I always hate to lose. But, I hate it the most when you outplay the other team. You know the game when you beat not just your opponent but yourself. Monday Night's 28-16 loss was a tough one to watch. It's very frustrating to watch this team find new ways to lose games.
Here are the grades as I see them.
I thought Sam Bradford outperformed Eli Manning, which is quite the compliment considering Manning labeled himself as a top 5 QB earlier in the preseason. Bradford threw for 331 yards last night and a touchdown completing 46% of his passes (22-46) One stat that should make all Rams fans happy is the 8 for 13 and 239 yards that he had last night when throwing the ball over 15 yards or more. However, he still needs to improve when facing blitzes. Sam had the worst completion percentage last year against the blitz and he struggled last night.
Running backs: D-
One rushing first down all game and it was achieved by the quarterback. I had a feeling we'd have trouble running the ball against this very good defensive front, but I had no idea it would be this bad. Carnel Williams had 13 carries for 36 yards. Jerious Norwood, who I thought would have a bigger role in this offense thus far, added 8 yards on 3 carries. Of course, there is always the play of the night. The screen to Williams, that was dropped and returned for a 65-yard fumble. It seemed as if Williams was the only person who didn't know that was a backwards pass.
DX. Welcome and thank you. What a night for the Mizzou product. 3 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown. He was on the other end of Sam Bradford's longest career pass, a 68-yarder that got taken to the Giants 1 yard line. Sims-Walker improved greatly from his 1 catch performance against the Eagles. MSW collected 92 yards on 6 catches. Gibson and Salas added 4 catches each for a total of 79 yards. Kendricks had a long 26-yard gain down the Giants sideline. I was a little surprised that he wasn't a bigger part of the offense last night.
The downside was that there were a few noticeable drops. I won't point to a particular one or player but I will say Danny Amendola was missed last night. I also thought Billy Bajema played badly for the second week in a row. He gave up a sack and dropped a ball that hit off his facemask that would have, if caught, been a first down.
Offensive Line: C
The pass blocking was better than the previous weeks. Giants Pro-Bowler, Justin Tuck had 1.5 sacks last night. If memory serves me correct one was against Billy Bajema and the other came on a busted play action fake that was the result on a successful challenge on the part of Tom Coughlin. The run game was non-existent. Even more frustrating is the Rams inability to run the ball in at the goal line for the second week in a row.
Defensive Line: C
The Rams had 3 sacks on Manning, but recorded only 4 QB hits. I thought we did a better job stopping the run or at least limiting the big runs. But the run defense still needs a lot of improvement.
With the exception of Leber's facemask call (which was a horrible call) I thought this group had a sharp night and probably was the best group on the field last night. As a fan, I was happy to see JL55 have such a good game on a national stage. He'll continue to be overlooked in the eyes of the media because the defense doesn't stop the run and his name isn't Urlacher, Willis, or Mathews, but man he played well last night. Brady Poppinga added 4 solo tackles, two for a loss.
The only positive from last night's group of defensive backs is Mikell. He has played well for this team since he's arrived. Manning threw for two touchdowns and 200 yards, completing 18 of 29 passes. Don't get overly excited. The Giants were without their number 2 and 3 reciever for the 2nd half. It could have been a lot worse. This team will miss Ron Bartell a lot.
Special Teams: C-
Salas' muffed punt changed the entire game. With the exception of the drive the Giants had after the punt, they went 3 and out on their first four series to start the game. Newly acquired Quinn Porter fumbled a kick return last night, luckly the Rams didn't lose that one. Josh Brown and Donnie Jones both had their usual good performances.
Questions to ponder while waiting for Cadillac Williams to realize that, yes indeed that is a fumble:
- Is this team ever going to score more than one touchdown in a game again?
- On that fumble play, why were the Rams running a screen to Williams behind the line on 3 & 8?
- Why hasn't Norwood had a chance to return?
- Why was DX inactive for week one?
- Is Craig Dahl really the best we can do?
- Which Ravens team is going to show up at the Dome next week, the one that kills the Steelers or the one that loses to the Titans?
If I had to think of one thing that made me excited last night, it was the Rams vertical attack. Bradford has the arm strength and accuracy to attack defenses down the field. 18 games into his career and we finally got a taste.
Kudos to the defense for getting off the field last night. They did a much better job last night (holding Giants to 5 for 15) than they did the week before (8 for 12). This was a big strength for the defense last year. They have to continue to improve here.
For those of you keeping score at home:
|2011 Rams Offense||2 TDs|
|2011 Rams Opponents' Defense||2 TDs|
Between the turnovers and the penalties this team is the blueprint for how to beat yourself.
Also, anytime your starting secondary finishes 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th, in tackles you know it is not going to be a good night. And it was not because they're all over the play (perhaps Mikell was). It is because they get passes completed on them and then they make the tackle.
I heard Steve Young say the Rams have no locker room presence. How does a guy who works for ESPN know about anything that goes on in the Rams' locker room?
We're three weeks into the college football season and I cannot decide who would look better in horns next year - Justin Blackmon or Michael Floyd.
SJ39, we miss ya man!
Now on to the Ravens.