As I started writing this column, I looked for some motivation. I watched one of the best football movies produced. No, not “Rudy” or “Lombardi,” but “Any Given Sunday” directed by Oliver Stone. The actors, former players and coaches in the movie, along with the action were good.
The Coach, Al Pacino, gave his speech prior to the playoffs. As he stood in front of the team, steering them down, he shouted “It’s about fighting for that inch, it’s about playing as a team, it’s about living or dying, who will go that inch, who will sacrifice for the team, what are you going to do.”
As the locker room erupted and the team came together, I started thinking about Coach Steve Spagnuolo’s pre-game speech. I have been in several locker rooms for pre-game speeches at every level of football; little league, high school, Junior College, major college, semi-pro and the NFL.
Sunday night in Seattle is for all the marbles and the NFC West Crown. I can only imagine the words that will come from a very special coach who has transformed not only a team and an organization, but the City of St. Louis. His speech will be special, trust me!
The Rams will face a Seattle Seahawk team that is limping to the finish line, with injuries to quarterback Matt Hassleback, Left Tackle Frank Okam and several others already put on IR. Their back-up quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst, lacks the command of the offense, leadership qualities and has shown the inability to lead the ‘Hawks to a win when given the opportunity. What makes this a game to watch is the new found running attack of Marshawn Lynch and Justin Forsett. If the Rams aren’t careful, this combination of power and speed will make it one hell of a game on the ground.
The Seattle defense is scrappy, but porous against the run and spotty defending a true aerial attack. They are long in the tooth in many spots and lack the speed to recover when beaten deep. Their open field tackling is inconsistent, despite the gang tackling mentality the ‘Hawks bring every week.
The Rams don’t need “Steamin'” Willie Beamen, because they have the “Big Easy,” Sam Bradford. Pat Shurmur will continue to take advantage of what weaknesses Seattle has. He will stay within the Rams comfort zone of the short and intermediate passing game and hand or throw the ball to SJ39. This is not the game or the time to do anything cute. The Rams offense must score fast and often in order to take the Seattle’s 12th Man out of the picture. Noise will be an issue if the Rams allow the Seahawks stick around and make a game of it.
Defensive Coordinator Ken Flajole will have the defense hyped and ready to fight on each and every down. While the offense needs to score points, the Rams defense will need to set the tone and deliver the hammer and hard hits on a continuous basis.
While offense wins ball games and defenses win championships, special teams will play a big role if the Rams are going to win at noisy Qwest Field. The smell of the divisional crown has eluded the Rams for several years. It’s been way too long since they have gotten close.
In football as in life things change and I like the Rams in this game. I like them because of the Big Easy, SJ39 and a scrappy, blitz happy and pressure defense. There is a sweet pain that comes with this game they call football, and hopefully the Rams will experience that after a divisional dog fight in Quest field.