That was not pretty. That is all. Grades after the fold.QB: C+
Bulger doesn't deserve the blame for the offensive woes. He forced very few throws, and the ones he did came after the game was "decided." Still, to throw less than 200 yds., less than a 50% clip and no TDs prevents me from giving him in the B range.
This is as much for the playcalling as it is a condemnation of Jackson's play or the O-line. Any game where Action Jackson doesn't get 20 carries signals a failure, especially when he fails to tally a single reception. We needed more from him today.
Robinson and Avery made themselves available in the 2nd half, but by then it was too little too late. Too often did we see Bulger in the pocket waiting for one of his receivers to get open. Robinson proved he was more than a preseason flare and Avery ran some solid routes underneath late in the game, but Donnie didn't register a reception longer than 16 yards. Poor showing.
The three grades are essentially for run blocking/pass blocking/Incognito. When you have a talent like Steven Jackson, you have to give him opportunities to succeed. He had very few today. On the other hand, Marc Bulger had something he enjoyed very rarely in 2008: time to throw. The Seahawks registered just three sacks despite multiple examples of Bulger waiting in the pocket and accepting the sack as a last resort. The final game is self-explanatory for anyone who watched the game. Incognito registered the first offensive play of the game after an interception in our end zone pushed the momentum in our favor with a false start. It was an omen of the kind of game he would play. Two unnecessary roughness penalties and the occasional absent-minded tomfoolery later, Cogs would at last be pulled to the bench.
I'll say this. I've been a defender of Incognito's ability as a blocker and the fact that he brings more fire than anyone on offense and arguably the team. But if he can't control that fire within the confines of a play and effect his skills on a defensive line instead of the referees, then we'd better off without him.
Outside of Julius Jones' 62 yard scamper, he was held to just 55 yards on 18 carries. That's a testament to the tenaciousness of our D-line, especially Gary Gibson who should make Adam Carriker an afterthought. Unfortunately, the pressure we saw on run defense was absent in the pass. Chris Long, Leonard Little and James Hall combined for 10 tackles... and 0 sacks against a line that was without two starters.
James Laurinaitis is an NFL MLB. He finished with 14 tackles, 10 of them on his own. You can point to his overpenetration on the first TD, you can look at plays when his lateral movement put him a second behind where he should have been, but the reality is that he played exceptionally well for his first NFL game. Witherspoon looked like a true WLB and Vobora was anything but irrelevant. A solid showing.
Hard to put these guys in the "C" range after coming out so strong, but the Seahawks ran the kind of offense we needed to run. To counter, the DBs should have played a tighter first ten yards until Hasselbeck showed a willingness to go deep. We saw flashes of ability from Bartell, Wade and King - that's a great sign. And the duo of James Butler and O.J. Atogwe is as good as advertised. They came out ready to play.
I wanted to give this a C-, but Donnie Jones is the best punter in the NFL hands down. He does as much as you could possibly ask of a punter and more with every opportunity. Josh Brown, on the other hand, had one chance to help the Rams and failed. Against his former team, you would have hoped he could quiet the opposing crowd and give the Rams a 3-0 lead. Keep hoping. Donnie Avery's fumble on the opening kick gave a possession and momentum to Seattle at one of the worst times he could have done so. Luckily, our defense was more than capable of dealing with the turnover.
So many penalties, two burnt time outs early, some simple playcalling (both in terms of timing offensively and to sit off the blitz defensively when Seattle had committed to the quick pass) earns this grade. And putting 12 men on the field for the FG attempt at the end of the half turned a 7-7 game into a 14-0 nothing one. A 14 point swing just before the half is difficult to bring to the locker room. Were my expectations higher? Definitely. Will they remain so? Certainly. Am I worried? Without question.
The Rams leave this game knowing they beat themselves early on with penalties and soft offensive play. These are correctable faults, but they were at the end of the first drive, quarter and half, and we saw little change. This is a tough final score to stomach simply because we came out with a desire defensively, and a childish hyperactivity on offense. You can give "credit" to the crowd, but any NFL player who can't play in a hostile environment without containing their emotions and providing their skills to their teammates shouldn't be on the field in the NFL. Get to work, Coach Spagnuolo. You have a lot to do.