My first thought after seeing Amendola walk off the field, cradling his arm? "Oh god, we're screwed."
Fortunately, the vultures circling around Danny Amendola appear to be backing off. At first, we heard "dislocated elbow" and I thought damn, that's a 6-week injury at least. Then, John Clayton started reporting it as a "broken shoulder," out 8-10 weeks! However, once the internet diagnosis settled on the elbow, it turns out that he could be out only a short while.
@RamsHerd Depends. Can't tell wo more info. Can pop back in and be fine. Depends on soft tissue
WR Danny Amendola is having MRI right now. Possible he might not need surgery but no determination on his status yet.
That said, the post-game conversation was dominated by "How do we replace Amendola???" Donnie Avery was mentioned. So was Mardy Gilyard, Terrell Owens, and TJ Houshmandzadeh. Clearly the Rams now have a glaring hole where Sam Bradford's favorite target used to be.
But you know what? Maybe that's all right. Here are a few reasons why:
Bradford forced to build more trust in his other receivers.
The chemistry between Bradford and Amendola was forged while working with Pat Shurmur's "all-underneath" playbook, generating tons of easy throws for safe but short gains. The Rams were a three-down offense, meaning that the goal of the offense was to generate makeable third downs with a series of mildly successful plays. Danny's hands and toughness over the short middle were a great enabler of this mindset.
Without Amendola, Bradford will necessarily be forced to take more risks downfield. He'll be forced to look harder at the higher branches of McDaniels' passing tree, rather than letting his eyes drift Danny's way. It's notable that after Amendola went out, Bradford finally tested Asomugha and completed a 31-yard pass to Brandon Gibson.
This fits more into McDaniels' mindset as coordinator, as well. His offense is more of a "two-down" offense predicated on taking bigger risks and not getting to third down in the first place. (Good thing, too. When they did, their 32% conversion rate ranked 28th in the NFL.) Consider this: the Broncos generated 736 more yards of offense on 40 fewer plays than the Rams in 2010. And they didn't have an Amendola for Kyle Orton to throw to.
Of course, the receivers have to hold up their end of the bargain as well. Lance Kendricks might be able to get by on the "Week 1 jitters" excuse for now, but he has to make good on the trust Bradford put in him early. Gibson, Sims-Walker and Salas have to fight for balls and bring them in, even when Bradford is throwing heat. Especially when Bradford is throwing heat.
The Rams are starting to build a seriously good running game.
Without Amendola to run those routes that are essentially runs up the middle, the Rams will actually have to, you know, run it up the middle. The good news is that they're suddenly pretty good at it.
Phil Gaskin of PullingLinemen.com took an in-depth look at Steven Jackson's game-opening 49-yard touchdown run, and called it "perfect in so many ways."
Even after Jackson's loss after that play, backup Cadillac Williams averaged better than five yards per carry, and had very few negative plays behind a suddenly revitalized Rams offensive line. Jason Smith's absence with a high ankle sprain will hurt here, as Goldberg is not an effective run blocker, but our runners are finding holes between Dahl and Brown, and outside Saffold and Bell as well.
And the run game's effectiveness opens up possibilities that Bradford is only hinting at in the play-action passing game -- especially for those big gains that open up when you've successfully drawn the safety up into the box.
When Amendola returns, he might be freed from the short-route constraint.
It's possible that the Rams' offense could get more dangerous in Amendola's abscence, which would free him to run more creative routes from the slot position. We're already starting to see that in Rams camp, in the 60% of the playbook that McDaniels didn't import from Shurmur's. And based just on what I saw in practice, it's exciting stuff.
This might be an optimistic take, but Bradford and McDaniels have the ability to make it happen. But the hardest part of Sam's relationship to replace?
The trust. His receivers will have to step up.
Don't get too excited over running the ball well against the Eagles, especially up the middle. The Eagles have one of the worst run D's in the league this year. You should have noted that the Eagles are starting Casey Matthews at MLB; a rookie that is about half the size of his brother, Clay, and has about a quarter of his talent. They improved with Jenkins up front, but Babin & Cole have always been weak against the run. They're also acclimating to a new system & D Coordinator.
The Rams will NOT have the same success against the Giants. Even without Osi, the giants have one of the best D lines in the NFL. They completely shut down Mike Shannahan's juggernaut running game. If the Rams want something more than FGs on Monday, they need Bradford to morph onto Rex Grossmann & make good, accurate middle to deep passes against the Giants' depleted & soft cover 2 zone. Dink & dunk won't work & neither will the running game. As a matter of fact, the Rams don't stand much of a chance, period. The Rams' secondary is in shambles as well, worse than the Giants, and they don't have the talent to cover Nicks & Manningham while also attempting to contain Bradshaw & Jacobs. The Giants played one of their worst games in recent memory last week & were still in it until mid-way through the 4th. They list the game by being sloppy & undisciplined. For their home opener on Monday & having one of the best active head coaches in the NFL on their sidelines, don't count on a repeat of week 1 from the Giants. The Rams are walking into a buzzsaw on Monday & I have a bad feeling that it's going to get very ugly, very quick, very often that night. Bradford & Co are going to be lucky to be in the game into the 3rd qtr & Spags isn't going to like his return to East Rutherford, NJ.
Very ugly, very quick, very often? Funny, I seem to remember a bunch of Patriots fans saying exactly the same thing back in 2008. And Eli Manning is no Tom Brady. I imagine Spagnuolo will have a pretty good gameplan lined up for Monday night.
Despite injuries, the pressure isn't on the Rams' defense. They'll do their job. It's our offense that will win or lose it. And that's on Bradford and McDaniels and the slippery fingers of the Rams' receivers.
@Wr83@wr_83 Well, they're pretty banged up as well, which is in our favor. And I believe we can get to Eli. As long as we keep Nicks locked down with Fletcher, and are honest against their run game, we should be able to hold their offense down. Then it's up to our offense to perform to expectations.