• The Rams don’t have much in the way of playmakers on offense outside of Steven Jackson, but they do have a rookie WR that is a definite threat. I’m referring to Chris Givens. Givens had no catches Week 1. However, he did get behind the defense by a good 4 yards on one play, but Sam Bradford didn’t have the arm to lead him for the score. Bradford got the ball out a little late and couldn’t get the ball out far enough to catch up with Givens, which gave the Lions DBs a chance to recover and break up the play. But’s this should give you an idea of Givens’ speed/potential:
Here’s Givens blowing right by Giants 3rd round pick Jayron Hosley (0:25 mark):
Again, the Rams don’t have much on offense, but they do have to be mindful of Givens’ speed. Otherwise, I see total domination by the Redskins on that side of the ball. It’s amazing to me that the Skins played almost strictly man coverage against the Saints Week 1, and did so in impressive fashion. The linebackers (specifically London Fletcher) were outstanding on Jimmy Graham. The personnel the Skins will face this week will be much weaker at almost every position with the exception of RB, and even that’s debatable. The Skins’ front 7 was excellent last week. Ryan Kerrigan had a monster game, pressuring Drew Brees all afternoon. Orakpo and Cofield were good. Stephen Bowen got himself a couple of batted passes at the line. Just a really solid performance through and through. They should dominate the Rams on Sunday.
• The Rams’ defense, however, is monumentally improved from last year:
The front 4 is OK. That group gets a lot of credit for being a really talented unit. Robert Quinn was a high pick, but I didn’t see much out of him against Detroit, although he did have a sack. The one player that I do respect is Chris Long. I thought he did a good job getting off the ball at the snap. He was the only Ram to get any kind of consistent pressure on Stafford. Long’s sack numbers since he entered the league:
The linebackers aren’t an ideal group. I do like James Laurinaitis in the middle, but the Redskins may try to exploit JoLonn Dunbar, who in my opinion, is more suited to be a role player, as opposed to an every down player. (Although in fairness to JoLonn, he had a nice pick of Stafford last week, and a few nice plays in the run game). Rocky McIntosh also gets some playing time at LB. McIntosh started off the season strong last year, then completely fall apart and was benched for Riley Perry. The Skins will almost certainly look to burn McIntosh when he’s on the field.
But the one area where the Rams are significantly better is on the back end. The Rams had double digit CBs go on injured reserve last season. That’s unreal. This year, it looks like that unit might be a strength. They signed Cortland Finnegan, and drafted Janoris Jenkins in the 2nd round, while Quintin Mikell remains a solid presence at safety. Jenkins and Finnegan both had huge interceptions. Finnegan had a pick 6, and Jenkins picked off a Stafford pass with the Lions in the red zone. This group is certainly better than the Saints secondary the Skins faced last week. Nice challenge on an otherwise bad team for RG3.
• I thought the Rams OL was actually pretty good against the Lions’ front 4 in the first half. However, they lost Scott Wells in the 3rd quarter. LG Robert Turner moved over to center and rookie Rokevious Watkins came in and played LG. Watkins got eaten alive by Corey Williams. Of note is that LT Roger Saffold is questionable. He got hurt last week, was down for a while, and went off in a cart. Neck injury. If he can’t go, former Jet Wayne Hunter will likely start. That would be an enormous loss – Wayne Hunter is awful.
• The Rams have a couple of rookies kicking the football for them. The kicker, Greg Zuerlein has a cannon for a leg. Buried a 48 yarder that had plenty of more distance if it had been necessary. The punter bobbled a snap on one punt, and if the Lions had brought any kind of punt rush they would have blocked it.
Game prediction: The Redskins are better. That’s as simply as I can put it. Not as much explosion this week. Thinking 24-13 Skins, but closer than the score would appear.