It’s week one.  Rams fans, take a really deep breath.  Some fans want to point fingers in a number of directions.  But the one direction fans should point their fingers is forward.  The best is still ahead.

Sure, the game against the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t have the optimal result.  In fact, it could have been the worst thing that could’ve happened for the team.  Injuries, especially, brought the team down, as well as the hopes of Rams fans, on Sunday.  But it’s not time to panic.

I’m sure there were several of us that made brash predictions that the Rams would surprise the Eagles, as they rode in on their high horse, thinking they were the greatest team ever – “The Dream Team”, as Eagles backup quarterback Vince Young called them.  The Rams proved the Eagles weren’t unbreakable.  If not for injuries, an untimely fumble by Sam Bradford, along with several dropped and poorly thrown passes, the Eagles could very well have lost that game.

Spagnuolo explained the injuries as best he could after the game, “Steven’s (Jackson) got a quad. I’m not sure whether to call it a pull or a strain or whatever. We’ll have a better idea on those tomorrow so he’ll be reassessed.  Jason Smith is an ankle. (Head Athletic Trainer) Reggie (Scott) has called it a high ankle. I’ll have a better idea what we’re dealing with tomorrow.  C.J. Ah You – (it’s) just his wrist. Hopefully that’s OK and we think we’ll probably take a picture of that.  Danny Amendola did dislocate his left elbow. It’s not broken but it was dislocated, and now the thing is getting an MRI and see how much damage is actually done in there so we won’t know that until.  Ron Bartell got a stinger. Sam banged his right index finger on a helmet. It’s not broken they did x-ray it but they’ve got to find out a little bit more about what we’re dealing with here. And again, probably take it into tomorrow.  Quintin Mikell just cramped up when he came out.”  That’s quite a mouthful.  But hopefully these injuries won’t be lingering.

Jack gets his TD (stlouisrams.com)

Steven Jackson looked amazing in his two runs before leaving the game.  With those golden shoes, it was like “The Predator” was directed by Joel Schumacher (director of the gold and neon-macerated “Batman Forever” movie).  Jackson exploded for a touchdown with his first run, and it looked like it was a new day for the St. Louis Rams.  But toward the end of the run, Jackson pulled up with an injury in his thigh.  “It was one of those freak things that I just felt a little something there,” he said.  “I tried to go back in there that second series, and I just couldn’t be the runner that I wanted to be.”  It was a two-sided play – one that showed how good he can be, and one that proved how quickly things can change.  “It was very disappointing. Like I said, I prepared all offseason for this, had a great training camp, really felt mentally in tune to the game plan. I was really looking forward to it, and I knew I could have had a big role in this game. Plus, to jump on Philadelphia like we did and for me to have the news that I won’t be able to finish the game is very disappointing, especially when you see your teammates battle the way they were battling.”

And battle, they did.  Carnell…I keep messing that up…Cadillac Williams made a heck of a Rams debut, running for nearly an hundred yards.  Williams said, “During camp, coach just came to me one day and said, ‘Cadillac, stay ready.’ In this game of football, you just never know what could happen.”  And it was a good thing he was ready.  It was a great performance.   He’s got a lot to prove.  “I feel like I have a lot of football left in me,” he said.  “I do want to establish myself as a guy who can get the job done, so every time I get my chance I’m out there just doing my best. That’s just me.”

Williams on the rush (stlouisrams.com)

Bradford appreciated Williams’ work, saying, “It’s very comforting. Obviously, anytime you lose Jack you know it’s frustrating because he is a great player. His presence on the field changes things in the defense, but we’ve got two guys behind him that can come in and keep the level of play very high.”

But it wasn’t enough.  Spagnuolo was as upset as you might expect.  He said, “We knew no. 7 was going to be tough to stop. We thought we would do a better job in that but we didn’t. But like I said to the team I think it goes back to – overall – there were fundamentals things we didn’t do right.”  That wasn’t it, though.  As frustration mounted, so did the penalties.  Spags said that “when you play good football teams, the first thing you’ve got to do is make sure you don’t beat yourself. We didn’t do that today so we suffered the consequences.”

 

One of the bright spots was that Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels was able to find a weakness on the Eagles defense, their inexperienced linebacking corps, leading to a lot of yards on the ground (154 yards total, 5.9 avg), in fact the seventh best output in the NFL before the Monday night games.  Coach Spags agreed, but wasn’t impressed with the rest of the team’s performance.  “I thought we ran the ball effectively. Drops are going to kill you, penalties are going to kill you. Bad tackling, or backside leverage as we’ll call it, with the cutbacks are going to kill you. They’ve got some talented, talented players. But I just thought if we had done some of the fundamental things right I don’t think the talent would have come out quite like it did.”

