What a difference a week makes. Last week going into the first week of the season, there was uncertainty of course but there was also a thought that Robert Griffin III would have ups & downs playing in his first regular season game & the Redskins would presumably fall to the mighty Saints. Fast-Forward a week, RG3 is the most talked about player in the NFL after a great debut performance in a win & the Redskins are expected to dominate a Rams team that has given them trouble for 4 straight years. This Rams team led by former Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher, looked very competitive in a game many expected them to get thoroughly handled in last week against the Detroit Lions.
Scouting the Rams
Jeff Fisher takes over a team that ranked 30th in the league last year in passing offense. QB Sam Bradford is now in his third year, the team would hope he starts to show why he was picked #1 overall in 2010. He was efficient against the Lions last week completing 68% of passes & 1 TD 0 Interceptions. The problem in St. Louis has been surrounding Bradford with targets. Looking at the wide receiver & Tight End group, none of the names jump out & scare you. It’s pretty obvious Bradford’s favorite target is Danny Amendola, who they like to use similar to how the Patriots use Wes Welker with short passes & let him get yards after the catch. Brandon Gibson is the receiver opposite of Amendola, he caught Bradford’s only TD pass on Sunday. The biggest issue probably in the passing game for the Rams & has been for a while is lousy offensive line play. Last year the Rams gave up the most sacks in the NFL with 55, causing Sam Bradford to not make it through the season. He was sacked 3 times Sunday. To make matters worse they lost their starting Center Scott Wells last week & their Left Tackle Rodger Saffold’s status is uncertain for the week after sustaining a neck injury.
Steven Jackson has a been a constant staple in the Rams offense for the last 9 years. Being the bruising running back he’s been his whole career, you have to think he’s reached that age that running backs start to tail off. His first game this year wasn’t an ideal performance. He averaged 2.5 yards per carry on 21attempts, & seemed to go down much easier than he has in year’s past. A lot of his lack of productivity could be as well attributed to the offensive line, who provided few lanes to run through. The Rams are relying on Steven Jackson for a heavy workload, they don’t limit his carries & spread them out among other backs. Daryl Richardson a 7th round rookie who’s considered the team’s best ‘home-run’ threat may be the other guy to get a few carries when SJax gets a breather, which is kind of a surprise considering the team used a 2nd round pick on RB Isaiah Pead.
The Rams were ranked 31st in the league in run defense last year. The Redskins have familiarity with this as Ryan Torain had a big day against them & the Redskins as a whole gained 196 yards on the ground against the Rams. To try & improve that Jeff Fisher used the team’s first round pick on DT Michael Brockers. Problem is Brockers has been battling an injury & missed the team’s first game & is likely to be out this coming Sunday. The Rams run defense held the Lions to 83 yards last week, but then again the Lions aren’t known to be a running team. Redskins fans will see a familiar face in Rocky McIntosh on that Rams defense.
This looks to be the strength of the team here. The team went out & gave Cortland Finnegan a big contract & looked to pay dividends in the first game with Finnegan returning an interception for a TD. The team also drafted Janoris Jenkins with the picked they received from the Redskins in the trade for the #2 pick. The Rams use Finnegan sort of the same way the Redskins use DeAngelo Hall, with him lining up in the slot to be able to make more plays. As far as getting to the QB the Rams don’t figure to have a daunting pass rush. But Chris Long & Robert Quinn can get to the QB & are proven pass rushers. The weakness in the pass defense are the Safeties, as the Rams trot out average at best safeties in Quintin Mikell & Darian Stewart.
Beating the Rams:
1. Run the ball. As great as RG3 was against the Saints, Alfred Morris had a big day as well. The Redskins must get Alfred going at the weakest part the Rams defense. Morris is a bruising running back that can wear a defense down, & the Redskins can bring Helu in to suck the energy out of a tired defense. This will take a lot of pressure off RG3 to have an “encore” performance.
2. Use the middle of the field. The Tight ends & slot receivers could have a big day this week. I expect Kyle Shanahan to devise some plays that attacks the Rams safeties & open up big plays.
3. On defense, Kerrigan & Orakpo could have a big day. Barry Cofield should be chomping the bit to go against a backup center & this will open things up on the outside, where the Rams tackles are mediocre & hurting. Bradford could be in for a long day.
What to Watch:
Robert Griffin III, he is must see TV, & will likely be facing a better defense this week. How will he respond to different looks & the fact that the Rams have something on tape of this offense.
Aldrick Robinson, if Pierre Garcon is out for Sunday, Aldrick will be the guy that RG3 may target a lot. He was the Redskins most targeted receiver last week & outside of Garcon is probably the best option to stretch the field.
Redskins TE’s getting involved. With the TE’s only being targeted 5 times last week, I expect 10+ targets this week to exploit the Rams safeties & linebackers.
DeJon Gomes, last week was the player that stood out the most to me on defense. Was all over the field & made a big interception late in the game. He could show his effectiveness again this week.
The Redskins ability to dominate a team that they should dominate. This game will give us an idea if this is truly a new Redskins culture. In the past the Redskins could give superior teams hell, then next week play down to an opponent.
I might be drinking the kool-aid that was provided last Sunday, but I don’t expect this game to be the struggle that the Redskins have had with the Rams the last 4 years. The Rams offense is mediocre & the Redskins defense looks very strong this year. On the opposite end the Redskins look to finally have things right on offense, they’ll face a decent Rams defense but in the end I don’t see the Rams putting clamps on this offense as long as RG3 doesn’t make the incompetent mistakes that Matt Stafford made against them last week.
Redskins win this one with ease. No jinx.
Redskins 34 Rams 17