I told you nothing ever happens as I expect it too. In fact, I had this gut feeling, as I published my forecast of a rough day for Bradford paired with a 27-20 Rams loss, that Sam Bradford was going to have a huge game. And look what happened! Sam Bradford eludes pressure (for the most part), shows poise, and delivers three touchdown strikes. Rams win 31-28. Let’s analyze.
Unbiased analysis of:
- Prominent Passing Game: Play calling was a major area of improvement, and the result shows the importance of good play calling. Unlike last week, where we pounded the ball in a seemingly futile way, Brian Schottenheimer flipped the script and the result was something we expected against Detroit, a field day in the passing game. Sam Bradford is obviously more comfortable in Schotty’s system, with the ball leaving his hands within no more than about three seconds after each snap. I also saw that no matter how much talent we add to the receiving corps, Danny Amendola is the man. Early in training camp, I stated that he is no longer our best receiver. I guess I forgot just how good he his after his one-year hiatus. Poor-man’s Wes Welker? Nah. Danny Amendola is Wes Welker. His 15 receptions accounted for more than half of Sam Bradford’s 26 completions. Lance Kendricks hasn’t dropped a single ball, yet. Rather than being a non-factor, it really just seems that Schotty’s game plans haven’t involved him very much. If Kendricks is going to have a big year, we have to actually utilize him. Steve Smith looks slow, and I wonder if he doesn’t still need time to develop some chemistry with Bradford. Someone other than Amendola who clearly has developed chemistry with Sammy B. is Brandon Gibson, who looks like Bradford’s go to guy in the redzone. If not for a passed opportunity by Jeff Fisher to challenge an out of bounds catch, Gibby might already have three TD’s on the year.
- A New Sam Bradford?: Quite possibly so. If nothing else, he’s back. We haven’t seen him play like this, avoiding pressure, throwing strikes all over the field, actually having Danny Amendola to throw to, since 2010. We all fretted over his inability to avoid or even see the rush back in August. Is it true that a light has come on? There was one play in particular that I can recall, where there was a guy coming at his blindside, and he saw that, started running right, and found an open man. That’s another thing. He was finding open guys. Another thing Sammy was criticized for back in August was holding the ball too long, but he hardly had to hold the ball at all this time, because someone was usually open within his first two or three reads. As I noticed back in training camp, he and Gibby are really starting to get on the same page. I questioned when Bradford called Gibson “reliable” in an interview about a month ago, but he wasn’t kidding. As Kendricks finds his rhythm and Brian Quick gets more comfortable at the pro level, Sam could have a bevy of targets in the red zone. One of the major factors in his apparent revival is our makeshift offensive line, whose performance has been a more-than-pleasant surprise, as they allowed just 2 sacks and three QB hits.
- Lucky Breaks: One can argue that we got lucky, but with the way we played you can’t say we didn’t deserve the win. There was no reason that the Redskins should have been leading 21-6, mainly because of a terrible late hit call on Eugene Sims that negated a three-’n-out and allowed Robert Griffin III to finish the drive with a touchdown run. Yeah, there was also a bad late hit call on London Fletcher,but with the way we were playing, it likely wouldn’t have mattered if the flag had been picked up. The Redskins’ first touchdown was scored before RG3 even took the field, when Danny Amendola made a huge error by fumbling after a catch. Steven Jackson probably did have a touchdown, and his spiking of the ball in frustration took away a fourth and short opportunity. If not for a late fumble by Daryl Richardson, or even a late dropped pick by Rocky McIntosh, the Rams could have closed the door on the Redskins. The Rams had their fair share, too: a blocked punt; a one-handed pick; Josh Morgan’s temper… Heck, Mike Shanahan even iced Greg Zuerlein right as he missed, allowing a second try, which he almost missed again. Of course, the play where Morgan threw the ball at Cortland Finnegan is the only penalty that the irritatingly ignorant media and fans will remember, and I know there are a few more breaks for the Rams I didn’t mention, but ultimately the lucky breaks offset each other. Anybody wanna disagree in the comment section?
- Defense: Our defense may get looked past for now, from a statistical standpoint,because of all the yards we allow. There’s really no reason to complain about that, though, because we still allow lots of big runs to no-namers like Evan Royster, and other than Robert Quinn, our defensive line has underachieved so far. One of my biggest pet peeves, is that every time the Rams seem to have a running play bottled up, the ball carrier escapes for 3-5 yards. This baffling issue might call for us to start hitting the record button, because right now I just have no idea why we can’t make tackles in the backfield despite all the penetration. The defensive line is just slightly disappointing, but it deserves some patience. First, we faced a solid O-line at Detroit, and we played a conservative defense that left Quinn and Long double teamed a lot. We actually got pretty good pressure on RG3, but RG3 is RG3 is RG3, ya know? If that made no sense, RG3 is obviously hard to sack. Our secondary is pretty awesome, and Craig Dahl hasn’t embarassed us. Cortland Finnegan has done everything well: covered, tackled, read QB’s and made big plays. I’m really glad that we’re using Bradley Fletcher a lot, too.
My Final Thoughts: Despite wanting to turn the TV off early on, I actually kind of miss the Redskins now. I liked seeing the layers getting chippy, just not the constant fighting. I’m sure Skins Nation hates us now, but I hope we play again next year, if not this year’s playoffs. One big thing we learned about the Rams: never say die. In past years, we would’ve panicked. Another huge thing- Sam Bradford showed he was a leader.