Although it is understood that professional players are supposed to “act like you’ve been there before,” I am not sure that it applies to fans. Rams fans, young and old, should be rejoicing this morning, as the St. Louis Rams have now tied their record from the entire last season within the confides of September. The game was filled with big plays, heart-wrenching moments, and a lot of kicking, but in the end, the better team came out victorious. There were a number of big players that contributed to the win, some that might not be at the forefront of your mind. Here are Ramblin’ Fan’s three performances from rising players or groups, and three who may have regressed after their performance on Sunday…
Russell Wilson: Down
Just as they did against the Washington Redskins, the mainstream, NFL media will likely brush off the Seattle loss in favor of praising the few good moments by the rookie quarterback. However, anyone who actually watched the game saw a quarterback that was uncomfortable in the pocket, held the ball for far too long, and was too eager to rely on his legs instead of trusting his receivers to make a catch. Wilson ended his night on 17 of 25 passed for a pedestrian 160 yards. Worse, he averaged only 6.4 yards per completion, had a quarterback rating of 16.8, and a passer rating of 45.8… oh yea, and threw three interceptions. I have no doubt that the Matt Flynn chants will starting rolling in soon if Seattle drops any more division game this season.
Ram’s Offensive Line: Up
Was the St. Louis line amazing against the Seattle front seven? No. Were they competitive, and good enough to keep Bradford upright for most of the game? Yes. With all of the injuries to the offensive line, most would have expected the St. Louis offense to fall apart. Instead, the group rallied against Seattle, allowing only 2 sacks to a group that wrangled down the quarterback 8 times in the first half just a week ago. In pass protection, they allowed on 3 “hits” on Bradford and gave him plenty of time to find the open receiver down the field. Run blocking was bad, but was good enough to open up the passing game, especially towards the end of the first half.
Isaiah Pead and Steve Smith: Down
Smith and Pead both found themselves on the inactives list prior to the start of the game, which was surprising given that both had seen ample time against the Chicago Bears. Instead, Coach Fisher elected to push Brian Quick into the wide receiver rotation and hand Chris Givens the reins on kickoff return. The move turned out to be an intelligent one, although the fall of Isaiah Pead from sure-fire backup to not dressing for the game has to be disheartening. The Rams seem committed to putting the best players on the field each week, and it appears that the coaching staff believed Quick and Richardson presented the best match-ups against the Seahawks this past Sunday.
St. Louis Rams Rookies: Up
We have already, and will continue, to talk about the amazing performance of Greg Zuerlein, who accounted for nearly all of the point in the win this Sunday. However, this game was truly a coming out party for a ton of the other rookies from his years class. Chris Givens finally was able to productively use his speed in the passing game, catching a 52 yarder against one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL. He should have had another, but looked to get slightly held before the ball sailed through his fingertips. Brian Quick recorded his first regular season catch, connecting with Bradford for a 19 yard first down, and nearly snagging another one on the sideline, but ended up not getting the second foot down. His presence was clearly evident in the game, making some good blocks on the outside and noticeably drawing attention when running the intermediate to deep routes. Trumaine Johnson got some extra reps at cornerback, and made them count, recording his first interception of his career after a big hit that jarred the ball loose. Johnny Hekker made the biggest play of the entire day, hooking up with Danny Amendola for the only Rams touchdown of the day on a fake field goal. Hekker also had an above average day punting, bouncing one out of bounds inside the 20 yard line and allowing only two returns for 1 yard from the dangerous Leon Washington.
St. Louis Running Game: Down
The final box score will show that the Rams were pathetic on the ground, rushing 27 times for 75 yards, good for 2.8 yards per carry. Aside from a 23 yard burst by Jackson early in the game, the Rams got nothing going between the tackles, although you have to respect Schotty for sticking with the ground-and-pound in the face of adversity. The Seattle Seahawks stacked the box, like most teams, and completely took Jackson and Richardson out of the game. However, this opened up things for the receivers on the outside, leading to some solid drives that ended in points on the board (even if they were only field goals). For the second week in a row, the Rams have been extremely ineffective running the rock. But, Steven Jackson is the type of back with will not be contained for an entire season, so do not look for the Rams running game to be down for long, especially if this line can build some chemistry up front.
Danny Amendola: Up
Danny Amendola is proving to be one of the most go-to receivers in the league this season, even as an undersized, moderately fast, slot receiver. For everything he is not, he makes up for with intelligence and quickness off the line, which is the reason he is a leader in a majority of receiving categories. Amendola has 31 receptions (2nd), 18 of them counting for first downs (T-7th), for 351 total receiving yards (7th), with 125 of those yards coming after the catch (8th). So far, he has caught 5 passes for, at least, 50 yards from Bradford in every game this season, and is averaging 11.7 yards per catch. More importantly, he is drawing double coverage by opposing defenses, which is allowing the rest of the Rams receivers to get open in the secondary.
Bonus Up (Courtesy of SI.com’s Peter King): Barry Richardson and Wayne Hunter
“On Monday night against Green Bay, Chris Clemons and Bruce Irvin had six sacks of Aaron Rodgers. On Sunday in St. Louis, Hunter and Richardson held Clemons and Irvin to zero sacks, zero quarterback hits and one tackle.” Looks like the ridding of Jason Smith was not such a horrible move after all. If Hunter and Richardson can continue to progress on the outside, the Rams will win a lot more games this year.