The St. Louis Rams’ defense has been called anything from “completely dominate” to “inconsistent” and “sub-par.” Call the unit what you wish, but, either way, they have been consistent in one particular area. A knee-jerk reaction would say that it may be due to lack of familiarity with each other, or to the game as a whole, but the St. Louis Rams defense has played “lights out defense” against “young” quarterbacks in the league. Unless your name is Andrew Luck or Brandon Weedon, if you are a rookie quarterback in NFL this season and have actually played in a game, you have gone up against the Rams. Here is recap of those games:
Sept. 16 Washington Redskins @ St. Louis Rams
Robert Griffin III: 20 of 29 passing (68.9%) for 206 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 4-13 3rdD%, 1 sack, 4 hits, and a 72.3 QBR
Although analysts remarkably praised Griffin for this efforts against the Rams, citing his 82 yards on the ground and 2 rushing touchdowns, the fact remains that the rookie could not ice the game when it mattered. Griffin looked out of sorts for a majority of the first half, and memorably complained about the Rams defense being “too rough” after the game. He also threw his first career pick, courtesy of Cortland Finnegan, and was forced by the defense to attempt to win the game with his legs. Not counting the 68 yard bomb over the blown coverage of Craig Dahl to Hankerson with no defenders around, the rookie only managed 138 yards with his arm, on way to his first regular season loss.
Sept. 30 Seattle Seahawks @ St. Louis Rams
Russell Wilson: 17 of 25 passing for 160 yards, 0 TD, 3 INT, 22.2 3rdD%, 2 sacks, 4 hits, and a 16.8 QBR
Wilson’s performance against the Rams had some in the media calling for Matt Flynn in Seattle, which in hindsight was a bit premature. Still, the St. Louis Rams defense completely took Wilson out of the game, and took the win over the divisional rival without the offense ever scoring a single point. In all actuality, outside of the opening drive by Seattle that ended with a Marshawn Lynch 18 yard touchdown run, the Seahawks were stuffed offensively, managing only 319 total yards on 61 plays, with Wilson converting only 8 first downs through the air.
Oct. 14 St. Louis Rams @ Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill: 21 of 29 passing (72.4%) for 185 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT, 25.0% 3rdD%, 3 sacks, 4 hits, with a 62.8 QBR
Don’t let the completion percentage or the touchdowns fool you, Ryan Tannehill had a bad time when the St. Louis Rams came into town. The two touchdown passes came on passes without a defender within 10 yards of the wide receiver, including the play with Janoris Jenkins seemingly memorized in a death stare into the Miami backfield. The game was filled with dump offs, screens, and one-step slant routes by Reggie Bush. In fact, only two wide receivers even caught a pass in the game, with the RB, FB, or TE catching 12 out of 21 completions. Miami converted only 12 total first downs, with 8 coming through the air, and managed only 195 yards of TOTAL offense. Had it not been for the weary leg of Greg Zuerlein and the untimely fumble by Brit Miller in St. Louis territory right before the half, the Rams would be undefeated against rookies this season.
Nov. 25 St. Louis Rams @ Arizona Cardinals
Ryan Lindley: 31 of 52 passing (59.6%) for 312 yards, 0 TD, 4 INT, 30.7 3rdD%, 2 sacks, 2 hits, with a 17.6 QBR
Yes, Ryan Lindely is a rookie, taken by the Arizona Cardinals with the 185 pick in the 2012 draft. In all fairness, he did vastly outperform Kevin Kolb in his game versus the Rams, but, then again, performance is pretty subjective. Lindley managed to attribute zero points to the Cardinals loss, but single handedly threw Janoris Jenkins’ name back into discussion for the Defensive Rookie of the Year after he intercepted two of the rookie’s passes, returning both for touchdowns. Lindley converted only 4 of 13 3rd down tries, and failed to convert on 4th down twice during the game. He also led the team to only 375 yards on 77 plays, good for under 5 yards per play; a putrid average.
|Comp.||Att.||Comp%||Yards||TD||INT||QBR||3rd Down %||Sack||Hits|
Clearly, the youth factor has played a role in the St. Louis Rams ability to win this season. The Rams are currently 4-6-1, with three of those wins coming against rookies, and the other against the Arizona Cardinals when Kevin Kolb was the quarterback. So, why would that all matter this week?
In case you are oblivious to the happenings in the NFL, Jim Harbaugh announced this week that Colin Kaepernick will be getting the start for the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The 49ers new signal caller is as much a rookie as any of the previously mentioned players, with the exception of Lindley, having “played” in only 3 games in 2011 and having only 79 passing attempts in his career.
Kaepernick played for a majority of the game against the Rams in Week 10 when the two teams tied at the 24-24 mark in extended play. He did complete 64.7% of his passes, which is right on par with the rest of the rookies, but only gained 117 yards and did not throw for a touchdown. Similar to RGIII, Kaepernick did rush for 66 yards, including a touchdown, but allowing the quarterback to win with their legs seems to be a game plan that Jeff Fisher is willing to live with. On offense, the 49ers converted only 2 of 11 3rd down attempts, and only moved the chains 11 times through the air. St. Louis also recorded 3 sacks on Kaepernick, and hit Smith and the sophomore 9 different times on drop backs on top of the takedowns. If the rest of the season is any indication, the St. Louis Rams should have a great night on Sunday, especially considering Kaepernick will be on the road in the Edward Jones Dome this time around.