John Madden
John Madden
Falcons-Rams beset by injuries
By John Madden

This week, Monday Night Football (9 p.m. ET) features the Atlanta Falcons against the St. Louis Rams, two teams beset by injuries and roster turnover.

The Rams are not the same team that wowed us with their speed and big-play potential. They are still a good team, but they aren't the "greatest show on turf" anymore. They've changed quite a bit from when they won Super Bowl XXXIV.

That explosive team had quarterback Kurt Warner, running back Marshall Faulk, wide receivers Az-Zahir Hakim, Ricky Proehl, Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Right now, Bruce and Holt are the only starters from that team playing for the Rams. Hakim and Proehl are gone, Faulk is injured and Warner is now the backup quarterback.

That's a lot to lose off a championship team, which explains their drop in play.

This week they play a team that's struggling with the loss of its quarterback.

The Falcons are having a tough time dealing with the loss of Mike Vick. Their original hope when Vick went done was that Doug Johnson could keep them around .500 until Vick returned from his broken leg. Now the Falcons find themselves at 1-4 and without Vick for a longer time than they initially suspected.

But their problems don't end at the quarterback position. The offensive line is struggling with pass protection, and the defense is not stopping anyone.

Atlanta's defense -- led by linebacker Keith Brooking -- has always been one of the more consistent defenses in the league. But now both Brooking and Atlanta's defense are disappointing, as they are allowing 27.8 points per game.

Offensively, this team has struggled with making big plays. That's why last week's loss may have been a watershed moment. Wide receiver Peerless Price -- who was signed in the offseason to be Vick's main guy -- caught 12 passes for 168 yards. Price had been ruffling feathers on his team with his repeated requests for the ball. He felt an increased presence in the offense would help the team win. In the long run he may be right despite the loss.

The Falcons need a big win to get the team's season back on track. If they can turn it around by the time Vick gets back, they might still be able to make a run for the playoffs.
Game Plans: Falcons at Rams
Ron Jaworski and Sean Salisbury go ...

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