As St. Louis prepares to travel to New York to face the Giants on Monday Night Football, the Rams must succeed in six key areas to come back to Missouri with a win and some momentum before facing the Baltimore Ravens at the Edward Jones Dome on September 25.
In week one versus the Philadelphia Eagles, known by some as the "dream team," St. Louis walked off the field with a 31-13 loss.
The outcome could have been much different if:
-Lance Kendricks catches a wide open pass near the goal line that would have almost certainly ended in a touchdown. Net result: -4.
-Billy Bajema does not false start on 2nd and goal from the one-yard line. Net result: -4.
-Sam Bradford does not fumble the ball that ended in a touchdown for Philadelphia. Net result: -10 to -14.
-Josh Brown makes the 47-yard field goal that he missed: Net result: -3.
Those four plays alone resulted in -21 to -25.
Those plays only told part of the story, however. The Rams accumulated six drops and nine penalties against the Eagles. Both areas must be cleaned up to find success Monday night at New York.
Furthermore, St. Louis failed to contain Michael Vick on several occasions.
The Rams failed to keep the Eagles from going deep in the passing game.
Finally, Steven Jackson went down for the day after two runs.
Although backup runner Cadillac Williams played terrific, he is no Steven Jackson. The Rams clearly missed his leadership, energy, and the attention he demands from the opponents' defense.
Looking back, the game could have had a different outcome.
I gave five keys for the Rams to come up with a win versus Philly in week 1.
1. Contain Michael Vick: Major fail. Vick ran for 98 yards rushing and the Rams failed to maintain the right edge on one occasion allowing Vick to convert on a key third and 18 play with his feet.
2. Keep the Eagles from getting deep: Fail. DeSean Jackson beat Ron Bartell over the top for a big play early in the game, and ended up with six catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.
3. Experienced Josh McDaniels versus new defensive coordinator Juan Castillo: Mixed review. Castillo had not coached defense at any level since 1995. McDaniels is known as one of the better offensive coordinators in the game.
The Rams only managed to put up 13-points, however, on the day. The results could have been much different if not for a half dozen drops, a missed field goal, a fumble in the red zone, and a false start on second and goal at the one.
4. Attack the middle of the field: Mixed review. The Rams did a good job of attacking the middle, the problem was–they couldn't catch the ball. Lance Kendicks, Greg Salas, Brandon Gibson, and the sure-handed Danny Amendola all dropped balls in the middle of the field. The plan and execution were fine but without the catches it was all for nought.
5. Run, run, run. Pass. The Rams ran for 154 yards against the Eagles. Even after Steven Jackson went down after just two carries, St. Louis ran well. Cadillac Williams, the Rams backup running back, ran for 9-yards and filled in admirably.
Out of five keys, the Rams passed in only one area and left the field with a loss to open the season.
In looking ahead to the Monday night matchup in New York, I believe there are six areas that the Rams must successfully scratch off their to-do list to come home to St. Louis from the Big Apple victorious.