Congrats on the win, where in the hell did that come from?
Thanks, but I have no idea. The Rams haven't played a single game of complete football since our game against the Colts last year nearly a year ago exactly. That they haven't all season and were able to come up with it against you guys of all teams...there's not a lot of rationality here. Every week, we've been waiting for the pass rush to pair with capable secondary play. We've been waiting for the running game to prop up a mistake-free passing game. We've been waiting for Pro Bowl punter Johnny Hekker to live up to billing while kicker Greg Zuerlein takes advantage of the slight advantage his offense gives him. It all fell together. I can't explain how everything came together in one game when we've struggled to get two or three or those before Sunday.
Why are the Rams 4-6? I completely overlooked them due to their record and struggles at quarterback, but they clearly have the makings of a very good football team.
The simple answer is that we haven't done the things we did on Sunday consistently: run the ball often, win the field position battle, maintain a high level of pressure on opposing QBs...it's just been absent too often. The frustration comes about though because, as you say, they have the makings of a very good team...and yet they're 4-6. The incompatibility in that statement lies at the feet of the coaching staff, and it's honestly painful to deal with. To have the talent on the roster and not have things come together yet again is just incredibly frustrating.
Heading into the game, the Rams' offensive line was thought to be a big weakness. What did the Rams do to protect Shaun Hill so well and open up such holes in the running game for Tre Mason?
Well, I'd have to go back to the All-22 to say anything with any specificity, but I think the quick passes were something that helped. It's also something that opposing offenses have relied on to neutralize the Rams' pass rush. It helps get the QB in a rhythm and opens things up on the sidelines. So that helped Shaun Hill pretty obviously. The running game though was different in volume than it has been all year. The Rams just haven't leaned on it to move the ball and help set up field goal opportunities the way they did Sunday, and given how well it worked I'm even less capable of explaining why. Sometimes in order to get quality you have to have the quantity of opportunities to get guys in a groove and begin to pick up on what their opponents are struggling with, akin to a baseball lineup facing a good starting pitcher the third time through the order. So more than anything, I think it was an issue of playing to the Rams' strengths and allowing them to work through the kinks instead of getting away from them.
Did you see enough in Shaun Hill to say he's "the guy" for the next few weeks? The rest of the season?
Oh sure, but that's because I don't think it really matters. In the NFL, you've got maybe a dozen quarterbacks who you know are starting quality or, let's say, special. You guys obviously have someone in that category. Then you've got maybe half a dozen who you can hope turn into someone in that first category. Guys like RGIII or any of the year two guys or rookies. But about half the league is just playing it out until they get someone who's in one of those two categories. The Rams are in that dead space where it doesn't matter if it's Shaun Hill or Austin Davis or whomever they could've traded for at any point since Sam Bradford got hurt. Hell, you could make a strong argument that Bradford's in the same group as Hill and Davis as just a time eater. So is Hill the guy for the rest of the season? Sure. It doesn't make much difference. But that's part of the problem that the Rams are now relying on a 34-year old career backup to spearhead what should be one of the league's impressive young teams. Instead, he's just captaining the ship so that we don't get marooned.
How do you see the rest of the Rams' season playing out? Will they play "spoiler" to other good teams the rest of the way, or can they even push for a playoff spot?
Yeah, as much as Rams fans might be buoyed by the win, it's naïve to think we could challenge for a playoff spot when you look at some of the losses that preceded Sunday. I guess we could hold on to the mathematical possibility as long as we can just to maintain some positivity about the 2014 season, but the reality is that's about all the Rams have right now. So yeah, they've got some spoiler opportunities left on the schedule with San Diego, Arizona and Seattle all remaining. It just sucks that this is where the team finds itself in year three of Head Coach Jeff Fisher's tenure...which seems awfully similar to where they started.
Good luck to the Rams the rest of the way, and a Mile High Salute to 3k for sharing his thoughts!