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The Loser Papers – 2015 Edition I

By Deadskins | September 21st, 2015

TLP has gone LEGIT! You will now find your favorite thread in THN’s Blog section. For the uninitiated, TLP republishes articles from the Redskins vanquished foes’ hometown newspapers. It is here where you will hear the other side of the story; how the other team beat themselves, or were cheated by the refs, and many other excuses for losing to the Redskins.

So let’s get right to the fun. Our first edition of the season comes to you from the pages of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Rams are, well, the Rams again

Nick Foles

Rams quarterback Nick Foles is helped up by offensive tackle Rob Havenstein after he was decked by the Redskins late in Sunday’s game. (AP Photo)


LANDOVER, MD. • They call him Pot Roast, and he was hungry.

Terrance Knighton, he who scares scales, was ravenous for Rams, this after St. Louis beat his Broncos last year … and shut out Washington last season, Knighton’s new team in ’15.

“We saw some things on film that we could take advantage of — we knew if we stop the run, it would be tough,” the nose tackle told me Sunday, after he and the D-line devoured the Rams, winning 24-10. “… We know what type of team they think they are; they’re going to come in, be physical, be frontrunners, and it’s a famous quote: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ That’s the attitude we took. …

“Coach (Jay) Gruden got up in front of the team Wednesday and showed St. Louis tape, showed how physical they are, showing how they beat Seattle and laid it on our guys last year, running reverses when they’re up 21 points. So we took it personal.”

On Sunday, Washington’s defense played with an appetite; the Rams’ offense played full. Satisfied.

Last week, I watched Nick Foles and the offense shower the Seattle secondary. It looked to me like the Rams’ offense was on to something. Nope. Here at FedEx Field, the Rams were the Rams again.

The offense took more steps back than Foles under pressure.

They weren’t who they thought they were.

“Sometimes with the way things are going, you kind of get ahead of yourself,” offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said, when asked about the Rams being too high after beating Seattle. “But the preparation was there and the work was there — we didn’t play the way we practiced.”

So who are these guys? I suppose they’re somewhere between the team that defeated the defending conference champs, and the team here in DC that looked defeated.

The Rams were so deflated, the league might have to call Ted Wells to investigate.

Now look, I don’t think the Rams are this bad. They still can win eight total games. But Sunday, the offense fed into the belly of the beast(s): Pot Roast Knighton, Stephen Paea, Ryan Kerrigan gobbling up the Rams’ rushers, who finished with 67 yards. In the whole game!

The Rams’ best running back performance might have been the pregame drills by Todd Gurley, who didn’t play but is “week to week, and we thought he had a great week (in practice),” coach Jeff Fisher said.

At least Tre Mason returned, so he could take some of the heat otherwise thrown toward the inept Isaiah Pead.

Here’s what frustrated me most about Foles: He looked as if he was playing not to lose, even when the Rams were losing. A few times, he settled on throwing shorter passes, and even some of those were dropped. I know: If you don’t have a run game going, the offense isn’t itself. Then throw in the fact that the Rams couldn’t throw effective screen passes. But man, they converted just two of 12 third downs.

“We knew in order for us to win the game, we would have to run it,” Fisher said. “We missed a lot of opportunities. But I can’t say it’s Nick or it was the receivers, or a breakdown in protection. We’ll have to look at it. But I think everybody in that locker room when you talk to ’em wishes they would have played better, and that would include Nick.”

The easy narrative that we’ll all hear Monday is that the Rams were just too confident after the win against Seattle. They thought they’d matured, they thought they’d taken a step, but then — déjà vu (or, I suppose, déjà boooooo).

But I’ve got to bring up at least one wacky stat, per Bill Barnwell of In 2014, the final 10 teams that played Seattle in the regular season and had a game the following week, lost the following week. They call it the “Seattle Hangover”: A team becomes so battered by the bruising boom of Seattle’s legion, that the next week they’re not recovered. The Rams had it last season — remember the loss at Kansas City? — and supposedly they had it again Sunday.

Asked about this, a passionate Fisher said: “It’s fair to assume that, but we guarded against that and had a great week of practice.”

Last weekend, perhaps prematurely, Foles praised his offensive line following its showing against the Seahawks. It was cool to hear: the Rams quarterback speaking as a leader, showing his young linemen that he’s behind them, and not just when he’s under center.

Well, now Foles has a new test as a leader: restoring confidence in his precocious offensive line while also restoring confidence in himself. Let’s not forget, the Rams’ offense only had one play for more than 20 yards Sunday.

Pot Roast and the defense didn’t just feast on the Rams.

They poured gravy on them.


Rams dominated by Redskins

Nick Foles, Dashon Goldson

St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles (5) is sacked by Washington Redskins free safety Dashon Goldson (38) during the second half of an NFL football game in Landover, Md., Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015. The Redskins defeated the Rams 24-10. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

LANDOVER, MD. • The Rams have had a few trademark wins under coach Jeff Fisher, only to come back the next week or later in the same season and lose to a very beatable opponent.

Last season, they squashed Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, only to get routed by a 6-10 New York Giants squad.

