Rams Report Card v. Washington
Here's how I saw it:
Quarterbacks - Bulger looks to be gaining confidence in the line, even if he shouldn't. Only one sack on Bulger, but he was consistently hit all day long. He continued to battle, moved well in the pocket, ran when he had to, and took what the defense gave him, including a nifty flip pass while being hit. His pass to Robinson for the TD was a thing of beauty. Bulger impressed with his ability to plant despite heavy pressure, leading to several third down conversions.
Running Backs - Jackson ran hard and caught a few passes out of the backfield. He showed great burst on the long gainer. There was little room to run early, but Jackson continued to
press and wore the Washington defense down as the game went on. However, a huge mental error caused him to miss a gaping hole caused by Karney, that would have likely led to a TD (Avery would fumble the next play). Karney looked much, much better today.
Wide Receivers - Robinson looked like a #1, making a great grab in the end zone on the fade route. He also pulled one off the carpet for a third down conversion, an even more impressive grab to me. Avery was terrible, dropping at least three passes, having a critical fumble, another block in the back, and questionable effort on the games final play. His confidence seems to be waning. Burton made two clutch grabs, one in heavy coverage, and he spun around on a comeback route for a big gainer. He looked Isaac Bruce-ish on that second grab. Ruvell Martin should give this unit a big boost.
Grade: A- for Robinson and Burton, F for Avery, C overall
Tight Ends - McMichael looks old and slow. He dropped a TD pass, and hasn't shown much ability to get open or downfield. Fells and Bejema were non-existant.
Offensive Line - Incognito got beaten routinely in the passing game, but worked hard in the run game the final three quarters. Didn't notice much out of Bell. Haynesworth seemed to be consistently getting across the line against Brown and whoever was helping. Barron had a crucial holding penalty and looked somewhat lethargic in pass coverage. He needs to work a little holder. Smith looked solid until he got hurt. Goldberg filled in and was acceptable, as was Setterstrom who got some snaps at center. Overall, this unit only gave up one sack, but Bulger was hit repeatedly and hard. The pocket was simply not big enough.
Defensive Line - Chris Long continues to be active in the run game, but not getting much pressure off the edge. He was active in breaking up two screen passes today. Not much pressure from Little, but he did bat down one pass at the line, and went out into coverage on Randle-El on another pass play, resulting in a near interception. Hall nearly forced a safety with a sack. Ryan and Gibson were adequate if unspectacular in the middle. LeJuan Ramsey was the most impressive of this unit, getting consistent push and nearly getting a sack. He recorded the only QB hit of the day outside of the sack. This unit did a good enough job to prevent any gashing runs up the middle, but the lack of pass rush is brutal.
Linebackers - Lauranitis looked ok today, not quite as solid as week 1, but continues to be active. He missed a tackle on a 3rd and 1 play, that likely would have prevented the first down. Vobora continued to play solid, and could stick in the SLB role. He moves well laterally, and looked a little better in coverage today. Witherspoon continues to baffle me. Somehow he ended up with 10 tackles, but he continually gets blown off the ball, particularly by fullbacks. Most of his tackles are downfield. He's not currently the player he was two years ago. This group is currently playing average at best, and needs to take advantage of a hard working defensive line that is not letting offensive lines blow open huge holes.
Secondary - This group didn't give up a gain over 25 yards today, yielding a lower than average YPA for Campbell, but continues to be too soft underneath. This is a function of poor pass rush, and the system. This group holds their assignments well in the zone, but again, without pressure, it's easy to beat. Wade had a nice breakup early in the game. Bartell was active today, with two pass breakups, and a great play to force a pass out of bounds towards Cooley in the red zone. His forced fumble was a great hustle play. As a whole, this entire unit tackled very well and did what was asked of them. With some pressure up front, expect this unit to play much, much better.
Special Teams - Jones had an off day by his standards, good day by most posters standards. Brown didn't do anything. Coverage teams were generally sound. Not much production on returns.
Coaching - Some questionable time managements decisions. This is partially the fault of the players and coaches. I have no problem with the decision not to press at the end of the first half. Offensive play calling is somewhat bland, but Shurmur is developing an identity. He worked to position Washington to be more vulnerable to the run in the second half, and it worked. As the offensive line gels, he will be able to open up the passing game. We need to get the tight ends involved. Should they have challenged the non-safety sack? Maybe, but they might have seen something we didn't. We need to work on tightening up underneath and covering the tight-end. Where is the pass rush? This staff has the guys playing hard and believing in the system. Washington likely scores TD's on all three redzone possessions in the first half last year. The 4th stand at the end of the game shows the players are buying in.
Re: Rams Report Card v. Washington
Good post, I agree with just about everything thats said although I'd give Bulger a C- for missing Robinson at the end.
Its time for Long to get going in the pass rush, the kid was drafted to pressure the QB but he's never done that consistantly. Adeyanju being inactive baffles me still, I really think he could improve the DT's but obviously Spags sees something in the other guys that I don't.
Re: Rams Report Card v. Washington
Frankly, I'm a little worried about the linebackers at the moment. It seemed like Portis got yardage after the first hit on almost every play. From what I can tell, they're also part of our problem in covering the tight end. A linebacker will get caught out of position when his assignment is behind him because his eyes are in the backfield.
As for the defensive line, we've got to do a better job of finishing. We had guys getting back there, but Campbell was always able to get out of trouble with relative ease.