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The Rams look improved in 2012 on offense, but how improved are they when put into context? Can the Seattle defense win this game on it's own?
It gets a little more difficult as time passes to say mean things about opposing teams, because after a year at Field Gulls (It's my one year anniversary!) I've gotten to know some of the other writers a little bit. Turf Show Times is no different, I've met several of their writers and they're great dudes, but sometimes the truth is going to be harsh. Here's the truth about the Rams offense:
It's still really bad.
You're going to continue to hear from a lot of people, including me, that the Rams are improved. And they are. But that's because they've upgraded their defense, especially their secondary, and so far have mostly contained: Matthew Stafford, Robert Griffin III, and Jay Cutler. Seeing his receivers face off against Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins, and his tackles face off against Robert Quinn and Chris Long, is going to be a challenge for Russell Wilson. There is no doubt about that. But there is doubt that the Rams are going to be able to score many points against this defense and that's justified.
Upon superficial inspection, you'll see that the Rams are 24th in scoring this season so far and that's a significant improvement over their last-place ranking in 2011. However, it's like I tell girls at the online dating websites I frequent, "Hey, don't be so superficial. Give me a chance to show you what I've got on the inside! Hello?!... I named our kids already. :("
Go game by game:
Rams 23, Lions 27
St. Louis scores 23 points, which would be their third highest total if it had come last season. (Highest outputs were 31 and 27.) Sam Bradford is 17 of 25 for 198 yards, 1 TD and 0 INT. Steven Jackson has 53 yards on 21 rushes. Danny Amendola has five catches for 70 yards.
Good? Sure. Well, not Jackson. That's pretty bad. But we can see from the onset that Bradford missed Amendola like I miss the McRib. However, we have to look at some other things and get a better retrospective on the performances.
Bradford was sacked four times by four different players. This was an all-around successful pass-rushing attack. The Rams scored their first touchdown on a 31-yard interception return by Finnegan. Greg "Not Josh Brown" Zuerlein was 3-for-3 on FG attempts of 48, 29, and 46 yards. Bradford was 1-for-5 on targets over 15 yards.
After a week you'd say that almost beating the Lions was a good thing. But now Detroit is 1-2 and the 23 points is the fewest they've allowed. It's a team that gave up 27 points to the 49ers and 44(!) points to the Titans. Alex Smith was 20-of-31 for 226 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT. Jake Locker was 29-of-42 for 378 yards, 2 TD and 0 INT.
Retrospect: Rams played better than they did at almost any point of last season, but the Rams were an awful, awful, historically awful team.
Rams 31, Redskins 28
Rams for real? They beat a Redskins team coming off the high of beating the Saints. (And how good does that win look anymore?)
Bradford posted the highest QB rating of his career and was 26-of-35, 310 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT, 8.86 yards per attempt, which was also a career-high. He targets Amendola 16 times and connects 15 of those times for 160 yards and a touchdown. The Rams had to start passing it because they were down 21-6 early in the second quarter and then Washington it turns out has a terrible defense.
The Redskins gave up 31 points to the Rams. They gave up 32 to the Saints and 38 to the Bengals. The 301 passing yards from Bradford is the least amount they've given up this year. Andy Dalton was 19-of-27 for 328 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT against the Redskins. So, is Dalton as good or better than Bradford? So far it has been impossible for Washington to stop any good receiver from playing with their defense such as playtoys. (You're analogies are slippin', Kenneth.)
The Rams running game is also successful, running for 151 yards on 26 attempts, with Daryl Richardson coming into relieve an injured Jackson for part of the game.
Rams 6, Bears 23
It was obviously disheartening for Rams fans to see St. Louis revert back to a touchdown-less performance. The Rams scored just 16 offensive touchdowns a year ago. The Bears were the first real defense that they have faced in 2012, and it showed.
Just one week after putting up the highest QB rating of his career (117.6), Bradford put up the lowest (39.2.)
He was 18-of-35 for 152 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT for 4.34 yards per attempt. Previous QBs against the Bears were Andrew Luck (23-of-45, 309 yards, 1 TD and 3 INT) and Aaron Rodgers (22-of-32, 219 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT.)
Those kind of performances show that the Bears are still running a solid defensive program over there, but this performance vastly overshadows their two prior games. It was a domination. Steven Jackson came back from injury and ran for 29 yards on 11 attempts, Richardson for 16 on 4. Amendola had five catches for 66 yards, no other receiver topped 20. Bradford was sacked six times, with five different players getting in on the action.
In total this year, Bradford has been sacked 12 times in three games, with eleven players participating in taking him down.
In total this year, Amendola has 25 catches for 296 yards. That accounts for 41% of the teams catches and 44.8% of the teams yards.
In total this year, Jackson has run for 140 yards on 41 carries and a 3.4 yards per carry average. That is so far the lowest YPC of his career, and he is questionable for the game, which could be beneficial if Richardson continues to run for 5.7 yards per carry.
In total this year, the Rams are improved from 2011 but they are still looking fairly below-average. I think when you look at it in context and examine their opponents, seeing that so far the Rams offense has actually performed below-average against those three opponents, it looks fairly worse.
The Rams can beat us on Sunday for several reasons:
- We also have a bad offense and they have a good defense.
- They are at home.
- Seattle is coming off a weird game and I worry that they felt good after that game, when they should have felt that the offense did enough to lose the game.
- Do we have the capability to shut down Amendola? We are strong on the outside, but how good are we on the inside?
- Three games is too small of a sample to make any definitive statements about anything.
Too small of a sample to be definitive, but not too small to examine and ask the question of whether or not the Seahawks so far superior defense is capable of winning this game without the offense. The Bears presented the Rams with their first challenge of the season and Bradford came away in bad shape. He was sacked six times and Seattle just sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times... in a half. What kind of a performance will they be capable of putting up this week? This is also a good chance to show week 3 was not a fluke.
I am looking for Marshawn Lynch to carry the game and hopefully that's going to be enough. Easy win? No. But it would be very disappointing to see the Hawks not put up a defensive performance just like Chicago did.
(Sorry TST, forgive me!)