The game today is huge for RamsNation, as it will mark the first matchup against the player they could have taken with the 2nd overall pick in this years draft. St. Louis got a king’s ransom in return, including Washington’s first rounder in 2013. A win today bumps the Rams back to a respectable .500, while taking the wind out of the bloated NFC East hyperbole, and hiking the Redskins draft slot a little higher up the board. A loss means the Rams fall to 0-2, which is not atypical for the team, but also will add fuel to the already blazing love for the Washington Redskins prodigal quarterback. We at Ramblin’ Fan predicted an “upset,” with a number of factors leading to the win. Here are our bold predictions for this weeks game…
1. Sam Bradford and Co. will combine for 350+ yards
St. Louis narrowly reached 250 yards last week against the Detroit Lions defense. Their defensive line push up front and pressure from the linebackers made it difficult for Bradford to get in rhythm, which attributed to only 14 first downs for the entire game. The Lions run a 4-3 base defense, with an aggressive, powerful front four that gets pressure on the quarterback without any extra rushers. Washington is a different monster, running out of a base 3-4 defense that it not nearly as aggressive. They rely on pressure from their front three and the other outside linebackers to get hits and hurries on the opposing quarterback. While the Redskins defense is nothing to be overlooked, Bradford has fared much better against teams that employ the base 3-4, at least in the past. In 2010, Bradford and Jackson’s numbers look like this,
|3-4 Defense||4-3 Defense|
Bradford’s completion percentage, yards, and record are all significantly higher against a 3-4 defense, primarily because of the Rams offensive scheme. The base 3-4 will typically allow the opposing quarterback an extra second or two or get the ball out of his hand. Less big bodies pushing up front will allow Bradford to see the receivers in the quick routes and get the ball out of his hands before Orakpo can break into the backfield. Bradford should have a must better game passing, and that could lead to a monster game from Steven Jackson.
2. Robert Quinn and Chris Long will combine for 2 or more sacks, Washington will get less than 2
Quinn was the only player to record a sack against the Lions, which was extremely disappointing given the hype about the defensive end duo of Long and Quinn. However, the Detroit offense is based out of the shotgun formation, with 3+ wide receivers outside, and bank on Stafford getting the ball out of his hands quickly to the open man. The Redskins run out of a more traditional offensive system, including a good number of snaps from under center. Not only that, but RGIII tends to run outside of the pocket to extend the play and allow the receivers to get some separation on the corners or find the hole in the coverage. Both of those do not bode well for the Redskins, especially flowing outside of the pocket. Quinn and Long should take full advantage of the extra couple of seconds that RGIII will give them and wrangle him down for at least 2 sacks this evening.
On the other side of the ball, the Redskins were able to take down Drew Brees twice last week, with sacks from both Kerrigan and Hall. However, Brees loves to take the 5 or 7-step drops, which will open up the floodgates for a well timed pass rush. Bradford takes little or no drops past 3-step. When he does take a longer drop, it is typically a result of play action, which should freeze the linebackers and blitzing secondary long enough to get the ball out of his hand. Regardless of the injuries to the Rams offensive line, the Lions front seven is superior to the Redskins, and they managed 3 sacks, one of which was Bradford eating the ball on a broken play. Redskins will be lucky to catch Bradford in the backfield at all given the offensive and defensive schemes.
3. RGIII will not throw for more then 250 yards
This week should be the largest, mass backtracking from writers that the world has ever seen. RGIII’s performance in Week 1 crowning him as the next elite, future Hall-of-Fame quarterback of this generation. Even though it was a single game, his numbers were impressive, going 19 for 26 passing for 320 yards, on a 73.1% completion percentage! However, a majority of his numbers are heavily inflated by the spectacular run and catch by Pierre Garcon, which led to RGIII’s first touchdown pass in the NFL. That single catch accounted for 27.5% of Griffin passing yards for the game, which, minus the catch, would have thrown RGIII into the lower tier of passing performances in the NFL during Week 1.
That being said, this week Griffin will likely be without his big star this week against the Rams. Garcon is the only “threatening” receiver on the Redskins offense, accounting for 21% of the completion from Griffin, and 34% of his total yards. The aging Santana Moss and Aldrick Robinson will now be his primary targets, both of which should be easily controlled by Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins, who succeeded, for the most part, is keeping Calvin Johnson out of the game when the Rams played the Lions. They both are aggressive corners that love to jump the routes for the big play or make the big hits, which is exemplified by their combined 16 tackles, 3 pass deflections, 2 interceptions, 65 interception return yards, and capped off with a defensive touchdown in Week 1. Between the lack of offensive weapons and the pressure that the Rams defense will put on Washington’s receiving core, RGIII will be lucky if he can tally 250 yards passing in this game.
4. Steven Jackson will have more rushing yards than Alfred Morris
This may not seem bold to Rams fans, but after then magnification of Morris’ 96 yard game against the Saints, you would think he was the next coming of Walter Payton. Morris averaged 3.4 yards per carry against a defense that has been historically bad against the run, and was without their best defensive player in Jonathan Vilma. James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar will be running a spy on RGIII and the backfield personnel for most of the game, which will not bode well for the rushing game. On the other side, Jckson barely hammered away for 2.5 yards per carry against the Lions, which was the result of a combination of poor blocking and a dominate front four. This week, the holes should be much larger for the Rams all-time leading rusher, with only 3 down lineman and, hopefully, much better play calling on the part of Marty Schottenheimer.
5. Zuerlein will finally get his 50+ yard field goal
This is more of a hope than a prediction, but after two 40-yarders against the Lions, he should be primed for the big one. During the FanFest scrimmage in the preseason, Zuerlein wowed the St. Louis crowd with a couple of boots from the 55+ range. He should get at least a couple of opportunities in this game, and with Coach Fisher trusting his leg, would probably allow some attempted from distance that would typically send the punting unit onto the field.