The St. Louis Rams are in Atlanta this week. Jeff Fisher's team is an underdog to the Falcons, and that could be a big miss for anyone predicting the same old Rams to show up and drop a game. The difference this time? Well, there's Fisher and GM Les Snead. They also have some talent, real talent, from a plethora of pass rushers and, most surprisingly of all, receivers that can run ... and catch!
Doug Farrar at SI.com and the great Greg Cosell took a closer look at the key matchups for every game on this week's schedule on their most recent podcast. Here are some highlights for the Rams-Falcons contest.
You may have heard this was a weak spot for the Falcons last week. And it will be again this week. Just don't expect Mike Smith to leave it as is. Cosell points out that the Falcons will likely use more planned protections, skill players blocking, double teams and chip blocks receivers and running backs headed out on their routes.
Go back and look what the Falcons did against the 49ers in the playoffs last year, Cosell notes. Smith's plans will be met by a ferocious and well-coached Rams defense, natch.
What stood out more than anything from the Rams' Week 1 win? For Cosell it was the offense's ability to line up with so many different looks. Weapons like Jared Cook, who Cosell points out is likely headed for a big year, and Tavon Austin will be key. And watch what they do with those bunched receiver formations.
Sam Bradford was blitzed 17 times last week. He was 11-for-17 when that happened. The Rams offensive line is the best unit Bradford's had in his pro career. Cosell calls the unit just okay, and that's a fair assessment, especially when you look at the interior line play. But the Rams have done a nice job scheming for protection with their pass blockers.
Be sure to give Cosell and Farrar a listen. The Rams-Falcons talk is right at the beginning, roughly the 4:55-minute mark.