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  1. #1
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Bernie Bytes: 5 Opinions On The Rams

    Bernie Bytes: 5 opinions on the Rams

    9 hours ago • BY BERNIE MIKLASZ, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist


    Five opinions on the Rams at the halfway mark of he 2012 NFL season:

    1. Chris Long has been relatively quiet over the last two games, and Robert Quinn tends to be inconsistent. But overall, the Rams have received outstanding pass-rush pressure from their defensive ends. According to the stat keepers at Pro Football Focus, Long ranks 2nd among NFL left defensive ends with 38 QB pressures. (That’s four sacks, four hits and 30 hurries.) Quinn ranks 3rd among NFL right defensive ends with 31 pressures. (Seven sacks, seven hits and 17 hurries.)

    No complaints here, but if you want to gripe about how the Rams defensive ends play the run, that’s legitimate — but only to a point. Long and Quinn have negative run-defense ratings from Pro Football Focus. That said, the ratings for both players’ grades in run defense have improved substantially from last season. And both Quinn (minus 0.7) and Long (minus 2.7) are just barely in the negative column.

    2. You have to be pleased by what you’ve seen from rookie wide receiver Chris Givens, the 96th overall pick (fourth round) in the 2012 draft. The only fair way to compare rookie wideouts is to take a look at how they’re doing relative to other rookies. Givens was the 14th wide receiver chosen in the draft, and he’s outperformed most rookie WRs.

    Among rookie WRs, Givens is tied for 6th in catches (13), he’s 2nd in yards (333) and is tied for 3rd in touchdowns (2). Givens has also started five games; among the rooks only Jacksonville’s Justin Blackmon (with six) has started more games than Givens. Blackmon was the 5th overall pick, and he has caught five more passes than Givens. But Blackmon doesn’t have a TD, and Givens has 333 receiving yards to Blackmon’s 193.

    And what about Rams rookie Brian Quick, the much ballyhooed No. 33 overall choice in 2012? He has five catches for 90 yards. But when QB Sam Bradford has targeted Quick, they’ve connected on only 5 of 15 passes, with three interceptions.

    3. The Rams need better play from their defensive tackles. Kendall Langford has been OK in the pass rush, with one sack and 12 pressures. But according to Pro Football Focus, Langford and rookie Michael Brockers have (slightly) negative grades in playing the run. Brockers, of course, is just heating up after missing several games with a high ankle sprain. It’s a little early to assess his play. But I think it’s fair to say that we expected more impact from Langford, a prime free-agent signing by the Rams last offseason.

    4. The Rams should use more play-action passes with Bradford. Fake the handoff to bait the defense, then fire to a receiver. The Rams do this, but should be doing it more, because it’s been an effective tactic. According to Pro Football Focus, 18.9 percent of Bradford’s dropbacks have been on play-action passes. For context: 13 NFL quarterbacks are going with play action more frequently than Bradford. And that includes a few that haven’t done nearly as well as Bradford on the play fakes. (Joe Flacco, Russell Wilson, Brandon Weeden, Ryan Fitzpatrick.)

    When the Rams call a play-action pass for Bradford, he’s completed 28 of 45 (62 pct) for 463 yards, two TDs and one INT. That computes to 10.3 yards per attempt, which is terrific, and an impressive 102.4 passer rating.

    When Bradford doesn’t use play action, he’s completed 61 percent, for only 6.5 yards per passing attempt, six TDs, six INTs and a mediocre passer rating of 77.6. The difference in Bradford’s yards per attempt on play action and non-play action is 3.8 yards, and that’s the sixth-highest differential among NFL quarterbacks.

    This is another reason why I find it odd that the Rams are 21st in the NFL in rushing attempts per game. The more they run, the more it sets up Bradford to make plays.

    5. The Rams don’t have a go-to receiver at tight end. It seems as if most NFL teams have a polished receiver at tight end — someone that’s an important part of the passibg game. Rams second-year tight end Lance Kendricks grades out very well as a run blocker, and also scores well in his pass-blocking grades. But Kendricks has had little impact as a receiver.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Kendricks has run 195 pass routes this season, which puts him at 17th in the league. That means Kendricks is getting chances. But of the 195 routes, he’s been targeted for only 26 passes. He’s caught 20. Pro Football Focus measures efficiency and productivity with a Yards Per Route statistic.

    Basically: how many times does a player go out on a pass route, and how many yards does he produce on those pass routes? Kendricks ranks 37th among NFL tight ends with 0.85 yards per route. He’s still young. But I expected Kendricks to be more prominent in the passing game. There’s still time for him to develop, obviously.

    Thanks for reading, and have a nice weekend…

    — Bernie


  2. #2
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: 5 Opinions On The Rams

    5. The Rams don’t have a go-to receiver at tight end. It seems as if most NFL teams have a polished receiver at tight end — someone that’s an important part of the passibg game. Rams second-year tight end Lance Kendricks grades out very well as a run blocker, and also scores well in his pass-blocking grades. But Kendricks has had little impact as a receiver.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Kendricks has run 195 pass routes this season, which puts him at 17th in the league. That means Kendricks is getting chances. But of the 195 routes, he’s been targeted for only 26 passes. He’s caught 20. Pro Football Focus measures efficiency and productivity with a Yards Per Route statistic.

    Basically: how many times does a player go out on a pass route, and how many yards does he produce on those pass routes? Kendricks ranks 37th among NFL tight ends with 0.85 yards per route. He’s still young. But I expected Kendricks to be more prominent in the passing game. There’s still time for him to develop, obviously.


