It's pretty difficult to follow up with a 'know your enemy' after reading Kenny's 5000 word (I sh*t you not) treatise named "8 Simple Things About the Rams" that was anything but simple and significantly more than 8 things about the Rams. I went back and read it for a second time and I now feel I have been illuminated on the franchise history, current problems, and future outlook of the St Louis Rams, and to boot I now feel bad about myself when I see Robert Quinn's gigantic pectoral muscles and realize I need to work out, this is pathetic.
If you're just signing on this week to get a scouting report on the Rams, read this article of course, but really, go read Kenny's take too, because... well, damn. Anyway, I digress. Joe McAtee, an outstanding writer for the Turf Show Times, St. Louis' SBN Rams' community, offered to give us a little scouting report so here follows some questions I asked and the answers he provided.
DK: A lot of people expected that the Rams had turned the corner and would battle for the division this season but that hasn't really happened. Are people shocked, and what are the main issues that have kept the Rams from winning this season?
Joe: I wouldn't say the fan base is totally shocked at the result; we knew the opening half of the schedule was going to be tough. Still, the way the Rams got to 0-6 was certainly shocking. And the fashion in which they lost the Cardinals game was arguably more deflating coming off of the Saints win. It just hasn't been pretty.
While injuries tend to affect most teams, the Rams have put nine cornerbacks on IR this season. You just can't prepare for that as a franchise. Throw in Danny Amendola, Greg Salas (who replaced Amendola in the slot) and TE Michael Hoomanwanui also out for the year, and the Rams are plugging in a lot of unexpected contributors for the rest of the season.
DK: What do you think the main issue has been with Sam Bradford this season? Attribute it to the new OC, the injuries, the WRs, etc?
Joe: I don't think coaching had been a huge issue, though the wide receivers took a while to gel. Adding Brandon Lloyd has certainly helped. If I'm attributing the offensive issues to a single thing, it's roster inconsistency. The receivers and offensive line are changing week to week (hell, Bradford even missed a pair) and it's obvious that Sam's finding difficulty syncing up with the rest of the offense.
DK: What would you say is the Rams' biggest strength, and conversely, their biggest weakness?
Joe: The Rams biggest strength is the defensive end position. With Chris Long, Robert Quinn and James Hall, we have a trio that can be effective in both the run and pass games. It's made the changing CB depth chart look effective at times and competent at others. That speaks volumes to the pass rush.
DK: Do you think this team has taken a step back this season, growth wise, or do you think the Rams - in general - are going in the right direction?
Joe: Weirdest answer ever - both. There's no way around the losses the Rams have compiled, and the pass offense & run defense have been abysmal for the majority of the year. I don't think you can look at those as anything but a step back. At the same time, there's still plenty of youth across this team. There's plenty of potential to be tapped. There's chemistry issues that can be solved before season's end.
If the Rams, who opened 1-7, can pull 4 or 5 wins out of the second half, it would still be a step in the right direction overall, albeit a painful one that most fans would look at and wonder what could have been.
DK: What matchups do you envision the Rams trying to exploit this weekend? What do you expect the Seahawks will try to do against the Rams?
Joe: Steven Jackson is still the horse that drives the team, so I expect he'll get plenty of work in early. And if Brandon Lloyd can settle in, I could see this being the week he goes off. And on your part, if Marshawn Lynch doesn't carry the ball 20 times, I'd be surprised.
Something strikes me about the Rams and their franchise trajectory and it really kind of reminds me of the Seahawks. New coaching staff, young team. Injury issues, problems 'gelling'. High(ish) expectations with some disappointment this year. Some depressing losses juxtaposed with some exciting wins. Overall a feeling of "we're going in the right direction". Thanks to Joe for giving some interesting insights and make sure you go check out Turf Show Times for some really good coverage of their team.
As another little aside, I just wanted to point out that Joe McAtee, aka 3k, is an excellent football writer and someone that I frequently read regardless of whether the Seahawks are matching up against the Rams. You might have seen some of his articles in my "Educational Links" posts and I wanted to take this opportunity to point you back in the direction of some of his work, because it really is outstanding. Just in general too, TST does really good work.
The decline of the RB position in the NFL - Turf Show Times: "A look at how playoff teams have included the run into their offense since 2001 and what it says about the direction of NFL offensive strategy."
The decline of the RB position in the NFL, pt. 1b - Turf Show Times: "More data comparison on running backs."
The decline of the RB position in the NFL, part 2 - Turf Show Times: "The second of a three-part series looking at whether or not the best running backs, year after year, have a noticeable effect on a team's overall success."
The PBP: Lance Kendricks and the modern 2-TE passing game - Turf Show Times - Last time we fired up the projector, we looked at our first-round pick Robert Quinn and the impact he can have as a pass-rushing specialist. Today, we'll move on to day 2 of the draft and take a look at Lance Kendricks, the Pats' commendable use of two young tight ends from 2010, and some pros and cons from the concept.
The PBP: Robert Quinn and the pass-rushing DE - Turf Show Times - It's been a while since we last visited the Projector, but it's time to add to the first four pieces in the series. Today, we'll look at the pass rush for the 4-3 right defensive end (RDE), and why Robert Quinn is tailor-made for the position.
The PBP: offensive line basics, and the education of Jason Smith (pt. 1) - Turf Show Times - It's back to the projector, TSTers. Today, we're going to look at the offensive line, some run blocking basics, Jason Smith and what makes Pro Bowlers different than albino bowlers. Not that I have anything against albino bowlers, but I don't see why they should have their own action figure and the great OTs in the history of the NFL don't. Just saying. Oh, and Sandra Bullock.
The PBP: gaps, techniques and the Hollis Thomas effect - Turf Show Times - I know I suggested doing the next episode on the O-line in the last PBP, but with the signing of Hollis Thomas, I thought this had more immediate relevance. Today's Playbook Projector asks a couple questions: What the hell are gaps? What the hell are techinques? Why the hell do I have to say "hell" every question? I mean, what the hell?
The PBP: the 4-3 defense and the arrival of James Laurinaitis - Turf Show Times - Well a good weekend to all. Yeah, it's been awhile since the first PBP in May where we looked at the "smash" concept and how Donnie Avery could be employed. This time, we're going to step back from a concept and look at the 4-3 defense in general and how the MLB, or in our case James Laurinaitis, holds a 4-3 together. As always, questions and criticisms are more than welcome.