NFL Nation: Rams-Eagles

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Defensive Back
TeamTargetedBurnedYardsTD
Tye HillSTL981541
Corey ChavousSTL531311
Kelly JenningsSEA641271
Ronde BarberTB541231
Fakhir BrownSTL731161

Re-watching the Rams-Eagles game last night brought into focus the Rams' problems in the secondary. The chart, which shows the most yards given up by NFL defenders in Week 1, lists three Rams and one Seahawk among the top five.

Tye Hill seemed to be in position on one of the Eagles' big completions early, but DeSean Jackson made the play. Seattle's Kelly Jennings had a hard time with the Bills' Lee Evans.

These breakdowns, tracked by Stats LLC., can be subjective. Only the Rams know for sure which of their players were responsible for certain aspects of specific coverages. Sometimes a cornerback gives up a big play after a safety fails to help in coverage. That could have been the case with some of these plays. But a careful review can generally tell us which players failed in coverage most of the time.

How to read the chart: "Targeted" shows how many times each player had passes thrown to the players he was covering. "Burned" shows how many of these passes were completed. "Yards" shows how many yards these passes gained. "TD" shows how many produced touchdowns.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch assesses the sheer magnitude of the Rams' opening-game futility. Four of five offensive linemen had false starts in the first half, and the team converted zero times in 11 third-down chances. He thought the Rams looked worse than the team that went 3-13 last season.

Also from Thomas: Receiver Drew Bennett and defensive end Leonard Little left the game with injuries. Little's hamstring problem could become a big issue for the pass rush.

Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch begins his post-mortem this way: "And with the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, the Rams select ..." Worst of all, Miklasz thought the Rams didn't try very hard. He thought they had no pulse.

Bill Coats of the Post-Dispatch says Steven Jackson took a huge hit and came back for more, one of the few positive signs for the Rams on a dreadful day.

Also from Coats: Those who cover the Rams never saw a defeat like this one coming. Coach Scott Linehan: "I think discouraged is not a very good word. I refuse to use it. I'm very disappointed, though. We've got to use it as motivation to not go back here. We expect to play a lot better next week."

More from Coats: How about that Rams secondary? The Rams gave up five pass plays of 25 yards or longer.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat hands out grades following the Rams' 35-3 defeat. The highest grades were C-minuses for the receivers and special teams.

Breakdown: NFC West

September, 7, 2008
9/07/08
7:49
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

  • Bills 34, Seahawks 10

The Seahawks spent all offseason working to improve their running game. While that work appeared far from finished during a 34-10 defeat at Buffalo, the passing game needs even more attention -- especially if Seattle hopes to overcome shoddy special-teams play.

The situation at receiver went from potentially serious to grave for Seattle when a knee injury forced Nate Burleson out of the game. Burleson was the Seahawks' only healthy wideout with meaningful experience. The other starter Sunday, Courtney Taylor, averaged 9.5 yards on two receptions. He dropped the ball and wasn't a factor.

The Seahawks were excited about working veteran tight end Jeb Putzier into their three-receiver packages. He had trouble holding onto the ball and finished with zero receptions. Seattle converted only three times in 16 third-down chances.

Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck needs receivers to find open spots when plays break down. Hasselbeck waited for receivers to find open spots, but they never did. Veteran receiver Bobby Engram, sidelined for at least another game or two, was extremely valuable in those situations.

This wasn't the first time the Seahawks have stumbled on offense during a season opener. But those previous teams didn't have Mike Solari and Mike DeBord coaching the offensive line. They didn't have tight ends as versatile as rookie John Carlson. They didn't have veteran guard Mike Wahle, the player coach Mike Holmgren identified as the single most important addition of the offseason.

History tells us not to overreact after one game. The Seahawks return to Seattle for home games against the 49ers and Rams over the next two weeks. A fast start is still possible and even likely.

Seattle needs to restore balance to its roster for the benefit of special teams. The Bills piled up 120 yards on six punt returns, including a 63-yard return for a touchdown. Special-teams plays contributed to 21 points for Arizona. That was even more than expected against a Seattle team carrying two kickers, six running backs and a league-low 13 linebackers and defensive backs.

Getting defensive back Jordan Babineaux and defensive tackle Rocky Bernard back from one-game suspensions should help, but not without improvement on offense.

  • Eagles 38, Rams 3

The Rams made it through their predictable season-opening sacrifice in Philadelphia without losing left tackle Orlando Pace to a season-ending injury. Quarterback Marc Bulger also left Philadelphia in one piece following the 38-3 defeat against the Eagles.

This St. Louis team will have to settle for small victories, particularly against a Super Bowl contender such as Philadelphia. Getting through this game without losing Pace or Bulger will have to suffice. Nothing else went right, and even Pace wasn't unscathed. He took a hit to the ribs when the Rams were trailing, 38-0. And if Bulger keeps taking shots the way he did Sunday, he won't last.

The Rams will improve on offense as long as Pace and Bulger remain available. They can't get much worse after failing to convert any of their 11 third-down chances. This was the Rams' first game under new coordinator Al Saunders. Steven Jackson held out through training camp, so he was going to be a rusty. A new offense needs time to develop continuity. Torry Holt is not going to finish with one catch for 9 yards every week.

The breakdowns suffered on defense might be more troubling. Allowing 522 yards wasn't as bad as allowing so many of those yards on big plays. The Eagles, despite entering the game without either starting receiver, produced pass plays of 47, 31, 52 and 90 yards during their first five possessions. The Rams' offense never had a chance to find balance after falling behind early.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Rams listed fullback Brian Leonard and receiver Donnie Avery among their inactive players against the Eagles today.

Leonard was active for all 16 games last season. He started seven of them. The Rams had listed Leonard as probable with a shoulder injury. Avery, a rookie receiver, had been questionable, but his inclusion on the list of inactive players had been expected.

Other inactive players for the Rams: safety Brannon Condren, linebacker David Vobora, offensive lineman Roy Schuening, offensive lineman John Greco and defensive lineman Eric Moore. Brock Berlin is the third quarterback.

The Rams are listing Dan Kreider as the starting fullback, but offensive coordinator Al Saunders uses the position situationally. He also leans hard on tight ends for blocking.

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