NFL Nation: Giants-Rams

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams coach Scott Linehan should step down two games into the season. Executive Jay Zygmunt should also step down, Miklasz writes. 

Brian Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Zygmunt, not Linehan, is primarily responsible for the state of the Rams. As for Linehan's postgame meltdown: "Scott Linehan walked into the postgame interview room and immediately you could tell that we were about to witness an awkward gold mine of material for the next Coors Light television commercial."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Torry Holt held on to a touchdown pass he had no right catching, but the Rams couldn't hold on against the Giants. Holt, when told the Rams had given up nearly 1,000 yards in two games: "Wow. That's all I can say is, 'Wow.' They've got some cleaning up to do. And we've got to do a better job of trying to score some points."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says something about the Rams must change, but what?

Turf Show Times hands out detailed grades for the Rams, giving the highest marks to special teams and, perhaps surprisingly, receivers. Holt and Dane Looker made plays.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat offers slightly lower grades for the Rams' receivers and special teams.

Also from Korte: Rams rookie Chris Long was more relieved than happy about getting his first NFL sack.

More from Korte: Rams coach Scott Linehan showed anger during a short postgame news conference. His team heads to Seattle with an 0-2 record.

Norm Sanders of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams' offense has one touchdown and three field goals in two games. Tight end Randy McMichael likened quarterback Marc Bulger to a piņata after the Giants sacked Bulger six times.

Rod Kloeckner of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams' special teams were a rare bright spot for the team. Josh Brown kicked a pair of 54-yard field goals.

Todd Hefferman of the Southern checks in with Rams rookie Chris Long, who collected his first NFL sack against the Giants.

Dan Caesar of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch breaks down the stats for former Rams Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce, who enjoyed big days in Week 2.

Quick take: Giants 41, Rams 13

September, 14, 2008
9/14/08
8:12
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

The Rams actually hung in this game for three quarters, but then the Giants buried them with three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Eli Manning was 20 of 29 for 260 yards and three touchdowns, but the story of the game was the Giants' swarming defense. In the first two weeks of the season, the losses of Osi Umenyiora and Michael Strahan haven't hampered the club's pass rush.

The Giants finished with six sacks, and defensive end Justin Tuck continued his Pro Bowl campaign with two sacks and an interception return for a touchdown. It's not like Tuck came out nowhere (he had 10 sacks last season), but he's emerging as one of the top defensive players in the NFC East.

The once vaunted Rams offense was held to 201 total yards, and they only made it close in the second half because of a miracle catch by Torry Holt that made it 20-13. The Giants responded with a long touchdown drive and we were reminded why Ahmad Bradshaw is such a weapon when he took a swing pass from Manning 18 yards for a touchdown.

Tom Coughlin was worried to death about this game -- and for good reason. This is obviously a bad Rams team, but Coughlin knew there was an opportunity for a letdown. His offense, though, gashed the Rams with Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward on the ground.

Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo constantly rotated his talented defensive linemen, with defensive tackles Jay Alford and Fred Robbins combining for three sacks. Instead of worrying about players who aren't available, other players have raised their level of play.

Quick Take: Giants 41, Rams 13

September, 14, 2008
9/14/08
4:23
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Rams players bristled when St. Louis reporters suggested they quit during a season-opening blowout defeat at Philadelphia. The score wasn't much better against the Giants, but the Rams were far more competitive this week. They pulled within one touchdown, 20-13, when Marc Bulger found Torry Holt for a 45-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.

The Giants broke it open with an interception return for a touchdown and a 31-yard touchdown run from Ahmad Bradshaw.

The Rams' effort level isn't the problem. This simply isn't a very good team. The Rams had the oldest 53-man roster in the league entering Week 2. They lack young depth. They are also without their best pass rusher, Leonard Little, and starting left guard Jacob Bell. St. Louis simply doesn't have the talent to deal with injuries to starters.

Offensive coordinator Al Saunders, perhaps sensitive to claims that the Rams lacked effort in the opener, singled-out a high-effort play from the fourth quarter of the season opener. He showed video of the play to offensive players in preparation for the Giants game. The play showed tight end Randy McMichael breaking tackles, a running back throwing a block, a receiver throwing a block and two other players hustling downfield.

The Rams will need that kind of effort every week to give themselves even an outside chance, particularly against good teams. They also need more carries for Steven Jackson, who finished the game with 13 rushes for 53 yards. Bulger absorbed six sacks. He won't make it through the season without better protection and/or a run-heavy game plan.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

San Francisco 49ers (0-1) vs. Seattle Seahawks (0-1), 4:05 p.m. ET

The Seahawks' injury issues at receiver were a bigger problem in the opener than I had anticipated. Seattle, much like Philadelphia, has a veteran quarterback and a well-established offensive head coach. But the Seahawks and Eagles produced widely disparate results in their openers.

Seattle was on the road against a much tougher opponent, but the Seahawks' struggles went deeper. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck simply isn't comfortable breaking in new receivers. He must overcome that and his receivers must meet him halfway by catching balls thrown to them. How hard is that?

The 49ers can win this game if they establish Frank Gore in the running game and capitalize on the Seahawks' shaky special teams. Niners offensive coordinator Mike Martz is on the record saying he must make Gore the focal point of this offense. The 49ers can be a competitive team if Martz follows through.

Gore tore through the Seahawks' defense during a 2006 upset at Qwest Field.

The 49ers had a hard time protecting the ball against the Cardinals in their opener. They must be careful against Seattle. Joe Staley, making his second start at left tackle for the 49ers, had problems against the Cardinals' outside rushers. Seattle can challenge him in similar ways with Julian Peterson and others.

As Gore goes, so go the 49ers.

New York Giants (1-0) vs. St. Louis Rams (0-1), 1 p.m. ET

The Rams' attempts to improve and gain confidence are running into a brutal opening schedule. My NFC Super Bowl pick, Philadelphia, blew up the Rams' defense with big play after big play. The Giants come to St. Louis in Week 2 with a veteran offensive line, a workhorse running back and a nine-day break between games.

It's tough to see the Rams' defense holding up consistently. The secondary already had problems heading into the season. The team benched starting cornerback Tye Hill for poor play in the opener. A hamstring injury will force the Rams' best outside pass rusher, Leonard Little, to miss this game.

In other words, double-check those fantasy lineups to make sure the Giants' Plaxico Burress is starting.

The Rams' offense was the primary problem last season. The defense seemed to compete and improve. The roles might be reversed this season if the opener was any indication.

Steven Jackson ran the ball effectively during the early stages of the Rams' opening-week defeat. He never had a chance to develop a rhythm, however, because the Rams fell behind so quickly. The Eagles held a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.

The Rams lack the personnel to play from behind against a well-established defense. They need to stick with the running game this week even if they fall behind. It's their best option.

Miami Dolphins (0-1) vs. Arizona Cardinals (1-0), 4:15 p.m. ET

The Cardinals absolutely must win this game at home to validate early feelings about their status as a team on the rise. They were pleased to score a road victory against a 49ers team that beat them twice in 2007. Losing at home to the Dolphins might raise doubts heading into consecutive road games against the Redskins and Jets.

Arizona and Miami are both looking to establish identities under relatively new coaching staffs. The Cardinals have more talent and a one-year head start on the coaching front. They need to improve their run defense and become more efficient in the passing game.

The matchup itself is uninspiring. But with a chance to claim their first 2-0 start since 1991 -- yes, 1991 -- the Cardinals can't treat it that way.

Coach Ken Whisenhunt had the right answer when Miami reporters asked him about the challenge of changing the culture of an organization.

"When we win some games here and we've done that, I'll let you know," he said.

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