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"Have the Rams been solved?"

Zen-like Todd

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I think the answer is no, first of all, but its a rather obvious way to defend them, in any event. A lot has to do with the willingness of refs to not call some semi-dirty contact, and the ability of defenses to carry off the physical play. What does this mean for the Skins? Not that much, I think. Our personnel on offense is larger and more physical across the board. Seriously, are little DBs going to push around Rod and Derrius? People talk and talk and talk about Marshall, but I'd much rather send SD through the hole on short yardage than Marshall. I could go on a big spiel, but I wont.

Word Is Out: Hit Rams Hard and Often


No offense has been more productive or more pulverizing than the St. Louis Rams' over the last three seasons. But in their past two games — the loss to New England in the Super Bowl and Sunday's slip-up against Denver — the Rams scored 17 and 16 points.

There is hand-wringing and head-scratching over the offense from Rams management, coaches and players.


There is a notion that defenses, especially the N.F.L.'s superior ones, have a formula to finally shackle this band of speed bandits. There is a concern that since defenses have a history and a knack of eventually suppressing hybrid offenses, this is what is happening — the Rams' scoring machine, as we have come to know it, is being negated.

This is the current popular method to choke the Rams:

¶Hit them hard and hit them harder. Turnovers will ensue and their receivers become gun shy.

¶Put pressure on quarterback Kurt Warner with four linemen and little blitzing.

¶Play plenty of two-deep coverage and prevent big plays.

¶Tackle well.

Tampa Bay got the scheme started, even though it lost the 1999 National Football Conference championship game to the Rams, 11-6. New Orleans over the last couple of seasons has found success with the formula. The Giants continued the theme in a 15-14 loss to the Rams last season. Then New England perfected it in the Super Bowl.

Denver's defense followed suit. It did it so well that the Rams managed only one touchdown in the 23-16 loss at Denver, and that came on a 3-yard third-quarter run by Marshall Faulk, not with their imposing passing game.

The Giants visit St. Louis on Sunday, and their defense has high hopes that it can continue the trend — to punish the Rams' offense into submission.

We are now starting to hear about the Rams what was said a decade ago about the great San Francisco offense when it finally began to slide. Offensively, the Rams rely too much on timing and not enough on power. They do more prancing than they are physical. The insulting two words — Finesse Team — is enveloping the Rams again.

"The Rams play with more finesse, and we had our minds made up that we were going to play very physical," Denver defensive end Trevor Pryce said.

How physical?

"We took a lot of Super Bowl film and saw New England really popping guys in the mouth, and we saw they didn't like that," Denver linebacker John Mobley said. "That was something that we wanted to do — hit them when they weren't looking and even when they were looking, lay something on them. That's what we did and it showed. They didn't want to catch the ball late in the game."

Defensive end Keith Washington said: "Our guys were flying all around making big hits today. I think we may have shocked them with how we kept fighting and pressuring Warner."

Even Rams tight end Ernie Conwell conceded, "They did a great job of hitting us in the mouth."

Rams Coach Mike Martz, after Denver jumped to a 10-0 lead and a 16-6 first-half edge, said, "They took the fight to us and shook us up a bit."

Imagine that: the Rams' preening offense all shook up.

Actually, the Rams were defiant after the loss.

Some of them privately said that they believe they are a much better team than Denver, that they simply made occasional, critical mistakes that cost them the game, and that their offensive line did not play well but can and will play much better.

The two glaring problems for the Rams' offense were its lack of a running game (only a yard rushing in the first half and 32 for the game) and Martz's penchant for the big play instead of the steady one.

With his team trailing Denver, 16-13, and with the ball at the Denver 9, Martz chose to go for a first down on a fourth-and-1 pass instead of attempting to kick a field goal to tie the game. The play failed. Martz defended the call by saying: "We're aggressive and we'll always be aggressive. You make a deal like that and you energize your football team."

The problem was the Rams were already energized in the second half and tying the score would have energized them more. In the big picture, aggressiveness is good. In that situation, it was a horrible call because the gap between the Rams' offense and the league's better defenses is closing.

Now the Giants' defense and their new coordinator, Johnnie Lynn, are intent on closing that gap even tighter.

"We know we're a better team than we showed and we want to get back to balance in our offense," Warner said. "We have a lot of pride on offense and we want to get back on top of our game."

The Rams are counting on that.

But the good defenses in the league see a crack worth exploiting.

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¶Put pressure on quarterback Kurt Warner with four linemen and little blitzing.

Duh. Easier said then done. Not many teams have the luxury of an imposing d-line which can generate constant pressure without blitzing. And the Rams 0-line is no slouch either.

I'll take over where he left off:

- Sack the QB every down.

