It's difficult to imagine how good this Rams team would be with a good offensive line. They've been hit hard with injuries, but the play from that unit has been erratic and mostly embarrassing. Of course, that's basically the 2012 Rams so far. You sometimes question the defense (Detroit), you sometimes question the offense (Chicago), but at the end of the day, the Rams always hang in there and have a chance to win the game (Washington, Seattle).
The Rams are back, and it's exciting to watch them again. You have no idea how long I have waited to be able to write that sentence. I'm sure everyone on this site has longed for those words to be written. It's not everyday that a team so terrible over the past decade suddenly lurches awake and starts fighting through four quarters of tough, physical football.
On offense, the Rams were hit or miss. Bradford had a decent day, with a few miscues and sloppy passes putting blemishes on his otherwise statically average performance. He had some trouble holding on to the ball for too long, but I have a sneaking suspicion that he isn't quite comfortable with his receivers yet, leading to his gun-shy mentality. Brandon Gibson has been the only receiver on the team to play with Bradford for more than one consecutive season (this is considering Amendola's injury last year). That doesn't exactly instill confidence.
All things considered, the receivers were decent yesterday. Gibson and Bradford has some sync issues, but again, it happens. They both have gone through multiple offenses in multiple years, so that sixth sense likely isn't present (and some question if it ever will be in the case of Gibson). Still, the Rams made the most of the passing game. Austin Pettis had key catches, as did Danny Amendola. Chris Givens sparkled on two deep bombs, narrowly missing the second - a touch strong by Bradford.
As for the running game, they struggled to find holes. Steven Jackson had a few big runs, but he was hampered by a groin injury that has clearly put a hitch in his giddy up. I'm hoping the Rams use Darryl Richardson more, not because he isn't injured, but because he provides an explosiveness that SJ just doesn't have right now. Believe it or not, the Rams could be in the playoff hunt this year (it may be too soon to say it, but I might not get another chance). They need Steven Jackson healthy, and that isn't going to happen if he keeps getting the majority of touches with this offensive line. I hope the coaching staff uses him sparingly on Thursday.
Speaking of the linemen, they are mostly terrible. Wayne Hunter has been average, although he isn't going to have anyone writing home. Quinn Ojinnaka is terrible, constantly playing too high and not using his frame to power through his blocks. The Rams are clearly counting down the days until Scott Wells can return so they can move Robert Turner (a pleasant surprise) to left guard, where he started the season. They are also itching for the return of Rodger Saffold, most likely so they can slide Hunter over to RT. Harvey Dahl and Barry Richardson have been absolutely awful, evident by the small gains on almost every running play to the right side.
As far as defense goes, the Rams still have a massive run stopping problem. Even with the first unit playing together at the defensive line, they were mauled by the Seahawks and let them run rampant (the Rams are clearly geared towards rushing the passer). The linebacking play was decent yesterday, with large passing gains underneath more of a scheme issue, rather than one based on personnel.
That brings me to the secondary, and the most exciting unit the Rams have on either side of the ball. Cortland Finnegan was quiet yesterday, and in cornerback terms that's a good thing. Janoris Jenkins was key on a late blitz that resulted in a sack for Robert Quinn. Trumaine Johnson and Bradley Fletcher both came up with huge interceptions for the team, the latter of which ending the game. Still, safety play has been bad, and Craig Dahl is obviously completely outmatched.
Last but not least, there's Greg Zuerlein. He can kick the football. I wouldn't be surprised to see them go for even longer attempts when the wind is in their favor (read: road games). Hekker had a decent day, but it was punctuated by a nice TD pass to Danny Amendola on a fake field goal.
All in all, it was a win. It wasn't the prettiest victory, and the Rams had some issues on both sides of the ball, but they got it done. When you are playing a division rival, you need to win, no matter the cost. I'm just happy to say the Rams did.