Quick Thoughts On The St. Louis Rams Loss To The San Diego Chargers


Nov 23, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) runs past tumbling St. Louis Rams defenders on his way to a 29-yard touchdown pass from Phillip Rivers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

1. Another tip of the hat to the St. Louis Rams defense. Despite not playing quite as dominant as they had in the previous two games, they played more than “good enough” to cover up the Rams’ offensive mistakes and keep the team in the game until the very last possession. The Rams did struggle to adjust to the draw-and-screen gameplan from Phillip Rivers and Co., but managed to get stops when the team absolutely needed them, and did put six-points on the board.

2. Speaking of those point, Janoris Jenkins bolted back on the scene with his second pick-six of the season. That brings his total to five in under three seasons, easily the most in the NFL in that span. In fact, Jenkins (6) is currently tied for 12th on the non-offensive touchdowns list among active players. The most impressive part of that ranking is that the remainder of the Top 12 are all 30+ yards old, with the lone exception of Ted Ginn, Jr., who is on his way to completing his seventh season in the league.

3. Aaron Donald continues to build his case for Defensive Rookie of the Year, and should be a sure-fire lock for the 2015 Pro Bowl. Donald graded out as the top Rams defender yesterday, according to Pro Football Focus, recording his fifth sack of the season and leading the team with four defensive stops. On the year, Donald is graded as the second-best overall interior defensive lineman; currently ranked No.1 overall against the run, Top 10 in sacks, and No.2 in defensive stops. Marcell Dareus and Ndamukong Suh might have the All-Pro slots on lock this season. However, Donald should be knocking at the door, if he doesn’t already have one foot in…

4. Aside from one longer completion to Keenan Allen, the St. Louis Rams secondary did a pretty solid job of keeping Phillip Rivers and his band of receivers in check. Their over-the-top blanketing forced the Chargers offense to rely heavily on the dink-and-dunk game; although they seemed more than willing to utilize those quick passes and screens to counteract the Rams pass rush. Unlike last week, the secondary did struggle in their open-field tackling this week. However, if they can continue to keep the plays “in front,” they can control a lot of football games.

5. Switching over to the offense, you have to be happy for Stedman Bailey, who put on an absolute clinic yesterday. Bailey caught seven of his nine targets for 89 yards, including catching his crucial fourth quarter touchdown twice (the first was negated by a penalty). With Dez Bryant’s contract being a hot topic, many have debated which corps is more effective: having one All-Pro or having a collection of above-average, uniquely talented receivers. While that answer is certainly debatable, I doubt any quarterback would complain about having Stedman Bailey, Brian Quick (when healthy), the new Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin and Jared Cook.

6. Also, Stedman Bailey does things like this. Pure leadership and class…

7. Not to rub salt in the wound, but the final play needs to be discussed. With plenty of time on the clock, the St. Louis Rams have it 1st and Goal. Considering that 1) Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham, and Tavon Austin were all average 3.5 yards per carry or better, 2) you only need a field goal to extend the game (i.e. a turnover is the only “bad outcome”), and 3) you have a career backup quarterback playing a Top 5 passing defense with a myriad of playmakers in the back-seven, why would you throw the football on second down? The answer: You shouldn’t. Some blame obviously has to fall on Shaun Hill for the throw. However, much like last year when Kellen Clemens was a couple of yards away from beating the Seattle Seahawks, the majority of the resentment should be aimed at Brian Schottenheimer. The NFL isn’t about being “cute” with play calling, it is about understanding your roster, the context of the game, and “the moment.” Tre Mason or Benny Cunningham should be framing their gameball from scoring the game-winning touchdown….

8. Why am I not bashing Shaun Hill, after lambasting Austin Davis for making some of the same mistakes? Hill was, and never will, be touted as anything more than a competent backup quarterback. Austin Davis was hailed as the next “Brett Favre,” possibly even the long-term solution to the Rams quarterback conundrum. Hill has the better arm, has more experience, and, based on the preseason, had a better rapport with the receivers. Should have been the starter as soon as he was healthy.

9. Johnny Hekker. Do we really need to say anything more about him ? Best punter in the league, and easily the best arm among special teamers.

10. The NFL genuinely needs to take a long, serious look at their officiating. Maybe, the issue is inadequate training. Maybe, the issue is too many rules. Maybe, the issue is the constant modification of those rules. Whatever the issue is, it needs to be fixed. Immediately. While the penalty distribution appears relatively even yesterday, it most certainly was not in the context of the game. The officials called back two Rams touchdowns throws and one near-touchdown punt return on questionable calls, Moreover, they failed to blow the play dead on a “neutral zone” infraction on the Rams offense, which ended in a field goal block… yet, the result of the play was allowed to stand. The culmination of those calls cost the Rams, at a minimum, 10 points, which obviously would have made a huge impact on the game.