Week 1: Rams 0, Seattle 28: Rams lose 11th consecutive division game

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

The St. Louis Rams coughed up another one-sided loss. This week, they opened the season with a X-X loss to the hated Seattle Seahawks

The Rams started the game auspiciously enough with a Donnie Avery fumble on a kick-return. The Rams defense quickly washed those horrible memories of recent Rams team away with a three-and-out. You can probably count on one hand how many red zone three-and-outs the Rams defense produced last season. 

And then the offense came on the field. From there it's a familiar refrain. On the first snap of the first possession, Rams starting RB Richie Incognito gets flagged for a false start. After the defense put up another three-and-out (or did Seattle's offense just not have it's rhythm?), the second offensive drive crashed on the rocks of an Incognito unnecessary roughness. The more things change...

Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, not even the Keystone Cops themselves could have performed a better first quarter...first half really, except it got tragic by the half's dwindling minutes. A penalty for too many men on the field on a blocked field goal that would have made it 7-7 tells the whole story. That penalty made it 14-0. Worst case scenario, it would have been 10-0.

Throw in a missed 37-yard field goal and it suddenly it looks like something out of Cpt. Yossarian's imagination. Seahawks win 28-0, their first ever shutout of the Rams. And it could have been worse. 

The mind-blowing

 

  • It could have been worse.
  • You spent your Sunday afternoon watching this game to through more than three quarters. I kept thinking my son would take his first steps and I'd be watching the fourth quarter of this game. 
  •  Bulger had more time in the pocket than maybe ever. And he still couldn't make throws. Only part of that goes on Bulger's shoulders though. Even when he went through his reads...oh...so...slowly, there would be plays where no receiver was to be found 
  • The offensive line was shaky, at best. They did nothing in run blocking, except for getting runs called back. Coaches hid Steven Jackson after the first couple drives produced nothing, thanks in large part to the run blocking. C Jason Brown, with his pound to dollar contract, not only whiffed a call that resulted in a sack, he missed a snap because of crowd noise. 
  • I've been a RIchie Incognito defender because they guy can block, but his penalties made him such a liability he was replaced by Adam Goldberg before game's end. Let the John Greco era being.
  • Was it the time on the field or was it a complete breakdown of morale? The defense had a bad case of the Charlie Browns as the second half went on.
  • Rams defensive ends were MIA.
  • So were players guarding Seattle TE John Carlson.
  • Um, the decision to carry just three receivers. Help wanted in this department. 
Missing in Action...
  • Wasn't there supposed to be some sort of tricked out pass rush in Steve Spagnuolo's pimp my defense defense? The Rams seemingly brought nothing. Hasselbeck was hurried a couple times, but other than that the Rams finished the game with no sacks. Part of that was bad play from our defensive ends; part of that was playcalling. 
  • Speaking of playcalling...those of you thinking the Rams were a run first team got a rude awakening. The run got dropped fast with the chips down. and the playcalling got predictable.
  • And that doesn't just apply to the running game with Steven Jackson. Where was the RB in the passing game? A few times I saw a runner open for a junk pass to move the ball a few yards, and nothing. The ball sailed elsewhere. 
Uh, Highlights...
  • It's strange to come away from this game, as 3k said in the comments, with some confidence in the defense. Go back through the box score. Four Seattle possessions in the first quarter ended in turnovers. The other was a punt. The breakdowns that came in toward the end of the game were to be expected. That's something to build on. 
  • The defensive tackles were not as bad as we might have thought. The defensive ends though...
  • Laurent Robinson can make plays. If Donnie Avery hadn't been so rusty, Robinson might have had more to work with, but since he was the only guy who could threaten a first down (barely) he got enough attention to keep him under wraps.
  • James Laurinaitis is a great addition to this defense. Let's not overlook a couple of mistakes; the rookie from Ohio State got duped on the play that made it 14-0, but he made some plays and generally looked in confident...even if his teammates didn't. He had a better game than Aaron Curry.
  • Some players showed a little fire...mostly too little, too late. I'm stretching here. Mull this over and we'll have more later.
I can't help but think about the brutal losses Spagnuolo's Giants suffered in the first two games of their 2007 Super Bowl season, not that I'm delusional enough to think the Rams could go to the Super Bowl. More than the power of motivation, belief and sticking with what works, I think that tale says more about a team being ready to play than anything else. 

It was painfully obvious that missing three-quarters of the preseason hurt Marc Bulger. He looked lost out there at times, not knowing what to do with time in the pocket, but that's just a small part of the blame. The offensive line hasn't played together as a complete unit throughout most of the month of August, and even when it did it was never anything beyond practice. Donnie Avery is a talented receiver; you might have never guessed that tonight. The game ended before it began because of two stupid penalties by Richie Incogntio. The point I'm trying to make is that this was a team clearly not ready to play football, at least not the offense. 

Things don't get any easier next week. The Redskins gave the Giants a run for their money today. The Rams may not be a favorite in that game, but they can't afford to come out like this again.
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