We’ll let me start out by slamming all the medical doctors and athletic trainers that told me Matt Cassel had a 10-20% chance of playing. They were all right about the medical procedure, but wrong on the percentage of chance he would play. Not only did Cassel start, he played very well and without any effects of a recent surgical procedure. He was slightly rusty on accuracy, throwing behind receivers, while other passes sailed on him. Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis called a designed run for Cassel, which told me he was just fine. He was sacked three times, tackled, knocked down and pressured on several occasions, and he always jumped back up ready to play.
When in the last quarter of the season, and playing December football, teams work hard to gain momentum as they make a push for the playoffs. The Rams have faced two good football teams the last two weeks in the Super Bowl Champions New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs.
When you are playing good football teams and you lack talent to match their roster man for man, it is imperative that you play flawless team football. In both cases the Rams struggled in execution, the inability to score touchdowns in the red zone and beat themselves in several areas both offensively and defensively, not to mention poor tackling.
Sunday the Rams offense again started fast with a nice drive, got into the Red Zone, and started self-destructing with penalties, settling for a field goal. In the Rams second possession, the offense was set up nicely by an exciting Danny Amendola punt return into Chiefs territory. The play calling was good and the Rams moved the ball between the zones, but the results were field goals until the fourth quarter.
The wheels fell off the bus for this young football team. The false starts, penalties and turnovers are starting to mount. The inconsistent ability to protect the pocket and work as a cohesive unit has to do with coaching and the opponent having better talent.
Sam Bradford played very well early with 169 straight completions without an interception. He appeared on the cover of USA Today last week. He was compared to Joe Montana, John Elway and Peyton Manning. Several analysts have made statements that he doesn’t look like a rookie because of his poise, command of the offense and leadership ability.
Yes The Big Easy is a Rookie, as I made mention on several radio talk shows the last four or five weeks. When you breakdown the film, I’ve seen missed reads, open receivers and the inconsistent ability to pre-read coverage while steering 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.
The offense didn’t help the defense by scoring more points when the opportunity presented itself. The Rams defensive unit was a bend but don’t break group early in the first quarter. They played well, but were on the field too long. In the second quarter both coordinators for the Chiefs, Weis and Romeo Crenell (Defensive Coordinator), made major adjustments.
Offensively the Chiefs went to their bread and butter, the running game. Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones got warmed up and spent the next three quarters slashing and gashing the Rams defense. The Rams countered with pressure from the front seven and then cut loose the blitz packages, which paid dividends with sacks and an interception. While the Chiefs won the take-a-way, give-a-way battle they also left town with a big “W”.
The other glaring issue was the Rams fan base, which sold their tickets……again to the opposing teams fans. At times the St. Louis Rams felt like they were on the road and had to fight crowd noise, with several false start penalties. Even with the sea of red in the lower bowl of the ED, it was extremely obvious that there were thousands of empty seats throughout the dome.
When the Chiefs intercepted the Big Easy with just less than two minutes remaining, the Chiefs fan base that stayed until the clock read 00:00, started chanting as if they were in Arrowhead Stadium. An unidentified Rams employee, who lacks class and made the organization look bush league, turned up the music to drown them out. The music was blaring over the PA system. Have some class when you’re getting your hat handed to you!
The last thing and I’m tired of hearing it from visiting media members on each and every home game, is the Rams press box food. Yes it sucks, but don’t tell me, call Stan Kroneke, Kevin Demoff or Ted Crews. I know they serve finger licking bar-b-que in Arrowhead, Crab cakes at Baltimore and will bring you Starbucks coffee to order when in Seattle’s Qwest field.
The fourth quarter started last week, the Rams are now 0-2 and will need to finish with victories over San Francisco and Seattle in order to Win the West and make the playoffs. Dig deep Rams, you’re going to get your divisional foes best games the next two weeks.