Well fans say the St. Louis Rams look better in 2010 after two close losses to the Arizona Cardinals and the Oakland Raiders. Until the Rams show me a victory I am not going to say they look better quite yet. This team has still only found a way to win 1 of their last 18 games with Steve Spagnuolo as the head coach. In addition this team has some of the same issues it has had since 2006. The Rams are having a terrible time scoring points and moving the ball. The Rams continue to be unable to rush the quarterback or catch interceptions thrown to them. The Rams have a bad receiving core and no backup running back. If you look at this realistically not many things have changed only some faces. The Rams need thier coaches to simply make players better and to put them in better situations to succeed. Throwing swing passes to Mike Karney when long yardage is needed for a first down is not going to get us far.
The past two weeks the Rams have been beaten by backup quarterbacks and running backs as they faced Derek Anderson, Tim Hightower, Bruce Gradkowski and Darren McFadden. This week the Rams will face two very veteran players in Donovan McNabb who has over 30,000 yards passing and 200+ touchdown passes, along with Clinton Portis who is approaching 10,000 yards rushing. The Washington Redskins are the best team the Rams have face so far in 2010 but even the skins are not playing well and are far from unbeatable. The Rams need to win a game like today's to gain some confidence for not only the players but their coaching staff.
The Rams head into the game today in the bottom 10 in passing and rushing offense and defense the same spots they have been in for quiet a while not. With the addition of Mark Clayton the Rams at least seem to have one receiver that Sam Bradford can throw the ball to. Injuries to Rams Tight Ends should mean more catches for Steven Jackson out of the backfield. Pat Shurmur needs to use Jackson better. Jackson needs to get down field, run wheel routes, line up wide, etc to be more effective in space. His seemingly lack of outside speed and wide receiver blocking have kept Jackson from big gains. Jackson seems to be a 20 carry, 80 yard back and he gets most of those yards between the 30's. The Rams have to find new ways to get Jackson into the end zone. The Rams have made NO attempt to get any other running backs onto the field as only Kenneth Darby has seen any action and his 3 carries for 2 yards is not going to scare anyone.
The Washington Redskins have had their own issues this year. If not for a holding call on Alex Barron and some serious bad play from the Dallas Cowboys the Redskins would be 0-2 as well. The Redskins are dead last in total yards and passing defense. Also even with Clinton Portis and with Mike Shanahan as head coach the Redskins are DEAD LAST in rushing yardage. Clinton Portis has averaged only 3.1 yards per carry. On offense the Redskins only have one wide receiver with more than 3 catches and that is Santana Moss. Statistically through two games I am not sure if the Redskins have even played better than the Rams, however they have played better teams facing the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans.
I think the difference in today's game will be Donovan McNabb. McNabb is one of the leaders in NFL history in Int ratio. The Rams are not likely to get any interceptions from him. The key will be to keep him in the pocket and try to come around him and strip the ball. Ron Bartell will need to have a great game to stay with Santana Moss. The Redskins biggest threat will be Chris Cooley and backup Tight End Fred Davis. The Rams weekly have troubles staying with Tight Ends and today will be no different. James Laurinaitis who leads the Rams with 14 tackles will need to not only stop Clinton Portis but also patrol the deep middle of the field on passing plays. Many say Chris Long is getting better, is creating pressure etc. I still don't see it. Chris Long moved to LDE and is facing the other teams RT each week. Having only 3 tackles is inexcusable in my mind. Let's remember folks Chris Long was the #2 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Shouldn't we expect more? I know no DE's taken in the first round in 2008 have done much but maybe that just means we should have selected a player at a different position. Today Long will face big boy Jammal Brown who the Redskins got from the New Orleans Saints in a trade. The Rams really could have used Jammal Brown but elected to draft Rodger Saffold instead.
While McNabb is buying time in the pocket and making plays down field the Rams will need to keep pressure, in the form most likely of Brian Orakpo off of him. Playmaker DeAngelo Hall who already has 21 combined tackles will be locked on Mark Clayton and London Fletcher will be tracking Steven Jackson all over the field. This looks like another game the St. Louis Rams could win if everything goes great but I think the big name players on Washington will just make more plays than the Rams and they also have a huge coaching advantage.
Prediction: Washington Redskins 20-10 over St. Louis Rams
By Stlvinnie - http://www.stlouisramfan.com