If you are a man and you don’t know what it feels like to get punched in the nuts, please raise your hand. An official RamsHerd representative will be with you shortly for a very important educational experience.
Ever since Steve Spagnuolo became head coach of the St Louis Rams, he has preached the importance of an aggressive, physical defense that is able to stop the run and set the tone for a game. And in their first game of the season, the Rams came out of the gate as aggressively and physically as we’ve seen in a long time, despite not having a roster filled with cream-of-the-crop talent.
However, as this chart of our defense against Seattle’s run plays shows, two trends started to take over. (1) The more Seattle ran the ball, they got incrementally better results and were able to establish drives, until (2) an ultimate nut-punch left the Rams’ defense gasping for an extended period of time. Of course, I’m talking about the referee’s reversal of the Rams’ blocked punt and touchdown return.
It’s said again and again. “Football is a game of momentum.” From this play forward, the Rams lost the stomach to stuff runs. The holes in their coverage became playground-sized. They were on their heels, and the Seahawks were coasting downhill. Instead of forcing a punt, and getting a miraculous game-tying touchdown, their own personnel mistake took it all away and put them back on the field, gulping air and the jeers of the crowd in utter disbelief.
The second half went just as the first ended, only more so. Now, Seattle’s runs were gashing the Rams’ line and getting deep into the second layer. Only strong linebacker play prevented these runs from turning into….
Nut punch number two.
We could point out that the Rams were able to recover, were able to find their form again in the fourth quarter. We could also point out that it was too late. But this is the form, the attitude, that they need to learn how to maintain throughout a game regardless of circumstance.
When people outside St Louis look at the 28-0 score and laugh and say “same old Rams,” they mean “Rams suck, what did you expect.” But when Rams fans here, or in LA, or hiding in their little Ram caves across the country, look at this game and gnash their teeth and say “same old Rams,” they point to these kinds of mental collapses, this loss of focus and discipline in the face of adversity.
We can see from the results of the first and fourth quarters that, on defense at least, Spagnuolo has established a standard that this team is able to live up to. However, we see from these collapses in the second and third quarters that maintaining this attitude for 60 minutes will be the bigger challenge for this new coaching staff.