In last week's overtime loss to the 49ers, the St. Louis Rams coaches made some curious roster decisions. Topping the list was the decision to start CB Kevin Dockery over Bradley Fletcher; Dockery was promptly burned for two big gains to start the game.
A less visible decision, though just as costly, was the decision to leave OG John Greco on the inactive list, whereas the Rams had been using Greco in rotation with Adam Goldberg at RG. The 49ers front seven is one of the toughest defensive fronts in the game, the stats may not be there like you would expect, but the talent sure is. San Francisco's front seven is particularly tough against the run, among the top ten in every single category Football Outsiders uses to measure DLs against the run. It made the decision to leave Greco inactive, when he probably should have been starting, even more mind blowing.
Just how costly was it and will Spagnuolo make the more curious lineup decisions this week?
In their "refocused" series covering the Rams' week 10 loss, the analysts at Pro Football Focus point out a very weak effort by the Rams offensive line. Among the worst offenders: Adam Goldberg. Check it out:
Right guard Adam Goldberg (-4.2) simply had a shocker against the 49ers. After a promising 2009 season he's simply been awful so far this year, with three games worse than -4.0. He was a disaster in pass protection (-3.4), allowing one sack, one hit and two pressures 53 dropbacks. His run blocking (-1.2) didn't make up for it, either, as he was constantly on the back foot. To make matter worse, he also conceded a penalty.
Jason Smith and Rodger Saffold were also on the negative side of the ledger, though Saffold played less than a full half. The line was overmatched and didn't play up to the high standards the unit has established for itself. But the decision to go without Greco looks incredibly costly in hindsight...it also looked troubling prior to the game.
Will the same thing happen this week? Atlanta's defense lacks the same level of talent that the 49ers have, but they've been almost as difficult to run against. The Falcons have a -17.4 percent DVOA against the run; the 49ers have a 16.8 DVOA against the run.
And Kevin Dockery? Targeted three times for a 106 yards.
Surely, Spagnuolo won't be making the same decisions with these guys this week...surely?