The opening week of the NFL season is officially over, with the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans both finished the week with “promising” wins on Monday Night Football. To celebrate the end of the week, Ramblin’ Fan will introduce the opening segment of “By The Numbers,” a detailed look at the few Rams players that are Top 5 in their position grouping in some way. Last season, Danny Amendola, Greg Zuerlein, and James Laurinaitis were the only real main-stays in the piece. Hopefully, this year will be a little different.
Wells is the only linemen for the St. Louis Rams that ranked in the Top 10 at his position. Fittingly, Wells is slotted at the end of the list, 10th overall, after giving up no sacks, pressures, or hits on the quarterback in 71 offensive snaps on Sunday. If there was anyone on the Rams offensive line that needed to “prove themselves” it would be Wells, after essentially sitting out his opening season with the team. Let’s hope he can stay healthy and maintain this spot in the Top 10!
If SportsCenter or some other ESPN-affiliated program is your main source of NFL news, you might be surprised to hear that Jared Cook had one of the most dominant performances in the NFL this week. Cook caught 7 passes (3rd among TEs) for 141 yards (5th among all WR/TEs), including 2 touchdowns (1st among TEs). In fact, those numbers do not even truly define the new-St. Louis Rams’ performance, having another touchdown poked away at the goal line, after breaking free on a 47 yard catch-and-run. Cook, at this point, looks like the most threatening tight end in the NFL.
This may seem “off,” but the St. Louis Rams new starting running back is Top 5 in one category, despite putting up average numbers in the run game. On par with Adrian Peterson this weekend, Daryl Richardson ranks 3rd among running backs in forced misses, finishing the night with three missed tackles. Even in Steven Jackson’s prime, he was never known to truly “break” tackles when rushing the football, but, rather, drag defenders for a handful of extra yards. However, making defenders miss is the key to the “big play,” something the Rams have been sorely missing since the days of Marshall Faulk.
Robert Quinn and Chris Long
Currently, there are three St. Louis Rams defensive lineman listed in the Top 15, and two listed in the Top 6; Robert Quinn and Chris Long. Quinn was obviously the most dominating player on the defensive side of the football against the Arizona Cardinals, finishing the night with 3 sacks and 2 forced fumbles. However, the Rams’ defensive end duo was essentially racing for the quarterback all night, with both players regularly collapsing the pocket from the outside on way to Carson Palmer. Quinn, specifically, is tied for the lead in the “sack race,” with 3 takedowns already this season. He also leads the league in forced fumbles, which typically go hand-in-hand for a blindside rusher.
Brockers had a quiet game on Sunday, seamlessly tallying 5 tackles from the interior of the defensive line. However, more importantly, he was a wall in the middle of the field, leading to a pedestrian 3.3 yards per rushing attempt for the Arizona running backs, and allowing only 4 rushing first downs. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Brockers graded out as the top run defender among interior defensive linemen, and ranked 3rd overall behind a handful of pass rushing specialists in Ndamukong Suh and Jurrell Casey.
Despite getting beat on a corner-fade in the endzone by Larry Fitzgerald, the Rams’ sophomore cornerback still graded out as one of the top coverage defensive backs this week. When Rams defensive coordinator, Tim Walton, did decide to toss the soft-zone in the trash and allow some man-to-man coverage, Jenkins drew the short straw, going head-to-head with Fitzgerald. Still, he allowed a mere 44.4% catch rate on nine targets, and allowed only 36 total yards on four receptions. Jenkins also leads the league with three pass deflections. Lesson learned, Mr. Walton… lesson learned!
With another brilliant performance in the season opener, Greg Zuerlein is the highest ranked kicker in the NFL, and with good reason. On kickoffs, Zuerlein drew a touchback on 5 out of 7 kicks. More impressively, the two returns that Arizona did muster were futile, ranking Zuerlein and the St. Louis Rams 3rd overall in opposing “starting field position”; the 17 yard line. Legatron also leads the NFL in total field goals made, and is 100% on “game winning” field goal attempts. Not a bad start to the season…
His punting statistics cannot reasonably justify his actual performance on Sunday. Hekker demonstrated all three “types” of punts on Sunday, and executed each to perfection, at least in his responsibilities. On his opening punt, Hekker booting the ball 49 yards to, what appeared to be, the opposing 1 yard line. However, Mike McNeill ruined the coffin corner punt, stepping on the goal line instead of merely punching the ball back to another coverage man. His second punt was beautiful, sailing 43 yards through the air before bouncing out of bounds at the Arizona 17 yard line, marking his first “inside the 20″ kick of the season. Last, he bombed a 55-yarder with plenty of hang time, giving Ray Ray Armstrong plenty of time to cover the field and wrangle down Patrick Peterson after a meager one-yard gain. Hekker and the punting unit shut out one of the most dangerous returnmen in the NFL. Hats off to you, sir!