Rams’ start isn’t as bad as it looks | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Rams’ start isn’t as bad as it looks

Column by Steve Yingling, Tribune sports editor

Don’t count out the St. Louis Rams as a Super Bowl contender after two unimpressive performances.

Little can be gleaned from two-game sprint of a marathon 17-week NFL season. Too much can happen between now and January.

Just remember that the New England Patriots began their Super Bowl run with a 1-3 start last year.

But 49er fans certainly have to be happy that the Rams are 0-2 and in last place in the NFC West. However, the 49ers haven’t looked much better with their 1-1 beginning as teams have become more successful neutralizing All-Pro wide receiver Terrell Owens.

If anything can be learned so far, it’s that the Rams and 49ers have played two of the better defenses the NFL has to offer. Not since the Orange Crush have the Broncos been able to win games with their defense, while the Giants’ line and linebackers put enough pressure on the quarterback to make up for deficiencies in the secondary.

In all probability the Rams will fall to 0-3 on Monday in Tampa Bay since the Bucs have been successful in shutting down St. Louis’ high-powered offense in recent years. These Rams have never been that impressive when they hit the road to play on slower grass surfaces — even when they won the Super Bowl in 2000.

But the Rams should take off when Dallas pays a visit on Sept. 29. Outside of tough road trips to San Francisco and Philadelphia, the Rams’ remaining road opponents are soft. And except for competitive home matchups with Oakland, Philadelphia and the 49er rematch, the Rams have a chance to run off a nice string of victories.

As for the Niners, their 14 remaining games look more challenging with road trips to Oakland, New Orleans, San Diego, Dallas and St. Louis and difficult home dates with Green Bay, Philadelphia and St. Louis.

Yet, it sure is fun seeing the Rams on the bottom on the standings and Cleveland and Carolina leading the AFC Central and NFC South, respectively. And if expansion Houston upsets the Colts on Sunday, the Texans could have the outright lead in the AFC South.

NFL parity sure beats the heck out of the predictable NBA and Major League Baseball.

Fantasy frustration

Naturally, anyone who drafted the 49ers’ Jeff Garcia and Rams’ Kurt Warner in their fantasy league has been uttering unflattering nicknames for two of the game’s top quarterbacks.

Don’t even think about trading them. Those offenses have to come around once they start playing the mediocre teams.

More on McIntyre

Fresno State’s third-year defensive line coach Kerry Locklin gave a glowing report of STHS product Garrett McIntyre late Monday night.

McIntyre, a 240-pound freshman defensive lineman, has impressed Locklin with his ability to grasp the Bulldogs’ system so quickly as well as his effort on the field.

“Garrett has never taken a second seat,” Locklin said. “He wasn’t at all intimidated by the guys here or the opponents we’re playing.”

Even without some Bulldogs quitting or becoming injured, McIntyre probably wouldn’t have been redshirted this season. He was that impressive during the preseason.

“Coach (Pat) Hill has the philosophy of seeing if players sink or swim,” Locklin said. “The theory is to throw them out in the heat of battle and see which ones perform. It’s a good measuring stick for fortitude, desire and everything.”

McIntyre is swimming and Fresno State’s coaching staff couldn’t be happier with the play of a nonscholarship player.

Soccer teams thriving

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the area’s four high school soccer teams are a collective 7-1-1 in division games. The amount of club soccer these kids now play gives them a leg up on many of their opponents. Also, the background in the South Shore’s strong AYSO program instills the proper fundamentals and gives children an early love for the game.

The STHS girls’ 2-0 shutout of Douglas on Tuesday gave the Vikings an early season sweep of the Tigers and Reno Huskies. That rare sweep should raise a few eyebrows of coaches in Carson City and make the Vikings the team everyone now wants to beat to draw recognition to their program.

— Steve Yingling can be reached at (530) 542-8010 or syingling@tahoedailytribune.com

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