Through fits and starts the Rams played a better game...until the 4th quarter. Hopeful signs were quickly squashed with errors, lapses, and just overall poor play.
Right now, you have to ask yourself what's a bigger problem, the secondary or the offense? The secondary, in my mind, did everything they could to give this game away, even though the Rams had plenty of other problems. Right now, the secondary might be better not being on the field at all. After a breakout year in which he led the NFC with 8 INTs, OJ Atogwe got burned bad for a 33-yard Plaxico Burress TD. (He did redeem himself with a turnover in the third, only to have the whole thing undone). And he's not the only one. Read Tye Hill, supposed to be in the midst of a breakout year, Fakhir Brown, and Corey Chavous all got burned again and again. Hill, in particular, the Giants continued to exploit, throwing in his direction again and again. It was as bad as it sounds, worse really. When the Giants (rarely) found themselves on long downs, 10 yards or more, it was one easy pass back to another first down.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Rams secondary was not this bad last year. What happened? Trip on this for a minute: Ron Bartell is the Rams best cornerback...and maybe their best d-back period. Poor safety play also became evident in the long runs Giants running backs were able to break off...but that was just one guilty party in the whole affair.
There's an article in the NY Times Play magazine today asking why there are so few elite corners and what it takes to be an elite CB. One aspect Champ Bailey talks about in the piece is the mental factor, i.e. the ability to get over a bad play. Right now, I'm wondering if Tye Hill's gotten into his own head. Hell, the rest of the secondary too for that matter. Something's not right.
The offense has a two-fold problem. The o-line played awful. C Nick Leckey looked out of his league at times. I suspect his play has been elevated in the preseason thanks to Jacob Bell on his left side, which reduces Bell's effectiveness having to cover 1.5 positions on the line. These guys just seem to lack to toughness they need to compete effectively. In my opinion, that's a factor that can be compensated for, to some extent, with leadership, call them out, motivate people to play above their ability - it happens all the time - don't play just to not get hurt.
Four sacks in the first half, and Bulger looked like a hurt puppy, lost and confused behind the paper tigers in front of him. Blocking from the other players, TE, FB, and most of all RB has to get better too. Steven Jackson now makes too damn much money to not pass block better than he does. Many Rams fans have been saying that Bulger is done, and today I'm inclined to agree.
Questions now turn to how do the Rams get better for next week, a tough game in Seattle. The question we really should be asking is whether or not the Rams have hit bottom.