Monday, November 3, 2008

Edward Jones Dome is Kurt Warner’s House

In Kurt Warner’s first NFL start, he threw three touchdown passes in the 1999 season opener to air lift the Rams past the Baltimore Ravens. Little did we know what this would lead to. The game was played at The Edward Jones Dome, and nearly 10 years later, Warner is still ripping the place up.

Sunday Warner completed 23 of 34 passes for 342 yards and two touchdowns and no INTs as his Arizona Cardinals owned the Rams 34-13. Warner’s passer rating for the game was 120.0 I did a quick check and this was one of Warner’s best games at The Ed. The 342 yards represented his eighth-highest total in the venue.

In 31 games at the Edward Jones Dome, Warner has completed 67.1 percent of his passes for 8,731 yards and 66 TDs for a passer rating of 102.5. And how about this stat? Warner’s team has a 27-4 record at The Ed. As a Ram, Kurt was 24-4 in home games (23-4 as the starter), and the Cardinals are 3-0 when Warner plays in St. Louis.

The Edward Jones Dome is to Warner what Asbury Park is to Springsteen.

Moving on …

– It was awesome to see Dick Vermeil, and inspiring to see the way the crowd responded to him during Sunday’s halftime ceremony. Definitely the highlight of the day. And DV, bless him, came through by having to pause to choke back the tears when he addressed the audience. What a great human being he is.

– Since the start of the 2007 season, Rams QB Marc Bulger has a passer rating of 72.4. He’s moving into Tony Banks territory. During Banks’ three seasons as the Rams starter (1996-1998), he had a QB rating of 70.2. As the starter, Bulger is 1-7 in home games since the start of last season.

– Excluding the early 80-yard TD grab by Derek Stanley, the Rams netted only 106 yards passing on their other 32 passing attempts Sunday. And Bulger’s QB rating for the game was 60.9. And the Cardinals had been poor against the pass this season. Before Sunday, they’d given up an average of 230 yards passing per game (21st in the NFL) and quarterbacks had a whopping 108.6 passer rating against them. But the Rams couldn’t get much going through the air. Bulger was terrible, the blocking was awful, the receivers had some drops, the play calls were puzzling,

– Did anyone understand the Rams’ play-calling strategy on Sunday? I sure didn’t. I have no idea what Al Saunders was up to. The Rams opened the game by trying to pass to the tight ends and the fullback. They do not have tight ends who can reliably get open or catch the football. And the fullback, Dan Kreider, has caught 16 passes since the end of the 2004 season. Meanwhile, the Rams ignored wideout Torry Holt for the entire first half. And after falling behind 31-7, the Rams clearly needed to pick up the tempo and go no-huddle and pass the ball. Instead, Saunders apparently decided that it was time to establish the run. They ran Antonio Pittman on three consecutive plays on the next drive, which ended with a punt.

– Since Steven Jackson became a Ram in 2004, he’s averaged 4.3 yards per carry. Not great, but consider this: all other Rams running backs from 2004-2008 have averaged 3.6 yards per carry.

– It happened again Sunday, when AZ safety Adrian Wilson whipped Krieder for a sack. Krieder, supposedly a blocking specialist, has now missed two blocks this season that led to a sack and lost fumble and points for the opponent. Isn’t that the reason why Krieder is here, to block? And if he can’t block, then why is he here?

– That sluggish Rams running game doesn’t help Bulger any. But when receivers are open, you’ve got to get them the ball. And you don’t see many throws worse than Bulger’s INT that was returned for a touchdown by CB Antrel Rolle.

– By the way, ex-Ram QB Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21 of 31 passes for 162 yards and two TDs to lead the Cincinnato Bengals to an upset win over the Jax Jaguars.

– Very disappointing performance against the run by the STL defense. Arizona came into the game averaging onky 81.6 yards per game on the ground, with a pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry. Sunday, the Cardinals smashed the Rams for 177 yards rushing on 33 carries, averaging 5.4 yards per run. The 177 yards was the 15th-highest rushing total in a game for the Cardinals since they moved to Arizona in 1988. They hadn’t rushed for more than 175 yards in a game since Oct. 3, 2004.

– Look, I’m no Jim Hanifan … but I find it hard to believe that Brett Romberg wouldn’t be a better option than the undersized Nick Leckey at center for the Rams.

– Can we please see Donnie Avery and Derek Stanley return some kickoffs and punts?

– Fans were sniping at Rams coach Jim Haslett on the Internet boards, and I understand the frustration, but after all he is 2-2 as the head coach. Which beats 0-4. And 3-13 for that matter. This is going to take some time, folks. Even with the hideous outcome on Sunday, this team has reponded well to Haslett.

– Vermeil on Haslett: “I really like him and respect him. Boy, does he have some fire in his belly.”

– From 1999 through 2004, the Rams were 43-10 at the Edward Jones Dome. Since the start of the 2005 season, they’re 9-19 at home.

– Guard Jacob Bell, who was injured Sunday, is having a rough season. He hasn’t played well. The Rams threw a lot of money, $36 million, at Bell last offseason to get him away from Tennessee. The last time the Rams tossed big cash at a free agent from Tennessee, the object of their affection was the $30 million WR, Drew Bennett. That’s right: $66 million for these two duds. You think Jeff Fisher is laughing? Might be a good idea to avoid those FAs from Tennessee from now on. Put it this way: the Bell signing isn’t going to make anyone forget the free-agent signing of guard Adam Timmerman before the 1999 season.

– What an impressive first NFL start by Arizona rookie RB Tim Hightower, who slashed for 109 yards rushing on 22 carries. Hightower was the a fifth-round pick and the 149th selection overall; 14 backs were drafted before him.

– Now, keep that in mind and think about this: the Rams have an awful offensive line, and they used a third-round pick (the 65th overall) on tackle-guard John Greco. And Greco can’t get on the field. The Cardinals didn’t hesitate to bench Edgerrin James, who had been a top back for a long time until starting to show his age. But the Rams, afflicted with this bad O-line, can’t find any game clock for Greco. Hmmm…

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