The Rams haven’t won at Tampa Bay (0-4) since they moved to St. Louis.
Jeff Fisher was quick to point out that the Rams aren’t quite mathematically eliminated from playoff contention, but he humorously acknowledged this Dumb and Dumber clip as a realistic reminder that it’s probably not happening.
In years past, the Mid-December mood around Rams Park was pretty glum. A dejected bunch, anticipating time away from football, almost a mental cleanse from the weekly losing. But Wednesday, the atmosphere had the mantra of Fisher’s entire goal: never quit, and always show up to work ready to play.
The youngest team in the NFL is relentless; hungry to keep learning. They face a tough road task over the final two weeks at Tampa, and finishing with Seattle, a place St. Louis has not won at since 2005.
Tampa Bay (6-8) has dropped four straight after winning four in a row. Things are getting ugly. Assistant coach Bryan Cox and linebacker Adam Hayward engaged in a heated discussion/shoving match on the sideline last week, and reports surfaced yesterday of a player privately saying, “Can we send these coaches back to college?”
The Bucs rank first in rush defense, allowing just 83 yards/game. Their problem? Pass defense. Ranked last in the NFL, opponents are raking through the air. New Orleans’ Drew Brees threw 4 TD passes in last weeks 41-0 drubbing.
Head coach Greg Schiano shipped Aqib Talib, their best cornerback, to New England after facing a four-game suspension for taking adderall. The former first round pick and Defensive Back of the Year winner had a “pick 6” in his first game as a Patriot. Dictator policies like such have the players critical of Schiano.
Nothing could be farther from the truth at Rams Park, where Fisher has unified the entire organization in a fascinating way. Getting guys to just play football, not worry about the score or clock, but man up and play. We’ve seen a lot of ways to win, lose, and tie in 2012.
After Brian Quick beautifully caught his red zone TD last week, everyone had that ‘oh, my’ realization. Quick was about as raw of a talent one could find coming out of Appalachian State. Everything screams greatness; size, strength, speed. Quick talked at length today about his progression into the NFL:
We can talk about Quick’s ineffective rookie campaign, but how does Isaiah Pead continue to escape criticism?
Doug Martin is an outstanding back, on pace for 312 carries this season, which would be good for the fourth-most in the history of the franchise. The Bucs watched Adrian Peterson run wild a week ago, so prepare for a heavy dose of Martin.
Obviously, the Josh Freeman-Vincent Jackson duo is dynamic. Jackson has a catch of 19-yards or more in every game this season. He’s 5th in the NFL with 1,226 receiving yards and has 8 TD receptions in 2012.
Scouts have drawn Quick/Jackson comparisons. Jackson, a second-round pick in 2005, had just 3 receptions his rookie season before emerging as a star in San Diego. His deep threat ability landed him a five-year, $55 million contract with Tampa.
Expect a dogfight Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
- The Rams defense has created 110 negative plays this season, which is second most in the NFL. The Bucs lead the league that category.
- Sam Bradford has been sacked in 30 straight games. That’s concerning, and he would have no problem seeing that streak end.
The Rams offensive line took a hit when Harvey ‘Dahl-minator’ Dahl suffered a season ending torn bicep against Minnesota. Shelley Smith (Colorado St.) is likely to step in at right guard.
So the questions are…
- Can the line give Bradford time to dissect the worst secondary in the NFL?
- Can the Rams defense rebound from Peterson’s 212-yards rushing?
Any given Sunday.
Thanks for reading.