Saturday, October 22, 2011
2011 Rams Week 6: Five observations
By Mike Sando
Five things I noticed while watching the St. Louis Rams during their 24-3 defeat at Green Bay in Week 6:
- Here we go again. The Rams started well on offense. Steven Jackson carried four times for 20 yards on the opening drive. Tight end Lance Kendricks' 45-yard catch-and-run was the key play as St. Louis moved into Packers territory. None of it meant anything when veteran kicker Josh Brown missed wide right from 47 yards. The Rams needed Brown to make that kick. Early setbacks too easily lead winless teams into thinking, "Here we go again." Brown has missed twice in three attempts from 40-49 yards this season. He now has a higher career percentage from 50-plus yards (68.3) than from 40-49 yards (67.9).
- Jason Smith played well. The Rams' right tackle won his matchup with Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews. The only time Smith wound up on his back was when a teammate inadvertently tripped him while Smith was setting up in protection. Smith showed some nastiness in this game. He went after Matthews through the whistle and stood his ground when Matthews took offense. Mathews did collect a sack late in the game, but Smith got the better of him overall.
- Tight ends still not getting it done. Kendricks' big reception showed the Rams a glimpse of what they can expect from the position for the long term. The Rams aren't getting consistent enough play from their tight ends right now, however. Officials flagged Michael Hoomanawanui for holding Matthews. One of the tight ends was responsible for tripping Smith, the right tackle, on a pass set. Kendricks did not turn back to the ball in time when quarterback Sam Bradford rolled right and threw for him against pressure.
- Picking up the 7-10 split. At age 36, Al Harris is a veteran's veteran among NFL cornerbacks. Turns out the Packers' familiarity with him meant more than his familiarity with the Packers. Aaron Rodgers practiced against Harris for five seasons. He used the experience to his advantage in getting Harris to bite hard on a pump fake, freeing receiver Jordy Nelson for a 93-yard touchdown reception. Darian Stewart hustled over from his safety position to help out, only to overrun the play and take out Harris at the legs. Stewart took out Harris the way one bowling pin takes out another when picking up a split. Harris can be an aggressive corner. NFC West fans might recall him jumping a route for the winning interception against Seattle in a playoff game years ago. Rodgers apparently remembered that, too.
- The Brandon Lloyd trade was a necessity. If the Rams weren't quite sure heading into Week 6, watching receiver Danario Alexander drop what would have been a big gainer over the middle had to nudge them closer to making the deal for Lloyd. With the possible exception of Seattle during Koren Robinson's first few years with the team, I almost cannot recall an NFC West team dropping passes as frequently as the Rams drop them. They have a league-high 15 this season. This team isn't good enough to overcome little things like dropped passes, missed field goals, tight ends tripping tackles, cornerbacks biting hard on pump fakes, etc.
Enjoy your Saturday. I'll post observations from the other recent NFC West games as time permits.