For this week’s game preview, I chatted with Patty Hseih, lead Rams writer for Aerys Sports. I asked Patty about the current state of the Rams, what can expect from them in this game and I also made sure to check in on a few former Jets (there are so many, the team has been nicknamed “Jets Midwest”).
Thanks to Patty for taking the time to answer my questions and share her insight.
1. This is obviously a big game for Brian Schottenheimer (and many former Jets, like Matthew Mulligan, Wayne Hunter, etc). Can you first tell us a little about about your initial observations on the offense Schotty has installed 11 games into the season and second, what we can expect to see on Sunday?
When Brian Schottenheimer was first hired on as offensive coordinator I was looking for one big tell. Will he go out and get a quarterbacks coach for Sam Bradford. The previous OC, the all-knowing, Josh McDaniels felt he could handle both duties and failed miserably. As a result so did Bradford’s sophomore season. Schotty earned some points there from me right off the bat as they brought in Frank Cignetti to be the dedicated mentor for Bradford who is learning his third offense in as many years. So far, so good.
Then we watched as St. Louis slowly started turning into Jets Midwest. Like you mentioned TE Matt Mulligan, C/G Rob Turner, OL Wayne Hunter, and RB Terrance Ganaway arrived to join QB Kellen Clemens who’d been here since 2011.
Overall, I’d have to say the Jets of old are doing a good job in St. Louis. Turner has filled in very nicely during C Scott Wells absence. And it seems like Mulligan and Hunter just needed a change in scenery. Both players have gotten a fresh start here in St. Louis and have played well here. For what it’s worth, Hunter has started four of the seven games since becoming a Ram.
Schottenheimer took his time installing his playbook. And even at week 11 I don’t think we’ve seen more than half of it. A lot of the delay has to do with the young receivers Chris Givens and Brian Quick taking time to develop. That and an offensive line that’s been shuffled all season due to injuries – Scott Wells, Rokevious Watkins, and Rodger Saffold.
That being said I like the direction he’s taking the Rams offense – establishing the running game which opens up the passing game. Also, Schotty isn’t trying to jam a square peg in a round hole – something I felt McDaniels did last season.
The Jets have the slight edge on pass defense (ranked 6th in the league) while suffering against the run (ranked 30th). So I see Schotty taking advantage of what he knows of Rex’s defense and pound the ball down the Jets throat. The Rams rushing tandem of Steven Jackson and 7th round draft pick Daryl Richardson will have a field day if they run as angry as they did against the 49ers last week – SJ 101 yards and DR with 58 yards.
2. Where do you think the Rams have the edge over the Jets and where do the Jets have an edge over the Rams?
The Rams have the advantage on offense, most importantly at the QB position.
Rams QB Sam Bradford consistently ranks higher than Mark Sanchez in key stats including completion percentage and passing yards per game – Bradford (62.2%, 230 ypg) and Sanchez (50.2%, 207 ypg) while having similar number of pass attempts (SB = 288, MS = 294) , TDs (both with 10), and INTs (SB = 7, MS = 9).
I’d say special teams is a wash. Rams have their rookie kicker Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein while the Jets have return man Joe McKnight who ranks 7th in punt return yards (586.)
As discussed above, the Jets have a slight advantage on pass defense with Cromartie and Revis but as a defensive unit the Rams should be able to harass Sanchez, especially off the ends with Chris Long (5 sacks) and Robert Quinn (8.5 sacks). If CB Cortland Finnegan smells fear from any of the Jets receivers he will go after them not just physically but mentally as well.
3. It seems to me that Jeff Fisher has done an excellent job creating an identity and culture for this young team. What are some things that Fisher has done that have especially resonated with the players?
The general feeling is not so much what Fisher has done but it’s been more about how he goes about his business. Running back Steven Jackson probably put it best when he said during OTA’s that this new regime isn’t “learning on the job.” Fisher and his coaching staff instantly brought sense of confidence and trust that can only really come from years of experience. They have pretty much been there and done that.
Former head coach Steve Spagnuolo ran a really tight ship – as in he was overly involved in all aspects of the team and the almost to a fault. It was almost as if a heavy burden was lifted off the shoulders of players and staff when Fisher came in. Fisher keeps the air around Rams Park much lighter and far I say, fun. Players young and old. appreciate his approach to leading this team.
For more from Patty on the Rams, check out The Pigskin Arch or follow @ThePigskinArch on Twitter.