October 4, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) celebrates after sacking Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated Arizona 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

3 Up, 3 Down After The St. Louis Rams Win Over Arizona Cardinals


Following the St. Louis Rams victory in primtime over the Arizona Cardinals, the most commonly used phrase to describe the Rams was “relevant.” Yes, the city of St. Louis finally has something to hang their hat on beside the St. Louis Cardinals, which has not been the case the the past decade. Something that has been increasingly evident throughout the first 5 weeks is the consistency of the Rams play, both positively and negatively. It seems as though St. Louis has found an odd mixture of dominate defense and good enough offense to drag the opposing team into the fourth quarter, then bury them. There were a ton of impressive performances in the game, both from players and units as a whole. Here are the Ramblin’ Fans’ three ups and three downs from the Thursday Night Football game.

 

St. Louis Rams pass rush: Up

Clearly the Rams defensive line had been getting pressure on the quarterback through the first quarter of the season. Although interceptions are sometimes the result of an outstanding individual effort on the part of a player, most interceptions come from a culmination of occurrences on a play. For example, pressure on the quarterback leads to forced, quick decisions, linebackers and defensive linemen can tip pass thrown in their passing lane, and  linebackers in zome can sometimes shield a safety creeping up in coverage. There is no doubt that the pass rush has been effective, and it is evident in high turnover rate and limited touchdowns given up in the passing game. However, until yesterday, the Rams were tied with the Titans and Saints at 28th in the league in sacks, with 6 through four games. Now the Rams are sitting in the upper tier of the league with 15 sacks on the season, after Robert Quinn (3), James Laurinaitis (1), Cortland Finnegan (1), Jermelle Cudjo (1), Jo-Lonn Dunbar (1), Bradley Fletcher (1), and Chris Long (1) all recording sacks against Kevin Kolb and the porous Cardinals offensive line.

 

Danny Amendola: Down

Even before leaving in the second quarter, Amendola was having an off night in the dome on Thursday. Danny uncharacteristically dropped 3 passes, albeit difficult ones, before sustaining an injury on the diving 3rd down attempt.

The injury does not appear to be as severe as initially thought, as some premature reports of a broken collarbone circulated for most of yesterday. However, the injury is nothing to overlook, as the separation can have lingering effects, especially in terms of range-of-motion. According the Medical Disability advisory website,

First- and second-degree dislocations have a good to excellent outcome following appropriate conservative treatment… Anterior sternoclavicular joint dislocations usually do not cause serious complications, but may result in a permanent cosmetic deformity or decreased range of motion. Posterior sternoclavicular joint dislocations, however, have a 25% complication rate… Use of the affected arm and shoulder, including lifting and overhead work, may be restricted for up to 8 weeks, with a gradual increase use of the affected arm. Following successful rehabilitation, the majority of individuals are able to resume their full work load.

Jim Thomas and, subsequently, the St. Louis Rams suggested an anticipated return time of 4 to 8 weeks, which is right on par with the previously mentioned recovery time. If Amendola were to come back in 4 weeks, he would miss only three games, Miami, New England, and Green Bay, with the Rams having their bye in Week 9.

 

Kevin Kolb: Up

WHAT?!?! I have never seen more hypocrisy from NFL analysts than last night after the Thursday Night Football game, as they reamed Kevin Kolb for his sub-par performance against the Rams. Just three nights before, the beloved Tony Romo threw 5 picks, sending the Cowboys to 2-2 on the season. Pundits blamed everyone in the Cowboys organization from Dez Bryant and the Cowboys offense line, to the “lack” of fans in the stadium and Jerry Jones, but gave Romo a “mulligan” in a performance that may have single-handedly lost the game for Dallas.

Kevin Kolb is not an elite quarterback, but he is tough, level-headed, and accurate in the short to intermediate game. He battled every snap, stepped into throws knowing he was going to take some punishment, and never, not even once, went after his offensive linemen, coaching staff, or skill players following a huge hit or dropped pass. Kolb threw for a pedestrian 5.8 yards per attempts, but that was because he was reading what the defense was giving him, which was anything and everything under 10 yards. Kolb is the only quarterback this season that has not thrown an interception against the Rams defense, by reading the defense and not forcing throws that weren’t there, even late in the game. He did throw for 13 first downs and drew a number of penalties that resulted in the chains moving, including the magnificent acting job in his own end zone that saved the Cardinals from having to punt deep, deep in the zone. I have never heard an analyst call for the head of a quarterback that led a team to a 4-0 start in a season. Kevin Kolb cannot play left tackle (D’Anthony Batiste), the running back spot (Ryan Williams?), or rush the passer (Darnell Dockett, Nick Eason), he can only throw the football to the best of his ability with the time given after the snap and the talent around him.

 

Rams receiving corps: Down

Sam Bradford may have been 7 for 21 in the Box Score, but should have, probably, been 14 for 21 had his receivers caught the ball. In the first half, Danny Amendola dropped three passes, two of which would have results in huge gains for first downs. Chris Givens dropped two passes in a row, which led to three-and-out on the following play. Kendicks dropped the first pass thrown to him after his touchdown catch, which was subsequently his last target of the night. Brandon Gibson seemed to be the only sure handed player of the bunch, with 3 receptions on 4 targets, after dropping a big one against the Bears in Week 3. With Amendola out, the rest of the receivers are going to need to help out the defense and special teams to put points on the board.

Luckily, the Rams are going up against some of the worse passing defenses in the NFL in the next three weeks. Between New England (T-26th) and Green Bay (T-24th), the secondaries have allowed 17 passing touchdowns in four games, while playing against some fairly mediocre quarterback talent, including Kevin Kolb (1), Ryan Fitzpatrick (4), and Jake Locker (1) against the Patriots, Alex Smith (2) and Russell Wilson (2) against the Packers. Miami has allowed nearly 1191 passing yards, which is less than only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins. The receivers should be able to get separation against these teams and, once they do, hopefully hold onto the ball for Bradford.

 

Johnny Hekker: Up

Hekker was easily the MVP of the first half for the Rams, and significantly contributed to the dominance in the field position game that allowed the Rams to kill so much time in the second half. Hekker punted seven times, averaging 56.9 yards per punt, including a 68 yarder that sailed out of bounds with no chance for a return. He pinned the Cards inside the 20 on three separate occasions, and gave enough hang time on his punts to allow the coverage team to, relatively, contain Peterson during his returns. Peterson had returned a punt for a touchdown in each of the last 2 games, but was not able to continue at that pace in this matchup. Hekker was as important as any player on the team against the Cardinals and, paired with Greg Zuerlein, may be as valuable as any of the rookies drafted in this years class.

 

Rams’ luck with injury: Down

Up until this point in the season, the Rams had come out of most games unscathed on the injury front. This was not the case against the Cardinals, most notably with the injury to Danny Amendola. Alongside our star wide receiver, Quintin Mikell did not return to the game after a nasty blow to the head, courtesy of a direct shot from a knee while going for a tackle. Brandon Gibson had sat out much of the week with a knee injury, but it did not appear to bother him during the game. Sam Bradford was seen gingerly massaging his collarbone/shoulder area after a big shot that resulted in the only interception of the game. It did not appear to bother him too much though, when he later bombed a 53 yard pass to Chris Givens for a touchdown. Both Steven Jackson and Wayne Hunter came into the game as “questionable,” but did not appear to miss any snaps as a result of the injuries. St. Louis will now get an extra three days to ice down and relax in preparation for the Miami Dolphins. Hopefully, the injury bug will stay away from, what appears to be, a pivotal season for the St. Louis Rams organization.

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