- Tackle the RB on running plays every down at or before the line of scrimmage.

- Jam the receivers at the line of scrimmage and play tight coverage.

- Defend/Intercept passes.

- Force/Recover fumbles.

- Don't take penalties.

- Don't allow the Rams to get touchdowns or kick field goals.

- Trash talk. Let them know exactly how pitiful you think they really which will destroy their confidence.

Simple right? Who needs defensive coordinators.

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I think the Giants can slow down the offense better than they have done since the Rams became an offensive powerhouse. I see two big reasons for this.

1. They are a physical defense as they showed against the Niners and knocking their receivers around.

2. The Giants D is much faster than it has ever been.

I think these two factors will give the Giants a decent chance of winning in St. Louis. Plus, from what I saw last week, the Giants D is much better at tackling than I remember. They improved a lot in that area.

The biggest factor on whether or not the Giants will be able to pull off the upset will be the Giants O against the Rams D. If the Giants avoid the turnovers and dumb penalties, I think they will be able to score enough to win. That is a big IF. The Giants did it last year with a slower D. They hit just as hard but as I mentioned earlier, they are faster this year.

The problem is youth. I read that the Giants average player has 3.2 years of experience. That is tied for lowest in the league with Arizona and Dallas. Mistakes by a young team can cost them this game as it did against SF. They have to grow up quickly.

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There is definately a "formula" to master the "greatest show on earth" but it has to be executed to perfection. The difficult thing about the Rams is it is ALMOST like watching a college team. YOu will make it 3rd and FOREVER, and the Warner gets protection and just throws an insane 60 yard pass because the WR is wide open. The Rams are definately a force to be reckoned with, and 1 loss in WEEK 1 is not gonna change my mind that they are still the team that the NFC Championship will run through.....Remember, not every team can put that kind of pressure on Warner, and pressure on warner is THE KEY...

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There's not a "system" yet invented that cannot be adjusted to, and ultimately slowed, by the best defensive minds in the game. If Martz' system has become static, the league will catch up. I'm beginning to wonder if his actual in-game play-calling hasn't become a bit predictable. Just seems like I see defenses caught off-guard less and less in Rams games. We're going to find out over the course of the next season or two if Mike Martz has the ‘next level" as well. He's shown he has a system that rocks with good players. Now he'll have to show that he can 1) evolve as necessary, and 2) that he is as gifted as play-caller and in-game adjustor as he is a game-planner.

The main reason I don't get too concerned over how all of this might or might not tie to the SS Redskins is that I watched Joe Gibbs evolve over the years. He added new wrinkles constantly, without ever compromising his basic schemes. The league caught up to counter-trey a bit? No problem ... add some new formations, some packages that force defenses to react to feints and the occasional foray downfield, then come at them with Riggo out of a formation they've never seen before. PLUS, he had the touch both in play-calling AND in-game adjustments.

Game-planning, obviously, is a big big part of NFL success, and I think Martz has shown he has that skill in spades. But so are the other two facets. From what precious little I've seen to date of SS on the pro level, I'd like to believe that he possesses all three facets as well.

We'll know soon enough. The NFL WILL catch on to what he's doing today at some point. What remains to be seen is whether he stays a step ahead.

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I originally wondered if defensive coordinators would adapt to SOS's style after a few games. However, after learning and seeing more of him, I think two things say no. 1) SOS is pretty darn smart and his scheme isn't predicated so much on doing specific things but rather throwing/running where/when the defense is weakest. As long as SOS is running the show with a QB who reads and understands defenses we will score points....in spades. 2) Like Gibbs, he seems to understand that everybody has tape of everybody else so he needs to change up periodically so that it becomes more difficult to gameplan us.

Oh, I almost forgot that since he's a great teacher it makes us less reliant on specific players to get production.

I didn't get a chance to see the Lambs game, but I think Martz may be wishing he still had Az Hakim to match up on the #3 corner.

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You gotta be kidding me. The formula is get pressure from just four linemen so that you can drop two deep? Wow, that's genius. Yeah, I guess all those guys that blitz must be smacking themselves in the foreheads right now. "Jeez, you mean we don't need to blitz to get pressure?" And then that great addition- "tackle well." I guess Faulk owes his career of making tacklers miss to the fact that other coaching staffs hadn't caught onto this yet.

Actually, the article does show something very important. Martz has the same weakness his mentor Norv had- the tendency to go for the big play even when it is not there. This *killed* the 2000 season for us. Seifert showed how to defend Norv in the first game. Take away the run with a lot of guys in the box, and play the corners way off to take away the deep pass.

Now, attacking that defense is obvious- you throw underneath all day and keep running the ball even if it doesn't work great in the first half. By the second half, you will be able to hang 60 points on the opponent.

