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Overheard: What people are saying about the Rams/Patriots game

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Here's a survey of what the rest of the world is saying about the Rams tough loss to Patriots.

More than a few noticed Bulger's on-and-off performance in this game.

From Football Outsiders:

Aaron Schatz: I was a bit surprised by how off Marc Bulger was during this game. He had a couple of really short throws on screens and dumpoffs, and a couple of passes that were overthrown by a couple of miles (and not, I don't think, intentionally thrown away). He also had a couple of plays where he was so tuned in to one receiver that he missed another one completely open on the other side of the field.

And here's Bill Coats from the Post Dispatch:

Marc Bulger had a solid 128.2 passer rating after three quarters, and the Rams led early in the fourth. But he completed just six of 16 passes in the final period and was intercepted with just over a minute to go, snuffing the Rams’ last real opportunity. Pressured often, Bulger threw for a season-high 301 yards, but was inconsistent, connecting on several pinpoint passes but missing badly on a few others.

Bulger showed improvement in this game, compare it to last week's outing or the week before against the Redskins. Last week, he got sacked three times, at least, because he held on to the ball too long, and the week before almost all of his his throws were coming off his back feet. Given the amount of sacks he's taken in the last few seasons, we may not see the Bulger we used to know until next year. As protection improve, I expect him to get better field vision, finding open receivers, not just the designated target, and making throws. Having McMichael in the lineup, getting open in the middle - something we saw in the earlier games this season - would be a tremendous help to Bulger in his current state and force defenses to stay honest in the middle. 

The New Rams

Here's SI.com's Don Banks on another solid performance and the Haslett-led resurgence:

That was another great effort by the resurgent Rams, albeit in a 23-16 loss at New England. It occurs to me that if Jim Haslett was as good a defensive coordinator in St. Louis as he has been a head coach, he would have already gotten his second shot at head coaching elsewhere.

Don't underestimate the tension among the coaching staff as part of the problem in the early going this season. It's clear now that there was something there that poisoned the relationships among the coaches. Remember, Haslett's defense played solid last season.

How's this for balls-y, from Haslett in the PD write up:

"I'd have gone for two to win the game," Haslett said. "You come up here and play this team on the road, you've got to try to do whatever you can to win. ... You've got the ball in your hand, why not just win it right there? Why put it in the flip of a coin (to start overtime)?"

The Youth Movement

Again from Banks at SI.com (same link):

Now I know why the Rams' Donnie Avery was the first receiver selected in the 2008 draft, even if it did take until the second pick of the second round. Avery had his second consecutive big-play performance for St. Louis, burning the Patriots for 163 yards and a touchdown of 69 yards on six catches. Last week against Dallas, he got the Rams' upset off and rolling with a 42-yard touchdown reception.

The Cowboys and Patriots have their problems in the secondary at the moment, but I haven't seen anyone really cover Avery in the past two weeks.

Speaking of Rams rookies, defensive end Chris Long had a career-best two sacks of Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel, doubling his season total. Howie's boy is starting to become a real factor in the Rams' improving defense.

Did you know that Chris Long is on pace for 9 sacks this season? That's in line with the most optimistic projections we made prior to the season. Long is tied with Leonard Little with four sacks for the team's most.

More love for Avery from the Riverfront Times' Rundown blog:

Avery is young, he’s fast, and I shout at the TV for the Rams to give him the ball on every possession. Making the University of Houston alum the first receiver drafted this past year may have been the only thing that Scott Linehan ever did right as head coach.
My only beef with Avery is his touchdown celebration dance.

Peter King dubbed Avery his Offensive Player of the Week:

Donnie Avery, WR, St. Louis. By all measure, Andre Johnson of Houston has been better in October. Except one: explosive plays. Avery, the rookie second-rounder who likely will replace Torry Holt long-term as the Rams' deep threat, burned the Patriots Sunday just like he burned the Cowboys last week, streaking down the left side and catching a deep Marc Bulger throw. Against New England, the 5-11, 184-pound Avery had six catches for 163 yards and a 69-yard touchdown. Watch him run. He looks like his feet barely touch the ground.

Finally, moving out to a wide shot of the game, here's ESPN's Mike Sando with a couple of thoughts on the Rams performance:

  • The Rams were competitive even though they finished with nine penalties, compared to zero for the Patriots.
  • The Rams scored on their first two possessions, a much better start than what they experienced during their most recent road game (at Washington).