Whether or not you like the early returns, the St. Louis Rams and the 2011 NFL season is underway. One game is hardly enough time to shape opinions about a team, especially after a mostly lost offseason. Nevertheless, fans have had their first glimpse of a team expected to compete this season, a team not expected to lose the division crown in a final week of battle against an inferior opponent. Early or not, we should at least take the temperature of the fan base.
A couple thoughts to share, my own opinion.
I realize the season is young. I realize the Rams offense is learning a new system. Those things were readily apparent against the Eagles. However, it was another week of poor execution. Even the head coach acknowledged as much, noting missed tackles, blown assignments and other break downs in fundamentals that made things much easier for the Eagles than it might have been.
I do not disagree with the notion that the Eagles are a better team than the Rams. If anything, the odds makers were probably a little generous making them 4-point underdogs. Despite that, more talk of poor execution bothers me. It should be a familiar refrain; Spagnuolo cited the same thing in the Rams' week 17 loss to the Seahawks last year. Poor execution dogged the Rams in the games before that season finale last year too.
That's a problem. Good teams run the right plays, make the right calls, fill the right gaps and finish their tackles. Even when those teams do make mistakes, they overcome them by re-focusing.
Another meta issue on my mind lately is the overall intensity of the Rams. Obvious differences in talent aside, the Eagles played with focus and intensity, killer intensity. They finished blocks, made nasty hits and did whatever it took not to get beat. The same was not so obvious with the Rams, not from play to play, quarter to quarter. The third quarter in particular seems to be a problem for the Rams since last season. That speaks of bigger problems than talent, depth or one unit being on the field longer than the other.
Don't panic just yet. The season is young, and this is a team that went from one win to seven in the span of just two seasons. They can pull this off. Still, it is something to keep eye on next week when they play a Giants team that they do matchup with pretty well, except for the experience category.
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