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Overreaction Monday: Week 1 @ Seattle

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One of my favorite aspects of the NFL is that with just 16 games, each one is vitally important. With every win or loss, fans either anoint their head coach or QB the savior of their franchise (i.e. Mark Sanchez, Josh McDaniels) or demand that the coaching staff and a large majority of the players be summarily fired/executed/eaten by the ticket holders (i.e. Rams fans, Houston fans).
Well let's deal with the emotional rollercoaster that began with a Donnie Avery fumble and ends, well it hasn't ended yet. Maybe Wednesday?

Five thoughts I've been mulling over worth tossing around:

- Why wouldn't you game plan for the crowd? With a setting notorious for creating offensive line mistakes (of which we saw five yesterday by five different players), why didn't we address this more completely in the lead-up to the game? There were back to back plays when Patrick Kerney got absolutely perfect jumps on the snap. If he can time his explosion into a play without knowing when we're snapping the ball, our players should be just as good.

- The offensive line was pretty offensive. Pass protection was, IMO, above average. Marc Bulger found himself with a lot of time often and that included several blitzes. Not that he was able to do much with that time, but it was there nonetheless. Running the ball, however, proved to be next to impossible. The combination of Bell, Brown & Incognito (which you would think would be a very capable interior trio) failed to create lanes for the very large majority of running plays. This has to change. Given how poor the passing game worked, and knowing the most talented player on this offense is Steven Jackson, this line has to do more. Otherwise, you can expect similar futility.

- Third downs are vital. The Rams performed worse than every other team in the NFL on third down yesterday: 2 for 12 (not including an offsides call on Darryl Tapp which turned a 3rd and 5 into a 1st down). Ten of those 12 required at least 6 yards for the first -- of those ten, we converted one into a first. Of course, there was the 3rd and 1 at the Seattle 9 mishap. With the Rams in striking distance marching down the field with a chance at tying the game at 7, McMichael committed a false start followed by a delay of game in which Jason Brown couldn't hear Bulger. The next play, now 3rd and 11, saw Bulger fail to connect with Laurent Robinson; K Josh Brown made it that much more painful when he missed the 37 yard kick. You can't put yourself in those kind of positions so often, especially when you don't have the ability, apparently, to convert those opportunities.

- We lost the emotional grasp / momentum of the game multiple times starting with the first freaking play of the game. The worst thing you could possibly do to begin your NFL season is fumble the kickoff return on the road and allow the kicking team to recover the fumble, scramble into the end zone and start the game 7-0 in mere seconds. What we did ranks just slightly below. Our defense made play after play in that first quarter handing off great opportunities for the offense to grab the game by the throat, but where the defense was motivated, prepared and disciplined, the offense was anything but. Speaking of....

- Richie Incognito is on very thin ice (auto tune the Rams?). While, IMO, his blocking ability shouldn't be in question, his effect on the game shouldn't be either, except they're opposite ends of the positive-negative effect spectrum (which is a great name for an album, BTW). Cogs was a drive killer. It's that simple. Maybe Spags' softer approach will work. I'm willing to give it time. But that time is not an era - Incognito needs to be informed that he is on a very short leash. Fire, motivation, hype: whatever the term, they're great when they inspire a player to play above his talent DURING THE PLAY. What really concerns me is that he's fully self-aware of his tendency to let his emotions lead to outbursts instead of yardage bursts:

"I just lost my cool," Incognito said. "A classic case of it."

"I've got the team riding on my shoulders on this one — they need me to stop committing fouls. It's something I've worked very hard at.... I'm going to keep working hard at trying to step my mental game up..."

Incognito has a history of personal fouls, and more than one opposing player over the years has referred to him as a dirty player. Make no mistake, NFL officiating crews are aware of his reputation as well.

"I know going out there on Sundays I'm being watched," Incognito said. "I know I'm a marked man. My reputation precedes me."

It's not as if he thinks he's being unfairly targeted or that people are misunderstanding him. He recognizes he's at fault, and that's what's so maddening. It's incredibly childish, and I support whatever gets him to keep playing at his level without the penalties that killed two drives and the reputation he's earned himself, both from a referee's perspective and a Rams fan's perspective as well.

It's not the end of the world. I was in the 6-10, 7-9 mold before the season, and I still see it as a possibility, but this was one of the easier games early on. It's going to be tough to get to that mark after week 17 with the kind of start yesterday's loss suggests we're in for.

Now that you've slept on it, (if you did. If the nightmares were too much, I understand) what's still bugging you today?