Thursday, November 15, 2012
Defensive questions as Rams' offense rises
By Mike Sando
St. Louis Rams fans will enjoy what has to be the most resoundingly positive assessment of the team's offense in a long, long time.
Rick Venturi's offensive film grades for 101ESPN St. Louis include high praise for tight end Lance Kendricks as a receiver and on "wham" blocks targeting San Francisco 49ers nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga.
Venturi thought the Rams' offensive line "blocked the hell out of the 49ers" much of the day, except when, in his view, the 49ers' tackles held the guards to facilitate twists (sounds familiar). And he called quarterback Sam Bradford nearly flawless.
Venturi, a former NFL assistant, reserved his highest marks for receiver Danny Amendola.
"He wore Carlos Rogers out," Venturi said. "He'll drive Carlos Rogers out of football. There is no way you can allow him in that slot and not double him. Rogers was turned every way but loose. Then he gets on top of him. Just a tremendous performance."
Coaching strategy came into focus toward the end of this segment. Venturi thought the Rams should have used five-plus pass-rushers more frequently against 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Sure enough, as the chart from ESPN Stats & Information shows, Kaepernick did nearly all of his damage on called running plays or when the Rams dropped eight-plus defenders into coverage.
"To allow him to run around on your four- and your three-man rushes to have separation and lanes is suicidal," Venturi said, "because the guy is not going to go back in the pocket, at this stage of his career, and pick you apart. He is going to run around and make plays athletically. So, in my opinion, you played right into the narrative by not either bringing five or having balanced lanes."