St. Louis Rams: 5 Major Areas of Concern

Brian TaylorCorrespondent IIISeptember 26, 2011

St. Louis Rams: 5 Major Areas of Concern

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    The St. Louis Rams are a team that appears to be really down in the dumps right now. After two performances where they could have easily upset both the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, the Rams got rolled over by the Baltimore Ravens.

    Sometimes, luck just doesn't work in your favor. St. Louis is dealing with the toughest first half schedule of any team in the NFL. On top of that, they have a laundry list of injuries to boot.

    Other times, it's simply not executing your job. The Rams have made mental error after mental error. Rookie receiver Torrey Smith scoring twice on the same play should never happen.

    There are big issues that St. Louis needs to address right now. Finding the players to fill those problem areas, however, is a tough task to do. With that said, here's five major areas of concern for the St. Louis Rams.

Offensive Line

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    Sam Bradford took some hard shots against the Ravens. It's the number of hits he has taken, however, that should scare Rams fans the most.

    Currently, Bradford has been hit 30 times this season on dropbacks, fifth-highest among all NFL quarterbacks.

    The offensive line that was raved about this offseason. They have two tackles with great potential in Rodger Saffold and Jason Smith, but they haven't shown up to play. Saffold, who has been touted as a great pass blocker, was especially manhandled all day by Baltimore's defense.

    Credit can be given for their efforts against the Giants, but the Ravens and Eagles both had no difficulty getting to Bradford. Whether they need to work in different blocking packages or even give the backups a shot, this is the main concern for the Rams.  

Injuries

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    There's no doubting that St. Louis has been bitten pretty hard by the injury bug. Still, injuries are a part of the game of football.

    It's good to see Steven Jackson's recovery is coming along smoothly. He played limited snaps against Baltimore which was a logical decision by the Rams organization. On his carries, he still seemed to be in Steven Jackson shape, and all signs point to him getting his usual load next week.

    Danny Amendola's injury has proved to be possibly the biggest loss to the Rams. Amendola's loss may explain the decline in the St. Louis passing game. He was Sam Bradford's go to target underneath and could always look his way when nothing was there. Nobody has been able to fill Amendola's shoes so far and the Rams should seriously consider bringing in another receiver. 

Wide Receivers

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    You see that cornerback in the picture for the Baltimore Ravens? That's Cary Williams. He hasn't been much more than a special teams player for much of his career. He was also clinging onto a roster spot during training camp. On Sunday, Williams was eating the Rams' lunch all game.

    Danario Alexander pulled another disappearing act in this game. It's not like the Rams weren't looking for him. He was targeted eight times but only caught two passes. Expectations were high once again for Alexander after a big game in New York. Once again, he failed to meet them. Maybe I should be giving Cary Williams a little bit more credit, but either way Alexander is too talented to be a non-factor.

    Maybe the Rams should've kept Donnie Avery and Mardy Gilyard around, and cut their rookie receivers. Both Greg Salas and Austin Pettis had illustrious college careers. That hasn't translated too well so far. Salas had his chance a week ago against New York. He dropped two passes and fumbled a punt. Pettis had his chance this week against Baltimore. He caught two passes for just 8 yards.

    Hopefully the return of Mark Clayton will reignite the Rams passing game, but until then, who's in favor of signing Randy Moss?

Secondary

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    The secondary fared well against the Eagles and Giants, but after the performance against the Ravens I'm concerned.

    It may not be fair to point the finger at any one player, but I'm calling you out Darian Stewart. It's pretty clear now that he's not ready to start in the NFL.

    Early in the game the Ravens ran a skinny post to Torrey Smith and Joe Flacco overthrew an open Smith. Darian Stewart was caught coming up instead of playing his deep area. On the second try, Flacco connects with Smith for the touchdown. Stewart was caught cheating again. The third try, Stewart is caught peeking yet again and Smith scores another easy touchdown. The number one rule of a safety is don't get beat deep. Stewart was beat deep not once or twice, but three times on the same play.

    The rest of the secondary played pretty well. Al Harris was shocking out there. He showed that as long as he is healthy he can still give some of the best receivers a run for their money.

    St. Louis will need to find somebody to cover the running back, however. Ray Rice is a one-of-a-kind talent in the backfield that is tough to contain. Coming up soon on the schedule is the New Orleans Saints though and they have an explosive back in Darren Sproles.

Heart

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    I hate to say this because of how well the St. Louis Rams played through adversity a year ago, but they look defeated right now. As of now, this is a team that doesn't look like they will make the playoffs not because of a lack of talent, but rather a lack of heart.

    We have to give St. Louis credit for playing tough against the Eagles and Giants, but they didn't ever look like they had a shot at beating the Ravens. After a Ravens score and a couple of three and outs, it looked like they quit.

    Sam Bradford is supposed to be the leader of this Ram offense. He needs to start acting like it. You can feel emotions and voice your emotions after the game, but during the game you can't be slowly picking yourself off of the ground and walking off the field. This is a young team that looks to Bradford when the going gets tough. It's hard for other players to believe in Bradford who looks like he's given up.

    On defense, there are only three guys that stand out to me as leaders. Chris Long, James Hall, and James Laurinaitis. That's it. Everybody else just let the Ravens offense march down the field all game long. It appeared to me that in the fourth quarter of the Eagles game the Ram defense lacked the heart to stay in the game, and it's looking more and more like that's the truth.

    For a team that could easily be looking at a record between 2-5 or 0-7 after the first seven games, they are going to need to show that they can tough it out.