I was fortunate enough to be able to spend some quality time with my DVR this week and took a closer look at the Rams players in their week 1 loss to the Eagles. I watched the game live so I knew it was an ugly overall effort, but I still wanted to see who stood out "on tape" as individuals, and why.
First impressions were easy to come by. Two man stood out. Fred Robbins had a terrible start to the season. His play is very sloppy and he has a penchant for leaving his feet, often when he is nowhere near the person he's trying to tackle. Being 5 feet away from the ball carrier when you dive sure does make it appear as if its all for show rather than a superhuman effort that just missed.
Robbins' first four plays:
Robbins finished the game with 1 Tackle, and no Assists. Ok, now I get that Robbins is 34 and won't provide the fastest pursuit on the field, but leaving your feet is almost always a bad idea because you stop accelerating as soon as you get airborne. At this point, Robbins needs to not worry about appearances and simply maintain all the accelaration he can get. I was fairly disappointed in the fact that it was often his choice to needlessly dive, and not just an unavoidable part of the play. He reminds me a lot of a defensive Jacob Bell.
Chris Long is still figuring out how to play with his hands. His quickness off the line was seriously lacking earlier in his career but he was able to fix that. In fact, Long looks like one of the quickest and fastest D-linemen I have seen in a while. The problem for him on Sunday was when he overpursued he still couldn't work his way back into the play. First play of the game was a classic example, where he burst right by Eagles OL Todd Herremans into the backfield, only to find himself sealed in back there and unable to make and effective secondary effort to come back out of the backfield.
I have a lot more faith that Long will contiue to make progress than Robbins will all of a sudden start to play more disciplined, but Long's deficiencies are easy to see when you take a good long look at his play. The Rams need pressure on the passer, but they also still need playmakers on the Defensive line. Long's 1 Sack was part Mike Vick, and part Long's inability to penetrate in 1-on-1 situations.