The problem is, coaches like Norv (and maybe Martz) don't have the patience to do that. They only want to run if they are way ahead. And they want to get way ahead fast with the long ball. So they lose patience and try deep passes into the teeth of the defense.

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I think the problem might play calling, not the system. Martz seems to believe he can simply pummel every defense by continuing to attack downfield. That defenses will eventually tire and succomb to his players' talent.

It's interesting, because it's Martz' aggressiveness that is so admired. Spurrier has even cited it. I think the difference is that Spurrier is all about taking his shots downfield, but he sets them up. Spurrier's approach is to attack where the defense isn't. He wants to score TDs, but if that means dinking and dunking the ball 80 yards downfield because that's what the defense is giving up, so be it. And when the defense starts creeping up, go over the top of it.

Spurrier has been slammed because of his ego. But I think it's Martz whose ego is out of control. The Rams are going to suffer if he doesn't change his approach. The best coaches are ones who innovate, but know when the opposition is wise to what they are doing, then change their approach and innovate again.

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Originally posted by Mad Mike

I wonder how long it will take the Rams to figure out that the best way to hit back is with a running game?

I agree. I also agree that this is their fundamental problem:
The two glaring problems for the Rams' offense were its lack of a running game (only a yard rushing in the first half and 32 for the game) and Martz's penchant for the big play instead of the steady one.
It's assine that arguably the best offensive player in the NFL - Faulk - is being underutilized, and now for two games running.

Like Spurrier, Martz likes to pass. Unlike Spurrier, he seems more driven to show that he can pass under any circumstance than he does to win games.

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You'd better believe that I'm going to criticize Spurrier if he forgets what works in his panic to make up a deficit. As rare as it it is, his willingness to push the ball down the field in the passing game is only half the battle. He needs to remember that it's the mix of play calling, and the corresponding defensive confusion it generates, that causes his offense to work. The other part comes from the running.

Take a look at this excerpt from Wilbon's Tuesday article in the Post for an example:

(Stephen) Davis watched in fascination as the Cardinals tried to cover all their options by putting eight men up near the line to stop him, then scramble in a "cover-two" defense because they were so certain Spurrier was going to throw. This is the paranoia defensive coaches suffer when facing his East Coast offense.
As for the difference I discern between Spurrier and Martz, I harken back to this recent exerpt from the Peter King article about Spurrier, from Monday I believe:
Last Friday, two days before he coached his first NFL game, Steve Spurrier walked off the practice field at Redskin Park and pondered a comment that Broncos coach Mike Shanahan had made this summer. Shanahan said that the NFL newcomer, known in the college ranks for his fun-'n'-gun aerial show, might have to learn that the pro game is about winning, not entertaining. Spurrier shook his head, a hint of disbelief in his eyes. "Believe me," he said, "it's all about winning for me. Nothing else."
Spurrier wants to win. Martz wants to be crowned offensive genius. I like our guy. :)
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First of all, hi skins fans, I 've lurked for a while but this is post number one.

I don't know if the rams have been solved, but I see their problems as more than a product of the first game of the season. Lots of little things that use to bug me about the rams, that didn't matter because they would usually win big are starting to bother me a little more. As was the case in the super bowl the right side of the OL is not as strong as it once was. RT John St. Clair, although improving has been less than stellar. If this continues and help from the TE is rquired, than the rams potent 5 receiver attack is a little less potent. The option is that opposing teams' D are in Warner's face all day, or knocking him on his can or knocking him out of the game. Although I do not have a stat to quote, the red zone offense seems to be weak relative to the rest of the rams O.

Some of the more negative rams fans, feel that their running game is not as strong as it should be given the fact that Faulk is in the backfield. Most of these people point the finger at weak blocking for the run.

Clock management has always drove me nuts. Although, in the past the games were often out of reach by the two minute warning so it didn't matter. If blow outs are a thing of the past, and I think that they are, then the rams no longer have the luxury of using T.O. 's whenever they please. Hopefully, this will change. Or the blow outs start up again.

Special teams has been a total nightmare since last year. Although they came together during the playoffs, the ST's were nothing short of brutal this througout the preseason and slightly better during week one.

Anyway, I could ramble forever about my concerns about this team, but I will wait for a couple of more weeks to see how they perform. I'm at the stage now where I wouldn't be surprised if they pulled off a big win, nor would I be shocked by a loss. How is that for fence sitting?

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I believe you're our first Ram guest, Canada. Welcome. Hope you'll be around a bit later on this year ... we'll need someone wearing those golden horns to bat things around with. :)

AS for the fence sitting thing ... you'll fit in around here just fine.

Or maybe not.

Could go either way.


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