Rams v. Cardinals grades

Well, the season is heading towards a close.  It feels like a crawl.  Honestly, you can't tell me you're intrigued by the remaining games outside of the influence they have on the draft.  Nevertheless, football was played.  So 3k analyzes.  Grades after the fold.

QB: B

Surprise, surprise, look between your eyes.  Bulger played a decent game.  22 for 37 (almost 60%), a TD early (and an INT late), and some solid offensive management: Bulger actually played like an NFL QB today.  In some respects, I wish he didn't.  It would be easier for us to advance the "replace Bulger now" meme if he played poorly, but today, he controlled the O.  He threw down the field, he limited risk, and he spread the ball around.  Kudos.

HB: C-

I struggled with dipping Jackson into the D range, but he put in some solid work in the 1st half.  Nevertheless, the fumbles were game-killers.  Plus, a healthy SJ didn't get 20 carries or 5 receptions.  Yes, the offensive TD was nice, but his skills demand more.  The sad thing is that you can see the skills.  It's not like one week he's on, one off; he's so talented, I get excited every play I expect him to get the ball... even with that stupid ass Wildcat stuff we tried (NOTE: 3k officially suggests that Wildcat formations be stricken from the St. Louis Rams playbook).

WR/TE: C+

Hard to grade this week.  It was more a function of playcalling than anything else.  Torry Holt finally got involved, Donnie Avery was a factor early, and Bulger did a solid job of spreading it around in the 2nd half.  Nothing spectacular here, though.  Move along, people.  Nothing to see.

O-line: A-

Who are these masked men?  Seriously.  No sacks against the Dolphins and just 1 sack (split between Gerald Hayes and Adrian Wilson) this week?  How would this season have played out if the O-line had played like this more consistently?  I don't have much to say except that it confuses me as to what has happened to make this unit so successful.

D-line: C-

The most disappointing unit for me today.  I harped on them during the game thread, and it took a Leonard Little injury to get the only sack of the game.  Warner had too much time to check down from Boldin to Fitzgerald to Breaston too often.  They get into the 'C' range for containing the run, but Arizona's running game has been pretty soft recently.  Has DT surpassed LB or O-lineman as a need for next year's draft?  The next three games could make it so if it isn't already.

LB: B

Pisa Tinoisammoa and Will Witherspoon want me to like them.  An undersized OLB and a MLB who is meant to play on the outside: it's a labor of love.  These two have more heart than most LBs in the league, so I want to like them.  In the end, it's about talent and size, though.  Credit to Quinton Culberson for his play too.

CB/S: B+

Warner had tons of time, the Arizona WR corps was healthy and...we held Warner to less than 300 yards and just 1 TD to Fitzgerald.  Bartell was on his game, Jason Craft was great, and Atogwe and Fakhir Brown played their games.  This game should be the last hurrah for Corey Chavous.  Safety and DT have exploded up my board for the Rams.  If the O-line continues to play this well, I could see us spot-picking in the draft next year.  Atogwe is a great pass-defending safety.  Taylor Mays (at USC) would be a great complement.  With Little still making plays at DE and Chris Long (hoppefully) coming into his own next year, could we go at Terrence Cody (Alabama), Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma), or B.J. Raji (Boston College) to shore up the D-line?  In any case, the secondary played better than expected against MVP-candidate Kurt Warner.

ST: B+

Josh Brown and Donnie Jones continue to be great pick ups.  Donnie Jones should be a lock for the Pro Bowl at this point.  Derek Stanley showed life as a returner today, but he's only filling the gap until we can find a real return man.  I thought that's why we had drafted Donnie Avery, but hey, it is what it is.  Coverage duty was solid today too.  I have to dock a couple grades for Stanley.  I can't watch him return kicks or punts anymore.

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