How do you spell "St. Louis Rams?" T-R-A-P.
After the Washington Redskins eye opening adventure last Sunday in New Orleans, fans expect the team to crush the Lambs. It's a dangerous attitude. The 'Skins could manage no better than 2-2 against the Rams in the last four games of the series, and barely that. It shows how far Washington fell after Joe Gibbs' abrupt departure in 2007.
Robert Griffin III displayed excellent execution of a game plan designed not to challenge him beyond his experience. It rubbed off on the rest of the team. He did it against the NFL's worst defense, according to Football Outsider's preseason ranking. The Rams defense is not the Saints defense. The Rams defense is tougher than the Saints.
Don't be fooled by St. Louis 27-23 loss to Detroit. The Rams came within a whisker of an upset – the Lions' winning score came in the game's last ten seconds. More to the point, the Rams defense scored 13 points off turnovers. Two names, Jeff Fisher and Cortland Finnegan, should warn you that St. Louis is no place for sloppy play.
The Sportsbook set a 3.5-point spread in Washington's favor. Washington should beat that spread unless the players fall for the trap. This is a strength vs. weakness thing. The defensive front seven is the strongest part of the team, RGIII notwithstanding. The Rams are missing center Scott Wells (foot, 8 weeks) and tackle Roger Saffold (see below). Tackle Barry Richardson and guard Rokevious Watkins (now OUT, see below) are new to the team, so they are still working out their timing.
Washington's line of attack is through the interior of the Rams' O-line to stifle Steven Jackson and collapse the pocket on QB Sam Bradford who is far less mobile than RGIII. Bradford did not have a great day against the Lions, no surprise there, but he was efficient (7.9 yards-per-attempt, 105.1 passer rating).
Bradford has been bedeviled by poor pass protection since his arrival in St. Louis. He is on his third offensive coordinator in three years. Washington fans know how that hurts a young quarterback. Yet, Bradford can beat a low scoring team. He is 1-1 against the Redskins.
Griffin III had a hand in half the offense last week with 26 pass attempts and 10 rushing attempts. The Saints did a better job coping with the Redskins zone-read spread offense than the score indicated, but Griffin was so elusive that he defeated their defensive scheme. Now the 'Skins face Rams DEs Chris Long and Robert Quinn and MLB James Laurinaitis. Griffin's abilities are enough to momentarily freeze a pass rush, but don't expect another 40-point burst against the Rams.
St. Louis has a clue how the Shanahan's are using Griffin who is entering his second NFL game. The Rams will scheme to defeat RGIII's pre-snap reads. If I knew how to do that, I would be a coach, not a blogger, but expect St. Louis to avoid a lot of variation in defensive alignments to force Griffin to read less and guess more.
Shanahan says #Rams are in a good situation after just one offseason with Jeff Fisher at the helm. "They're right there already."— Redskins (@Redskins) September 12, 2012
Bottom line, while the Redskins and their fans see this game as "winnable," the Rams see the Redskins as "beatable."
Hear Redskins Hog Heaven's game commentary on your TV set as we watch the game thanks to the techno-magic of Let Me hear Ya. Follow the link to my profile page and click your way through the instructions. I promise a completely Redskins-biased view based on reality.
Kick-off is 4:05 PM ET. I will start yakking at 4:00 PM.
Pierre Garçon is Questionable for the game. ESPN's Adam Schefter says Garçon is unlikely to play. My long years of experience in fantasy football taught me that "questionable" players always seem to play.
Rams OG Rokevious Watkins is OUT. OT Roger Saffold has been downgraded from Probable to Questionable. (See Garçon comment above.)
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Image Source: August 9, 2008, Doug Benc/Getty Images North America via zimbio.com.