    The good news is he has done good job blocking.

    The impact at a receiver? Seems to me when he gets thrown too he's very effective. He caught 20 of 26 balls, that's 77 percent completion percentage. They need to throw the ball to him more and his yards per route will go up.
    Last edited by Rambos; -11-03-2012 at 11:19 AM.

  3. #3
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: 5 Opinions On The Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    The good news is he has done good job blocking.

    The impact at a receiver? Seems to me when he gets thrown too he's very effective. He caught 20 of 26 balls, that's 77 percent completion percentage. They need to throw the ball to him more and his yards per route will go up.
    I really liked the selection of Kendricks at #15 in the second round (I think). He was perceived by most "pundits" as more receiver than blocker.

    A blurb just after the 2011 draft:

    By Adam Hoge on Apr 29, 2011

    Kendricks was the second tight end to be drafted after Notre Dame's Kyle Rudolph went to Minnesota with the No. 43 overall pick.

    St. Louis figures to be a pretty good destination for Kendricks, who will have Sam Bradford throwing him the ball. Tight end isn't a huge need for the Rams, but wide receiver certainly is, which means they think they have found a pass-catching weapon in the second round.

    With very few passing options, it's possible Kendricks will quickly become a favorite target of Bradford's next season. It will be interesting to see how the Rams use him. Some question his blocking ability and the Rams might be thinking he's more of a receiver at this point.


    I remember when we signed Randy McMichaels from the Dolphins with the hope of his being a big, steady reliable target. He ended up being mostly a blocker as well, due to chronic O-line woes back then. I still have high hopes for Lance as a receiver, but his blocking skills are surely big bonus for Fish and Schotty.

    Brian Quick needs to show something in the second half of this season period. With Chris Givens, Danny Amendola and Quick on the field, collectively they should be able to draw enough coverage for Lance to find one on one matchups with LBs which he most certainly is capable of winning.

    Pro Football Weekly described Lance Kendrick's blocking skills just prior to the 2011 draft thusly: Can lock on, run his feet and create movement in the run game. Willing, competitive blocker - strikes on the move and can connect on the second level. Good competitor - consistently works to finish and decleats defenders when he has an angle. Very versatile - lines up on the line, flexed, split wide, in the wing and on the move, with experience at the "Y," "H," "F," and "FB" positions. Has a frame to grow into, and upside to become a "mismatch" piece.

    We get some guys back healthy (knock on wood), and Lance may really come on .. Come on Schotty conjure up some good stuff for him - especially with a bye week to work with!

  4. #4
    ManofGod's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: 5 Opinions On The Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post

    3. The Rams need better play from their defensive tackles. Kendall Langford has been OK in the pass rush, with one sack and 12 pressures. But according to Pro Football Focus, Langford and rookie Michael Brockers have (slightly) negative grades in playing the run. Brockers, of course, is just heating up after missing several games with a high ankle sprain. It’s a little early to assess his play. But I think it’s fair to say that we expected more impact from Langford, a prime free-agent signing by the Rams last offseason.
    And people wonder why I keep talking about Star.....I'm just saying. Our lack of a pass rush in the middle is killing our defense & serves as a blue print on our to score points on us. The thing is that Langford has never been a dominating pass rusher, and neither has Brockers so in order for our pass defense to improve this area of the defense will have to be addressed.

  5. #5
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: 5 Opinions On The Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by ManofGod View Post
    And people wonder why I keep talking about Star.....I'm just saying. Our lack of a pass rush in the middle is killing our defense & serves as a blue print on our to score points on us. The thing is that Langford has never been a dominating pass rusher, and neither has Brockers so in order for our pass defense to improve this area of the defense will have to be addressed.
    Yeah I would not complain if we added Star. Brockers will get better at the pass rush. Not sure how many sacks our DT's have but it's not much. When it comes to the draft it might come down to taking the best player on the board and if it's DT so be it.

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    Drz
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    Re: Bernie Bytes: 5 Opinions On The Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    This is another reason why I find it odd that the Rams are 21st in the NFL in rushing attempts per game. The more they run, the more it sets up Bradford to make plays.
    The quoted part is the only part I disagree with; I think it's old-style thinking that's been repeated over the years, but isn't true. I think the reverse is better. You use the higher YPA pass plays to set up the run, so you can actually get effective yardage in your runs (rather than continually running them into a brick wall).

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: 5 Opinions On The Rams

    Quote Originally Posted by Drz View Post
    The quoted part is the only part I disagree with; I think it's old-style thinking that's been repeated over the years, but isn't true. I think the reverse is better. You use the higher YPA pass plays to set up the run, so you can actually get effective yardage in your runs (rather than continually running them into a brick wall).
    Maybe. Tomato or tomawto. One thing is sure: You've got to be successful at one in order to set up the other ..

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    Re: Bernie Bytes: 5 Opinions On The Rams

    Long and Quinn have negative run-defense ratings from Pro Football Focus....... But according to Pro Football Focus, Langford and rookie Michael Brockers have (slightly) negative grades in playing the run.
    Umm, what?

    Okay, the Skins (176), Hawks (179), and Pats (152) ran the ball well against us (though I might add we were 2-1 in those 3 games). But in the other 5 games, the opposing team averaged only 67 yards per game and 2.67 yards per carry.

    There's obviously room for improvement, but the run defense has not been the problem.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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