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Rams vs Packers Notes and Recap

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I woke up this morning hungry, but probably not as hungry as the Rams....

Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Let's cut straight to the point, the Rams let one get away. Against Washington they were flat out beat down in all facets. That was not the case against Green Bay. The Rams were the better team for three quarters. After a loss like that, they have to be hungry to get back on the field.

The Rams finished with more first downs, more yards, a better time of possession, and more plays ran. They held the Packers to 86 rush yards on 26 attempts. They forced Aaron Rodgers to turn the ball over three times, two of which were interceptions at Lambeau Field.

There's no question about it, this game should have been a blow out and a shock to the world, but that can't happen with four turnovers, which was the difference in the game.

  • Every rookie that comes out the gates blazing in their first season, can pretty much always expect to have that game at some point that reminds him that he is a rookie. That was the case for Frank Cignetti yesterday. Cignetti has called some really good games so far this season, but yesterday will probably end up going down as one of his worst called games of the year. Coming into the game the plan was run the ball and keep Rodgers off the field. He eventually got to that point, but it took far too long. In my pre-game prediction I noted that the screen game will come in handy big time in this game. This is because of the blitzing the Packers do. Cignetti did nothing to adjust to the blitz all game. The Packers were blitzing on roughly 80% of the snaps. Like the old saying goes, if it ain't broke don't fix it. There's two ways to neutralize the pass rush, one is running the ball, the other is quick passes. No quick pass carves up a blitz like a halfback screen. He didn't use this approach at all. Instead he had Foles drop back 33 times and look for intermidiate to deep shots off playaction. Stupid move rookie. This was a learning experience game, and his head certainly shouldn't be called for by a pack of angry fans. One thing I was happy to see, was the touch pass to Tavon. I have been waiting for this to be called since he was drafted. That play was a staple in the offense while he was at West Virginia and I always wondered why Schotty never tried using him some of the ways they did there. Glad to see Cig is doing just that.
  • Nick Foles was absolutely horrible. Now I know what most people are thinking, well the line didn't block. There's no doubt the line had a rough day, but it wasn't as bad as it appears. When you go back and watch again, you see guys getting beat, but all of that pressure was not on them. The Packers were using the same blitz on the majority of the plays. They were sending seven guys more times than not. Clay Matthews was usually the seventh, and he came on a delay time and time again. As a quarterback it is also your responsibility to get the protection right, and to know where the free man is coming from. You then have two choices, audible or throw it to your hot. Foles did neither all day. He stood there and let the same blitz affect him over and over. He also consistently held the ball, and had his worst game from a pocket awareness stand point all season. Though from all stand points this was still his worst game. Three of his four interceptions was completely on his shoulders and as I said pre-game this is a very underrated secondary that will capitalize on your mistakes. The pick for six was on Cook. As I point out so often, he runs half ass routes, Foles threw to where he was going, but Cook inexplicably stopped running for no reason and the ball fell into the corners hands. The other three was completely on Foles. And while that one went for a pick six, it was not the most costly. The two picks in the end zone and on the five yard line was the actual difference in the game. Though with the run game cranked the way it was Cig probably should have never thrown it. A classic case of over thinking it. Those were horrible and completely unexplainable. What hurts the most is the interception thrown to Lance Kendricks should have gone to Tavon. Using the same route in the red zone he used to score his first touchdown vs Arizona last week, Austin was once again wide open in the middle of the field at the one yard line for a walk in touchdown. And pressure is no excuse, as this was one of the times he had time to go through his reads. To be honest, this was one of the top 3 worst games I have seen from a Rams QB since the 09 season.
  • The offensive line can't be blamed completely for the pressure. But that in no way means they had a good day. First off, I have been long past my limits for patience with Rodger Saffold. If he can't stay healthy find someone who can. I feel zero sympathy for him. Some people just don't have the body to handle the NFL. He appears to be one of them, so as I said when they resigned him, why waste the money? That's money that could have been spent on another veteran, a better veteran (because he's only average), and a healthy veteran. Greg Robinson looked like a lost kid. I saw some horrible technique and the inability to think quickly and react even faster. His most bone head play occurred on a blitz by Clay Matthews. He had blitz help from Benny Cunningham coming off the edge. For whatever reason he kick stepped deep and wide as if he had no help and the rusher was speed rushing to the outside. This left a gaping hole to the inside. Every linemen in the world is taught two things, never get beat inside, and never let someone cross your face unblocked. On a single play he had both happen to him. He might need to go back to guard, where he's not on an island and has to think so much. The mental side of the game is destroying him. Rob Havenstein was the best linemen the Rams had yesterday. He has in fact improved every week, and this was easily his best game. He was the one linemen that took care of business all game. Even my favorite guy Jamon Brown got put on his ass, twice. It was a rough day at the office. However the line showed up to run block and opened some gaping holes. Two of which should have gone for touchdowns. One on a Gurley run, and the other on a Tre Mason run, but both backs missed the holes. They'll kick themselves in film this week.
