After being kind enough to appears as a guest on Revenge of the Birds Radio for our preview episode, 3K from Turf Show Times also was willing to answer a few more questions as we lead up the the Week 10 battle between the Arizona Cardinals and St. Louis Rams on Sunday.
Here are my questions for him and his responses to them:
ROTB: So, what exactly happened with the pass rush? The numbers were terrible, but then the floodgates opened against the Niners. What gives?
TST: Well, it was some from column A (the Rams were due) and some from column B (the Niners' O-line...woof). You guys have done a solid job at avoiding sacks so I'm interested to see this battle on Sunday. There's just no excuse for a line that stars Robert Quinn and rookie standout Aaron Donald with complementary players in Michael Brockers, Kendall Langford, Williams Hayes and Eugene Sims to allow the paltry sack deficiency from the early run of the season.
Opposing teams have often started the game by avoiding the deeper passing game to ensure they get the ball out quick and negate the Rams' pass rush. That's fine. The problem has been that when they open the playbook up, the Rams just aren't able to get sufficient pressure even when DC Gregg Williams dials up some of his more exotic blitz packages. The 49ers game was a perfect example of how big of an impact the pass rush can have in completely neutralizing an opposing offense. The Rams have to get after it again on Sunday.
ROTB: How different does this team look than a season ago?
TST: Completely and yet not at all. Obviously people will point to the QB position with Sam Bradford having logged the first half of 2013 before we went to Kellen Clemens; 2014 started with Sam Bradford before the preseason injury handed the reins to Shaun Hill who lost the job in a single half to Austin Davis. With a couple of rookies carving a role out in the first team, there are some other significant personnel moves that make the 2014 roster different than 2013. But the product's been the same. The offense has gotten back to it's old inept ways, the defense, for all the talent, continues to find new opportunities to make boneheaded plays and the coaching overall remains substandard. We're the Rams, bruh.
ROTB: The Rams have been so pesky in the NFC West. Why is that?
TST: I think part of it is that for all of the misgivings, the roster is stacked with natural talent. Sometimes that's enough to manifest itself in the form of a couple wins against division guys. There's not any rational explanation because while the Rams can pull off wins against Seattle and San Francisco on the road, they're Ram enough to get blown out by Kansas City and Minnesota. 21-0 lead over the Cowboys? Yeah, we can find a way to lose that. We're weird.
ROTB: Who are players to watch on either side of the ball on Sunday?
TST: Tre Mason seemingly has carved out the starting running back gig, but I wouldn't be surprised if Jeff Fisher opts back into the running back by committee mess we've toyed with for most of the season. This staff relies on "unpredictability" more than actual results, so who knows. I'd also point to the #2 overall pick from the 2014 NFL Draft Greg Robinson who is an absolute mauler. He's capable of dumb levels of strength that allow him to just plow people in the running game. Outside of the rookies, I struggle to come up with something notable...just like the Rams' offense (ZING!).
On defense, obviously Aaron Donald's the easy pick. He's just too naturally talented.
ROTB: If the Rams were to win, how would it happen?
TST: Well, it'd have to take a solid defensive performance. The shootouts the Rams have been involved in haven't worked out well, and in two of the games, the offense was so putrid the defense just couldn't keep up over 60 minutes. So they might have to pull some points from the defense or special teams. The Rams barely found ways to avoid losses in each of their three wins, so it's not as if this team has really WON a game outright. We've just avoided losses three times. So it's going to take something in that vein to get a win on Sunday...unless the NFL Parity Deity strikes again and the Rams win by 20 or something. I don't mess with the football gods, because they're capable of some creepy stuff. They're going to make someone lose to Oakland and that's a power I don't want aimed at me.
Thanks to 3k for taking some time to chat with us. I also answered questions for Turf Show Times. You can read those here.
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