Making the Grade: Rams vs Chiefs

Lance Kendricks catches a pass against the Chiefs. Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images
Lance Kendricks and the Rams receivers scored well this week – as did the rest of the team.

Quarterbacks: A-

Sam Bradford was flawless on the first two drives.  Flawless is not my opinion, it is fact.  8-8 for 76 yards. By the end of the second drive, he had a couple of key third down conversions and a pair of touchdowns.  I thought he showed much improvement in his pocket presence.  He protected himself better when it was time to take the hit.  He even unleashed a little ground attack.

The one play that kept him from having a perfect night was the interception he threw inside his own 10 yard line.  While the throw was a result of Bradford staring down a receiver, credit the Chiefs’ pro bowl linebacker, Derrick Johnson for making a pretty athletic play.  It should be noted that the decision was the right one.  Salas was left open in the slot, had he whipped his head around faster we may be talking about a third perfect drive.  

AJ Feeley had some good moments, completing 8 of 13 passes for 64 yards.  He did throw one pick.  I’m not sure if it was the result of a bad read by Feeley, but it did look like some miscommunication between he and Donnie Avery on the play.  Thad Lewis went 0-2.  He threw a little behind Mardy Gilyard on long third down late in the game.  The ball may have been catchable though.  

Running backs: A

We saw the return of Steven Jackson.  Last week, he came back.  This week, he played like it.  SJ39 looked nearly unstoppable on the opening drives of the game.  He bounced a couple runs outside and you saw the speed was back.   When he got to the perimeter, his handed out powerful stiff arms that render Chief defenders all but helpless.  Then you knew the power was back.  I also thought he looked a little more patient.  Jackson would go on to carry the ball 15 times Friday night for an average of 4.8.  

Credit the Rams’ offensive line.  The five upfront along with Bajema, did a great job giving SJ39 room to run.  The Rams would end the night with a 170 yards rushing. His backup Cadillac held his own adding another 53 yards on 12 carries.  A big improvement over last week.

Offensive Line: A

I thought both the first unit and the second unit played much better.  The Rams finished with a 170 yards on the ground.  Anytime you can do that to another team is impressive.  

Again, we saw a tougher group up front.  It seems like a different attitude this year. Perhaps, the addition of Dahl has sparked a fire on a few others.  You continually see aggressive blocking until the whistle and in Dahl’s case sometimes afterwards.

Receivers: B+

Gibson and Amendola got their reps in early and called it a night.  Donnie Avery led the Rams with two catches and finally got some work in with the first unit.  Mike Sim-Walker’s only catch came wide open in the back of the endzone.  

As like last week, I thought the guys at the bottom of the competition did nothing to separate themselves.  Gilyard led the group with three catches and looked impressive at times, but then faltered by dropping the ball on a key third down late.  DX did not do much, catching one of the three balls thrown his way for three yards.  Unfortunately, one catch for three yards is more than we can say about Austin Pettis.  Greg  Salas had a racked up some YAC after a pop pass.  He caught another one with a defender draped over him.  I think he’s the only one that has shown anything in the passing game.  

As for the tight ends, Lance Kendricks has seemed to established a nice relationship with Bradford.  Kendricks led all Rams with 26 yards on two catches.  On a sidenote, it was nice to see him standing attently next to Bradford throughout the game.  It seems to me he really wants to be a contributor to this team.  He has been impressive thus far.  Billy Bajema added a catch, but was a big part in the ground game success.  

Defensive Line: A

Last week was not their shining moment.  They couldn’t stop the run.  They failed to get pressure.  This was not the case this week.   

The league’s best rushing attack in 2010 of JaMarcus Charles and Thomas Jones were held to 8 yards on four carries.  The group also did a much better job bringing pressure.  Hall and Quinn both had a sack.  

Linebacker: B+

This week this group did a much better job stopping the run.  Leber and Poppinga did a great job.  Captain Laurinaitis dropped an interception on what was otherwise a sharp night. His backup Josh Hull led all Rams in tackles with 5 solo.   

I would have liked to see some better coverage out of this group later in the game.  The Chiefs’ backup tight ends caught three passes for 66 yards.  The most notable one was Cody Slate torching rookie Jabara Williams on a wheel route for a 32 yards touchdown and the Chiefs only score.  

Secondary: B+

The first unit looked sharp.  Quinton Mikell had a nice pass break up to start the game.  Bradley Fletcher continued to shine.  Ron Bartell contributed.  Darian Stewart did well in his first start adding four tackles.  

The first unit did their job – holding Bowe and Breaston to 3 catches for 25 yards.  The rest of the group was less than admirable at times.  The Chiefs’ backup quarterback picked on inexperience and the lack of depth at the corner position.  Palko and Stanzi combined for 200 yards in the air and a touchdown a little over 2 and half quarters.  

Special Teams: A

Surprise, Surprise.  Josh Brown averaged 42.6 yards a kick and banged out a 58 yarder.  The coverage units were very good.  Dom Curry certainly made his case for making the team by coming close on blocking a couple of punts. But Robert Quinn stole the show with a rip move inside and extension to block a Chiefs field goal try in the 4th quarter that would have brought them within a point.