Eagles coach Andy Reid liked what he saw from Coach Spags and the Rams, saying, “My hat is off to Steve and his football team; they went down today like crazy with quite a few injuries out there. That is a tough deal. He sure has done a nice job, along with his coaches and front office. He has a pretty good football team.”  The Rams certainly sent the house on a lot of plays, putting pressure on Vick to scramble a lot.  “They showed us a lot of looks which we knew they would. Spagnuolo and Ken Flajole know what they are doing and that is good test for us. We were able to hit a few big plays against them, and you need those when they are coming after you like that.”

Spags and Reid, old friends together again (stlouisrams.com)

Vick was anything but comfortable out there.  He said, “They blitzed like crazy and it was tough being on the road, our communication was down a little bit.  But, we still found ways to make plays…and we did it the way we wanted to do it, it wasn’t pretty but we got the win.”

Vick throws past an outstretched C.J. Ah You (stlouisrams.com)

 

Vick was impressed with the Rams, as well, saying, “I knew coming in they were going to play very hard, extremely hard, and they played very well and I give them a lot of credit.”

But on the field, Vick wasn’t that impressed.  Every time the Rams sat back, thinking they had him contained, the slippery devil found a way out – on his way to 98 rushing yards.  Spagnuolo said, “if you could cut that yardage in half when he tucked it, just by however, then you‘ve got a fighting chance. But (when) he gets out there, there is nobody in the league like him. He knows how to play in the dome.”  And he slipped out the Rams grasp too many times.  “I’m sure that’s some of it,” Coach Spags said.  “I did feel like we were there and didn’t finish.”

Vick slips out (stlouisrams.com)

But it’s not all bad news.  The team made some good plays, and hung in for most of the game.  The final score didn’t really give justice to the team’s effort in the first three quarters.

Look at the offense.  They accrued a lot of yards, but just didn’t make the necessary plays to win the game – too many drops and some errant passes.  Bradford tried to find a silver lining.  He said, “If you watched us, we moved the ball up and down the field on them. It’s just we just hurt ourselves with the mistakes every drop. It seemed like there was always one negative play that occurred after we got the drive going, and it just seemed like we were never able to overcome that one negative play. But for the most part I thought our guys did a great job executing. I think we only had one three-and-out in out today. We just got to find a way to be perfect. We can’t make those mistakes that keep us from getting in the end zone and putting points on the board.”

Bradford was actually a little too understanding of his receivers dropping the ball (I’m surprised they didn’t drop the flag in the pregame ceremony), saying those things just happen.  Sam, they don’t happen that much in the National Football League if you want to win.  Rookies or not, this cannot happen.

 

There were a few bright spots, and a lot of not-so-bright spots.  But they can’t look back.  Bradford said, “We still have 15 more games, and I don’t think anyone ever folded camp after going 0-1 to start the season.”

Rams safety Quintin Mikell agrees, “We’re not going to hang our heads and think it’s the end of the world. It’s a good team that we lost to. We had some plays that we left out there on the field. (At the) end of the day, we’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re still a good team.”

LeSean McCoy tries to dance around Laurinaitis, to no avail (stlouisrams.com)

Linebacker James Laurinaitis, the leader on Rams defense, was especially upset at the amount of rushing yards they allowed in the second half.  But next week will be here before they know it.  And they have to be ready by looking at the film and making corrections.  Laurinaitis said, “You let it hurt, you let it kind of tick you off, and then you do something about it. You don’t sulk and feel bad for yourself. You change it with hard work during the week.”

That’s right.  You point forward.  Though they have the class not to call themselves “The Dream Team”, the New York Giants are a good football team – and it’s on the national stage.  Bradford knows that.  “You know we have a big game next week on Monday night against the Giants,” he said, “so we have to get ready for that.”

 

It will be a rough few weeks for the Rams – at the Giants, home against the Ravens and Redskins, then at the Packers and Cowboys, and back home for the Saints.  As Brian Billick pointed out on Sunday’s broadcast, that’s just not fair.  But then the Rams get to play their suspect Division Rivals for pretty much the rest of the season.  Rams fans, keep pointing forward, because the best is yet to come.

An Eagle is crushed (stlouisrams.com)