lost yesterday. I know, nothing new there, right? Well, you think it was nothing new, and you're right, but you may not realize just how
right you are.
The Rams lost yesterday. In virtually the exact same way they've lost every other game this year. Now that is a true statement. A depressingly true statement. Though, to be fair, there were at least some extenuating circumstances, such as the presence of Kellen Clemens -- a quarterback I was actually really really high on the year he was drafted; not a great call on my part -- taking snaps for the boys in blue. Still, though.
Watching the same game from the Rams every Sunday is a special kind of misery, really. At least get creative with the way you lose, guys.
Although I will say hearing Harvey Dahl screaming obscenities at a ref with an open mic may very well have been the awesomest thing I can remember in quite a while.
Here was the script for yesterday's game: defense plays brilliantly out of the gate, shutting down an opponent whose offense has been a big part of their success for the season. Secondary has a couple lapses but overall the D is keeping the opponent off the board. Offense struggles badly to get anything going, though in the early parts of the game they at least move the ball and kick a couple field goals. Things look moderately okay through the first half. Second half begins, opponent makes a couple of adjustments, scores once or twice, and things start looking grim. Offense still can't do anything, at all, to help keep the D on the sidelines for a solid breather. One mistake is made on special teams, opponent pulls an easy score, game is out of reach.
Actually, I will say there was some intrigue at the end of the game, which is kind of unusual for this team. Clemens ran the two-minute offense better than anyone else we've seen this season, and Danario Alexander made a truly incredible catch in the endzone for the Rams' only touchdown of the day.
Quick side note: seriously, did you see that catch by DX? He was literally two feet above Pac-Man Jones at the highest point of his jump. It was unreal.
Unfortunately, another bad-ish special teams play sealed the Rams' fate as Josh Brown sent a terrible onside kick right into the Bengals' waiting arms. I have a hard time blaming Brown too much, though; onside kicks are an incredibly low-percentage play anyway.
That's the formula for the 2011 St. Louis Rams: no offense whatsoever, a really good defense that simply can't cover all the holes forever, and one or two mistakes that ultimately put the game out of reach. Repeat ad infinitum. Twice against Arizona it's been a punt return by Patrick Peterson that's sunk the boat. Yesterday it was a couple very bad penalties (though in fairness to everyone on the field it was one of the worst officiated games I can ever recall seeing), and one busted coverage on a punt return. I could go on, but what's the point?
- The Rams should go back to the yellow and blues instead of the gold and navy they have now. Or even better, go back to those fantastic blue and white uniforms they had in the 60s. Those were fantastic. Fantastically so, in fact.
- I really thought Justin King was going to turn into a major steal for the Rams when they nabbed him in the middle rounds of the draft a few years back. Turn out I was very, very wrong. The guy lets every receiver he faces get behind him. Terrible.
- I do think the Rams have found a nice cornerback out of this whole miserable situation in Josh Gordy. I don't know he's a starter in the league, but he's definitely been the find of the year for me in the secondary.
- Robert Quinn is awesome. He partially blocked another punt yesterday, batted down a pass late in the game on his way into Andy Dalton's nightmares, and did good work all afternoon against a slightly banged-up Cincinnati O-line. Quinn is right on schedule development wise after missing his final season at North Carolina, and he is going to be a monster down the road.
- Chris Long is already a monster, and it's really a shame he plays for such a lousy team, because he just isn't getting the kind of attention he should be for his thirteen (so far), sack season. It's funny now to look back and see how he was regarded as somewhat of a bust his first season or two in the league.
- The Rams played outstanding defense against the run yesterday, and I have to wonder where that intensity has been the rest of the season. Part of it may have been scheme -- I honestly haven't had time to watch the game again and try to break down exactly what was going on on every play. Honestly, though, it looked to me as if the Rams' defense just played better against the run, which makes me question what was different yesterday. It isn't as if the Bengals don't have a solid ground game, either; Cedric Benson has been one of the more productive backs in the league this season.
- I've been impressed with Austin Pettis of late as well. He took a lot of flak early in the season for some poor decisions and some dropped balls, but he's steadily improved as the season has gone on. The criticism early on was probably unfair, considering he was still playing in his first handful of NFL games. I'm not sure he has the speed to really go downfield, but I do think he has the hands, size, and route running ability to become what I was hoping Brandon Gibson would become all along: a solid possession receiver.
- Finally, after seeing Kellen Clemens run the offense yesterday, I have to wonder if the Rams now seriously consider shutting down Sam Bradford for the rest of the season. The team has nothing to play for, and I honestly don't think a half-mobile Sam is going to make a more representative showing that Clemens did yesterday. (In fact, I honestly think Clemens probably ran this offense better than Bradford has most of the time this season. At the very least his superior mobility and not staring directly at the guy he's planning on throwing the ball to gives him a fighting chance.) For the sake of Bradford's recovery and the team's long-term health I think I just might put Sam on injured reserve and tell him to be ready to go when minicamps open.