The Rams are putting together a terrific defensive unit.
Janoris Jenkins and Cortland Finnegan are quickly emerging as one of the best cornerback duos in the NFL. Chris Long and Robert Quinn are both sacking the opposing QB with regularity from their defensive end spots. James Laurinaitis is one of the best middle linebackers in the business.
When Michael Brockers (No. 14 overall pick in the 2012 draft) returns from a high ankle sprain to team up with fellow defensive tackle Kendall Langford, the Rams defense should be even better.
That's a scary thought for opponents.
The Rams' D kept this game close. They held the Bears to 274 total yards for the game. A deeper look reveals the Bears only gained 80 yards in the second half - and only four yards in the third quarter - against the Rams' stingy defense.
Stock Going Down - Rams O-Line
Sam Bradford got sacked six times. The Rams' rushing attack was so impotent that they only attempted 15 runs by the running backs.
The Rams' offensive line gotdominated.
If you don't think the Rams are drafting a left tackle this April, you're crazy.
Stock Going Down - Sam Bradford
Sam Bradford has been sacked 11 times through the first three games of the season. That means he is on pace to get sacked 59 times this season, assuming he stays healthy all 16 games.
Same old offensive line, same old Rams.
Sam Bradford is a good player. He proved that last week. The difference between last week and this week was the Redskins lost two starting defensive pass rushers—Adam Cariker and Bryan Orakpo.
So, the Rams' O Line didn't have to face an elite pass-rusher and they did okay.
This week, against an elite pass rush (the Bears' D is clearly one of the best in the NFL), the Rams' offensive line showed that the game plan has to be adjusted. The Rams simply can't afford to leave their tackles one on one against edge pass rushers.
So I'm putting Bradford in my "stock down" section simply because he is on pace to get sacked so many times this season, and that would be the third season in a row he took that kind of beating.
This is a recipe for how you ruin a good young QB.
Stock Going Down - Brian Shottenheimer
If I were running the St. Louis Rams—and let me be clear, I'm not—this would have been my sit down talk with Rams' offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer before the season started:
"Brian, you know we were 2-14 last year, right? We're coming off of the worst 5-year stretch in the history of the NFL, so we're basically starting at ground zero here. What I'm trying to tell you is, nobody expects you to lead this team to the Super Bowl this season, okay.
Now Brian, we spent the No. 1 overall pick on Sam Bradford back in 2010. We think Bradford is going to be special. We think he's going to be so good that we traded 'the RG3 pick' to the Redskins last year. The thing is, Bradford has taken a beating since we drafted him, mainly because we drafted Jason Smith—who was supposed to be our franchise left tackle—the year before we drafted Sam.
So Brian, what I'm basically saying is, our O Line is awful. They're just flat out terrible. We signed Scott Wells as a free agent and Harvey Dahl is pretty good, but other than that, we have a bunch of question marks up and down this offensive line. Even if we stay 100 percent healthy—which is not going to happen—you're going to have to keep extra blockers in there to help protect Sam.
So Brian, here are my goals for our 'non Super Bowl winning offense' in 2012:
1) Protect Sam Bradford
2) Protect Sam Bradford
3) Protect Sam Bradford
Brian, I don't care how you do it, just protect Sam Bradford. Keep a fullback in to block. Keep an extra tight end in to block. Play six offensive lineman at the same time. Ask the cheerleaders to help block. Get the vendors to try to trip somebody. Run the ball on every single play—literally—if that is what it takes to keep Sam Bradford healthy.
Because we're not going to win the Super Bowl this year, but with all these extra picks coming, we're going to be really, really good in a couple of years, assuming Bradford isn't afraid of his own shadow by that point. So keep him healthy.
One more thing...try to play that Quick kid we drafted No. 33 overall out of Appalachian State. Because, you know, Sam needs all the help he can get. "