Rams v Chargers: What I Liked, What I Didn’t Like


Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The St Louis Rams tested their fans’ blood pressure once again with yet another close affair against tough competition. A week after an impressive win against Denver, the Rams were unable to continue the trend, this time with a 27-24 loss to the San Diego Chargers. Jeff Fisher’s team was once again competitive and had opportunities to win the game, not least with the ball the Charger’s four-yard line within the last minute of the game. As ever, with such an up-and-down performance, there is plenty to like, and plenty to dislike…

What I Liked…

Takeaways    The opportunistic face of the Rams’ defense came to the fore again with a number of key takeaways that kept the team in the game. Most notable of these was Janoris Jenkins’ interception of Philip Rivers, with a 99-yard return for a touchdown. This seemed to give the Rams a momentum that they did not really live up to. A couple of fumble recoveries in the second half gave the Rams a chance to catch up with San Diego just when it looked like the Chargers were about to blow the game wide open. Unfortunately, some of these opportunities went wasted and the offense was unable to take advantage, adding to the list of many chances that the team blew en route to its seventh loss of the season.

Tavon Austin            It has been long in coming, but the offensive strategy finally seemed to take advantage of Austin’s unique skill set. The second-year receiver did not have stellar numbers – only thirty-eight yards offense – but he was used efficiently, not least in the drive that led to the Rams’ second touchdown, and Austin’s first of the season. The 2013 first rounder has clearly underachieved, but the San Diego game showed a greater willingness to use him in an imaginative way, and it is about time the Rams used this weapon to its fullest advantage.

Stedman Bailey        In a good day for West Virginia alums, Bailey led the team in receptions and receiving yards, notching up his first career touchdown. This was desperately sought – his expression when an earlier score was wiped out by penalty spoke volumes – but Bailey is emerging into a safe and reliable possession receiver who displays stronger natural abilities than Austin Pettis, who played a similar role for the team. With opposing defenses focusing on big-play threats like Kenny Britt, Jared Cook and Austin, Bailey could find himself playing a bigger part in this offense, and his performance this week proved what he is capable of doing.

What I Didn’t Like…

THAT throw             Shaun Hill did not have a good game. After an impressive performance against Denver – one that temporarily made Rams Nation forget its quarterback woes – the San Diego game proved why Hill has been a backup for most of his career. He made erratic throws and committed three turnovers. Somehow, however, the Rams were still in the game, and a few key throws seemed to indicate that Hill was going to notch up another surprising win. With the game on the line, and so close to the endzone, Hill should not have made such a careless, even predictable, pass, and Marcus Gilchrist’s pick had an air of inevitability to it. Coach Fisher tried to defend his quarterback, but the fact remains that Hill cost the Rams the game. The search for a quarterback continues.

Tackling        It has been a while, but poor tackling is finally back on this half of the list. After a few strong performances against the run, the Rams gave up 128 yards per rush – a staggering 5.8 per carry! This allowed San Diego to control the tempo of the game and, in this context, Rivers could calmly pick the fragile Rams’ secondary to pieces. The defensive line was not its normally dominant self, and James Laurinaitis looked particularly sluggish. The Chargers gained a significant amount of yardage after the first hit, and many players were to blame for the kind of lazy tackling that, we thought, had been a thing of the past.

Greg Robinson         The rookie’s performances have been noticeably sliding off late, but, against San Diego, he was guilty of a number of errors which have exposed his lack of experience. Robinson can be a behemoth of a blocker, but he was careless in a play that led to a Hill fumble, and he committed penalties which killed drives, or worse, wiped scores off the board. The Rams need Robinson at his best in order to keep pressure off the quarterback and allow the running game to develop, and he was clearly far from his best on Sunday.