagnuolo said the Chiefs' defense made no significant adjustments. Spagnuolo: "They didn't do anything different, I can tell you that. I kept looking. I was fully in tune to what they were doing defensively. (Chiefs defensive coordinator) Romeo (Crennel) did a good job. There were no changes there."
Also from Korte: postgame notes, including one about fullback Brit Miller suffering what appeared to be a torn ACL.
Tony Softli of 101ESPN St. Louis has this to say about Bradford: "When you break down the film, I’ve seen missed reads, open receivers and the inconsistent ability to pre-read coverage while staring down receivers. These are all the things a rookie quarterback does. My point is, don’t put him up on the mountain of greatness just yet. Don’t compare him to Pro Bowl players and Hall of Famers. Let him be Sam Bradford and allow him to grow and develop, and when he has a sub-par game it’s to be expected this year, but won’t be tolerated in his sophomore season."