Aug 25, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; St Louis Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on the sidelines during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE
As you all know by now, each week, we talk to our opposing Fansided editor about the upcoming game, in a segment that we call “Know Thy Enemy”. So this week, we talk to the editor of the Rams’ Fansided site, ramblinfan.com, Nathan Kearns. Here is what he had to say about his team, and the upcoming game on Sunday:
THE JET PRESS:The Rams brought in a guy that we were all too happy to say good bye to in NY, and that is offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. What is the perception of Brian in St. Louis, in his playcalling, on whether or not he can develop Bradford…etc.?
RAMBLIN FAN:I think the perception is mixed about Schotty so far this season. You see games where he puts together a dynamic offensive plan, like the games against the Washington Redskins and the San Francisco 49ers, but then you also get predictable, conservative play calling that stalls out the offense, like against the Detroit Lions and Seattle Seahawks. Once the offensive line is solidified, and he has the opportunity to work with a more matured Chris Givens and Brian Quick, more people will jump on his bandwagon.
I don’t know that many were expecting him to develop Bradford, being the offensive coordinator. St. Louis fans had to watch as Josh McDaniels unsuccessfully attempted to be the OC and quarterback coach, and that left us with the 2nd overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. I think his play calling has helped out Bradford tremendously, allowing him to the get the ball out of his hands quickly, build confidence, and, most importantly, stay upright and healthy.
TJP:How is Steven Jackson looking? He had a 100 yard game last week, but at 3.7 yards per carry, he is well below his career average of 4.2. Are his past health issues starting to get to him, or has he simply lost a step?
RF:The “lost a step” rumor has been throw around for the past 3 seasons about Jackson, so it is not uncommon for that to come up as a concern. Jackson tweaked his groin in Week 2 against the Washington Redskins, and was only “fully recovered” heading into Week 6 against the Miami Dolphins, after getting an extra three days rest after the Thursday Night Football game.
I think what we are seeing out of Jackson is a transition into a new phase of his career, where he is no longer the only running back getting valuable carries. Against both Miami and Green Bay, Jackson only got 50% of the handoffs, and got even less against the New England Patriots. Jackson is getting more of the carries up the gut, plays designed for 3-5 yards to keep the chains moving, whereas Richardson is getting a majority of the off-tackle/sweep plays on 2nd and Short, or situations were the defense isn’t stacking the box. However, putting up 101 yards on San Francisco is nothing to scoff at, especially considering they gave up only 103 yards to Marshawn Lynch and only 86 to Adrian Peterson.
November 11, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (8) passes the ball against the San Francisco 49ers during the third quarter at Candlestick Park. The 49ers and the Rams tied 24-24. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE
TJP:Talk about Sam Bradford’s development in year 3. Is he taking the steps to become an elite quarterback?
RF:“Elite” gets thrown around all the time to describe quarterbacks on a week-in, week-out basis. Hell, they are still calling Tony Romo and Philip Rivers “elite,” even though they have 25 interceptions between them, are both outside the Top 10 in passer rating, and have losing records so far this season. In St. Louis, everyone really considers this to be Bradford’s second year in the league, losing most of the 2011 season to injury and incompetence on the part of the front office and head coach.
With that being said, Bradford does appear to be progressing nicely as our franchise quarterback. Bradford is currently ranked third, behind Peyton Manning and Matthew Stafford, in QBR for fourth quarters and overtime this season. This comes after going 26 for 39 passing for 275 yards, with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions against the San Francisco 49ers, whose defense is top ranked in passing yards allowed (4th), touchdowns (T-1st), and opposing QB Rating (4th). His stats are not comparable to Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady, but his top three receivers are comprised of two previously-cut practice squad players (Gibson and Amendola, who missed 3.5 games with a separated SC joint) and a 4th rounder from this year’s draft. He has completed 60.0% or more of his passes in 6 out of 9 games, and finally has a majority of his starting offensive line back, after playing behind a third-string left tackle and fourth-string left guard against the New England Patriots in London. Plus, he has led the team to a 2-0-1 record in the toughest division in the NFL.
TJP:Is the Rams defense as vulnerable as the stats seem to indicate, or can they surprise with a big performance on Sunday?
RF:Statistics can be very, very misleading, especially since the New England and Green Bay double header before the Rams bye week. Aside from those two games, the Rams defense was allowing only 18.8 points per game, never allowed 30+ points by the opposing team, and give up only 5 passing passing touchdowns. However, allowing 646 passing yards, 7 passing touchdowns, and 75 points to the Patriots and Packers is going to kill any defenses statistics.
There is clearly a common thread in that huge discrepancy in defensive performances. Both teams are passing oriented offenses with three to four viable receivers on the team, with 4 out of the Top 25 leaders in touchdown receptions coming from either Green Bay or New England. Both team also have the luxury of an MVP, Super Bowl-winning quarterback taking the snaps, with the two combining for 5,028 passing yards, 43 touchdowns, and only 8 interceptions this season. Brady and Rodgers are both completing over 64% of their passing attempts, and have quarterback ratings above 100.0 this season.
Sanchez has 1,860 passing yards (25th), 10 touchdowns (T-22nd), completes only 52.0% of passing attemtps (33rd), and has a 70.4 QB Rating on the season (30th). It shouldn’t be a “surprise” when Sanchez and/or Tebow are not effective.
TJP:How about a prediction?
RF:The St. Louis Rams run essentially the same gameplan as the San Francisco 49er and Seattle Seahawks, with a slightly lesser defense. Running backs get 25-30 carries and Bradford throws quick passes designed to move the chains and progress slowly down the field. The Jets have lost to both teams, first in a 34-0 shutout to the 9ers, then a 28-7 beatdown by the ‘Hawks, whereas the Rams are 1-0-1 against those same teams in the NFC West. With Amendola back from injury, Givens likely to be out of the Fisher doghouse, and Jackson going up against the Jets’ 30th ranked rushing defense, I can easily see this game ending in a similar manner. Tebow Time? 27-10, Rams.
Thanks to Nathan for taking the time this week. Check out ramblinfan.com, he and his team do a great job covering the Rams.