January 26, 2014; Honolulu, HI, USA; Team Sanders running back Eddie Lacy of the Green Bay Packers (27) is tackled by Team Rice defensive end Robert Quinn of the St. Louis Rams (94) during the fourth quarter of the 2014 Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium. Team Rice defeated Team Sanders 22-21. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Three Takeaways From The 2014 Pro Bowl For The St. Louis Rams

 

If you were one of the many fans that did not buy into the “new Pro Bow” hype this season, you missed out on a truly spectacular game last night. Both squads came to play, which was evident from the opening couple of snaps; including Gerald McCoy sacking Drew Brees two plays into the game. There were big hits, big plays, and countless memorable moments in a matchup that would be won at the end of regulation on a two-point conversion attempt by Team Rice. It was rumored that Commissioner Roger Goodell had contemplated nixing the game in 2012 after a blasphemous lack of effort was displayed on the field. If nothing else, he certainly got “effort” in this new format.

While it may seem hard to “take away” anything from the Pro Bowl, there were a handful of lessons that the St. Louis Rams could learn from the All-Star bout last night. Here are Ramblin’ Fan’s three takeaways from the game.

1. This league is filled with some amazing pass rushers! In fact, the two teams managed an astounding nine combined sacks, in a game that purportedly featured the best blockers and signal callers in the game. Obviously, piecing together an offensive line unit in half of a week is exponential more difficult than putting out four naturally-gifted pass rusher and letting them pin their ears back. Still, that is a lot of sacks…

However, the underlying point is that when watching all these dominating defensive lineman yesterday, it truly emphasized how great of a season Robert Quinn had for the St. Louis Rams. To be considered an All-Pro, the best of the best in the league, is truly a feat that should be marveled.

2. Not sure exactly how Nick Foles managed to win Offensive MVP putting up “same as everyone else” passing number on the losing teams… but, I digress. The player that was truly the most impressive at quarterback was Alex Smith. Despite about seven dropped passes in his last two drives, the 1st-time Pro Bowler led Team Rice down the field for a touchdown in a two-minute drill. There are two things that should be taken away from this:

  1. Alex Smith managed the most impressive drive of the day running essentially the exact same offense as the St. Louis Rams. Two or three wide receivers, one or two tight ends, and one running back in the formation. The offense was fast and efficient, mainly three-step drops and getting the ball to your first or second option, including plenty of wide receiver screens and designed “check down” throws between 5-10 yards down the field. There is no denying that everyone would love to have an explosive, massive-chunk-of-yardage offense. However, tempo and efficiency can be just as lethal.
  2. The mere fact that Alex Smith was in the game, albeit as an alternative, should be a good omen for those supporters of Sam Bradford. It took nine years, two teams, and three (major) injuries, but the former No.1 overall pick did rise from the ashes and make it to the promised land. The story and timeline of Smith is especially intriguing when compared to that of Sam Bradford, as both were plagued by inconsistency and a severe lack of talent at the start of their careers. It wasn’t until Year 6, with the installation of a stable head coach and a superb supporting talent, that Smith was truly able to demonstrate his abilities on the football field. Could 2014 be that year for Sam Bradford?

3. Based off of this season, and their performances yesterday, Johnny Hekker and Robert Quinn could be Pro Bowl “regulars” for the St. Louis Rams. Hekker demonstrated the skills that allowed him to set the new NFL record for net punting average in a season, finishing the Pro Bowl with a 47.0 net average on Sunday (196 punting yards on 4 attempts, allowed only 8 return yards). For those wondering, that is an even better than his record-setting, regular season net punting average!

Robert Quinn was equally as impressive. An “iffy” defensive offsides penalty negated his first sack of the day, but he would still manage another before the end of the game. More impressively, he set the edge well for Team Rice against the running game, and batted a pass that led to an interception on the sideline early in the contest. It may be a stretch to truly “take away” anything from an All-Star game that has been notorious for a lack of effort, but it certainly appeared as though both players belonged in Hawaii.

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