Random Thoughts from Week Five
Well, I finally got the chance to watch the Rams/Lions game, and a part of me wishes I hadnít. Still, I wanted to offer some opinions on how the Rams did and where I think the problem areas were on Sunday.
-This may have been Sam Bradfordís worst game as a Rams quarterback, but without his favorite target and with inconsistent protection, itís hard to have a great day. Overall, I didnít think Sam did a good job seeing the field and I thought he was less accurate than weíve seen him in the past. On one red zone series, he had back to back interceptions dropped as he was trying to force the ball. On a number of occasions in this game, Sam had some receivers open on other parts of the field that he didnít see because heíd focused in on one guy, usually Amendola. Thatís exactly what happened on the pick-six, as Bradford locked in on Danny despite a defender right in front of him, missing an open Jackson in the flat. Hopefully thatís something he grows out of with experience and is just a rookie continuing to adjust and get more experience in this game.
-Thereís not much one can say about the Ramsí running backs. Jackson ran hard and did the best he could with the space provided. I was surprised to see he wasnít more involved in the passing game early, but it looked like the Lions did a good job overall in terms of keeping him from releasing freely into the flats. Ndamukong Suh shoved Goldberg backwards and right into Jackson on one play, delaying his release. Darby had a nice run from the fullback position early in the game, but again represented a minimal part of the running game today.
-This was not a game to remember for the receivers and tight ends. After Clayton went down, Amendola was really the only receiver to ďstep up.Ē Was that because Sam already has a comfort level with him, the other receivers werenít getting open, etc? Probably a number of things. Gibson made a nice catch and run early on, breaking 2-3 tackles in the process, then disappeared. He dropped one or two catchable balls late in the game, including one on the Ramsí final offensive play. He also missed on a go route in one-on-one coverage, and inexplicably grabbed the defender and pulled him closer before trying to make the catch. Huh?! Robinson made an appearance by dropping a slant pass, then came back the next play and had a first down catch and run. Gilyard had some moments Ė made a nice catch for a first down on what looked like a deep comeback Ė but was otherwise not much of a factor. With Clayton done for the year, someone in this unit will have to step up. No one did on Sunday; weíll see if it happens down the line. This is the group Devaney had confidence in, and now they have their chance. Darcy Johnson and Daniel Fells had days they'd like to forget; neither looked very good blocking in-line, and both had some errors as receivers.
-If I could only use one word to describe the Ramsí offensive line, I guess ďinconsistentĒ would do it although that might be a little polite. I wasnít impressed by the job the Rams did running the ball; they blocked well on a couple of plays, but it seemed like the biggest gains in the running game came from the delay handoff. Williams and Suh commanded attention on the inside, leaving the young offensive tackles with little help against Vanden Bosch or Avril, who made them pay most of the day. Jason Smith did not look very good, and Saffold had some rough moments. Goldberg had some solid moments when pulling to the left side, but had trouble handling guys right in front of him on some runs, at one point allowing Suh penetration into the backfield to assist on a loss. Corey Williams seemed to know the snap count more than youíd like and was all over the field at times. Pass protection was not good; Bradford didnít get sacked a lot but the pressure was on almost all day, even when extra blockers were kept in. Not a good showing.
-This defensive line is puzzling. One week theyíre able to get pressure, the next week they get nothing. Iíve maintained that theyíre not as good against the run as early numbers would have you believe, and now the numbers are starting to dip closer to an appropriate destination. The defensive line got pushed around quite a bit in the running game, allowing Jahvid Best and Kevin Smith to find some lanes for solid yardage. James Hall had a nice bull rush to force Hill to take off right into a Selvie sack, but that was one of the few instances of a pass rush disrupting the Lions. Cudjo stood out more for being shoved around than he did for making any meaningful plays. I recall Chris Long getting a good hit on Hill after a pass, but he was rather silent for most of the day. On the Pettigrew touchdown reception, it seems like Laurinaitis changed the defense into a Cover 2, but for some reason it looked as if all four Rams DL pinched into the center of the line and got zero penetration at all, then just seemed content standing around, allowing Hill all the time in the world to find the hole in the zone. Fred Robbins had some moments of good penetration, but not enough from this unit to help out the rest of the defense. The difference in play yesterday between the Lions DL and the Rams DL was apparent.
