In this week’s installment of “Know Your Packers Enemy,” I talked with Ryan Van Bibber of Turf Show Times, the Rams SB Nation blog, to preview Packers-Rams.
Let’s get to the questions.
ZACH KRUSE: Obviously, 0-4 isn’t where the Rams thought they’d be at this point in the season. Does this feel like a lost season after just four games, or can this ship still be righted? Where does the franchise go from here?
RYAN VAN BIBBER: It does feel like a lost season. With the injuries the team has suffered, most notably at cornerback, those playoff expectations seem unreasonable. If they can play solid, competitive football from here on out, then the current coaching staff and front office will survive. If not, there will be some changes next year. Spagnuolo has already acknowledged, in so many words, that there will be changes among his assistants next year.
ZK: I’ve watched a lot of Sam Bradford during both his rookie year in 2010 and the start of this season. He’s always been impressive to me—one of the good young quarterbacks in the game. But it’s the guys around him who are always letting the Rams offense down. Is that a fair assessment? The blame for the offensive struggles (last in yards/game and points/game) belongs on the shoulders of the offensive line and receiving corps, correct? Or does Bradford deserve criticism too?
RVB: Bradford’s definitely in a little bit of a sophomore slump. He’s struggled picking up blitzes and not making the kind of quick throws he needs to make to avoid pressure. However, his supporting cast has been terrible, especially at receiver. The loss of Danny Amendola really hurt, because he was a quick, reliable option underneath. Mike Sims-Walker should be playing better than he is, but this is as bad a group of receivers as you’ll find in the NFL. If not for the dropped passes, Bradford’s completion percentage would be closer to 60 percent.
ZK: Let’s talk about the Rams Week 4 loss to the Redskins. Rarely do you see a team self-destruct at home like the Rams did in that game, as St. Louis dropped six passes, had nine penalties and allowed seven sacks. But despite all that, the Rams had a couple of chances at the end to tie the score at 17. Is there anyway that result could have been a selling point for Steve Spagnuolo going into the bye? Could he tell his team, “Look guys, we had all those mistakes, and still had a chance to win the game against the NFC East leader”?
RVB: They did score 10 fourth quarter points, but it never really seemed close. The drive that could have tied it ended with sacks and penalties. I think the team finally had enough, and some of the veteran players took a more assertive role in the locker room. We’ll see if that worked.
ZK: What is the Rams injury situation looking like for this week?
RVB: Considering everyone’s already on IR, it’s not too bad. Starting RG Jacob Bell has a hamstring issue, that’s the biggest one to watch. He is expected to play.
ZK: I can’t figure out the Rams defense in 2011. This isn’t a group with a bunch of no name guys trying to hold it together. There is some good players on that side of the ball, and the head coach leans towards defense. What’s ailing this group?
RVB: That’s a question lots of people would like to have an answer for this season. It starts up front. DT Fred Robbins is wearing down, and has played poorly this year. That hurts the run and the ability of the line to pressure. The linebackers, especially on the outside, were upgraded this year, but the results are the same. They still struggle with the scheme and tackling has been inexcusably poor.
ZK: The Packers are 5-0 and the Rams are winless, but the fan in you has to see a way that St. Louis can travel to Green Bay and get their first win, right? What would the Rams have to do to shock the football world this weekend?
RVB: If Aaron Rodgers had the flu, the Rams might win. I’m a fan, but I know enough about football to look at Rodgers and the Packers’ receivers and know that the Rams cornerbacks are no match for them. The key for the Rams this week is to play tough and not make mistakes. That’s a win at this point.
ZK: If you’re in the prediction business, give me your honest, gut call on how Packers-Rams will turn out Sunday.
RVB: I’d be shocked if Green Bay didn’t put up 40 points or more.
Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working
on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.