Rams@Jacksonville The view from the stadium


There are so many ways to look at this game and we will consider all of them in a minute, but the truth is, we dominated the Rams and came away with a win.  We dominated in everything except the score, and protecting the ball, and protecting David and... wait wait, it was a win and time to celebrate.  After the jump I'll tell you what Collin, John, and I saw. As usual, the statistics don't tell the whole story.

About mid-way into the first quarter, I turned to Collin and said, "It is clear, we are the better team", and we were.  Take away the overtime, the Rams pick six, and count two touchdowns instead of red zone turnovers and we are at 34-13. The reason we didn't do to the Rams what the Seahawks did to us was simple, stupid mistakes. That is what I am coming to understand. Our talent is not preventing us from getting to the playoffs, our mistakes are.  A new team leaning on rookies, we are what we are, a developing team. 

You don't need any more facts than this one to realize it has to be mistakes that limits us. We generated almost 500 yards of offense and held Steven Jackson to 50 yards rushing and went into overtime to win the game. Ponder that and you will realize what kind of team we have. Power not yet harnessed.

I know everyone will give MJD the game ball, but in the stadium it was clear who dominated the game, Torry Holt.  David threw one pass to Torry and it was badly off the mark. Torry was standing facing David about 15 yards down field and the ball sailed to the right. Torry stretched his arm out as far as it would go and the ball stuck to his fingertips. It looked like a two-finger catch. Another was a beautiful foot-dragging-catch stretching to the sideline. Another was the opening drive catch when he had two defenders spinning around looking for him.  If you add in the number of defensive pass interference penalties called on guys covering him, as they held his arms down, he would have been over 200 yards today. 

Two more Torry Holt stories. The first one was when MJD ran left for the go ahead touchdown with under two minutes left in the fouth quarter. Torry Holt ran out on the field and didn't look for Maurice, he looked for Eugene Monroe and jumped on his back. Eugene had thrown the block that sprung Maurice and Torry went out to congratulate him. Eugene carried Torry off the field with Torry cheering him. Eugene must have felt great.  The other one was when Mike Thomas ran back a kickoff and two Rams collided trying to get him. One of them was Ron Bartell.  He lay there for a long time and the Rams gathered around him, in the group was Torry. They treated him like one of their own.  You want to know the difference between this year and last year? Jerry Porter verses Torry Holt. Torry Holt is team chemistry and fills the role Fred Taylor used to hold.

Maurice was a beast in the second half and ran for 125 years in that half. His number of carries was second most in team history and that means 25 carries in the second half must be a one half record.  Torry dominated but Maurice came through when it was needed.  There was one play in the first half that impressed me. David was running for his life and trying to get to the first down marker.  Chris Longwas closing in on David from behind and suddenly his feet left the ground and he landed on his butt about five yards out of bounds.  He struggled to get up and then realized Maurice had hit him. He got in Maurice's face and said something and I thought Maurice would send him back to the ground.

It was a rookie line again today with Eugene and Eben starting.  There were a lot of plays where David had plenty of time. There were times when David could have stepped back and avoided the pressure. David is hard to protect sometimes as he seems to sometimes step into trouble instead of away. His focus is down field and he doesn't sense the pressure. However the rookies had moments of lapses again, and David paid the price. David is getting hit too hard too often for me to feel he has five more years left in him. His career is closing down quickly with all the punishment he takes.  He was not sharp most of the game. He threw four interceptions today with two the Rams held on to and two others were in their hands and dropped.  We hung perilously close to disaster today.

I am beginning to believe when the rookies start, Marcedes will vanish. He stays in to block more than go out for passes. It may look like he didn't have a good game, but I think he did more than anyone will give him credit for.

Derek Cox is getting better but he was singled out again today. He did start to take a bit more risk later in the game and made some good plays. He is a sure tackler and when he closes in, the guy goes down. He got better today. Rashean Mathis made a stunning interception and played beautiful.  When you consider the Rams offense scored 13 points today, something was going well.

We played without Justin Durant and also with Russell Allen in the backfield.  It showed. I know Justin Durant would have closed down a number of plays. I can't help but think Brian Williams as safety would have improved our defense. We don't have a shutdown capability yet. 

Quentin Grovesplayed a lot for a third string guy. If Quentin Groves is a thrid string guy, we must be loaded with talent. On special teams, Quentin came flying down and stuck the runner solo. I don't know what is wrong but he has too much talent to sit. 

Summary.

Folks, it all boils down to the lines. The offensive line is rough but has the talent to move upward.  I am worried about the punishment David is taking while they learn, but it will get better. Eben Britton still has problems figuring out who his man is on blitzes.

The defensive line is a run stopping line.  It is not a pass rushing line and without Durant, they couldn't afford to send the linebacker. When you see Steven Jackson you marvel at his size. When you see John Henderson grab him and drive him to the ground, you marvel even more at big Hen.  If you are an opposing QB, playing the Jaguars is the same as wearing a no hit vest. This area may be worse than last year. 

Without improvement on both lines, the Jaguars will not progress beyond a .500 team and find themselves in silly overtime games against a team they so clearly outplayed.  Get used to it, we will have moments to rejoice and moments of anguish. Today we narrowly escaped anguish but that means celebration. At the by week we are 3-3.

-Terry O'Brien

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