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RamView: Week 11 – Part VI

RamView, November 22, 2009
From Row HH
(Report and opinions on and from the game.)
Game #10: Arizona 21, Rams 13

* Coaching: Little bugs me more than the Rams coming out flat for a game, which is exactly what I believe happened today. Whatever Steve Spagnuolo says Monday, the crowd, half the radio booth and at least one of your players thinks you came out flat. To the team’s credit, that’s the first time it’s happened in a very difficult year, and they worked hard in the second half and made the game respectable. But this is a home game. This is a division opponent. It’s surely your fans’ most hated opponent. Throw us a bone here and make us believe you’re putting urgency into divisional games instead of losing 13 in a row or losing 6 in a row to freaking Bill Bidwill and losing this game AT HOME FOR THE FIFTH STRAIGHT YEAR. I cannot think of a more unacceptable losing streak to have to live with as a St. Louis sports fan. Somebody at Rams Park show that you get that.

Sending in the FG unit on 4th-and-goal from the 2 in the 3rd quarter was EXTREMELY unpopular. Spagnuolo wanted to cut it to a 2-score game, but what’s the downside of going for it? I’d happily have taken my chances with Matt Leinart backed up on his own goal line. The spot on Jackson’s third-and-1 run in the 2nd should have been challenged. It’s a critical play, you’re trailing, you’re in scoring position; it’s worth the risk of losing a timeout. Speaking of risk, what the hell was Bulger doing in the game the last minute when you could see from 100 feet away that he could barely stay upright?  The excuse I heard was that the clock was running so they couldn’t get Kyle Boller in the game. Has anyone on this staff ever heard of the play where you spike the ball to stop the clock? It’s legal, you know! They had as much a chance of a comeback with a cold, off-the-bench Boller as they did with an off-his-pins Bulger, without putting anyone’s long-term well-being at risk.

Ken Flajole’s X’s and O’s seemed fine this week; execution was the problem. Blitzing Warner up the middle was effective strategy, and the blitz knocked him out of the game. The Rams didn’t blitz willy-nilly, either; Flajole generally picked the right times. The Rams got their first sack on a zone blitz – Long was dropped back in coverage – but the zone blitz also got torched; see, Little v. Boldin in the 2nd. The Rams smartly ran away from Adrian Wilson at times but could have rushed more effectively. More outside running could have unclogged the middle, though  some of the smoke routes were probably meant to loosen the field. It’s been noted the Rams didn’t have Mike Karney on the field in many short-yardage situations, pretty dumb unless he was injured. Jackson runs well behind him, and the Rams got him because of past failures on short-yardage downs. John Lynch on Fox lobbied for some play-action in those situations, with Arizona stacking 9 in the box. If nothing else, it would have loosened up future short-yardage downs. Simple is best, but Pat Shurmur still does things too simply sometimes.

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