Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
The Rams secondary is very talented, but talent doesn't always lead to results. How have they done so far?
Pre-season 2012, experts and fans alike started drooling over the talent the Rams had in the secondary, especially at Corner Back. Cortland Finnegan signed with the team giving the Rams one of the very best. Bradley Flechter returned from injury, and the Rams selected the troubled, but extremely talented Janoris Jenkins in the 2012 draft. Safety was a small concern, but solid play was expected from Quintin Mikell and Darian Stewart/Craig Dahl. It was thought that the Rams may have one of the best secondaries in football. How have they lived up to the hype?
C: Corners are the strength of this secondary. They all got off to a hot start; creating turnovers and all that stuff. But recently, the turnovers have been absent and rookie Janoris Jenkins has been shaky. Bradley Fletcher's penalty issues haven't helped either. The biggest weak spots are the safety spots. Quintin Mikell is a box safety at this point in his career and so is Craig Dahl. Both are a liability in pass coverage.
C: Finnegan and Jenkins are going to be a great tandem at CB for the next few years. Trumaine Johnson looks like a solid piece of the secondary as well. Dahl and Mikell should not be starting however. This group lacks overall consistency, but that should improve as the rookies get more experience and we (hopefully) add a new pair of starting safeties next season.
C+: CBs are MUCH improved; Finnegan is babysitting some young corners, so they play inconsistent (note a trend? This is the youngest team all-together, inconsistencies will happen). J. Jenks and Tru showed flashes of their talent - just need to keep it up. We need safety help in the draft, bad. Dahl can hit hard, but he hits about 20% of the time. Mikell was the prized possession last season, not playing as well as I'd like him. Stewart has been injured too much.
(CB: B+) (S: F): Average: C: Well this group of corners is good folks. I know Jenks has struggled the last few games, but if he keeps his head on straight and accepts some coaching, he will be a perennial pro-bowler. The safeties however don't fit this scheme. They were limited enough already, but playing outside of their strengths has made this group a liability.
C: If I based this unit solely on Cortland Finnegan, they'd get an "A", but the Rams secondary is filled with promising rookies who are still learning the NFL game. Janoris Jenkins has ALL the tools to be a Top 5 CB in the NFL, but mental lapses are flat out destroying him right now. Bradley Fletcher had a bad game against New England, but some of that has to be blamed on the game officiating crew. He's been a solid "nickle" CB, and he could be a defensive key in the 49ers game. I really like how rookie Trumaine Johnson is progressing. The Rams safeties are a problem area. I see an immediate need to change Quitin Mikell and Craig Dahl's positions around. Dahl is incapable of helping Jenkins in top coverage, and that has to stop or Randy Moss will burn them for at least one long ball this Sunday. The Rams safeties have to start playing pure safety positions, and not spending so much time in the DL/LB box.
B: Let's get this out of the way right now; this grade is not based on the play of the safeties. Clearly, the Rams will be targeting some options at that position early and quite possibly often during the offseason (draft, FA,, both). However, the Rams have a ton of promise with their corners. Finnegan has simply been fantastic, and Bradley Fletcher is still a good physical corner even with his terrible knees. Janoris Jenkins is a rookie, but he has the talent to make it happen.
B-: If I could give the safeties a separate grade it would be an F. The corners have had two bad games, back to back, against Rodgers and Brady. Outside of those two games, the secondary has been a positive.
B: Tough one. I could go higher, specifically for Corners, or waaaaaaay lower for safeties. Either way, I'm satisfied with their play as a whole. Other than a few mental lapses by Janoris - which were costly - we've got one of the best pairs of corners in the NFL. Overall, the stat lines they've allowed some of the NFL's best WR's is pretty impressive. They'll all continue to get better. Well....almost "Dahl" of them.
B Besides, Janoris Jenkins hitting a giant rookie wall, and Craig Dahl being Craig Dahl, the rest of the secondary is playing solid. But Jenkins and Dahl have dragged down the secondary. It will be interesting to see if the Rams play safe coverage a lot again. It will also be interesting to see if Jenkins can turn the ship around. It's a good thing that this secondary will get a chance to play against the Kevin Kolb's, and other non elite QB's, to get that lost swagger back.
C+: Cortland Finnegan went from one of my least favorite players to one of my favorites overnight. Funny how your opinion changed when the guy is on your side. Janoris Jenkins is playing well, except for all the major rookie mistakes leading to big plays. Those should go away as he adjust to the NFL game. BFB (Bradley Fletcher for those who don't know) has been very good coming off his 2nd serious knee injury. The safeties bring down the average of the group. Dahl and Mikell have been awful. Is there a team with a worst pair of safeties? The Rams definitely need to upgrade this unit in the off season.