It isn't just Kurt Warner. The Rams' offense is in trouble in a
lot of ways. Most important, the springboard that launched the
great precision offenses of the Super Bowl teams, the offensive
line, fell apart against the Giants on Sunday, just as it had
most of last season.
This is an article from the Sept. 15, 2003 issue
Well, St. Louis went shopping for Kyle Turley and Dave Wohlabaugh
to take over at right tackle and center, respectively. Turley is
a player, the best O-lineman the team has. Wohlabaugh? Who knows?
He played with a monster cast to protect a broken left thumb, and
New York couldn't wait to test him with stunts and blitzes up the
middle. And that's where the Rams got killed, because flanking
their injured center were a pair of guards, Andy McCollum and
Adam Timmerman, who are in their early 30s and on the downside.
The multiple blitzes, a new toy for Giants defensive coordinator
Johnnie Lynn, who never would have gone to such extremes if he
hadn't smelled blood, wreaked havoc. St. Louis will see nothing
but exotic pass-rush schemes from the 49ers this Sunday, and
every opponent thereafter, until it can handle them.
Put aside Warner's six fumbles, which were so bizarre that they
need no further comment here, because there are so many other
concerns. The screen pass to running back Marshall Faulk, once
such a formidable weapon, was a disaster on Sunday because
quarterback, receiver and O-line didn't click. Not once did St.
Louis line up Faulk in the slot and try to get him downfield,
another favorite play of the past. The line couldn't create any
running lanes. There is no one to replace the great blocking
back, 270-pound James Hodgins. The Rams also miss pass-catching
tight end Ernie Conwell, a key outlet receiver when they would go
big, with a fullback and one or two tight ends.
When Warner had time to pass against the Giants, it seemed as if
the only success he had was going to his wideouts on crossing
patterns and turn-ins, the kind of throws over the middle that
are easier on the arm. O.K., his touchdown pass to wide receiver
Torry Holt was a corner route, but it was also a ball that never
should have been thrown, because there was a defensive back
locked in coverage.
Warner, who suffered a concussion against the Giants, will sit
out the game against San Francisco. Marc Bulger offers the Rams a
live arm and a clear head, but the problems still exist around
him. The 49ers will blitz Bulger like crazy. They weren't bashful
in that regard against the Bears. San Francisco wins in an upset.
I like the Giants over Dallas in the Monday nighter, unless the
Cowboys can find a way to exploit a shaky New York offensive
line. Here's a minor upset: the Browns over the Ravens and their
rookie quarterback, Kyle Boller. And here's another: the Titans
to keep their furious pass rush going and knock off Indianapolis.
I'll give the Falcons the nod over Washington, only because the
game is in the Georgia Dome, and the Bills, minus all the emotion
of last week's game against New England but still sturdy enough
on defense, will win at Jacksonville. The Chiefs, who held San
Diego to 232 total yards, will keep it going against Pittsburgh.
The Jets traditionally have Miami's number, but not this time.
The Dolphins are the pick. The Eagles will add to the Patriots'
miseries, and the Chargers will give us a fourth upset with a
home win over the Broncos.
Dr. Z's Inside Football, every week during the season at
Last week: 7-2
Season record: 7-2