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What they don’t want Redskins fans to know about the St. Louis Rams

Jeff Fisher, St. Louis Rams

I am sure that Washington Redskins fans are over the top on rookie sensation Robert Griffin III who did the impossible last Sunday. Griffin exceeded our excessive expectations of him.

For once, the Daniel Snyder hype machine doesn’t feed the excess. It is spontaneous and it affects everyone.

Even head coach Mike Shanahan cautions against over-reacting to the win in New Orleans. When has he ever done that?

For all the joy in Redskinville, we caution fans that Washington faces the most dangerous team on the schedule – the St. Louis Rams.

Sound funny? Consider this:

  • The Rams are up 3-2 on the Redskins over their last five contests.
  • The Rams have out-scored the Redskins 103-90 over the last five contests.
  • In the Shanahan years, the Rams outscored the ‘Skins 40-33 over two games. By comparison, Jim Zorn’s scoring record is Redskins 26, Rams 26. Zorn, like Shanahan is 1-1 against the Rams.

The Rams are a menace to the Redskins. Do not sleep on them as we have so often done. This applies to players as well as fans. We could be walking into an ambush.

I asked Derek Pease, the talent behind the Rams Herd Blog and a writing colleague on the This Given Sunday Blog, for his local knowledge on the 2012 Rams. Here’s what you need to know in the lead-up to the game. Pay attention.

Q. Jeff Fisher is a real upgrade at head coach. What has been the biggest difference between Fisher and predecessors Steve Spagnuolo and Scott Linehan?

Since the Rams last played the Redskins one of the team’s biggest improvements comes in having a much better game manager on the sideline. Already the decisions in game time are better and more decisive. The Rams were excruciatingly passive in fourth down and close situations under Steve Spagnuolo. Jeff Fisher will not buckle under the pressure much the way Spags did. 

Q. Fisher rebuilt the Rams defense before tackling the offense. You like the early results, but it’s a passing league now. Can the Rams improve by four wins by the defense? Why?

The easy answer is yes, because the Rams play in the NFC  West and will get the likes of John Skelton, Kevin Kolb and Russell Wilson four times a year. Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan are legit in the secondary and will change how many teams game plan moving forward. If the Rams run D can do their part, the anemic offense execute in the Red Zone, and a higher clip than last season 4 more wins is within reach.

Q. How did Fisher use the Draft picks acquired from Washington in that blockbuster trade?

The majority came as a bulk of future picks that will more than likely be spent on the offensive line. However, in 2012 with the sixth pick acquired from which the Rams then turned into the 14th pick they took Michael Brokers a defensive tackle.

Brockers looks like a keeper as a run stuffing defensive tackle. I think this was a great pick at the spot where they landed Brockers. Right now, he is sitting out with a high ankle sprain, but Brockers looks like a 10-year starter in St. Louis.

With an extra pick in the second round, courtesy of the trade with Washington, the Rams drafted Janoris Jenkins. This was a slam-dunk pick in my opinion, because not only was Jenkins a Top-10 talent, but he also filled a position of tremendous need on the Rams’ roster. Jenkins had an interception in Week 1 against Matthew Stafford and Detroit. He looks like a future Pro Bowler, and it would shock me if five years from now we don’t look back and say he was the best player the Rams drafted in 2012

Q. Before the Draft, I imagined Fisher would dangle Sam Bradford as trade bait and use the second overall pick on Robert Griffin III (or Andrew Luck). Does Fisher believe in Bradford that much, or did he just needed the Draft picks more?

I think it’s a little bit of both. And with the draft class of QB’s that came out and will come out in 2013, I don’t think the market was there for Sam. That being said Fisher does like him and the talent is there. It came down to where help was needed the most. And with this Rams team that was most everywhere with QB being near the bottom of the list

Q. Bradford cannot do it alone and I don’t see Holt and Bruce on the roster. Tell me about Rams receivers. Who’s the sleeper?

Well unfortunately, there are no game breakers here and it doesn’t look like that is going to change. The offense runs through Danny Amendola. When he’s clicking with Bradford, the Rams tend to move the ball pretty well and Sam’s confidence in attempting the big play seems to go up.

If there is a sleeper, it would be second round pick Brian Quick. All signs indicate he is picking up the offense and ready to go. However, he only saw three snaps in week 1. His size and ability could be a factor. Assuming he sees more than three snaps.

Q. How should the Redskins defense attack Bradford and the Rams offense?

With center Scott Wells on injured reserve and left tackle Rodger Saffold limited at practice, the Rams may be without two-fifths of their opening day starting offensive line. And with guard Rokevious Watkins, who saw a lot of time against the Lions, missing practice due to an ankle injury, the Rams’ offensive line is suddenly being held together by scotch tape.

The Redskins should be able to generate lots of heavy rushes and force a few turnovers against a mediocre Rams offensive line.  The secondary has its deficiencies, but the Redskins’ big guys up front make up for it.  The Rams have no threatening receivers, meaning Bradford will have a long day evading pressure and throwing into traffic.

And Bradford struggles under pressure, and part of the problem appears to be a lack of awareness from his WRs not to mention drops. And Bradford will take a sack rather than toss a pick. He will certainly face pressure this week, so I expect a lot of quick passes and play-action to counter.

Q. How should RGIII and the Redskins offense attack the Rams defense?

My advice would be a heavy dose of run and RG3. While the Rams have improved tremendously in their secondary the run defense stills leave much to be desired. Because, in my opinion, the Rams will keep a spy of some sorts on Griffin that will leave some lanes open as well as the short passes underneath.

Q. Your game prediction and score?

Redskins 27 – Rams 17

The Rams have a better defense than the Saints, but not that much better.  The Redskins will find a way to put three touchdowns on the board and take a large enough lead so that they can pound the ball down St. Louis’ throat in the fourth quarter.  A turnover will be the only reason the Rams make it close, and the Redskins will dominate time of possession.  

It all seems to add up to a Redskins blowout, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves—the Redskins are still a team that finished 5-11 last season and is trying to find its identity.  There will be frustrating moments, but Washington will pull out another win on the road.

Thanks Derek. To follow the St. Louis Rams, point & click the Rams Herd blog on the Bloguin Network. 

Image Source – September 8, 2012, Leon Halip/Getty Images North America via zimbio.com