Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams Defense Bring a Whole New Look
If you're a St. Louis Rams fan who has been accustomed to saying, "looks like the same old sorry Rams" after a loss, you can now ditch that phrase. Sure, St. Louis crumbled in the final two minutes of the game, but it's evident that this is an entirely different team under Coach Fisher.
Long gone are the days of getting blown out in historic fashion. Fisher embodies the head coach that this franchise has needed after posting a 15-65 record over the past five seasons.
As soon as St. Louis' defense hit the field, you immediately noticed a difference in their play from years past. The coverages were well disguised and there was a physical presence in the secondary that was welcomed after years of "soft" coverage.
With such a young defense the Rams are going to have to have an opportunistic group. Capitalizing on quarterback miscues will help them overcome some of their offensive deficiencies, just as they did today.
Without a doubt, Fisher's defensive staff was in the head of Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford. During the first half it was obvious they knew where Stafford was going with the ball on every play.
Fisher's son, Brandon Fisher, was on Jim Schwartz's staff last year, which helped the Rams game-plan for No. 9.
Janoris Jenkins, Cortland Finnegan and Jo-Lonn Dunbar all got in on the pick party as Stafford threw three interceptions in the first two quarters of play. Jenkins' interception held the Lions scoreless on the opening drive of the game after they had marched down the field and put together an impressive 12-play drive that spanned 7:14.
It was Dunbar's turn next as he undercut a throw that was intended for Brandon Pettigrew. On this play, Dunbar simply recognized the out route that Stafford was trying to throw and broke on the ball before it even left the quarterback's hand. Incredible instincts and play recognition led to a 42-yard advancement after the pick.
On the last interception, Finnegan showed why he was the Rams' marquee free-agent acquisition in the offseason. Like Dunbar, he did a beautiful job of undercutting the play. The defensive scheme on the play showed a look St. Louis never ran under Spagnuolo.
When Finnegan dropped into coverage he faked as if he was going to run with the receiver, but he stopped, cut off the coverage early and dropped into the flat where he was anticipating the throw from Stafford. The result was a pick six pass that was intended for Calvin Johnson.
At this point you're probably thinking St. Louis was on its way to an easy victory considering they forced three first-half turnovers.
Not quite, as the offense has yet to find that playmaking groove like the defense did. Sam Bradford was harassed all day long by a fierce Lions pass rush and Steven Jackson ran into the teeth of eight man fronts time after time.
Even though St. Louis won the time of possession battle, they were outgained 429 to 251. Bradford had problems connecting with anyone outside of Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson. Only six different players caught passes for the Rams compared to the 10 different players who caught balls for the Lions.
Not to mention the Rams only made one red-zone appearance. The offensive line deserves partial blame, but Bradford needs to get rid of the ball quicker. There were so many plays where it seemed as if he looked like a statue in the pocket, just waiting to take a sack. He needs to throw the ball away and live to see another day.
Until the offense figures things out, this team can't expect to win many games, especially against a playoff team like the Lions. They only averaged 12 points a game on offense last season, and today proved to be just a hair better as they mustered up a measly 16. If you want to put a playoff team away, plan on scoring at least 30 points.
Even in a heartbreaking loss there were plenty of positives to take away from this game. Let's not forget the last time St. Louis played in Detroit they got blown out, 44-6. Things are looking up in the Lou, but if they wan't to knock off RG3 in Week 2 they better supercharge that offense. The Redskins put it on the Saints today in a big way.
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