Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE
For the first time in more than a month, the St. Louis Rams didn't lose a football game. Unfortunately, it takes an actual victory to snap a losing streak. A week away from the field surely did the team some good, but will it be enough against equally rested San Francisco?
It's been a slow week for Ram fans, but the news will keep rolling. After the team's sight seeing vacation in London, they - and we - were rewarded with a week to dwell. Let's see what was learned while the Rams tended to their wounds and studied some ugly game film.
Rams at the midpoint - Much like we at Turf Show Times have been doing recently, Jim Thomas of the Post-Dispatch analyzes each position by their performance through eight games. He notes the emergence of several rookies on the offensive side of the ball, as well as Sam Bradford's increase in productivity. Players across the board on defense have stepped up and excelled in certain situations; however, it's still a work in progress. Going younger and cheaper with the special teams unit has proven to be a wise choice.
Bernie's five bye week talking points - Three of Bernie Miklasz' key topics and thoughts about the Rams reside on offense - and they are all relatively entwined together - while the other two line up next to each other along the defensive line.
Play-action passing, an area which Bradford struggled with in 2011, has been a strength of late. The team needs to use it more, especially considering the established "smash n' dash" combo that they deploy in the backfield and their big-play downfield threat, Chris Givens. What exactly do the Rams have in tight end Lance Kendricks? I'm not sure.
Many expected Chris Long to continue to build upon his breakout 13-sack 2011 campaign. He has - just to a degree. He remains an every-down nuisance for opposing quarterbacks, but, with only 4 sacks at the midpoint, it seems unlikely that he will outdo his best season. The Rams' new pair of defensive tackles is profoundly better this year compared to last; however, they aren't yet where fans would like.
Saffold Working his way back - The bye week truly could not have come at a better time for the Rams, who have been missing several key starters for the bulk of the season. In addition to Danny Amendola, left tackle Rodger Saffold could be set to retake the field against the San Francisco 49ers next week. It could be overly optimistic, but center Scott Wells is on track to suit back up, as well. Having those three back on offense is pivotal for the Rams to compete with a powerful 49er defense.
Rams fined for injury report slip - The franchise has been fined by the league office for $20,000 after failed to report Steven Jackson's sidelining groin injury during week 2's victory over Washington. Fans will likely remember this topic due to the media's overblown conspiracy theories which followed, leaving many to wonder if Jeff Fisher had pulled his No. 1 running back to prove a point.
In a somewhat related matter, as our own Ryan Van Bibber alluded to early last week, the New England Patriots accumulated several big hits on Sam Bradford that undoubtedly made fans cringe. Nonetheless, they received no penalty as a result, both during and after the game.
Shanahan: Rest of season to "evaluate players" - While the NFC West race continues to be red hot, another team with a direct connection to the Rams is packing away its playoff hopes. The Washington Redskins - who will make St. Louis very happy come draft day - dropped to 3-6 on the year with their loss to the Carolina Panthers.
After falling to one of the worst teams remaining on the schedule, it's hard to envision Mike Shanahan and Robert Griffin III turning their season around. They get the struggling Cleveland Browns in week 15, but also have 5 divisional matchups (Philadelphia, Dallas and New York Giants) to close out.
Week 10 power rankings from the bleacher - Matt Miller, @nfldraftscout on the Tweeter, has his updated power rankings out a day before most, and appears to be a closet Rams fan. You'd be hard pressed to find the Rams rated so highly by most others, so revel in it when possible. Where do they rank following a week of rest? Check it out.
Seahawks top Vikings - In the greatest combined running back performance game of the week, (no disrespect, Doug Martin) the Seattle Seahawks improve to 5-4 by knocking off the Minnesota Vikings. Together, Marshawn Lynch and Adrian Peterson accumulated 343 yards and 3 scores. That's pretty good, but also muddled by Russell Wilson's and Christian Ponder's total of 236 yards through the air. Here is the post-game wrap-up from Field Gulls.
Cards fall to Pack - Similar to the Rams' results, Arizona fought hard but came up short against Green Bay, particularly on offense. After a staggering 4-0 beginning to 2012, the Cardinals have lost five consecutive games. This year's surprise team has quickly become a disappointment. I think the only team in the league with more issues on the offensive line than St. Louis is their rival from the desert.
I apologize, friends, for not being able to share any week 9 Rams highlights with you all. To make up for it, how about a compilation of all the team's best plays from the first eight? The music isn't my preference, but the subject matter sure is.