Rams’ Putrid Pass Defense and the Cam Newton Factor

Rams cornerbacks need to start contesting passes more. The starting three – Janoris Jenkins, Trumaine Johnson and Cortland Finnegan – have combined for 10. That’s low.

Four NFL players have 10 or more.

Fourteen have eight or more.

Finnegan made four starts, and the Rams defense faced somewhere in the neighborhood of 120-130 pass attempts while he was on the field. He has zero passes defensed.

Jenkins has six, putting him tied for 25th.

Johnson has just four.

Opposing teams complete 67 percent of their passes against the Rams – one of the highest rates in the league.

Carson Palmer had his best passer rating this season against the Rams at 96.6.

Matt Ryan had his highwater mark of the year in terms of passer rating against the Rams.

Tony Romo: second-best passer rating of the year.

Colin Kaepernick: second-best day throwing the ball.

Oh, and flipping Blaine Gabbert had a 59.2 passer rating against the Rams – easily his best day of 2013.

Matt Schaub was on his way to his second-best outing until injury struck.

In fact T. J Yates is the only QB whose numbers did not improve from the week before after playing the Rams (excluding Palmer, of course).

A word on the Cam Newton-vs.-Sam Bradford clash. It’s more than just a battle of former great college quarterbacks. It’s more like a clash of NFL offensive philosophy. Traditional pro style vs. a professional college-style attack.

Newton isn’t exactly a paragon of accurate passing, but he’s passable. Virtuoso performances are all the rage in the CFL. Almost every professional QB in Canada is a credible dual threat, and just about every offense has a zone/read element to it. It’s invading the NFL one team at a time. San Francisco runs a variation of it with Kaepernick. Seattle uses with Russell Wilson. Chip Kelly is going to try run it full-time in Philadelphia. Buffalo and the Jets will be using their QBs’ legs and arms equally at times.

This will be a big day for the Rams’ defensive backs today. They are going to have be dialed in tackling in space, one-on-one, in the open field.  And do not guess. Guessing will get you beat.

Stopping Carolina’s “go plays” – the plays that Cam Newton is going to run or not change at the line, regardless of what he sees – represents an imperative task.