-Aside from a few plays by Laurinaitis, this unit didnít stand out at all, which probably isnít a good thing when the opposition is putting up points left and right. I thought the Ramsí linebackers played a bit too far back in zone and were a little late reacting, and the Lions seemed to have little trouble picking them apart with checkdown passes to running backs and tight ends. Didnít see a lot of pressure when linebackers blitzed, and reaction time to screens was late at times as well. Laurinaitis had good coverage on Pettigrew in the endzone that forced a high, incomplete pass. But Pettigrew came back in that drive and found a hole right between Laurinaitis and Kehl for a touchdown, albeit after loads of time for Hill to throw. Larry Grant didnít stand out at all today; his training camp and preseason highlights have not carried over into the season so far. Vobora was in on a play or two, but also had a quiet day.
-Calvin Johnsonís numbers looked similar to what heís done in the previous four games, so do you credit the coverage or point to the Lionsí offense not getting him involved enough? It was probably a little bit of both. Bartellís solid coverage probably forced Hill to look at other options, and he did a nice job of forcing Johnson out of the endzone at the end of the first half before Megatron could get his second foot down. But Ron also had two penalties and dropped another gimme interception. He wasnít even on the field for Megatronís fade touchdown pass, not sure what that was about. Bradley Fletcher had some obvious pass interference trying to cover Megatron down field later in the game, and didnít stand out otherwise besides a missed tackle on special teams. Jerome Murphy had some ups and downs, looks like a rookie but has some promise as a nickel defender. I thought Dahl had a rough game overall. He just seems to have a hard time staying with receivers, whether theyíre wide receivers, running backs, or tight ends. The bad angle he took on Burlesonís touchdown catch and run stands out.
-Letís get this one out of the way Ė Iím not furious about the onsides kick, as I agree with Lynch in that chances are the Rams saw something on field they thought they could exploit. My biggest thing is this Ė if you see on film that the Lions have a tendency to fall back when the kicker starts to run up, then trying to fake them out by having Brown turn and kick before heís even back there isnít going to work. The execution wasnít there, but if the decision is based off of a tendency seen on film, I donít think you can get too mad about it. What was worse, IMO, was the kick coverage on Loganís 105-yard return. I saw mistakes by Toston, Stewart, Dahl, and Fletcher on that play, either in terms of poor angles to the return man or missed tackles. Really awful. Punt coverage wasnít great. Amendola had a nice return early in the game, but that was about it on special teams. I like both Amendola and Gilyardís ability to weave through traffic as return men, but am I confident on a weekly basis that they have the ability to break one? Not really.
-Not a good game for the coaches. Offensively, I thought we were pretty predictable on a number of occasions in terms of snapping the ball immediately after our motion man got set. Iíd like to see more variation in the snap count in these instances. I canít blame Spagnuolo for challenging the Amendola fumble; it was close enough to warrant a second look and was a big momentum shifter. Playcalling in the second half started waaaay too conservatively Ė a stuffed rush followed by a blown up screen followed by a draw. After how well the screen plays worked against Seattle, you had to think Detroit came into this game aware of themÖ and they were. Rams didnít really have much going downfield in the passing game, even when down by a few scores. Losing Clayton probably plays a role in that decision, but this offense needs to be opened up at times and rarely seems to stretch things vertically. Defensively, the Rams didnít have many successful adjustments and couldnít find a way to get pressure on Hill, allowing him to pick the Rams apart regardless of whether they were in man or zone. After watching Calvin Johnson get hurt in the fourth quarter of a blowout game, Iím baffled as to why Steven Jackson was still on the field with seven minutes to go in a 44-6 contest. Good thing he didnít get hurt again.
