Hello Rams fans. I hope you are all well. Yes, yesterday's loss stung similar to Tampa Bay's (and Oakland's... and Arizona's). My immediate reaction during the 4th quarter surge by the 49's was "here we go again." But, rather than be a Debbie Downer today, I'd like to try to put a positive spin on some things I saw rather than dwell in the negatives (after the jump).
- We have a terrific young leader at QB who can only get better: Sam Bradford showed some real "intestinal fortitude" (as my old baseball coach used to say) in the final two minutes by practically willing his team down the field to set up the tying field goal. No, we didn't get it done in overtime, but I am pleased with his overall performance. The more experience the offense (and Sam) gets in those situations, the more I feel the chips will fall in our favor. They just have to, right football gods?
- Chris Long is becoming a monster: My goodness, the guy has woken up this year. He pretty much owned anyone who tried to stand in his way, and forced Troy Smith out of the pocket constantly. Unfortunately, Troy Smith is one of the better QB's out of the pocket from what I have seen (as a Buckeye, he won the Heisman by making plays on the run). BUT, nonetheless he is living up to that draft pick.
- Our special teams should help us win close games in the future: Aside from Josh Brown's ridiculous kickoff penalty, and the direct hit Mardy Gilyard took in the chest on a kickoff return, our special teams was excellent. Josh kicked key field goals, and Donnie Jones did not allow a punt return. The punt block showed we can be aggressive (although I do not believe it sparked us enough). It's only a matter of time before our special teams is the difference between winning and losing.
- Craig Dahl is looking like a "steal": 12 tackles! And a few key pass breakups. He is emerging as being one of the more underrated strong safeties, at least in our division. He is unafraid of making the difficult hit, and is pretty good in single coverage (although he is not a burner). Smart player, and a great teammate.
Steven Jackson has a great attitude, and is keeping his teammates focused on a winning mentality: Immediately after the game, he cooled everyone's heels by saying:
"Stick together. Everyone stick together. Everyone trust in what we're trying to get done, what we're trying to establish here. We have seven games to go. Although this is a tough one to swallow ... we're still in the middle of things." Very well said, even as an immediate reaction. He knew this would be a barroom brawl, and that's what it was. We are lucky to have him, as he is one of the toughest, hardest-working and most team-oriented guys in the NFL.
I just want everyone to know that although I was super bummed about this loss, I still feel like this team is making REAL progress each week (especially our ability to control the clock, and get consistent pressure on the QB: two things that DID NOT happen at all last year). I do not think yesterday was a big set-back for the team (other than the penalties, which must be mitigated), and I think that many things that went wrong (i.e. blow coverage, missed tackling) is correctable through repetition. I believe in this coaching staff, and in what they are trying to build.
- If you told me during the summer that the Rams would already have 4 wins at this point in the year, I would have laughed. But now, I appreciate what we have so far and am excited for the remainder of the season. I hope you all can do the same. Feel free to comment, and Go Rams!!!