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Rams vs. Vikings Revisited: What We Didn’t Expect

Expectations were high for the Rams as they kicked off their season against the Vikings on Sunday. The unexpected though...

Michael Thomas

A Blowout

The Rams [and their fans] entered Week 1 with a sense of optimism, despite having already lost Sam Bradford for the season. Rally behind a new leader.  Forge ahead!

The team was supposed to control the clock - keeping Vikings RB Adrian Peterson off the field - utilizing a ground-and-pound style rushing attack.  The defense was supposed to wreak havoc in the opposition’s backfield, minimizing big pass plays that have hurt them badly in the past few seasons.

At least that’s how I saw it.

That’s not how it played out though.  Deficiencies on offense, injuries, and mental mistakes made for a Sunday most would like to forget.  The Rams were throttled 34-6 -- the largest margin of victory/defeat in Week 1.  The Rams are one of five teams that have yet to score a touchdown in 2014...the other four have yet to play a down.

An Austin Davis Sighting

After losing Bradford in the preseason, there were mixed emotions about potential outcome of the Rams’ season.  Some thought it was over.  Others found Shaun Hill to be an upgrade to Bradford; minimally there would be no drop off.

But regardless, word on the street was that Hill was a very capable backup and he’d be leading the Rams in 2014.  Jeff Fisher reassured fans that was the direction they’d be going.

But snakebitten?

Bradford does have an injury history.  With Hill - a career backup - his play was always more a focus than his propensity to be hurt.  Welp...

Enter Austin Davis, the team’s backup [really their 3rd string QB], at halftime.  Davis hadn’t played in a  regular season game in the past two years [both with Rams].  He would finish the game 16 of 23 for 192 yards.

And Rams’ fans might be seeing even more of Davis in Week 2, at Tampa Bay...

Offensive Ineptitude...With a Twist

The play-calling.  The blocking.  Pretty much everything done on the offensive side of the ball...all executed poorly.  Again, the Rams stated all offseason that they’d go the way of the ground game.  Zac Stacy would be heavily featured, and a beefed up [and healthy] offensive line would help lead the charge.

But the run-heavy offense that was supposed to have featured a healthy dose of Stacy lead to 11 carries [t-19th], and a long run of 7 yards [last of any rusher with 10+ carries].  Finding sizable running lanes looked nearly impossible.  As they did for Tavon Austin...who was handed the ball in the backfield three times; none of which contained as much trickery as they did a "just run it up the gut" mentality.

That lead to increased passing from the 2nd [now injured starter] and 3rd string [potential Week 2 starter] QB’s.  And in most cases, the failures of first and second downs had Johnny Hekker warming up before the snap on 3rd down...

The Twist?

Brian Quick looked like a man on a mission.*  Shaun Hill was feeding Quick early and often.  He did a great job of utilizing his size, finding space, and holding onto the ball.  No Rams’ receiver had a better day than Quick, who finished the game with 99 yards.

* prepares to eat crow

Missed Tackles. Lack-O-Sacks

Missed tackles are something you expect in the preseason.  It’s the nature of the beast, but teams are given four games - plus their practices - to iron it all out.  I don’t need to, nor will I, play the highlight reel touchdown where Cordarrelle Patterson effectively dodged about about six would-be tacklers wearing blue and gold.  That play made it evident, though, that the Rams’ ability to wrap up the opposition is still a concern.

The Rams missed 16 tackles, according to Pro Football Focus.  That’s good for fourth worst in the league with two games still remaining.

And where are the sacks?  It was relatively easy to overlook them [except the ones Michael Sam was piling up] in the preseason, but simply because the starters weren’t on the field very often.

The Rams finished the day with one sack.  Robert Quinn, of course, filled that stat line.  That sack came as a result of a botched snap.

The Vikings defense sacked the Rams’ QB five times on Sunday.  Sack City indeed.

Flags on Flags on Flags on Flags

Right now, Ed Hochuli and his crew are icing up their shoulders.  If the Rams looked at them wrong, the yellow flag was hitting the turf.  And it seemed like the flag was being thrown every other play.

Now taunting?  That’s just in an inexcusable error.  And why?  You’re allowed to taunt when you’re on the winning team.  You get the luxury of extending your finger towards the scoreboard.  The Rams were never leading in this one.  Never.

And the LEAGUE-LEADING thirteen penalties didn’t do the aforementioned inept offense any favors.  You know, the offense that made it into the red zone ZERO TIMES yesterday...


It’s here, and it’s real.  Fans are clamoring for Tim Tebow to become the team’s starting QB.  I don’t know what to tell you...

If for nothing more than a good chuckle, You can visit here for a gander on the latest "Rams Tim Tebow" Tweets.  Enter at your own risk!