If you believe in yourself and have the courage, the determination, the dedication, the competitive drive and if you are willing to sacrifice the little things in life and pay the price for the things that are worthwhile, it can be done.
- Vince Lombardi
For game-specific info, check out the SBN event page for this game. For Seahawks news leading up the game, check out Field Gulls.
St. Louis Rams, 0-0, t-1st - NFC West
Seattle Seahawks, 0-0, t-1st - NFC West
STL pass v. SEA pass D
Two real issues dominate this matchup in week 1.
How effective will Seattle's pass defense be without CB Marcus Trufant? Although he made the Pro Bowl in 2007, he's overrated IMO. The QB rating for passers at Trufant's coverage finished at 112.2, not much better than Fakhir Brown's number. Still, he was their #1 CB and for him to go down forces their secondary into a situation I'm sure they would have rather avoided.
The other is the return of Marc Bulger. How effective will he be after the injury (a subject we tackled on the last TSR)? This is a very exploitable Seahawk secondary with Ken Lucas and Josh Wilson getting the starting nods. With Donnie Avery at full speed, this is a good first game to test the readiness of our passing attack. Everybody's healthy -- if Bulger gets the same time Kyle Boller has in the preseason and we still can't get yards in the air, we should be worried.
STL run v. SEA run D
Both backups to Steven Jackson, Samkon Gado and Kenneth Darby, are coming off of injuries as is FB Mike Karney. Jackson and the O-line, who I'm thinking of calling the Jackson 5 if they can run block well this season, will need to bring their A-game, because Seattle boasts a tremendously talented LB trio: LeRoy Hill, Lofa Tatupu and rookie Aaron Curry.
Still, their numbers against the run were mediocre given their strength at linebacker, mostly because of a pretty weak D-line (see next section). If Action Jackson is pounding into LeRoy, Lofa & Aaron consistently, it should be considered a successful day once the dust settles.
STL O-line v. SEA D-line
We should find consistent strength in this unit on Sunday. We're healthy and matched up against a D-line that really doesn't offer much of a threat outside of DE Patrick Kerney (who, BTW, should be the model for our high energy DE, Chris Long. Check out Kerney's career stats.) With Seattle's strong LB corps, the onus is on this group to create rushing yards for Jackson and pockets for Bulger to exploit. If this group fails to excel, regardless of who gets the starting nod at RT, it's going to make our offense look much more inept than it should seem.
SEA pass v. STL pass D
TJ Houshmandzadeh in, Tye Hill out. Improvements on both sides of the ball to be sure, but I'm not buying much of the Housh hype making waves in the traditional media. Can he be a reliable possession receiver? I think so. If you discount the two games at the end of the year where he accumulated no stats due to injury, he averaged about 6.5 catches per game at about 10 yds per reception. That's solid production.
But look at how deep that production was: only three games more than 75 yds and only two games more than 8 catches To be fair, he did produce more than Ocho, but with less talented coverage. But Housh is just one element; unfortunately, the Seahawks don't have any more elements that really threaten opposing coverage packages. Nate Burleson, Deion Branch (who's questionable with a hamstring injury) and rookie Deon Butler aren't a Murderer's Row.
It should be a solid test for the now Tye Hill-less Rams secondary (thank you). I'm not placing any bets; both units are subpar with a lot to prove.
SEA run v. STL run D
Unlike the previous matchup, this one tilts toward the Rams. The combo of Julius Jones and Edgerrin James doesn't overwhelm the duo of Will Witherspoon and James Laurinaitis. That's not to say the Rams are turning into a run stuffing beast of a defense, but the Seahawks aren't exactly a ground pounder. If we can establish the tone here, we should be in fot some impressive reviews. Of course, much of that will depend on...
SEA O-line v. STL D-line
This is not going to be pretty. Two weak groups trying to not make fools of themselves. Sean Locklear is solid, but he's no Walter Jones (who is out along with C Chris Spencer). In all, this is an O-line that matches up well with our D-line.
On our side, we'll need to help these guys with some effective blitzing. While we have some options at DE that can be useful in Chris Long, Leonard Little, James Hall and Victor Adeyanju (in running situations), the DT group is not impressive. This should be fun to watch in a sadistic way.
This week's top 3 storylines brought to you by three random names from the Rams' and Seahawks' rosters:
1.) Nick Reed (DE, SEA): Reed, a rookie DE from Oregon, symbolizes the need for the Rams' O-line to protect Marc Bulger. For the last couple seasons, the Rams have made it a certainty that Bulger would spend as much time inspecting the ceiling of the Edward Jones Dome as he did trying to dissect opposing defenses. That should no longer be the case.
2.) Craig Dahl (S, STL): Dahl, another ex-Giant safety brought over to the Rams, represents the need to shut down an offense that doesn't threaten in very many ways. Matt Hasselbeck has been effective at moments, but his age and his lack of options have essentially ensured that he is sanding off the edges of a notable career. Has the final chapter been written or is he on the cusp of penning the first line? Too poetic? Fine. He either sucks balls this year or racks up stats.
3.) Cameron Morrah (TE, SEA): Morrah is another Seattle rookie who filtered through the offseason cutting floor after a nice collegiate career at Cal. Why is he here? Because his last name sounds like "more of." A stretch, yes, but read this. The Rams need "Morrah" what we've seen since Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo took the reins of this team. We need Morrah the intensity that has been absent from the players in Rams uniforms outside of the two games following Scott Linehan's exit as head coach. We need Morrah power, we need Morrah effort, we need Morrah... hell, maybe we need to sign Cameron Morrah! (I cannot extend this same homonymity to Seattle's coach Jim Mora. We need lessa that.)
Regular season football is upon us. I don't speak for Van, Turf Show Times, or any person or entity beside myself when I say: LET'S GO RAMS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!