-Regarding the Lions, they didnít look like the kind of team youíd expect when you see an 0-4 record, but anyone who had watched any of their previous games knew that was the case. They played all of their opponents hard and hung in there, and they showed the Rams they werenít a pushover. Hill is a competent back-up who can make things happen when well protected. Calvin Johnson is an elite receiver who has a chance to bring in anything thrown his way, regardless of how good the coverage is. Jahvid Best looks like a good all-around player; he finds the running lanes quickly and is a good option as a receiver out of the backfield. Their offensive line held up better than I expected and did a nice job opening holes in the running game. The Lions have a formidable defensive line; the ability of Corey Williams and Ndamukong Suh inside help free up Vanden Bosch and Avril on the outside. Suh was the recipient of a number of double teams, and still was a factor. He wasnít pushed off the line very much, had some penetration, and read Bradford well enough to tip and intercept a pass. Cliff Avril was all over the place and had his way with Jason Smith. Jonathan Wade made an appearance, jumping a screen route to Amendola for a loss. Questionable sportsmanship by Lions breaking out the RB pass while up 34-6, but other than that, itís hard to find faults in the way they played on Sunday.
-San Diego is next on the dance card, and my sense is that theyíll be pretty bitter about losing to Oakland yesterday. The Chargers are tied at 2-3 with the Raiders and Broncos, and need to take advantage of winnable games in order to move back up the pecking order. Theyíre winless on the road, which works in the Ramsí favor. But St. Louis is going to have to play a lot better than they did in order to have a chance against a talented San Diego team. If they canít get pressure on Philip Rivers, heíll carve them up. Malcolm Floyd had a coming out party in the Oakland loss, and will be another big body for Rams DBs to try and cover. Antonio Gates is probably licking his chops at this match-up. When ranked by QB rating, the Chargers boast the best pass defense in the league and the Rams just lost their best receiving option. Special teams has been where theyíre vulnerable, but can the Rams take advantage? Hopefully they do a better job than how they ďtook advantageĒ of Detroitís kickoff coverage with the opening play on Sunday.
Re: Random Thoughts from Week Five
Great write up Nick; I appreciate all of your hard work.
One quick question for you:
You mentioned that Jason Smith "did not look very good." Could you please elaborate on this statement?
I noticed that his man did not have a sack in the game, but I am interested in what you may have seen to base your opinion.
Thanks for you input.
WHAT SAY YE?
Re: Random Thoughts from Week Five
He got pushed around and passed by Cliff Avril a number of times. He didn't seem to be very stout in pass protection, and he didn't seem to stand out in his run blocking either. He did have a nice pull to the left that helped open up a lane for Jackson, but this did not seem like a particularly impressive performance from what I could see. In fact, I thought both tackles had some rough moments.
Originally Posted by RAMarkable
Re: Random Thoughts from Week Five
Random thought: since the trend im sensing here on these discussion boards is too keep as much picks as we can to build a solid core of young talent... Do you see the rams trading steven jackson in the next 2 years...hes 27 now and has 2-4 good years left but i jsut dont see his timeline matching the timeline of the current teams talent and maturation. It looks to me like a very probable scenario...
Re: Random Thoughts from Week Five
- It seems Laurent Robinson has really fallen off the radar. I don't know if he's still hampered by injury or if he just never was as good as we hoped he'd be, but now would be the perfect opportunity for him to make an impression. The Rams have to be mindful of not overusing Amendola with the hits he takes, and Gilyard's still green.
- I guess it's not too surprising that a Jim Schwartz coached defense with talent like Vanden Bosch and Suh would give our offensive line headaches. What is really surprising is that our defense could get torched by Shaun Hill even when their running game wasn't doing a whole lot.
Re: Random Thoughts from Week Five
I don't, for a number of reasons. One, the Rams should find and develop a running back of the future before they're willing to part with Jackson. They're not close to that yet. Two, Jackson has three years left of his deal; if he can give you three more good years, the Rams will take it as they need as many playmakers as they can find. Three, Jackson's deal going forward averages around $7 million a year. For a running back who has carried a hefty load and is about to turn 28 next year, that's probably too expensive for many teams who may be interested in trading.
