Young team growing up

Five notes from the Rams 36-33 victory over Denver, their first road win of the year…

1) I was as upset as anyone that the Rams’ 33-13 lead evaporated, but when the final gun sounded, I was euphoric. Yes, they blew a big lead. However, they blew big leads in Tampa Bay and in San Francisco and LOST the games. This was a huge learning experience for a young team. Learning how to win is part of the deal. We’ve never dealt with this in St. Louis, because the ’99 Rams went from worst-to-first so quickly, but these young Rams have to learn everything. And they took a big step in Denver.

2) Sam Bradford is on pace to have one of the best rookie passing seasons in NFL history. After the Denver game, Bradford is on pace to throw the ball 601 times, which would eclipse Peyton Manning’s 575 attempts as a rookie. Bradford’s pace would have him complete 363 passes, which would blow past Manning’s 326 completions in 1998. Manning had 3,739 yards as a rookie…Bradford is on pace for 3,587, so he’ll have a shot at that, too. Manning’s rookie record 26 TD passes as a rookie is being chased, too…with Bradford on pace for 25. Charlie Conerly is in second place on that list with 22, and Dan Marino is third with 20 TD’s in 1983.

In terms or rookie completion percentage, Ben Roethlisberger finished at 66% as a rookie. Bradford is at 60.5%, and Matt Ryan was at 61.1%. Sam also has a chance to have the lowest interception rate among rookies in history. Charlie Batch’s was 1.98%, and Marino’s was 2.03%. At the moment, Sam the Ram is on pace for a rookie interception rate of 2.16%.

Throw in the fact that Bradford has a Rams franchise that was 6-42 over the last three years at 5-6 this year…and you have one of, if not THE best rookie season ever for a quarterback.

3) Were there really 255 players in the draft that had higher upside than Danario Alexander? Really? The guy who led NCAA in receiving yards last season? Come on. The Buffalo Bills took Willis McGahee out of Miami with the knowledge that he’d miss a year with a knee injury. The Rams did the same with Richie Incognito. And nobody wanted to roll the dice on DX? Thank you, NFL.

4) How great is it to see the Rams defensive draft picks stepping up? In the last Denver series, 2008 second overall pick Chris Long earned sack number 6.5 on the season, dropping Kyle Orton for a six-yard loss. Next play, on second 16 from the 28, Orton throws deep for Daniel Graham, and 2009 second rounder James Laurinaitis knocks it away. Then after Orton missed badly on third down, Long hit his arm on fourth down to seal the win. Good for those guys.

5) One of Steve Spagnuolo’s favorite stats is third down efficiency. The Rams held Denver to 1-9 in that department on Sunday, yet allowed 33 points. They have to do better on first down, primarily, but the opposition fourth and long conversions are alarming.

This team is growing up…and they sprouted up bigtime Sunday in Denver. The Rams own first place in the NFC West after eleven games. Under .500 or not, that’s amazing.