Momentum can attack and flow through all three phases in the game of football (Offense, Defense and Special Teams) – either positively or negatively. On Sunday afternoon the third phase of the game – Special Teams – played a vital role in the loss on Sunday to the Detroit Lions 44-6. /span>
Generally special teams units are not built with Blue players or difference makers, but red players that are starters and contribute at other positions. Most if not all these players that fill out the units are extremely physical and some say missing a few marbles. The explosive collisions and controlled chaos are an every Sunday event. All players with the exception of a few that are on the active roster must and do play on Special Teams. The more units you can earn a spot on, the more valuable you become to the team (this is called a “core special teams player.”)
On Sunday, The Rams started the game off with an On-Side Kick. This is an attempt by the Rams kick off team, working for a short kick and trying to recover it. An onside kick must go ten yards before the kicking team can work to possess or recover the ball. This is usually attempted in the final minutes of a game, where the losing team works to recover and score a field goal or touchdown to win the game. The onside kick was not successful. It was a bold call (the Special Teams Coaches must have persuaded Coach Spagnuolo based off film review that it would work). It is a call that if it works you’re a genius and you have major momentum on the road. When it doesn’t it makes the coaching staff look bad, and questions are asked. Bill Walsh told me “there are no geniuses in football”.
At the end of the first quarter Rams tied the score 3-3 with a Josh Brown Field Goal. To start the second quarter Brown kicks off to Stefan Logan (Detroit) and he returned the kick 105 yards for a touchdown. Up until that moment the Rams were in a dog fight, competing really well. With that Detroit score, the momentum switched and rolled downhill like an avalanche. Logan is a Return Specialist. He returns both Punts and Kick-offs with production. He is a dual returner that had an outstanding day.
This momentum change provided a lift to the Lions Offense, where Shaun Hill took charge and led his team on several long drives. He threw three touchdown passes, spread the ball around to several weapons and handed it off to Jahvid Best as well. Defensively, the Lions front four in Corey Williams, Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch applied consistent pressure on Sam Bradford in every passing situation, despite SJ39 running for over 100 yards. The loss of receiver Mark Clayton was like a balloon that was popped and the air slowly leaked out. The only target remaining with any playmaking ability was Danny Amendola and he played his heart out as a receiver and doubled up as a returner with production in both areas. But Amendola’s fumble in the Red Zone was another momentum changer.
The Rams Defense had many opportunities to make plays in space. Ron Bartell dropped an interception. The defense could not muster a pass rush to pressure Hill. Detroit’s two offensive tackles – Jeff Backus and Gosder Cherlius – shut down all the Rams edge players, while the interior slowed down the inside pass rush.
As I mentioned early in the week, this game was a pivotal to the progression of this young team. When you lose you deal with adversity, and when you win you listen to everyone telling you how good you are. That goes for Coaches, Players and the Personnel department – it’s human nature. Steve Spagnuolo’s job is to make them forget about that game, and set the focus on the Chargers. The Rams will come out and play much better against the San Diego Chargers.