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Oh how I hate the Rams. I never really got over the game in 1999. I hate Ricky Proehl to this day. The Rams are a hollow shell of the "Greatest Show on Turf," but their younger version of AFL Start turned grocery boy, Marc Bulger is a solid QB. His receivers, despite being afraid to take any contact whatsoever, are fast and effective and they have a franchise back that is in the top 5 in the league without question. The new Rams defense is #1 overall in the NFC and is showing great signs of improvement. They're 4th overall in pass defense but 25th versus the run. That should point to an area for examination.
The Rams have played well despite their 0-2 start. They have collapsed in the second half both weeks after thoroughly dominating many key indicators in the statistics column. They have no interest in continuing this plummet as 0-3 is a bad way to start for anyone (you think that is bad, try 0-4!).
Our beloved Bucs, however, are riding high after t thorough dismantling of the New Orleans Saints. In fact, as I look back at how badly we beat the Saints, I have to wonder why no one is talking about how great we are this year. When the Colts did the same thing, they were touted as the greatest thing since the Patriots for god's sake! Tampa Bay crushed New Orleans in every way on Sunday. The defense out hustled and out hit the Saints offense while the offense out thought and outperformed the New Orleans defense. This may have been a mirage as the Saints may actually just be that bad! This Sunday, we will find out as we get to go against a defense that held the 49'ers offense to under 200 total yards (I know, I know, that seems like something you would expect, but these ain't your dad's 49'ers people). The pass defense is stout despite featuring no well-known players. They rely on speed so take advantage of that at every turn.
There is a risk of let-down here folks, and we have to fight it. Most experts had us at 0-2 here while few had the Rams at that same record. They feel the pressure this week that we felt last week. This game MUST feel like a MUST WIN game for them. Expect that level of intensity.
St. Louis Rams (0-2) at
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1-1)
WHERE: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
WHEN: Sunday, September 23, 2007 1:15 pm
SPREAD: Bucs -3.5
TV ANNOUNCERS: Sam Rosen, Tim Ryan, Chris Myers
RADIO: US 103.5, flagship station (103.5 FM, 620 AM)
RADIO ANNOUNCERS: Gene Deckerhoff and Dave Moore
WHAT TO EXPECT
When the Buccaneers have the ballĂ˘â‚¬Â¦ More of the same. The Bucs will try to provide Garcia time by leveraging the run regardless of success and keeping the Rams guessing as they blitz from many directions. Speed can be a double edged sword so look for field reversals and misdirection to play a part in the game plan. Garcia is a smart QB and has shown an ability to check to a good call once presented with a defense. The Rams will have their hands full with trying to outthink #5. Expect Carnell to get more touches and for our growing O-Line to try and impose their will on the speedy fronts of the Rams negating their speed. We have shown we can throw; now let's see if we can run.
When the Rams have the ballĂ˘â‚¬Â¦ funny enough, I expect to see a HEAVY dose of Steven Jackson. This franchise back has been unhappy and not nearly as productive as he has been in years gone by. The coaching staff in St. Louis will want to correct that and look at the smaller Tampa defense as a nice shot in the arm. The front seven must contain Jackson and force Bulger to beat us with his arm. He is capable of doing that, but it is better to face a single dimension. Turnovers are always a possibility as we forced a number versus the Saints last week and Jackson has shown a propensity for that recently.
MATCH UPS TO WATCH
Jeremy Trueblood vs. Leonard Little
Little is fast. Fast and strong. Trueblood is, how do you say it, not fast. Jeremy will have to be on his A game to take Mr. Little out of the game for the duration. If he does not, we will have to chip with backs and TE's which slows route development.
Tampa Bay's OL vs. themselves in the running game
This unit looked very good last week in pass blocking, but running lanes were as rare as shoes (other than flip-flops) at a Wal Mart. There is no excuse for this as the unit is strong and big and run blocking is generally a matter of 'want to.' This group will need to create some physical mismatches and play aggressively to weaken the defensive unit of the Rams allowing Carnell to take advantage of cutback lanes that should open up for him.