Originally Posted by ludairv
Robinson doesn't look like the same guy that we saw last year, and I don't know if it's a lingering injury issue or what's going on. But he has a great opportunity to step up now that Clayton is out. The Rams need him, and he needs to take advantage.
Originally Posted by Goldenfleece
I agree, it was disappointing to see the Rams fail to get much pressure on Hill. There were a couple instances where the Rams threatened the pocket, but it seemed as if Hill simply moved around and avoided defenders pretty well. Chris Long is improving but still needs to do a better job getting to the quarterback. James Hall and Fred Robbins are both 33 years old, so how much they factor into the long-term plans of this team is completely up in the air. Selvie has looked okay in flashes, but beyond that, the Rams have little on the DL. This unit will need to be upgraded.
Re: Random Thoughts from Week Five
I don't think trading SJ is the answer,either, but The Rams show no signs of even trying to diversify their rush attack with what they have. Considering the impact darby had in the two wins, I find it really frustrating. I honestly had my blood boiling a bit at SJ's post game presser. I don't care much for the idea of a RB controlling when he is in the game & it is starting to feel like both Shurmur and Spags are ceding far too much power to one player. The idea that SJ, as he said, has "the liberty" to take himself out when he wants & does so because HE wants to reward the other RBs for their hard practice work is bordering on insane arrogance. SJ has not & will never give The Rams a winning season on his own. That's a fact, Jack, so get your head & ultra-competitive & proud heart around the idea that the team NEEDS their production; that's why they should be in the game. Not because you condescendingly deem them worthy of a bone.
Originally Posted by Nick
Gibson & Robinson have hurt themselves & the team with drops but I was very disappointed to see The Rams not even try to use their height advantage vs the DET DBs & and good catching radius with some deep fades, especially in the RZ. The Rams simply can't rely on lasers from Sam to beat congested RZ coverage every time or the same right rollout play.That throw to Fells in the first RZ series was exactly the play GB made last week & it took a perfect strike and Peterson not turning his head to complete.He didn't make the same mistake but should have picked it.Nor did the DET DBs bite on the rollout that followed. Last time, The Skins did but I guess DET watches tape,too, & Sam should have taken DA underneath for the first down. The shocking main point I'm trying to make about the first shot is that Fells,IIRC, was the only Ram in the EZ....from inside the 10 yd line?!! Hopefully Uh-Oh and Bajema can get back to provide some bigger targets underneath so these guys can work the deep outside more. DET did it multiple times before getting anything out of it. If Sam can't throw an accurate arcing fade that doesn't require a Clayton contortionist act to complete, he has stalled in his development, imo.
The under-acknowledged stunner of The Rams winning streak,imo, was how well Gary Gibson and Robbins held the interior line without Scott and Ryan. Without the twelfth man of The ED, that phenomenon was not repeated in DET. Everything else trickled back & outwards from that,imo.And, before the game, who'd a thunk The Rams would sorely miss Justin King's yeoman tackling work underneath as much as they did,imo ? Not that plenty of other guys didn't play well below par in & of themselves as you already noted in detail. I'd be even a little harsher on Lau. I think it was the worst game he's called all year; the D often looked confused and out of position.Gotta credit limpehan for out-smarting Flajole & Spags as well. He exploited their unit's weaknesses far better than they did his unit's.
Looking ahead, I think SD is a tall order but not impossible at home if The Rams are getting healthier overall, Clayton's loss notwithstanding . Are the OTs ok? Both seem hampered by their reported niggling injuries.Are the shoulders of Gary Gibson and Darby fit enough to carry the important supporting production that were so key,imo, to the two wins?
Will Sam and/or Shurmur show enough confidence in their two genuine flankers to give them a fair shot at contributing ?
Will Bajema and Uh-oh be healthy enough to help make that viable ?
There is game tape on Sam now & good execution of the same plays won't work often enough to get the job done any more than SJ grinding out 70-90 yards will -which is all he got before the game was totally out of hand.
Will Greco's pass pro ever improve enough to get Goldberg off the field? He deserved his chance at a day in the sun but he's starting to smell a bit,imo.