Rams vs Giants: Post mortem with ProFootballFocus

Chris Long got a game ball from Pro Football Focus’ analysis.

The Pro Football Focus crew has reviewed the game tape, and offered their take on the St Louis Rams’ individual performances in Monday Night’s loss to the New York Giants. There were several bright spots mixed in with the expected negative scores, and a few grades that leave us scratching our heads. 

PFF gave their game ball to Chris Long in their summary of the Rams-Giants game, but here are a few notes and points that I found interesting. 

Prior to the game, I set the over/under on Danario Alexander at 15 plays. With 16 snaps, he hit the “over,” but just barely. I have to point out a correction that Jeff Roman at RamsGab made for me — the new Giants’ stadium field is not grass, it’s one of the next-generation turfs that is supposed to replicate grass. Still, though, in terms of making the most of limited snaps you couldn’t ask for more than what DX provided. Even with 25% work, he is a game-changing player, and the Rams absolutely must find a way to make him active each week.

Craig Dahl graded positively in coverage? Really? I’m scratching my head on this one, as he was badly turned around on Dominik Hixon’s touchdown catch, and rarely if ever offered help over the top. He had one breakup that I saw on a deep ball to Manningham, but that was his lone positive play, as he was pulled for Darian Stewart in the game’s second half. It might be worth going back to the game tape on Dahl, to see whether his play challenges the conventional wisdom that he is a liability in coverage.

Justin King was actually decent in coverage, but graded poorly against the run. First, the expected: King was Eli Manning’s favorite target, getting thrown at seven times and giving up five completions, both game-highs. But only one of those was a big play, a 25-yarder to Manningham. It surprised me a little to see King grading poorly in the run game, as he can get after it. Perhaps it was simply a size mismatch, missing two tackles against the Giants’ jumbo-sized tandem of backs.

Al Harris played 28 snaps, a positive sign. With the Rams’ cornerback depth at critical levels, having Harris be able to step up and play the primary nickel role is a very welcome thing.

Your Tight End snap distribution: Michael Hoomanawanui: 50 snaps. Lance Kendricks: 36 snaps. Billy Bajema: 26 snaps. Bajema graded poorly across the board in this one, giving up a sack to Justin Tuck and dropping a critical pass late in the game. He’s been a very positive contributor for this team in the past, but he needs to get sorted out this season. Not looking good in the physical side of the game early on.

Bradford is still struggling under pressure, but finally made someone pay for blitzing him. The key to stopping Sam Bradford has been easy over the last eight or so games — just send extra rushers his way, and he’ll force a hasty dump-off underneath. But in this game, he did a better job of keeping his eyes downfield and finding the mismatch. He completed 9 passes for 178 yards against the extra-man rush. He also threw 11 incomplete and took a sack, but overall this is an important sign in Bradford’s development.

Bradford’s ability to make plays under duress, and his confidence to throw the deep ball and take advantage of McDaniels’ aggressive gameplan led to his single-highest PFF game grade ever. It might not have resulted in a win, but Bradford did take a big step forward on Monday. And it makes you wonder whether, in fact, losing Amendola was a good thing for this offense.