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RamView: Week 11 – Secondary

A second straight dreadful week for the Ram secondary, which is struggling mightily to even keep its mediocre players on the field, let alone in the right position to make plays. Ron Bartell stood out early with some defenses of Roddy White on short routes, and Bradley Fletcher was an eye-catching contributor on run defense, but it’s a short highlight reel again this week. On third downs today, the Rams were about as clutch as Bill Buckner was in ’86 against the Mets. 3rd-and-3, 1st quarter, Justin King gets beat by Eric Weems, – seriously? – then blows the tackle and gives up an extra 15 yards. 3rd-and-14, same drive, White literally fakes Fletcher out of his shoe for 26. Leads to a FG. 2nd quarter, despite uncalled OPI on White, Oshiomogho Atogwe’s fairly dumb personal foul gets Atlanta in deep, and Brian Finneran gets behind three DBs in the end zone for a tying TD. Craig Dahl was moving the wrong direction because he got fooled by play action; King gave Finneran up to Dahl so he could cover… nobody. Probably the correct play by King. I still hate zone coverage. Play action passes the next drive leave Tony Gonzalez and Michael Jenkins wide open in the middle of the, yes, zone, to set up another FG. 3rd-and-7 next drive, Jenkins gets between Atogwe and Laurinaitis for 8, and White gets screamingly open, yes, in the zone, for 20, to set up another FG. Fletcher made a fine play at the end of that drive to save a TD. The Rams even protected their 17-16 lead once after they got it, thanks in part to Atogwe’s sweet diving pass breakup against Gonzalez. But then… it hit. The Great St. Louis Cramp Epidemic of 2010. Atogwe was struck down. King, whose career of indurability makes Chris Chandler look like Brett Favre, soon followed. Bartell wasn’t far behind. Meanwhile, Gonzalez faked out TWO linebackers on a 16-yard catch-and-run. White beat Atogwe’s overmatched replacement, Darian Stewart, on 3rd-and-4. Justin Peelle scored the TD by beating CHRIS LONG, who the Rams are apparently trying to turn into the world’s largest nickelback. At least he didn’t cramp up. I’ve seen reports that at least five Rams left the game due to cramps. The Rams broke my back in the 4th, with a deft live-action replay of last week’s Frank Gore fiasco. On 3rd-and-13, Jason Snelling leaked out of the backfield with a short pass and gained 15 after Stewart’s awful whiff. Jerome Murphy, who’s been overmatched all season, was certainly no match for White, yielding an illegal contact and a 3rd-and-3 catch for another first down. Then he and Dahl crashed into one another in the end zone after each made an excellent read on another pass for Peelle. Just our luck. The Falcons still got a FG and went up 26-17. I realize poor pass rush has a big impact on pass coverage, but this secondary is still awful. Gaping holes in zone coverage all day long. Sloppy tackling. They can’t get the other team off the field or stop third-and-anything to save their lives. And apparently they’re not even that good at staying fit. They were plagued with hamstring injuries the first half the season, and what the hell was with all the cramps today? Who knew the Rams sucked at the crucial position of… waterboy? And where is Bobby Boucher when you really need him?

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