There was plenty to like in the St. Louis Rams 30-16 win over Washington yesterday. Sparkling individual performances combined with inspired play from each unit that made this the team's sweetest win since Super Bowl XXXIV, well, maybe not quite at that level, but pretty satisfying nonetheless. Anyway, I want to comment on a few things that happened in the trenches that made a big impact for the Rams.
With Steven Jackson out of the game, I suspect more than a few fans were ready to concede. How could they not be after an offseason of commentary pointing out just how doomed this team would be without Jackson? Instead, the coaches and Sam Bradford shifted some of Jackson's tremendous burden to the offensive line, asking them to step up, dig deep and find just a little bit more to give. A unit featuring a rookie and a second year offensive tackle responded positively. One tactical move that made a huge difference was the decision to bring in John Greco for some work at right guard.
The largest of the Rams guards, Greco's career to this point had been working in relief of boneheaded Richie Incognito. He missed a good bit of the preseason and with it his chance to earn a starting job. Working in rotation with Adam Goldberg, Gerco mauled Washington defenders to open holes in the middle, allowing the Rams to keep that weapon at their disposal even with Jackson on the sidelines.
Will we start seeing a rotation of Goldberg and Greco based on the matchups going forward? I hope so.
Pass blocking deserves praise too. Though it wasn't perfect, Washington sacked Bradford just once and he was hit just twice. That should not imply that Washington did not managed to pressure the QB; they did. However, the Rams handled the pressure quite well, especially Bradford who seems to make things happen when he rolls out of the pocket. Funny, in a post prior to this game I linked to a discussion about how dangerous McNabb was when pressured.
The offensive line took some heat after last week's game. This week, the unit lived up to its potential.
Perhaps more satisfying: the line's play flew in the face of all the Adam Carriker is great talk in the press this week.