Re-Focused – Rams @ Giants, Week 2

| September 21, 2011

While Monday night’s game between the St. Louis Rams and the New York Giants was hardly what you would call an instant classic, both of these injury-ravaged teams played some solid enough football considering the number of players that both teams were playing without.
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Although the Giants took a much needed victory away from the now 0-2 Rams, neither side should feel very confident about the way that they played, as both team appear to be in for long and disappointing seasons
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St Louis – Three Things of Note
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1. Struggling to replace Amendola

Danny Amendola’s injury was a key point of focus, as rookie Greg Salas struggled to make any real impact on the game. Salas caught a bunch of short passes, but didn’t look capable of turning them up the field for a larger gain as he averaged less than four yards after the catch. Furthermore, Salas dropped two passes which in a position that thrives on efficiency and getting something out of every target is simply inexcusable. Amendola was a large part of what made this passing game effective last season, and without him, Sam Bradford has a short list of reliable primary targets.

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2. Bradford continues to impress

Considering the loss of Amendola and the lack of any go-to-receivers, Sam Bradford continues to impress us as franchise quarterback, and if not for a few miscues in the red zone he would have had the Rams within reach of this game. Bradford was extremely efficient going down the field, registering five completions on five attempts for 181 yards and a touchdown on passes targeted more than 20 yards downfield. If someone can step up and become a reliable go-to-receiver for him, Bradford could easily put the Rams in the race for the NFC West title.

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3. Not getting it done in the trenches

Despite having a former first round draft pick and two free agent pickups, the Rams’ defensive line didn’t play particularly well on Monday night. Fred Robbins, Justin Bannan and Chris Long all played poorly against the run, but luckily for them, the Giants failed to capitalize on this as they struggled to make consistent blocks at the second level. However, the lack of overall penetration from their defensive line is cause for concern for the future of this defense.
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New York – Three Things of Note
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1. Thunder and Lightning – A gathering storm

As much as the Rams struggled on the defensive line, the Giants couldn’t get their running game to break free. David Baas, Chris Snee and Kareem McKenzie all got the better of the Rams at the line of scrimmage, but the Giants really struggled with making second level blocks and consequently the Giants’ backfield of Ahmad Bradshaw and Brandon Jacobs were left with a great deal of work to do. Both backs forced five missed tackles on the night on 31 combined carries, yet neither of them could gain more than 3.9 yards per carry. These two backs are ready to roll and they are simply waiting for this offensive line to block for them.

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2. Improvement at left tackle

David Diehl has been known to be a poor performer at left tackle in recent years, and New York has finally moved him back to the inner parts of the offensive line, and gave William Beatty a chance to start at left tackle. This move already looks to be yielding positive results, with Beatty putting in a strong performance against James Hall, as he only gave up one pressure all night. WE may only be two games into the season, but Beatty seems a more natural fit at left tackle, as he has more speed and agility to comfortably get into position against speed rushers.

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3. Run support from the safeties

Antrel Rolle may not have been at his best in coverage on Monday night, but along with Kenny Phillips the Giants’ starting safeties offered some really positive support to an ailing Giants linebacking corps in the running game. Both safeties took their turns wither hovering around the line of scrimmage or dropping deep, and  they both proved a real nuisance to the St. Louis’ running game. Rolle graded marginally higher (+1.7) than Phillips (+1.2), but both had a positive impact on the game. With none of the Giants’ linebackers really shaking loose to make a consistent impact, New York fans will count themselves fortunate for the display of Rolle and Phillips, and the fact that Steven Jackson missed the game with an injury.
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Game Notes

● Most efficient performance of the week may just have to go to Rocky Bernard (+3.9), who had four tackles, one pressure and one batted pass on 21 snaps.

 The Rams missed 10 tackles on defense to the Giants’ one yard line.

  The Rams failed to make the Giants pay for some poor kickoffs. Lawrence Tynes had our lowest kickoff grade of the season, -1.1, the Rams’ average starting field position from kickoffs was only just across their own 22.
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PFF Game Ball

Chris Long, DE, St. Louis Rams

Long almost single handedly tried to keep the Rams in this game. A sack, a hit and four pressures on 30 pass rushes is a fine return for a night’s work.

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