Notes and Grades from PFF: Rams week 1

Brandon Gibson beats the unbeatable Nnamdi Asomugha
Brandon Gibson had one of the few positive plays of the day in the passing game, beating Nnamdi Asomugha.

The folks at Pro Football Focus have taken a look at the Rams-Eagles matchup, and the grades are about what you’d expect — not a lot of positives anywhere on the board. However, there were some items that stood out for closer inspection. Here are a few points that I found interesting.

  • The Eagles’ “Wide 9″ defensive alignment caused real problems for Saffold and Smith.

    Jason Smith had the worst individual grade of the game, which is not that surprising considering that he still struggles with his pass blocking technique. Having a rusher come at you from a severe angle forces you to drop back more quickly, and as Dr. Ram has pointed out, dropping back is not Smith’s forte.

  • About that weakside linebacker position… Leber isn’t exactly owning it.

    Leber played only 29 of 71 snaps, as did Brady Poppinga, and the majority of them came on the strong side according to the PFF gradebook. They were kind not to give Leber a missed tackle on the day, as I saw at least one chance missed to take down LeSean McCoy in the backfield.

    Partly, this is a function of Spagnuolo’s defense, which plays a lot of 5 and 6-defensive back alignments, bringing the outside linebackers off the field. But Chris Chamberlain was also still very involved in the linebacker rotation, a bit of a surprise considering what price the Rams spent in free agency to bring in Leber and Poppinga.

  • Harvey Dahl is Jason Brown’s new best friend.

    This game was Brown’s first positively graded game since Week 14 of last year, and the pairing of Brown and Dahl earned the only positive grades in run-blocking for the day. 6 of Cadillac’s 19 runs came through the gap between center and right guard, averaging 5.5 yards per.

  • Bradford should have tested the Eagles’ secondary more often.

    Nnamdi Asomugha is apparently a few steps shy of the Darth Vader reputation that he’s acquired over the years. Bradford targeted him twice, and came away with a meaty pass interference call and a 31-yard completion to Brandon Gibson. The result was the worst individual game grade for Asomugha in three years. The only cornerback to grade positively for the Eagles was Asante Samuel, who Bradford appeared to target most often.

  • Al Harris played only three snaps last week.

    With news that Ron Bartell’s neck injury (first reported as a “shoulder stinger”) will cost him the season, don’t expect a lot of Harris in his stead. Justin King likely gets promoted to the starting job, and the Rams will try to get creative with their nickel packages.

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