There was good, there was bad, and there was some ugly.... but the Rams eked out a win in Arizona and are now sitting pretty atop the divisional standings. They did it in part due to (and in some cases in spite of) the Rams to watch I ID'd as key players prior to the game.
QB Case Keenum
Put simply, Keenum balled out in Glendale. If not for a couple of Greg Robinson penalties (more on that in a second) Keenum would have approached 300 passing yards and had 41 rushing yards.
On one of those plays, Keenum did his best Donovon Mcnabb impersonation. I legit didn't think Keenum was capable of plays like that, but it looks like I underestimated what he is capable of. If he keeps playing at that level and realizes that Tavon Austin is only 5'8", the Rams winning ways should continue.
OTs Greg Robinson and Rob Havenstein
Robinson was horrible on Sunday.
(6:45 - 3rd) (Shotgun) C.Keenum scrambles up the middle to ARZ 8 for 27 yards (T.Branch). PENALTY on LA-G.Robinson, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at ARZ 35 - No Play
(11:05 - 4th) (Shotgun) C.Keenum pass short left to L.Kendricks to ARZ 12 for 27 yards (P.Peterson). PENALTY on LA-G.Robinson, Ineligible Downfield Pass, 5 yards, enforced at ARZ 39 - No Play
I'm inclined to give him a bit of leeway on the second penalty. When a play breaks down like that, it's complete madness and it's easy to get lost. I'll chock that up to a learning experience - albeit a costly one.
The first penalty on the other hand is exactly what Robinson needs to eliminate. He has the brute strength to manhandle nearly anyone and the lateral agility to stay in front of them. Robinson sought out LeCharles Bentley for additional training this offseason. I want to know is why he had to go that route and why the Rams can't develop the techniques he needs to excel.
Havenstein was invisible - an impressive feat given his stature. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or a bad thing though.
DE Robert Quinn
Aaron Donald has a enormous shadow. While Quinn is a beast in his own right, his greatness sometimes gets lost due to Donald's prowess. The Rams have an elite duo that makes the entire DL shine.
The Rams’ defensive line is so hard to grade because if you did so on a curve, they’d have to absolutely excel damn near every play every game.
With DE Robert Quinn injured mid-game and DE William Hayes ruled out from an ankle injury the week prior, the Rams’ defensive front looked none the worse. They constantly harassed QB Carson Palmer until an injury forced him out of the game, a familiar sight between these two teams in years past.
I'm not sure if the Cardinals schemed to take Quinn out of the game or not, but it didn't seem to make much difference. They may have removed him from the stat sheet, but they picked the Donald poison and the end result was the same: Cardinals QBs hit time and time again by the Rams DL.
Whether he was removed from the game or had an off night, it didn't matter. The Rams DL is great enough to overcome Quinn's lack of production - and that should scare the rest of the NFL.
CB E.J. Gaines
3k pretty much summed this one up in his report card.
For CB E.J. Gaines to return to his first regular season action since Christmas Eve 2014 and have the performance he did was remarkable.
There was good, there was bad. But Gaines playing as well as he did after 21+ months away from game action is a very good thing for the Rams.
K Greg Zuerlein
Legatron remains perfect on the year after hitting a 29 yard FG and both PATs Sunday. He's eased the minds of Rams fans and restored some of the faith he had as a rookie sensation. Given the Rams experience in Free Agency last season, it might be time for to start looking at an in-season extension.....