Right now, I’m on the verge of being as depressed as a Cleveland Browns fan. Their consistent depression has defeated almost every other fan’s depression (besides Arizona Cardinals fans) over the past 10+ years. Today, the favored St. Louis Rams hosted the Carolina Panthers to open up the 2007 NFL season. In 2006, St. Louis defeated the shoddy Denver Broncos 18-10, scoring 0 TDs and having Jeff Wilkins nail 6 FGs to ice the game. In that opener, the Rams defense looked great, especially the run D against Shanahan’s rushing offensive presence.
However, in the opener today, the Rams looked terrible all-around. They did score a touchdown, but that was only on the first drive. Much like the opener in 2006, the Rams stalled a lot and made it to the redzone here and there, and much like 2006 again, they couldn’t muster out a touchdown aside from one. The first drive, the Rams were able to effectively run the ball with Steven Jackson, Marc Bulger was able to utilize the vertical offense and sling passes right out to Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. That eventually faded and for one big reason.
I believe it was the second quarter, Orlando Pace done something to his arm. Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch gave an update that it was to be a “serious sprain.” After Orlando Pace was docked from the game and not returning, pressure from the left side collapsed on Marc Bulger forcing him to roll out and make rinky dink 4-yard pass plays. Any plays above 20 yards seemed to be unreasonable. Steven Jackson wasn’t an option whatsoever after Pace went down. He only rushes for 58 yards after a stellar first drive on the turf. Last year, Pace only played six games. Many said he had lost a step in his game; I thought if he did, it was only due to injury. I was a believer. The Rams offense ending up being OK. The Rams offense this year may be OK. However, if Pace misses the whole season, I can’t imagine the Rams winning more than five games. That’s how important Orlando Pace is to the St. Louis Rams.
Bulger wasn’t sacked until Pace went out. Coincidence? He was completely off on most of his passes today. So terrible that it was almost unbearable to watch. I mean, here is one of the most accurate passers in the NFC. Underthrowing Isaac Bruce, overthrowing Dane Looker. Really, he was off-target.
Many Rams fans from all over the internet are already throwing in the towel over one game. Sure, the team looked awful, but they will eventually bounce back. They probably aren’t going to win the NFC West (depends on what happens with Pace and how this defense can sharpen up and enhance their abilities), but I’d be damned if they’re a worse team than what they were from last year. Next Sunday’s game versus the 49ers is huge. Not division-rival-huge, but huge on to see where this 2007-2008 St. Louis Rams team stands. The following schedule consists of (not in order) San Francisco, @ Dallas, @ Baltimore, @ New Orleans, @ Seattle. That alone could be the demise of the team this year.
How’d your team do? I bet a lot better than mine.