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Monday, November 19, 2012
Around the NFC West: Rams are a riddle

By Mike Sando

The New York Jets played better than the St. Louis Rams and deserved to win Sunday.

We can't leave it at that, of course. But there is risk in reading too much into outcomes. The NFL proves week after week that results are temporary. If the Rams win impressively in Arizona next week, it means they're back -- for at least a week.

This is the youngest team in the NFL counting active players and those on reserve lists. There will be days like Sunday. We just don't know when they will happen.

The biggest concerns from this game, I thought, were the cornerbacks' inability to turn over the ball against Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, and the difficulty Rams quarterback Sam Bradford had in making any difference at all.

This was the sixth consecutive game Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins and the Rams' defense failed to pick off a pass. Coach Jeff Fisher's defensive philosophy is to err on the side of playing too fast. The thinking is to make aggressive mistakes and then coach to them. Aggressive plays helped produce eight interceptions in the first four games. We're not seeing those plays any longer.

Bradford, meanwhile, has shown he can play at a high level. We saw that against San Francisco last week. But when things are going poorly, Bradford isn't likely to do anything special. He doesn't create something from nothing.

As a result, the Rams could endure games like this one more frequently than is tolerable, at least until the team builds up its offense around Bradford. But there is no point in predicting when it will happen. Each week is its own adventure.

A week ago, the Rams were coming off a 45-7 defeat to New England. They were heading to San Francisco and appeared to have no shot at competing with the 49ers at Candlestick Park. They built a double-digit lead and settled for a tie.

Bradford now faces a Cardinals defense that picked off Atlanta's Matt Ryan five times Sunday. He's got no chance against it, unless he does.