St. Louis Rams Need To Learn From Week One Lessons

 “They play an extremely physical style of defense, that’s one of the traits.” – Atlanta Falcons Head Coach Mike Smith on the Rams.

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Familiar faces in new places

With a solid come back from behind win under their belts the St. Louis travel to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. This game has special red circle around it because this will be the first time playing against a very familiar set of dreadlocks.

Atlanta Falcon Running Back Steven Jackson (Courtesy STLouisRams.com)

Atlanta Falcon Running Back Steven Jackson (Courtesy STLouisRams.com)

Seeing running back Steven Jackson, once the face of the St. Louis Rams, in dirty bird red and black will be an unusual sight. But former teammate or not, business is business and the Rams should leave the Georgia Dome 2-0.

We’ve all mutually agreed that we’re going to play each other hard come Sunday, but after that we’re going to root each other on throughout the season. – Falcons RB Steven Jackson

Try picturing Jackson on blocking Chris Long on the right side. Oh man.

Blueprint for success 

The New Orleans Saints provided the rest of the league a blue print on how to defeat the reigning NFC South division champions.

First, get pressure on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan taking advantage of their shaky offensive line (Ryan was sacked three times last week). Second, back the Falcons into the long third down situations. (The usually efficient Falcons offense only converted 3 of 11 against the Saints. Receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones both are nursing knee ailments). Third, keep aggressive on defense to force turnovers to change the momentum.

The Rams have the tools to tackle this project.

Rams defensive end Robert Quinn was named NFC’s Defensive Player of the Week for his brilliant performance against the Arizona Cardinals last week. Quinn logged and impressive three sacks, two forced fumbles, three quarterback hits and a tackle for loss. On the other end, William Hayes had himself a good outing as well – one sack, three tackle for losses, and one quarterback hit.

It’s unrealistic to expect three sack games from Quinn every week but overall as a defense they should be able to make Ryan’s afternoon something he’ll want to bury deep within the back of his mind. Expect the young playmakers, i.e. linebackers Alec Ogletree and Ray Ray Armstrong as well as cornerback Janoris Jenkins to make a positive impact on Sunday.

The Thunderstorm

This week Quinn announced on NFL Network that he and fellow partner in crime, defensive end Chris Long, as The Thunderstorm. He is Black Lightning and Long is White Thunder (“la flama blanca” as noted on his Twitter bio.)

The game will be take place in the comforts of the Georgia Dome but let it rain defensive plays!

*Thanks to the Turf Show Times for the video link.

Limiting mistakes (Warning: Rant ahead.)

One of THE most frustrating things about last week’s game versus the Cardinals were all the stupid penalties. Does that sound familiar? Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said at the end of the preseason that most of the knucklehead miscues were made by players who won’t be on the roster. Um…

All seven penalties (59 yards) were committed by veteran players and not by rookies who didn’t know better. The 8-year vet cornerback Cortland Finnegan was called for the two most egregious flags. Finnegan was flagged for three penalties (one was declined). His two unnecessary roughness personal fouls extended Falcons’ drives and resulted in a field goal in the second quarter and a Larry Fitzgerald TD in the third quarter. This is absolutely unacceptable.

I just can’t do that. I’ve got it all out of my system. We’ve got 15 more (games), you won’t get another one out of me. You don’t want to hurt the team. I did that today. I’m glad we got a win. You’ve just got to learn from that. – Cortland Finnegan post-game.

Fans will be holding you to that, Mr. Finnegan. Coach Fisher knows who you are and what you bring to the table but you hurt your team last week. Luckily for Finnegan, the Rams won the game despite his porous play and penalties.

Pick your poison

Arizona used cornerback Patrick Peterson to blanket and snuff out Rams wide receiver Chris Givens. Rams quarterback Sam Bradford only glanced in Givens’ direction three times for 27 yards much to his fantasy owners’ dismay. This helped make tight end Jared Cook the break out player of the game. Cook had a historic 7 receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns. That’s not including the almost sure third touchdown that he fumbled near the goal line when Tyrann Mathieu stripped the ball from behind.

Odds are Cook will not have another insane outing like he did in week one. The Falcons will game plan for him (but that won’t deter me from starting him on my fantasy roster.) But that should open up someone else to make their move. Possibly Givens, Austin Pettis, or the fan favorite Tavon Austin.

Hey, maybe they will be able to get the ground game going with Daryl Richardson if Atlanta doesn’t stack the box. Running back Isaiah Pead should be making his return this week. We are still left wondering where Pead fits into the Rams offense at this point or wide receiver Brian Quick for that matter.

Shades of vanilla is still, in the end, vanilla.

Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer tried to spice up the offense but with Tavon Austin only seeing 7 targets/6 receptions for 41 yards we are still waiting for that big splash promised by the team at the start of the season.

If letting Bradford run is Schottenheimer’s idea of changing it up then I’ll pass on that. Bradford liked it though. He was cracking jokes about it. Something I can’t remember him doing much of the past three years.

Yeah, how’d you guys like that? That was pretty good, huh? That was pretty good. I think they had no idea that I was going to run the ball on that play and I think that’s why it worked so well. But hey, we’ll take what they give us.

Maybe Schottenheimer was indeed only calling what the defense gave him but he has to do better than that. Prove me and @justRVB wrong, Schotty. Show us that you’re more creative than we give you credit for.

Release the Kraken already!

Final Thoughts

Rams have to be feeling good going into Atlanta this week. With the Saints’ blueprint and injuries on the Falcons roster the match up should be closer than the experts are predicting – Falcons giving 7.5 points.

If the offensive line can extend the “no sacks allowed” streak to four games the Rams should squeak this one out with a 24-21 win and return to St. Louis 2-0.

Thanks for reading.