Tampa Bay's Defense versus the "Aging show on turf"
OK defense; prove last week was no fluke! Show that B. Ruud is really on fire. Show that the front seven will simply swallow good running backs. Demonstrate the risks of trying to throw against your secondary. You guys want to forge your own legacy and make your own name in the annals of Tampa defense, here is step one. Back-to-back great games. If they can accomplish this, the momentum should provide tons of ammo for the
Panthers and the Colts. The Rams gave up 6 sacks last week and Bulger is hurt. Let's see what good ole Gus Frerotte has left in the tank!
Another ex-Buc crappy free agent, Todd Steusie is in visiting colors. Maybe that is a good omen.
KEYS TO VICTORY
1. Actually run the ball effectively
Step one was committing to the run. Step two was punishing people with the pass when they crowded the line. Step three is having an effective game (> 4.0 yds per carry) out of our running attack. Look to the horses up front to try and impose their will on the smallish Rams defense.
2. Pick up the Blitz
Our line and backs will have to be on their toes to pick up the blitzes that are going to be thrown at us this week by a surprisingly high rated Rams defense. Old and new members of the defensive line all have high motors and play their responsibilities well. The varied blitz packages gave the 49'ers fits last week. Our backs will need to pick up a couple of these and Jeff is going to have to make the defense pay for its aggression by taking the shot downfield.
3. Keep the play in front of you
Same as last week. This offense loves big plays in the passing game. Despite their significant age and tendency to play like girls (no offense ladiesĂ˘â‚¬Â¦I know pro female football players and they are ALL tougher than Holt and Bruce), the Rams offense can still fly. Keep them in front and when they do catch the ball, knock the crap out of them. Bring the thunder and this corps of receivers will lose interest in the whole playing football thing.
4. Get to Bulger
Bulger is a good QB. Good QB's become bad QB's when they are beaten about the head and neck. Pressure him early and often and make sure he is familiar with the view looking up from the grass at Ray Jay. Once he feels that, he will be hesitant to wait out coverages and go deep in his progressions. This makes him predictable and leads to turnovers.
18 October 2004 at the Edward Jones Dome, a Monday Night contest in which the Rams won 28 - 21
Bucs have won 4/5 matchups with the Rams!
The Rams lead the overall series 6-11 and 6-9 in the regular season. The most meaning full game played between these to teams came back in the 1979 NFC Championship at home in which the Buccaneers lost 9-0.
The Rams, who opened with two home games, will travel an NFL-high 34,352 miles this season. Jeff Garcia leads the NFL with an average of 10.3 yards per pass attempt.
Team Rankings: 2007
Total Offense 23rd(307.0ypg)
Rushing Offense 25th(88.5ypg)
Passing Offense 15th(218.5ypg)
Points Scored 18th(18.5ppg)
Total Defense 21st(343.0ypg)
Rushing Defense 20th(119.0ypg)
Passing Defense 20th(224.0ypg)
Points Allowed 13th(17.0ppg)
Total Offense 18th(315.0ypg)
Rushing Offense 28th(68.5ypg)
Passing Offense 9th(246.5ypg)
Points Scored 23rd(14.5ppg)
Total Defense 10th(286.5ypg)
Rushing Defense 25th(137.5ypg)
Passing Defense 4th(149.0ypg)
Points Allowed 23rd(22.0ppg)
St. Louis Rams
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
I think that this week, the offensive line becomes offensive. They will push and tear the Rams defensive line opening holes for all Buccaneer running backs. Garcia will break his slump versus the Rams and be efficient in making them pay for cheating up to assist the front seven in run stopping. It will be an inverse West Coast offense day where the run is used to setup the pass.
No surprises here, I called it right last week and was pretty darn close on the score as well. I expect to see Carnell's first 100yd game this week and another Buccaneer victory 24 -17.