St. Louis Rams Progress Report: Where Do Things Stand Heading into Week 12?
It has been a total of six weeks now (if you count the bye) since the St. Louis Rams have notched a W in the win column. Their nine sack performance against the Arizona Cardinals from Week 5 seems like an eternity ago, but not to be discouraged, St. Louis has a shot to get back in the win column this week against that same Cardinals team.
The Cardinals have struggled the same way the Rams have. They are currently on a six game losing streak that dates all the way back to Week 5. Many thought last week was their week as they forced Matt Ryan into five turnovers, however they still came up short as they couldn't hold off a second half Falcons comeback.
The good news is that St. Louis is taking on a division foe, where it currently sports a 2-0-1 record. The bad news is the Rams are playing on the road—which has proven to be an absolute nightmare for them this season. Currently they are 0-3-1 on the road through 11 weeks.
After suffering a tough loss to the Jets at home, let's take a look at just where this team stands heading into Week 12.
On the surface there wasn't a whole lot of good that came out of St. Louis' Week 11 matchup against New York, but if you look a little bit harder there were a few good individual efforts and team efforts in certain areas. Most notably, the play of the offensive line, which was headlined by former Jet Robert Turner.
Turner has been filling in for the injured Scott Wells since Week 1, and to be honest, has done a phenomenal job of making all the correct line calls and keeping quarterback Sam Bradford clean. Through 10 games he has only allowed a total of three quarterback pressures.
He surrendered one quarterback hit and two quarterback hurries—not a single quarterback sack. Sunday's pressure free game marked the eighth game this season where Turner hasn't given up a single quarterback pressure.
Even though the Rams rushed the ball sparingly in Week 11, Turner's run blocking was equally impressive. On six carries between both A gaps, running back Steven Jackson averaged 10.6 yards per carry according to Pro Football Focus.
When I see numbers like that, it leads me to ask a couple of questions. How come the Rams didn't try and run the ball more? Why was the pass-to-run ratio 44-to-20? Antonio Cromartie is having the best season of his career with Darrelle Revis out and Kyle Wilson is coming into his own on the outside.
Sure, the Rams were behind 13-7 at halftime, but that's not a good enough reason as to why you should become one dimensional the entire second half. Keeping the opposition guessing is half the battle and by the looks of it the Jets didn't have to do much guessing in Week 11.
With Scott Wells being activated yesterday from the injured reserve, it's a shame that Robert Turner has to head to the bench. The only way I could see him getting back into the lineup is if left guard Shelley Smith struggles down the stretch.
Even with protection from the offensive line being strong, the passing game still stuttered and misfired more often than not. A lot of the fault has to lie on the shoulders of Bradford for one single reason—his decision making was flat out awful.
When turning on the tape it's evident that New York's tight coverage had No. 8 confused for most of the game. A perfect example to that sentiment would be Bradford's first interception of the game. The Rams were in shotgun with two men in the backfield and three wide receivers split out wide.
But he doesn't pull the trigger quick and proceeds to wait longer to see if something down field will open up. Unfortunately for him, nothing opens up so he has to check it down. Jets' safety Eric Smith is covering McNeill in the flat and he sees that the rush is bearing down on Bradford—so what does Smith do?
He baits Bradford into throwing the ball short.
But what Bradford doesn't know is that Smith is reading his eyes the whole time. As soon as No. 8 lets go of that ball, he breaks and picks the ball off. Just a poor showing of awareness by the young quarterback. His internal clock needed to be a lot better on this particular play.
Poor decision making has plagued him more than once this season, however the Rams wide receivers need to do a better job of getting separation as well. Pro Football Focus graded out St. Louis' passing attack at a negative-7.0 by games end, so you know it wasn't only Bradford that wasn't holding up his end of the deal.
Stock Watch (Week By Week Evaluation)
Rising: Rodger Saffold
Bradford's blindside has been well protected since the return of Rodger Saffold. In two full starts the past two weeks, he has only allowed one quarterback pressure. No sacks, no hurries, only one hit—if Saffold can stay healthy, it might give the Rams offensive line an opportunity to jell.
Falling: Daryl Richardson
Before the trade deadline the seventh-round pick looked in prime position to unseat SJ39, but as soon as the deadline passed and no one bit on the 29-year-old running back, Richardson fell back to earth. He's still getting six-to-seven carries a game, yet a fumble and a couple of gaffes in pass protection against the Jets won't help his cause going forward
Rising: Quintin Mikell
While his days as the Rams starting safety may be numbered, he saved one of his best games of the season for Week 11. Mikell had a quarterback sack, seven tackles, four defensive stops and a forced fumble. With six games remaining can Mikell turn in six more strong performances?
Falling: Robert Quinn
After putting together a nice nine game streak with at least one quarterback pressure, Quinn was stonewalled for the first time all season long. In Sunday's game against the Jets, he didn't register a sack, a hit or a hurry. Only the third time it has happened to him during his career.
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