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Article:The decline and fall of Torry Holt - Barkingclam's Tuesday NFL Notebook

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One friend of mine summed it up best: What happened?

The Dallas Cowboys, who had resided in the top ten of nearly everybody’s power polls, rankings and charts were beaten – soundly, at that – by the Rams, the hapless St. Louis Rams.

A monster day for Stephen Jackson (Three touchdowns, 160 yards) and a big day for Donnie Avery (65 yards, one touchdown) and a solid day from Marc Bulger (14/19, 173 yards).

But another tepid day for Torry Holt.

Once one of the most dynamite receivers in the league, and almost always a early-round fantasy pick, Holt has been quiet all season and looks to going downhill fast. At least on fantasy boards.

Only once this season has Holt caught a touchdown, and only once has he had more then 75 yards receiving. And according to ESPN’s stats, he’s on pace for just under 700 yards this season and only three touchdowns. This from the guy who just two years ago had 10 majors and 1,100 yards. What happened?

The double team and the collapse of the Rams offense happened.

With Isaac Bruce having left this offseason and the emergence of Stephen Jackson, the Rams offense has shifted from the long threat, the “Greatest show on turf” from the early part of this decade, to that of a running (and making short passes when needed) based set.

This fits the skill sets for most of the team: Marc Bulger is only throwing 20 or so passes a game now, often short, quick throws, and has found his groove. Stephen Jackson is running with success, especially against Dallas, and gives the team it’s scoring spark.

This leaves Holt as it’s major downfield threat. Thus the double team: for the most part, defences have been keying in and shutting down Holt with two defenders and haven’t had to worry about the rest of the receiving corps.

But this could change soon.

Donny Avery has emerged in the past little while as a threat. His numbers reflect his status as a number two wideout (at least), but he’s picking up solid yards and maybe some coverage. It’s not Bruce and Holt, for sure, but doesn’t Avery and Torry have a better ring to it?

Speaking of rings (or at least missing rings), I saw a show on the Buffalo Bills 1990 team the other day. Ahh, the glory days of Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas, when the Bills were a great team to watch and played maybe the greatest Super Bowl of all time.

Right now in Buffalo, 1990 is suddenly back on a lot of peoples minds, I’m sure: the Bills have their best team since that season.

They’re five and one, lead a messed-up AFC East and are already the favourites to win the division. No longer are they posting comebacks – they handedly beat San Deigo on Sunday, 23-14.

Trent Edwards is throwing often and accurately: 25 of 30 for over 260 yards on Sunday. Marshawn Lynch is looking solid in the backfield and both Lee Evans and Josh Reed are downfield threats. They’re picking apart good defence while elevating theirs: on Sunday they shut down the Chargers: while Phillip Rivers threw for two scores, Ledanian Thomlinson was held to just 41 yards on 14 carries.

This wasn’t a fluke game for the Bills. They’re 10th in yards allowed right now, with just under 300 a game – a lower number then Dallas, Chicago or New England. Against the pass, they’re even better: eighth in the league: better then the Giants, Redskins or Buccaneers. The have the best point differential in their division

As we approach the halfway point of the season, the Bills are looking more and more like a contender: if not for the AFC East, then surely for the wild card. It’s not as if the competition is stiff: The Jets are floundering and the Dolphins have dropped their last two (so much for them being a sleeper).

Other notes: Tennessee is unbeaten and over-reported. I’m not sold on them yet: they haven’t beaten anybody that’s sitting over .500 after week seven. But next Monday’s game, at home against Indianapolis, will be their first big test… If the NFC South is the best division in the NFL (and it is), it’ll be neat to see who comes out of it: Tampa and Carolina are sitting on top, but don’t count out Atlanta yet: they’re young, feisty and they don’t have the same pressure the other teams do… Has there been a season where both Green Bay and Chicago are this good?

Remember, more sportswriting like this can be found at North of the 400

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