The St. Louis Rams were idle on Sunday, and watched the NFC West play games with the exception of the San Francisco 49ers (on a bye as well). The Rams have an uphill battle when looking at the second half of their schedule. Five of the eight games are on the road and three of the five road games are against NFC West foes.
The first game out of the chute is a trip to San Francisco, were the Rams will battle the 49ers by the bay. Coach Steve Spagnuolo and his staff are focused with a mindset that will drive the players to reach down deep and grab their inter competitiveness as individuals and transform that feeling into a focused effort while they move forward as a team, one heart beat, in order to accomplish the ultimate goal – winning the NFC West title.
Let’s start with a look at Arizona. Their special teams unit is playing very well with KOR (kickoff return) for touchdowns and the defense playing well. The quarterback position has been, and continues to be, a thorn in the side of a team in transition. Derek Anderson is presently at the helm, and played well yesterday. But he struggles with the mindset and leadership to take this team on his back and move forward. The body language of Larry Fitzgerald was one of deep frustration and being pissed off. Steve Breaston was not thrilled as well, but remained claim and competitive. Despite having a good defense and outstanding special teams, Arizona will struggle on third and long and the inability to put points on the board.
The Seattle Seahawks are on a downward spiral – where they land nobody knows! The combination of injuries, poor play on offense and multiple player transactions will be their demise in 2010. Charlie Whitehurst looked worse than many high school quarterbacks in the state of Missouri. He has the height, weight and arm strength, and the mobility in the pocket, but lacks leadership qualities, and is not wired right for the position. He lacks the mental mindset and ability to lead men at this level, and will always be a journeyman in the National Football League. I thought he was just a marginal quarterback when evaluating him at Clemson University. Seattle’s defense despite Red Bryant going on injured reserve played scrappy and hard yesterday and competed well. The New York Giants took advantage of Rookie Earl Thomas, biting on under routes by the Tight end, while deep post routes beat them over the top for touchdowns. Seattle was hammered by the Giants and now sits 4-4 in the NFC West Division, and not feeling good about themselves.
The Rams (whom I feel are playing the best in the division) have a real opportunity to make a statement next Sunday. They can earn their first road victory of the season by beating the 49ers. They currently have the upper hand in the NFC West (they beat the Seahawks early in the year giving them the tie breaker). I feel that the 49ers have the most talented defense in the division and a potent offense, but they also lack the quarterback to lead them to the promised land. They have dug themselves a huge hole and are working hard just to achieve respectability. Remember, this was a team that was picked by most everybody to win the division.
The Rams should focus on running SJ39, the most productive running back from the line of scrimmage since 2006. Continue the high pressure defense with blitz packages and stunts that keep quarterbacks off balance and out of synch in the first half of the season. Put the ball in the hands of “Big Easy” Sam Bradford and let him lead this team and organization to the title. The only negative I see is depth of the roster – one or two major injuries will be the difference in this team’s success down the stretch.