In 2013, there were marquee victories over Indianapolis and New Orleans but also losses to Atlanta and Tennessee, teams that went a combined 11-21 that season.

In 2012, Fisher’s inaugural year with the Rams, there was as an overtime victory and a tie against Super Bowl-bound San Francisco. But also losses to perpetually mediocre Miami and a 6-10 New York Jets squad.

It happened again Sunday at FedEx Field. Fresh off an attention-grabbing overtime victory against Seattle on opening day, the Rams came out flat against Washington — about as flat as can be in falling behind 17-0 at the half.

The team’s hopes of starting 2-0 for the first time since 2001 never got off the launching pad in a 24-10 loss to Washington.

“We wanted to go 2-0 bad,” Rams safety T.J. McDonald said. “I’d be lying if I said we didn’t. We didn’t play good enough to get it.”

Not even close to good enough in the opening two quarters. The Rams have played a lot of bad football over the past decade, and Sunday’s first half was right up there with the worst in terms of ugly play.

Besides trailing by 17 points, the Rams were outgained 239 yards to 72 in the half. In the parity-driven NFL, it’s not supposed to happen that way. It marked the first time since Oct. 2, 2011 that Washington (1-1) has held an opponent scoreless in the first half.

“We came out a little sluggish,” Rams tight end Lance Kendricks said in understatement. “Especially on the road, you’ve got to really come out with some urgency.”

The Rams were anything but urgent Sunday. They got gashed for one big play after another in the opening half by a Washington offense that managed only 10 points in a season-opening loss to Miami.

Running backs Alfred Morris and Matt Jones had runs of 35 and 39 yards, respectively, through gaping holes in the Rams’ defense on Washington’s first touchdown drive. Jones’ 39-yard run accounted for the TD.

A 35-yard reception by wide receiver Ryan Grant on a play in which he got behind cornerback Janoris Jenkins set up a field goal on Washington’s next possession for a 10-0 lead with 53 seconds still to play in the opening quarter.

Washington’s next TD drive included a 25-yard run by Jones, the rookie from Florida. On a third-and-goal play from the Rams’ 4, Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins threw a TD pass to Pierre Garcon, who beat Jenkins on the play. Jenkins complained of a push-off, but it really wasn’t flagrant enough to merit a call by referee Ed Hochuli’s crew.

And that was pretty much the ballgame. A Washington team that was beaten 24-0 by St. Louis here last season and managed only 206 yards in the process had 17 points and the aforementioned 239 yards by intermission this time.

The Rams finally showed a pulse in the third quarter, putting up 10 points to make it a one-score contest. But overall, this was all too easy for Washington — way too easy, actually — against the highly touted Rams defense.

It was pretty basic football. Washington controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball and controlled the clock, blocking and tackling better than the Rams. Sometimes it’s not all that complicated.

“We knew that in order for us to win the game we were going to have to run it, stop the run, and get off the field on third down,” Fisher said. “And we didn’t do any one of those with any consistency. That was the difference in the ballgame.”

Jones finished with 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns, on 19 carries, averaging 6.5 yards per attempt. He outshone Morris, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher who finished with 59 yards on 18 carries (for a modest 3.3 average).

“He surprised a few guys who didn’t realize how big and fast he was all at once,” Rams defensive end Robert Quinn said of Jones, who stands 6 feet 2 and weighs 231 pounds. “But at the same time, I don’t think an NFL player can catch another guy off guard. They’re here for a reason. He found some holes in our defense and he ran through ’em.”

All told, Washington rushed for 182 yards, getting all but 50 of that total by halftime. Washington was eight for 16 on third-down conversions, compared to the Rams’ feeble two for 12. The home team dominated time of possession, with 37 minutes 44 seconds of ball control compared to the Rams’ 22:16.

“They out-executed us on third down, and that’s a big play during the game, just keeping those drives alive,” Rams quarterback Nick Foles said. “We didn’t do a good job of that today.”

A week earlier, after the big win over Seattle, the Rams were talking about the need for week-to-week consistency in execution and performance. They were doing so almost immediately after that triumph.

“As you know, our biggest problem has always been being consistent,” guard Rodger Saffold said after that 34-31 win. “We win one, lose one. Lose two, come back win two. Lose the third. You know what I mean?”

We know exactly what you mean. But recognizing the problem and solving it remain two distinct things for the Rams. They have managed back-to-back victories only five times during Fisher’s tenure. And they have won as many as three in a row only once — defeating Arizona, San Francisco and Buffalo in succession in 2012.

A 52-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein, followed by a 40-yard TD pass from Foles to Britt, cut Washington’s lead to 17-10 midway through the third quarter. Quinn forced a Jones fumble that was recovered by McDonald, setting up the Foles-to-Britt score.

But just as quickly, the Rams’ offense shifted back into neutral and stayed there. Washington finally put the game away with an excruciating 12-play, 77-yard TD drive that chewed up nearly 7 minutes of the fourth quarter.

Washington faced third-and-13, third-and-5, and third-and-8 situations on the drive, converting each time. Jones’ 3-yard sweep around left end gave Washington a victory-clinching 24-10 lead with 2:38 to play in the fourth.

And left the Rams groping for answers— again.




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