The New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams are set to face off tomorrow in London, as the Pats will look to get a win to boost their confidence as they move into the easy part of the schedule. It won’t be too easy though, because the Rams have a good defense and will likely take advantage of the many injuries the Patriots are suffering. Here is a look at the Rams offense, which is the weaker of the two units.
1. WR Brandon Gibson
Danny Amendola is the best and most important receiver on the St. Louis Rams, but he is highly doubtful for tomorrow’s game against hte Patriots. In Amendola’s absence, Brandon Gibson has been picking up the slack and has recorded 12 catches for 151 yards in the past two games (Amendola was injured in Week 5).
So far this season, Gibson has clearly been the best receiver on the team and has honestly been the best offensive player on the team. He is catching 64.1% of everything thrown at him for an average of 13.4 yards per catch, which yields a very strong 8.6 yards per attempt. Gibson is on pace for nearly 60 catches and over 750 receiving yards, and that’s not even considering the fact that his role was low early on in the season. He is a player on the rise and someone who will cause the Patriots depleted secondary (Ras-I Dowling, Steve Gregory, and Patrick Chung are out) some problems Sunday.
2. QB Sam Bradford
I’m always going to at least name the quarterback, even if I really don’t want to. Sam Bradford is a quarterback who has gradually become, for some reason, less accurate as his career has progressed. Despite being one of the best QBs when running play-action, Bradford’s overall numbers don’t look strong at all.
He has completed under 60% of his passes this season, and he’s not even throwing it deep. In fact, he has averaged just 12.2 yards per completion this year and is throwing it deep just 16.4% of the time. The advanced metrics tell the tale of a quarterback who isn’t even one of the top 25 best this season, but I do think the stats don’t do him justice.
Bradford has made strides this season, especially considering the lack of talent around him. Despite the emergence of Brandon Gibson, his receivers are largely inconsistent, and he doesn’t have a true number one receiver. Amendola is solid, but he’s a very good No. 2 with Gibson potentially being a low-line No. 2.
The biggest problem for Bradford is his offensive line, as Wayne Hunter is one of his starters and the rest of the line has struggled. What makes it worse is the fact that the tackles have been plagued by injuries, and the team’s two best linemen are out (Roger Saffold and Scott Wells). Harvey Dahl is solid, but he’s a much better run blocker than pass blocker.
3. RB Daryl Richardson
The small-schools seventh-round draft pick has certainly been an impact rookie to this point, as Daryl Richardson has outshined fellow rookie and former Cincinnati Bearcats star Isaiah Pead. In fact, Richardson has been the best running back on the Rams this season statistically and deserves a larger role with the team. He isn’t a starting running back, but he is a terrific backup who meshes well with Steven Jackson’s style. Jackson’s numbers are off due to injuries to start the season, but Richardson has definitely been enjoying a successful season.
Richardson has averaged 5.1 yards per carry this year, but I would like to see him be a more consistent rusher for the St. Louis Rams. He shows flashes with some terrific runs, but a strong front seven can blank him out.
4. RB Steven Jackson
One of the main reasons why I like the Patriots chances so much against the Rams is the fact that their defense matches up very well with the strengths of the Rams offense. The Pats secondary is in shambles, at least for this game, without three key players, but the Rams passing offense is quite futile. The running game is the strength of this team with workhorse veteran Steven Jackson and his shifty rookie sidekick. However, the Patriots have one of the best run defenses in the league and a front seven that is the most stout out there.
5. TE Lance Kendricks
Brian Schottenheimer (yeah, him again) loves running the passing offense through quick, accurate passes to the tight end that move the chains and lead to consistent gains. He has a solid pass-catching tight end to work with in Lance Kendricks, and he has been a great safety net for Sam Bradford this season. Kendricks has caught nearly 70% of all passes thrown at him, and he has managed to make a key impact as the No. 3 option for this team (No. 2 without Amendola) despite only averaging 8.3 yards per catch.
You can follow Joe Soriano on Twitter @SorianoJoe.