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Rams 13, Cardinals 21: Trouble on the home front

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Just in case you thought the 2009 St. Louis Rams had disappeared somewhere between the win at Detroit and the oh-so-close game against New Orleans, fear not; the 2009 Rams are back. That's right, the struggling offense, the leaky defensive line...it was all there.

Ok, ok, that's a little harsh. The Rams tightened up after a sloppy first half, one in which they gained just 97 yards of offense. Give the Cardinals defense credit too. They bottled up Steven Jackson and kept the passing game in check.

Injuries

  • Jason Smith took a blow to the head. We'll know more later. 
  • Marc Bulger has a hamstring and/or groin issue and will have testing done.  

The Frustrating

  • Brandon Gibson's splash debut wasn't followed up well. He struggled with routes and dropped a BIG pass late in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, the rookie did flash some hints of what got us so excited about him last week.  I'd still caution you before anointing him the second coming of Isaac Bruce.
  • Bulger was not the forceful presence for four quarters like he was last week. He had his moments, but did he really show you anything that gives you confidence in him moving forward? He's not good enough to win games anymore. 
  • Why do the coaches insist on trotting out Samkon Gado in short yardage situations? The play calling is still fishy. Why did Jackson not get the ball when the Rams were driving in the last five minutes of the game? It's baffling. How can anyone put this much faith in Marc Bulger and role player WRs? Maybe they wanted to try another 4th down fade to Avery. And why so few passes to Jackson? Why are they not lining up SJ39 at receiver more often?
  • Terrible officiating. Did they not remember that they could call pass interference? And how do you get unsportsmanlike for a hit after the pass when the lineman's back is to the QB?
  • Talent on the defensive line is so desperately needed. Are they so bad that they need to drop Leonard Little into coverage? 
  • Oh, offensive line...after all the nice things we've said about you.
  • Justin King covering Larry Fitzgerald. Tough break kid. Still, the secondary could have done much worse.
  • With the exception of Steven Jackson, the Rams offense is terrible. What was the number? Averaging 9+ yards on third downs? Blame whoever you want, but it's a multi-faceted effort at failure. The WRs have some promise, but it's clear why they were not first round draft picks. The QB is too dependent on a guy to get in his route precisely, and he just doesn't have much left in the tank. That takes away from the most effective weapon, Jackson, because teams can focus on him, like AZ did today.

The Better

 

  • Steven Jackson is amazing. It looked like rough going for the big man, but he still managed to get 116 yards and 4.8 per carry. The offensive line didn't help much in the first half, and he had trouble getting it going. Once he hit his stride, there was no looking back...until the coaches stopped feeding him the ball. Jackson now has five 1,000 yard seasons and four consecutive games of 100 yards or more rushing. 
  • James Laurinaitis, though the Cardinals tried and succeeded at isolating him a few a times, he still had a nice game, as the defense stepped up against the Cardinals run in the second half. 
  • Chris Long got another sack, and generall played better lately. I think that if the Rams add some talent on the defensive line, we won't be talking about whether or not he's a bust.
  • The comeback. Rams Gab said it best that the score should not have been this close with the Rams playing as bad as they were. But it was that close. The defense got Warner out of the game and pulled together to stop the bleeding they were taking from the Cardinals' running game. They also forced the turnovers that would have given a team with a semi-competent offense the chance to put it away. Credit the coaches. Whatever they're selling has sunk in on that side of the ball. If this team had a halfway decent d-line, they'd be stealing games.