RamView: Week 13 Preview

Ah, to have been a Chicagoan this summer. The city had the sports world by the tail. The White Sox and Cubs were in the middle of pennant races. With the hometown President and the mighty Oprah lobbying on the city’s behalf, their 2016 Summer Olympic bid was in the bag. And Da Bears were on their way to the Super Bowl after trading for rifle-armed Broncos QB Jay Cutler. It was Chicago’s world; the rest of us were just living in it.

None of it lasted long, and faster than you can say “Rio de Janeiro,” the Bears’ season headed downhill with the rest. Instead of leading the Bears to the playoffs, Cutler’s led them to the league lead in interceptions. The team’s returned the favor in not supporting Cutler very well. Matt Forte’s rookie magic appears gone this season, and the Bears – the franchise of Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, Gale Sayers and Walter Payton – are 28th in the NFL in rushing. 28th! The Bears! The problem starts in Chicago where it starts for a lot of teams, the offensive line. Orlando Pace may not play next week due to a groin injury; just as well for his long-time Rams fans. His play this year has only proven that the Rams made the right move to let him go. Pace can throw the occasional dominating run block but has been a liability in pass pro. Any Bears game I watch, there are guys just pouring in past Olin Kreutz, who I’d have to call a shell of his former self at center, and Roberto Garza looks awful at RG. Cutler gets hit a lot, and hears even more footsteps. He’s jumpier in the pocket than Jim Carrey after a Red Bull, doesn’t throw accurately enough under pressure to make defenses pay for blitzing, and locks in almost exclusively on TE Greg Olson when he does. I’ll just say a capable defense, capably coached, would find ways to take advantage of these tendencies.

It’s a bad time for Steven Jackson to be hurting; even with head coach Lovie Smith taking over as defensive coordinator, the Bears – the franchise of Dick Butkus, Richard Dent, Mike Singletary, Brian Urlacher (not this season; he’s missed all of it with a broken wrist) – are only 23rd in the league against the run. The Bears can’t run or defend the run? The Bears? But their only defensive playmaker lately’s been CB Charles Tillman, the only guy in their secondary who can cover anybody, and he took a blow to the head in Minnesota. Avery’s in trouble if Tillman plays, because Tillman, like Atogwe for the Rams, has a sixth sense for forcing fumbles. Two hands on the ball, wideouts. Still, you can throw away from Tillman, and if Chicago doesn’t toughen up against the run, the Rams can feel really free to uncork their offense against them next week. Yeah, buddy. Let’s just say a capable offense, capably coached, would find ways to take advantage of their weak spots.

God I love writing previews. The Rams haven’t proven week-to-week that they’ve got any ability, other than Jackson’s guts, that makes them suited to attack any other team’s weaknesses. Why note that Forte’s having an off year when two of the league’s worst running teams just ripped the Rams on the ground? Why imagine ways for the Ram offense to attack defenses when its goal in life is to be boring? Why preview opponents in a vacuum that excludes the Rams’ injuries, inexperience and outright lack of talent?

A capable team, capably coached, would find the Chicago Bears very beatable next week, even in Soldier Field. The Rams aren’t there, unless Steven Jackson carries them there, which is possible.


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