  • Speaking of Todd Gurley, how about this guy? I'm willing to bet right about now Jeff Fisher is asking himself "had I played him the way I am now against the Steelers, would we had won?" It just has to have crossed his mind at least once. Gurley missed two big holes by my count and that's fine, you're a rookie you're not expected to be perfect as the game hasn't completely slowed down for you yet. But I'll be damned if he isn't as close to perfect as a rookie can be. Again he was indeed perfect in blitz pick up for the second week in a row. Still some of the worst technique you can possibly have, but he's so big and so strong, those technicalities that normally would result in the guy getting beat and giving up a sack, are just stalemates. At this point Gurley has to be viewed as an every down threat, and needs to touch the ball 25 times a game. As the game goes he just gets better and better kind of like Steven Jackson used to do. On a side note, Rams fans should really take a moment to appreciate the run on running backs they have had decade after decade. It's the running back capital of the world.
  • Tavon Austin was missed badly on two throws. The under-throw where he was streaking down the numbers. He had the corner beat by 2-3 yards. This was the perfect let it rip and watch him pull away position. Should have been a 70+ yard touchdown. But Foles under threw him by 2-3 yards putting it right in the corners bread basket. Should have been pick number five, but Tavon did a great job breaking it up. The other miss was the aforementioned route in the red zone. Austin now has five touchdowns through five games and he is still in pace for 16 for the year. He has evolved to the point where his impact on the game can not be ignored. Though I'm still waiting for 10 touches a game. If the Rams gave the ball to Tavon 10 times and Gurley 25 times every week, I get the feeling this could be a top 10 scoring offense.
  • Stedman Bailey as I have said since the day his name was called at the draft, he needs to be starting. He routinely beats his man and has by far the best hands. Enough said.
  • Jared Cook, cut his ass....
  • The defensive line lost for the first time yesterday. People can say all they want that Aaron Rodgers is just good at getting it out quick, which is true, but I saw several occasions where he did not. I saw multiple times one on one match ups and Rodgers held the ball, but the line couldn't get off blocks. There was also no discipline. One of the reasons I listed in my prediction for the Packers winning was I questioned if the team was disciplined enough to take away Rodgers greatest weapon. His legs. I said he's a master at using them to pick up third downs and keep the drive going. You have to keep him in the pocket. This did not happen often enough. He was their leading rusher picking up 39 of the biggest yards in the game. Robert Quinn used his trademark tomahawk chop to come up with yet another forced fumble and sack. And Michael Brockers made the best read of anyone all day slipping the block and doing what needed to be done on his sack, which was he took away his legs. Rodgers was setting up to take off again and Brockers read it and stayed on top of him, and got the sack. Aaron Donald and Brockers both did great stopping the run. But Donald was nowhere to be found in the pass game. In fact, I saw him beat pretty good in one on one situations several times. It's a friendly reminder that he is still only in year two, and as he said has room for growth to beat savvy vets. It's impressive this stands out for a second year player as it should be the norm.
  • The linebackers we're impressive. Mark Barron was great in his extended role. He looks like a natural fit at the traditional will backer position. I wouldn't be surprised if in free agency someone asked him to add 10-15 pounds and play there full time. James Laurinaitis had another great game again. He and Barron were filling lanes and checking out the backfield consistently. They allowed nothing combined. But please James, please please, I beg of thee, never ever do the Nae Nae again for a celebration. That had to have been a bet...
  • As for the secondary, well we have another hats off performance for Janoris Jenkins.  Fans begged for it, and through five games they have received it. Jenkins has been a shut down corner. Rodgers didn't even want to attempt throwing at him. The one time he did, Jenkins was actually in position for the pick and Rodgers wisely sailed it out if bounds. There were two plays that resulted in touchdowns on the secondaries shoulders. The first was the slant route. I am still trying to figure out who this one was on. Pre-snap the receiver motions inside. Trumaine Johnson is over him, but when he motions inside you can see Johnson point to T.J. McDonald and tell him that's his guy now. But T.J. stayed with his previous cover. This left Ty Montgomery wide open for an easy score. Whether T.J. was supposed to go with him or not I don't know, because it was man coverage and some teams do indeed switch based off motions and some don't. The purpose of switching is to keep the defenders from running into each other when receivers are stacked like that which prevents separation. Because Johnson told him to take him I am placing the blame on McDonald. But again I can't say for sure if that was his responsibility. If it was indeed on Tru, he made up for it with another jaw dropping interception. The other touchdowns came when Lamarcus Joyner was simply beaten by the savvy veteran James Jones there's really not much to say, he was just beat. Oddly enough it was a similar situation to the first touchdown just discussed but to the opposite side of the field. Janoris had Jones but when the motion occurred he pointed to Joyner and they switched. Other than that the secondary was awesome. They displayed great tackling and actually didn't let anything deep beat them. There were two long touchdown passes but neither was a deep throw.

Jeff Fisher has his work cut out for him. After the loss to the Steelers you could actually hear some finger pointing taking place followed by quick cover ups once they realized they let their frustration get the best of them and called out their teammates. You would hear things like "the offense got to do better" but then quickly try to add "and the special teams and defense as well".

Jeff Fisher has to take this down time to keep this team together. Some guys will be hungry to get back on the field after a disappointing loss, but some will have time to think. And that's where the finger pointing will begin to increase.

There's no denying the offense has been an Achilles heel for this team. But with Todd Gurley and Tavon Austin being legitimate threats on every play they have to be allowed to carry the weight. This teams greatest success this season at moving the ball, has come when it's in their hands.

The defense is playing like it's January and the offense is playing like it's August (3k eluded to this). But right now the offense needs to make like squashed tomatoes and catch up....

UPDATE:

The initial Packers touchdown has been confirmed by Trumaine Johnson as his own fault. Coach Fisher has also confirmed this.

*******EDIT*******

The link to an example video of defenders subliminally calling out the offense did not attach. Here is the link itself.