I have often commented on this site that I work on Sundays and don't get to watch the games. I depend on highlights, slow internet feeds and stats to follow the games. Yesterday, I found STLsportblog on You Tube. He has posted all the NFL HD shortcut broadcasts so you could see the entire game basically in fast forward. Yesterday, I was off work and had the time to sit down and watch the Rams vs Raiders, Redskins, Seahawks, Chargers and Panthers games in their entirety.
Five things were very apparent and extremely almost maddenly consistent:
1) The Rams defense is bad ass!!. All the talk of the Rams defense is legit. These guys put relentless pressure on the quarterback and know how to get their hat on the ball and get to the running back. It almost seems more fun to watch the defense play than the offense. The Rams defense of 1999 was good but the Greatest Show on Turf made it easy for us to tee off on opposing quarterbacks because they had to throw away the run game. The 2010 Rams seem to feed off of the defense. We shut down the opposing offense and hope Sam and The Rams can put up enough points on the board to get us by. Any penalties or missed opportunities are magnified if we don't execute or take advantage of good field position.
2) Rams games always turn into Punt-a-thon's. A lot of three and outs on both sides of the ball. Donnie Jones and the punter for the other teams are getting a LOT of work.
3) The Rams offense is stagnant with the dink and dunks. All of you who have been posting about this, I feel your pain! Very rarely does Bradford get to throw the ball beyond the first down marker. Screen passes and quick outs are the order of the day. It makes me wonder if the plays that are being called are because Shurmur has no confidence in the offensive lines ability to protect for Bradford. It seems like he wants the ball out of Bradfords hands immediately. The argument about whether or not our receivers don't have the ability to separate is hard for me to guage because don't you need to run beyond three yards to at least start gaining separation? It was so bad watching, there was a point in the Panthers game where Bradford dropped back to pass and he had a little time to look downfield and started to brace himself for a long throw downfield. I honestly could hear the crowd go "Oooooooh" at the same time I did. Then Bradford pulled it back because no one was open. When he pulled it down, you almost heard a collective "Awwwww" at the same time I did. If the Rams keep this up, it seems like the best strategy for opposing defensive coordinators would be to rush 3 and cram 8 guys inside the first down marker to plug all passing lanes.
4) Danny Amendola is a BEAST! With his punt returns and valiant receiver work he almost seems like the team MVP. That WWF-style hit he got from Rolando McLain of the Raiders was UGLY! I can't wait for us to get Mark Clayton back and a legit number one receiver so Danny can work out of the slot where he belongs. Our offense will be scary when that happens.
4) Our running game needs work. VanRam's post about whether or not we should be worried about Steven Jackson is a legitimate question. I'm glad he went there before I did. Watching these games in fast forward, seeing all these carries that Jackson is getting is hard to stomach. He gets the ball and VERY OFTEN is met in the backfield by defenders that stuff the run. He will break one for anywhere from 3-9 yards but he is getting stuffed at the line more often that not. I just wonder if Jackson's groin injury is affecting him or if he has lost a step. Most of the time when he gets the ball, he seems to shuffle his feet a little, run up the back of the offensive line and not get much forward momentum. Jackson is currently #3 in the league in rushing attempts per game. He is #8 in the league in rushing yards per game. But he is #35 in the league in yards per attempt! To answer your question VanRam, YES, I am worried.
Sam Bradford is doing an extremely commendable job with the tools he has at his disposal but with the woes in the passing as well as running games it makes me wonder if the root cause of it all is the offensive line? I think in next years draft it would behoove us to obviously tab a number one reciever with our first pick but it's definetely time to look at a backup running back as Steven Jackson's heir apparent as well as more offensive line help. Not for offensive line depth but to displace one of the starters. When Rodger Saffold came out last year, he was actually graded as a guard but showed the skills and tools to be an effective tackle. I'm thinking the Rams should look at the best tackle or guard available to see if we would be better off leaving Saffold at tackle or sliding him inside to replace Jacob Bell or Adam Goldberg. I'm also wondering if we might also want to consider trading Steven Jackson for value while he still has some time left on his belt. I don't know, it might be better off for the future of this franchise.