1. The defense played well enough to win this game. Philadelphia scored touchdowns off of a blocked punt and a sack-fumble, and then had to travel just 24 yards after a Zac Stacy fumble in the third quarter. The Eagles had to move the ball 24 yards to score 21 of their points. Otherwise, the Rams’ defense allowed a touchdown pass, two field goals and a total of 328 yards to an offense that had averaged 367.5 yards and 21.5 points per game. It doesn’t look like it, but Gregg Williams’ defense was just fine against the Eagles.
2. Not only is Austin Davis the real deal, so is Benny Cunningham.
Cunningham had runs of 13, 14 and 11 yards, with the 14-yarder being a touchdown. He had seven carries for 47 yards, and shows tremendous burst through the line.
Davis completed six passes of 22 yards or more, and has three TD passes in each of his last two games. The explosiveness of the Rams’ offense in the last two games has been unlike anything we’ve seen since Marc Bulger was in his prime in 2006.
3. Brian Quick is on his way to an historic season. The last Ram receiver to have a 1,000-yard season was Torry Holt in 2007. In this day and age, it’s incomprehensible that a team can go six seasons without a 1,000-yard receiver. Quick is also on pace for a dozen touchdowns.
The last time a Rams receiver had 12 TDs in a season was Holt in 2003. So a quarter of the way through his third season, Quick is having his breakout year.
4. Should Trumaine Johnson start when he’s healthy? E.J. Gaines has played very well all season, and on Sunday had his first NFL fumble recovery and his first interception. Gaines effectively covered fellow Mizzou alum Jeremy Maclin for most of the game. He had four tackles and led the team with two passes defensed, and deserves to keep playing as long as he stays at that level.
A Rams defense that has compiled 51 and 53 sacks the last two seasons is on pace for … four sacks. That’s not Michael Brockers on pace for four, or an injured Chris Long or a statistically diminished Robert Quinn.
In a disastrous turn for this line, it had no sacks yesterday and has one for the season – and is on pace for four.
As D’Marco Farr said when we tried to come up with a name for the defense during training camp, don’t give them a name until they’ve done something.
6. Lance Kendricks must stop his false starts. Kendricks had two false starts in the opener against Minnesota and two more on Sunday. That’s inexcusable.
Players always say that the most valuable thing they have is playing time. Kendricks is a great guy and a talented performer, but his pre-snap penalties have to stop. If the only way to get him to focus is to take away some playing time, the Rams have rookie Alex Bayer and Cory Harkey available to play the position. Kendricks turned a second-and-6 into a second-and-11 (although Stacy bailed him out with a 15-yard run). His second turned a second-and-7 into a second-and-12 that forced the Rams to punt. And after that punt…
7. Ray-Ray Armstrong committed a ridiculous unnecessary-roughness penalty. At some point, the Rams plan to be good. If you have those plans, you can’t be giving the other team 15 yards because of stupid penalties. So far, you can’t trace a Rams loss to Armstrong’s foolish and selfish actions. At some point, it’s going to happen and will devastate a team, like Richie Incognito did during his Rams career.
8. Austin Pettis. Pettis is on the team because of his excellent hands. He has to haul in at least one of those passes in the final minute of play. Catching one of those balls would have given Davis a great chance to get into the end zone and finish off the comeback.
9. I’m concerned about Jake Long.
I fear that his ACL injury has compromised him. In a position where you have to get low, it doesn’t seem like he can. While the rest of the offensive line is able to get into a three-point stance for running plays, it doesn’t seem like Long can even bend down into that stance.
He had the tough play when he wasn’t able to recover a fumble that allowed Philly’s Cedric Thornton to score the Eagles’ third touchdown. If indeed he is too hurt to be great, one would hope Greg Robinson is close to being able to start at left tackle.
10. At the end of the day, I’m glass half full on this loss. I was at the 1986 game at Busch Stadium when the Cardinals trailed Tampa Bay 28-3 in the fourth quarter, but rallied with four touchdowns for a 31-28 win. Those kinds of wins can energize a team, and a Rams win would have done that with a victory.
As bad as the first half was, hopefully this young team learned some things in the last 20 minutes at the Linc. They were up 21-0 against Dallas 24 minutes into that game, then in the next five-and-a-half quarters were outscored 68-10, then ran off another 21-0 in the last 15:03 at Philly. They know what they’re capable of. Hopefully they’ll carry that last quarter into next Monday night’s game vs. San Francisco.
By the way, did you notice that in the Rams’ three losses, they’ve allowed 34 points each time?