It's always painful to let a commanding lead slip away like the Rams did last week. But, it's even tougher to swallow because they let the Seahawks off the hook. Considering the opposition, the first half was the best half of football I've seen the Rams play since 2003. But, give Mike Holmgren credit. The guy can coach and he made the necessary adjustments to get back in the game. For starters, he committed to the run in the second half. Seattle had a paltry four yards rushing on only five attempts in the opening 30 minutes. If teams want to beat the Rams and keep the offense off the field, they need to run the ball. The Rams are still undersized in the front seven and vulnerable to the ground game. Denver and Arizona tried to beat the Rams by throwing the ball and failed. The Rams will force teams into turnovers, sacks and mistakes if they abandon the run. And that's why the upcoming San Diego game is scary. The Chargers have Ladanian Tomlinson in the backfield and a very good offensive line. I think Jim Haslett is going to have to commit the extra body to stopping the run("eight in the box") and make quarterback Phillip Rivers prove he can burn them through the air. It's helpful that Haslett has two weeks to prepare for the game.
On the other side of the ball, the Chargers are very physical and adept at pressuring the quarterback. The Rams will have to account for outside linebacker Shawne Merriman on every play. This guy is special--in the mold of a Lawrence Taylor. He's big, incredibly explosive and very athletic. He is the perfect outside linebacker/defensive end in a 3-4 alignment.
A word about Torry Holt. He is simply put the most complete receiver in the NFL--and has been for a few years. He runs every possible pattern---often going over the middle for the tough yards. He has incredibly strong yet soft hands and uses his body well. And, like Isaac Bruce, he's a master route runner. He's not as explosive after the catch as he once was but that's a function of age and wear and tear. His numbers indicate he will be in the Hall of Fame one day. He averages 86 yards per game receiving---tops in NFL history. He is also the only receiver to top 1,300 yards in six straight seasons. Not even the all time great Jerry Rice did that. And, last week, he topped 10,000 receiving yards faster than any player in history. On top of all this, he's a good teammate, has a great work ethic and doesn't miss games. Oh and he also blocks downfield. That's another trait he learned from watching Isaac. You can have Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Chad Johnson. I'll take Torry Holt. He and Indy's Marvin Harrison are the most consistent and most complete wide receivers in the game. Torry's grab on Sunday in the final two minutes was astounding. His seven touchdowns make him the league's top scorer among non-kickers. I hope fans in St. Louis appreciate how good he is. It's time fans around the NFL figure it out.