Quick Thoughts On The St. Louis Rams Loss To The New York Giants


Dec 21, 2014; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy (30) and New York Giants running back Andre Williams (44) swap jerseys after the game at the Edward Jones Dome. The New York Giants defeat the St. Louis Rams 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

You might watch 100 more Rams games and never see a half of football uglier than the opening two quarters of the game on Sunday. The sloppy tackling, pathetic offense, horrendous turnovers, and childish penalties were enough to force some to switch the channel or walk away from the television completely. However, even with all the negativity, the Rams still managed to keep it “a game” through the final quarter, even without completing the comeback. In our attempt to process all of that, here are our quick thoughts:

1. First off, you have to tip your hat to Odell Beckham, Jr. for his performance last night against a very solid St. Louis Rams secondary. Beckham made Trumaine Johnson, arguably the most physically gifted cornerback on the Rams, look like Bradley Fletcher. In fact, Johnson allowed eight catches for 136 yards and a touchdown yesterday, seemingly being targeted by Eli Manning on every other passing attempt. However, while taking nothing away from Beckham, some of his success comes from excellent quarterbacking and signal calling from the sideline. Both are weak spots for the St. Louis Rams. Before you judge the Rams current receiving talent, make sure you take a long, hard look at what they have had to work with over the last two seasons.

2. Speaking of receiver talent: THE RAMS HAVE A 700+ YARD RECEIVER! For the first time since 2008, when Torry Holt was still on the roster, the St. Louis Rams will finish the season with at least one player breaking the 700 yard receiving mark. That “record” comes courtesy of Kenny Britt, who now has 44 receptions for 710 yards, including three touchdowns. More impressively, the one-time first round pick also has 13 catches of 20+ yards, 31 first downs, and is averaging an impressive-high 16.1 yards per reception on the year. The latter (i.e. yards per catch) slots Britt Top 10 among receivers that have played at least 60% of the offensive snaps this season. Moreover, among that Top 10 grouping, Britt trails only DeSean Jackson, DeAndre Hopkins, T.Y. Hilton, and Jordy Nelson in average yards after the catch. It is fair to say Kenny Britt has been everything the Rams wished he would be after signing him the offseason… and more.

3. While some might not like the constant defaming of the Rams free safety spot, Rodney McLeod showed yesterday why the position needs to be upgraded this offseason. It is easy to mask inadequacies against subpar quarterbacks (i.e. Derek Carr, Colt McCoy, and Drew Stanton). It is not so easy to mask those inadequacies against capable signal callers, which was certainly the case on Sunday. To start the game, McLeod allowed a 49 yard reception on 2nd and 11, which set the Giants up to score the first points of the game. Later, to start the 3rd quarter, McLeod would get bulldozed by Andre Williams, allowing him to run free for 45 yards before being chased down my Michael Brockers just outside the redzone. Those two plays alone highlight his major flaws: Lack of coverage ability and inefficient tackling (i.e. Top 10 in missed tackles among safeties for the second-consecutive year). It has been said 100 times already, but until the Rams upgrade the free safety position, they will never be a Top 10 defensive unit. Period.

4. It wasn’t all doom-and-gloom for the St. Louis Rams defense yesterday. In fact, if you take away some of the idiotic penalties from T.J. McDonald and Alec Ogletree, that game is likely much closer at the end. Robert Quinn was particularly impressive on the edge, despite what the New York announcers seemed to be projecting. Not only did he manage two hits on the quarterback and four defensive stops, he also forced four penalty calls on Giants’ left tackle, William Beatty; one of the better blindside protectors in the league. Alec Ogletree, aside from the brawl-starting late hit, was also impressive yesterday, seemingly in on every tackle. He would finish the day with 10 tackles and four defensive stops, and is well on his way to leading the Rams in tackles for the second-consecutive season. He just needs to learn to keep his head on straight on the field.

5. Tre Mason had another good showing, albeit against one of the lesser run defenses in the league. Mason managed 76 yards on 13 carries, including a touchdown. Tavon Austin continued to show off his utility to the team as well, managing 25 rushing yards, 15 receiving yards, and 61 punt return yards. The second-year, Top 10 pick from the 2013 Draft finally appears to be settling into his Swiss army knife role on the St. Louis Rams. In fact, with one more outstanding performances, Austin could very well make a case for the Pro Bowl or All-Pro squad as a returner. That would be a solid follow, after making the Professional Football Writers of America’s All-Pro team as a punt returner last season.

6. The St. Louis Rams offensive line continued to struggle yesterday, with Greg Robinson and Davin Joseph as the main “weak links” in the unit. The two combined to allow seven of the Rams 10 total pressures and, subsequently, graded out dead last among St. Louis offensive players. While many will be wary of bringing back Jake Long after his injuries, particularly with his massive contact, it would not be surprising at all to see the Rams give him one more year at left tackle. Robinson is obviously not developed enough to consistently perform as a blindside protector, struggling mightily after moving from the interior. Another year on the inside, with some veteran help and top-tier coaching would serve him well. The “trial by fire” approach is certainly not working.

It would be wise for he Rams to bring back Jake Long, re-sign Joe Barksdale, move Greg Robinson back to left guard, and Rodger Saffold back to right guard. Toss in someone like Florida State offensive lineman, Cameron Erving, into the center spot, and you will have a mighty fine starting offensive line heading into the 2015 regular season. The alternative is to only bring back the injury-prone Saffold and inexperienced, under-performing Robinson, then attempt to re-fill the other three spots on the offensive line. The Rams have attempted to play that game for a long time without success…

7. Daren Bates is awesome…

8. Another “quick thoughts” piece, another ending with praise for the St. Louis Rams special teamers. In particular, Johnny Hekker showed why he is the best punter in the league. The $18 million man put on a clinic yesterday, booming four punts for a 45.5 yard net average, and landing 75% of those inside the 20 yard line; the other should have been downed inside the 5 yard line, but the coverage unit made a mistake, allowing it to bounce into the endzone for a touchback. Hekker is now easily the top graded punter in the league, ranking, at a minimum, Top 5 in every major statistical category. That doesn’t even include his throwing contributions. At this point, it might not be a stretch to claim he is the best positional player on the St. Louis Rams, including Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn