St. Louis Rams: 5 Things We Learned About the Team This Week
One week the Cardinals are in Saint Louis and it leads the Rams to an inspired victory over a team that should have crushed them. The next week they visit the Cardinals and suffer a crushing loss that should have easily been theirs.
It's easy to be down on the Rams, they've been absolutely terrible for most of the year. However, things are looking up, at least on the defensive side of the ball.
The offense on the other hand is putrid, and seemingly getting worse every week. After the first six weeks of the season, the Rams put up only 56 points, the eighth worst total in NFL history through six games. They showed they can put up points last week against the Saints defense. Why couldn't they do it against the lowly Cardinals?
Worst in the West
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After previously stunning the Saints in Saint Louis, the Rams came out and lost a game they should have won against a bad team.
The Cardinals are a bottom-five caliber team in the NFL right now, and sadly the Rams might be the second worst only to the Colts. Even the Miami Dolphins were able to finally put a lead up on the board and keep it there against the Chiefs this weekend, but nothing was more heartbreaking than watching the Rams get beat by a John Skelton-led Cardinals team.
The Rams simply cannot close out games they should win. This is a team that needs a lot of work in a lot of areas, especially on offense. There's no doubt they are the worst team in the worst division in football, and they look like they're headed straight for a top-three pick.
Sam Bradford Needs To Play Like a Franchise QB
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It might be understandable that Bradford would come back and struggle after missing a couple of weeks due to injury, but to be outdueled by John Skelton is plain embarrassing.
Despite throwing for 255 yards and a 7.1 average, Bradford was unable to connect for a touchdown in 36 pass attempts against a Cardinals defense that is ranked 29th by footballoutsiders.com's metrics in pass defense. The Cardinals defense has been consistently burned by every quarterback to play against them, and it's not like they played particularly well today. Patrick Peterson was called for three separate pass interference penalties throughout the game.
Bradford has yet to play truly well in a game this year. A.J. Feeley has looked consistently better than him in his limited starts, and that has to change.
Special Teams Are a Nightmare
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Good teams don't have two special team meltdowns in the span of 10 minutes.
The Rams could have put the game away with only seconds to go in the fourth quarter if not for a completely unblocked man flying into Josh Brown's field-goal attempt. It was a clueless, pitiful play that never should have happened. Josh Brown has shown he has the ability to sink kicks from 60 yards out, but he wasn't given the opportunity to bury the Cards.
The Rams were gifted the first possession of overtime. They wasted it after an incomplete pass, a two-yard run and an incomplete pass. The punt was an absolute thing of beauty that should have pinned Patrick Peterson inside the 5-yard line. Instead the Rams blew a punt coverage and the game with it.
Defense Has Found Its Rhythm
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The only bright spot of the entire night was the Rams' defense.
The Rams defense was led by the usual suspects. Chris Long, James Hall and Robert Quinn showed how they can dominate the line of scrimmage with three sacks, two quarterback hits, a pass deflection and causing two safeties.
The Rams defense put up four points on the board, while the Rams offense was only able to put up nine.... after being gifted two extra possessions by their defense.
The Rams' secondary may be ravaged by injury, but guys like Al Harris and Quintin Mikell have been stepping up their game lately. The pressure the front four have been able to get in back to back week shows the kind of defense the Rams will be able to play in the coming years with young studs like Robert Quinn and Chris Long.
Brandon Lloyd Was a Smart Trade
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I don't like to end on a bad note. Credit is due where credit is due.
There was no doubt the Rams were one of the most wide receiver needy teams in the NFL prior to acquiring Brandon Lloyd.
The veteran wide receiver is paying instant dividends. He's by far the most favored target between Feeley and Bradford over the past two weeks with 26 total targets, and he's led the team in receiving both games.
Lloyd is showing his previous season was not a fluke. He's a talented receiver, and makes an impact on the field every week. There may not be a lot to the Rams' offense, but Lloyd is the only legitimate receiver on a team that is struggling mightily on offense.