St. Louis Rams Football: Winners and Losers from Rams' Loss vs. Packers
In what looked like the biggest mismatch heading into Week 6, the Packers and Rams did not disappoint to prove that it was just that: a total mismatch.
In a game that started out slowly with the Packers only leading 3-0 after one quarter, the game was obviously over as halftime rolled around with the Packers extending their lead to 24-3. The second half saw no scoring from either side and turned out to be a rather forgettable game in an entertaining week in the NFL.
These two teams are heading in different directions and no one is too surprised with what they saw in Lambeau Sunday.
Although there are no moral victories in professional sports, there are some key building blocks that can be identified from the Rams' latest outing as they demonstrated some point of promise and intrigue alongside their obvious struggles on the field.
What follows is a list of the winners and losers from the Rams in their Week 6 tussle with the Packers.
Loser: Rams' Pass Defense
I guess we cant really hold it against the Rams for letting Aaron Rodgers show up and toss for more than 300 yards and three scores. After all, he is a robot and he does it to everyone. Still, they put up just about as little resistance as you can imagine.
Sure, fans can point to the second half and say they shut the Packers out, which they did. But it did not have the feeling of a team that had made adjustments and had caught on to Rodgers and the game plan.
Instead, this game had more of a feeling of the Packers being merciful rather than the Rams being competitive in any way. It had the same stench of an overmatching high school team calling the dogs off and playing with a running clock while taking it easy on the poor winless team who has no chance.
The pass defense so far has been the strongest unit of the of this team so far, but with already having lost six defensive backs for the season, it is likely to only get worse.
Watch this unit going forward. If it is able to turn this season around in any fashion it will need to keep its strong play up considering its run defense is the worst in the league.
Winner: Sam Bradford and the Passing Game
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If there is a silver lining for this offense when it only scored three points in a game, it is that it looked like the passing game has decided to join everyone for the season. Better late than never.
Bradford threw for 321 yards on the day, and compared to how the season has gone it might as well have been a million yards. It wasn’t just yardage totals alone, though, it was the general efficiency of the passing game. The 63.6 completion percentage was a high for the season by far.
Now, I know it is important to keep an eye on the big picture, and the Rams did not get the ball in the end zone once. There are still problems with this offense and in no way are things fixed for a unit that ranks 28th in the league in passing and 25th in rushing. However, it is a good sign for the team to finally show some signs of life in both areas in Week 6;.
Loser: Offense Finishing Drives
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I guess this idea goes right in line with how the Packers play defense with a bend-but-don't-break attitude, but not finishing their drives is what doomed the Rams this week.
They had the ball three times in the Packers’ red zone and came away with a measly three points. They also had a missed field goal on their first drive of the game, squandering the momentum they could have grabbed with a score. These types of results make it impossible to win a football game at just about any level, but especially against the defending champions.
"For whatever reason, we get into the red zone, we keep shooting ourselves in the foot," St. Louis running back Steven Jackson said.
The frustration with these struggles was apparent and is becoming a regular problem with this team in 2011.
On offense the Rams were able to move the ball. They actually had more first downs for the game than the Packers did. However, being able to sustain and finish drives is perhaps the biggest thing that held the Rams from at least making this game competitive.
Winner: Steven Jackson
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The most effective player on the field for the Rams in Lambeau Field Sunday was without a doubt Steven Jackson. He rushed for 96 yards on 18 carries, which adds up to over five yards a carry for the bruising back. He also added four catches for 29 yards in the passing game.
This is a good sign for the struggling Rams. So far this season they have been pitiful on offense. When Jackson, along with wide out Danny Amendola, got hurt in Week 1, it was a huge blow to an offense that already was lacking major weapons. With the run game producing some promising results in a game in which they never led, there may be some hope of being able to rely on Jackson as they have since he entered the league eight seasons ago.
With a solid running game maybe the Rams will be able to at least how some signs of life as they get into division play coming up.
Loser: Defense Stopping Big Plays
Some of you may be thinking “Someone pull Kyle off the Rams’ secondary, he has already covered this topic,” but let's dive a little further into their troubles.
The Rams’ biggest inability this game was stopping big plays through the air. This concept came through loud and clear on Jordy Nelson’s 93-yard reception in the first half that essentially iced the game.
The Packers were able to register four plays of 20 yards or more, and that was more than enough. Considering the lack of aggressiveness in the second half, this is a lot of big plays for them to make. Being able to make the offense work to put points on the board is an obvious and essential goal of the defense.
Winner: Danario Alexander
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The biggest flaw with the Rams on offense is their lack of playmakers. This is no secret, and getting Sam Bradford some weapons to work with in the future should be the team’s No. 1 priority. However, from the looks of things there is at least one guy they might want to look at keeping around.
Danario Alexander has proved he is a solid contributor and is emerging as the team’s lone wideout that strikes any sort of fear in opponents with his big frame and ability to stretch the field.
Losers: Mike Sims-Walker and Ben Leber
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Both Mike Sims-Walker and Ben Leber were healthy scratches from this week’s game.
Sims-Walker has been a total bust this season thus far. The promising receiver was brought in during the offseason to hopefully give them another viable option in the passing game, and he has been anything but that.
In the first four games in which he suited up for, he has a grand total of 11 catches for 139 yards and has yet to score. This is not the production anyone was expecting from a receiver who showed plenty of flashes last season in Jacksonville. It is hard to blame the coaching staff for sitting him out and giving younger guys a chance—it's not as if they could be much worse than Sims-Walker has been.
For Leber it is just a matter that he is not outplaying any of his counterparts on the field. He has yet to distinguish himself, and with the way the season is heading, it is understandable for the coaching staff to want to see what they have in the other players on the depth chart.
The coaching staff is shaking things up, and because they haven't been winning with the players who have been on the field, it can't hurt to try out different players and see what the results are.
Winner: Franchise’s Big Picture, Draft Positioning
There has been a lot of attention given to the “Suck for Luck” contest going on to see who earns the No. 1 pick for next year’s draft. The Rams are firmly in the race for that pick, but unlike other teams they already have their quarterback for the future so they will look to address other needs.
Likely lurking at the top of the draft board next year will be stud receivers Alshon Jeffery and Justin Blackmon. While most of the league is on the prowl for a young QB to bring in, the Rams could target one of these young playmakers to give Bradford some help and give the offense a much-needed shot in the arm.
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Obviously, from the Rams' perspective this is turning into a lost season in a hurry. This team has yet to even be competitive in a league where almost every game is. However, that doesn't mean there are not building blocks for them to grow from.
As bad as the Rams have looked so far, they do have some pieces in place that may be pillars for future success. The need for playmakers on offense is glaring. This team just has no one that can make a play on a consistent basis. Hopefully this is something that can be addressed in the upcoming offseason.
The Rams are going to be looked at as one of the big disappointments of this season, but maybe we were just wrong about them to begin with. It looks like they were just a bag of fool's gold last year. They showed promise and played a bit over their head with a new coach in a weak division.
The Rams have shown they are a rebuilding team and need to be looked at in that way.