Sep 26, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long (91) has words with San Francisco 49ers tight end Garrett Celek (88) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. The 49ers defeated the Rams 35-11. Mandatory Credit: Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

Quick Thoughts On The St. Louis Rams Loss To The San Francisco 49ers


Not sure exactly what happened last night, or what happened last weekend, for that matter. It appears as though this St. Louis Rams team has regressed from last year, even with consistency in the coaching staff and upgraded talent on both the offensive and defensive side of the football. Most will like wake up in a fog of “Ramsnesia,” characterized by a general lack of enthusiasm, a negative outlook, spotty memory of any “positives”, and, in some extreme cases, a throbbing hangover. Sometimes, the best cure is a dose of “the truth.” Filling in as your personal physician, here are Ramblin’ Fan’s quick thoughts on the “game” last night!

1. Where to begin, where to begin… Any St. Louis Rams recap from this season should start with the team’s continually worsening 3rd-down conversion percentage. This week, the Rams set the bar lower than most thought possible, converting a mere 17.6% of attempts. Dropped passes, “interesting” play calling, and utter uselessness on the offensive line were the culprits this week. Those are all correctable mistakes, or, at least, we hope they are…

2. The St. Louis Rams undoubtedly have the most overpaid offensive line in the NFL, which will likely change, starting Day 1 of the 2014 offseason. Currently, there are three  linemen that have a Top 10 “average salary” for their respective position: Jake Long ($8.5M; 8th among LT), Scott Wells ($6M; 4th among C), Jared Cook ($7M; 3rd among TE). Even Harvey Dahl is sitting right on the fringe of the Top 10, making an average of $4M per season.

Last night, the San Francisco 49ers, much like the Dallas Cowboys last week, were getting immense pressure rushing only three or four defensive players. Despite having a “+1 advantage,” Sam Bradford was either had hands in his face or was running for his life the entire night. Five players should be able to block four players…

3. Keeping on the subject of the offensive line, Daryl Richardson should have been awarded a badge by the St. Louis Rams front office for rushing into battle behind this line. There were no gaps… holes… or so much as a minuscule crease for Richardson to slide through last night. Most will blame the running back for the 0.9 yards per carry average. However, an NFL rushing attack is all about blocking schemes, and the execution of those schemes, to get the back through the first level. Doesn’t matter who is in the backfield if the offensive line is getting dominated at the point-of-attack on every snap.

4. Who is playing running back for the Jacksonville Jaguars now-a-days? It might be a good idea to pick them up on your fantasy teams for Week 5…

5. Not sure how to constructively analyze Sam Bradford’s performance last night. On one hand, there were some questionable decisions, and some less-than-accurate throws that might have changed the outcome of the game; or, at least, swung the momentum back in the St. Louis Rams favor, including the missed throw to Austin Pettis on the seam-corner and the interception into double-coverage. However, Bradford has been sacked 11 times in the last two weeks, and was constantly moving outside of the pocket in an effort to extend plays and give his receivers an opportunity to get open… they didn’t. Makes excuses for Sam Bradford is certainly getting old, but, sadly, they continue to be merited by the performances of the players around him on the offense.

6. When catching a football is your job, actually making catches on the football field shouldn’t be out of the realm of plausibility. Aside from Lance Kendricks, who caught his only target of the night in the endzone during garbage time, there was no receiver on the St. Louis Rams roster with a catch rate higher than 60%: Jared Cook (57.1%), Austin Pettis (55.6%), Chris Givens (50.0%), Tavon Austin (33.3%), Brian Quick (25.0%). Might be time to see a little more of Stedman Bailey…

7. Alec Ogletree might not be a pass rush specialist, but he is certainly maturing into a dominant NFL interior/outside linebacker before our eyes. Last night, Ogletree recorded the highest “run defense” grade of the season for all 4-3 outside linebackers, likely boosted by his clutch forced fumble on Frank Gore earlier in the game. The rookie stud allowed only 29 receiving yards in 28 pass coverage snaps, all while recording three defensive “stops” and tacking on two defensive pressures.

8. Isaiah Pead must have spread his “thinks-too-much”-itis to Tavon Austin, who was pretty pathetic last night in the punt return game. For once, the St. Louis Rams defense was making stops before the opposing offense crossed midfield. Austin returned 6 punts for 17 yards, with 14 of those coming on one single return. In fairness, there did not appear to be too much blocking going on from the rest of the return unit. However, Austin likely ran for more yards East-to-West than North-to South, and predictably “hesitated” at the start of every return. In the NFL, even the special teams players were, at one time, the fastest and most athletic players on their college roster. You can’t “wait” for anything in this league…

9. The highest “grade” of the night, according to Pro Football Focus, went to Johnny Hekker, who punted the football 11 times and allowed a grand total of ZERO return yards. In fact, Hekker forced five fair catches, and landed five balls inside the opposing 20 yard line. He also booted the highest “hanging” punt of the 2013 season, thus far, with one kick recording a hangtime of 5.6 seconds. After last night, Hekker is the highest rated punter in the NFL, allowing only 21 net return yards on his league-high 25 punting attempts. Sadly enough, he may be the only player on this Rams’ roster looking at an invitation to the Pro Bowl this year.

10. Greg Zuerlein is one of only 12 kickers in the NFL who has made 100% of his field goal attempts this season, after banking one off the right upright in the first quarter last night. Zuerlein is also ranked 6th overall in the league in “opposing average field position” on kickoffs, with teams starting at, roughly, the 18 yard line after kick returns. Sadly, it appears are though the two best “performers” this season have been on special teams.


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Tags: San Francisco 49ers St. Louis Rams

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