Tale Of The Tape: St. Louis Rams At Atlanta Falcons
- QuarterbackSam Bradford is not a superstar, but he is a smart and gutsy leader who will take what the defense gives him and throw the ball accurately. Bradford had developed trust between himself and his teammates as well as the coaching staff, and that’s why he can play competently and competitively even though he lacks the arm strength and star power of many of the top quarterbacks.There’s a lot of pressure on Matt Ryan after the Falcons came up short in last year’s NFC championship and did the same in the opener at New Orleans. However, there’s no reason to panic because Ryan is a gifted passer and leader. He demonstrated last year that he has the quick release, accuracy and arm strength to dominate a game when he gets the opportunity.
- OffenseThe Rams do not have the kind of offense that is going to scare a lot of opponents. If Bradford is going to have a chance, he needs Daryl Richardson to give him a credible running game and that may not be within his reach. Chris Givens has the ability to make some big plays and head coach Jeff Fisher is counting on him to provide yards after the catch. Rookie Tavon Austin has top-end speed.The Falcons should have one of the most consistent and productive offensive teams in the NFL. The addition of Steven Jackson gives them a big-time running threat who should take the heat off receivers Roddy While and Julio Jones. Tight end Tony Gonzalez is still a valuable red zone weapon. The offensive line is quick, nasty and aggressive.
- DefenseWhile the Rams are not loaded with size, the defense plays with quickness and will attack the football. Weakside linebacker Alec Ogletree has a chance to be one of the best defensive rookies in the league. Chris Long is an impactful pass rusher from the DE position while DE Robert Quinn (2.0 sacks in Week One) has a chance to be a star.The Falcons remain one of the league’s quickest defenses, but they also lack the kind of big bodies that can impact the game. Sean Weatherspoon is one of the team’s best tacklers and he had seven stops in Week One against the Saints. Safety Thomas DeCoud is a big hitter who is almost always around the ball.
- Special TeamsThe Rams have confidence in PK Greg Zuerlein and P Johnny Hekker. Zuerlein was a bit wild last year, but he has a huge leg. Hekker can’t punt the ball for distance and accuracy. The Rams are waiting for Givens to make big plays as a punt returner.The Falcons know that Matt Bryant is not going to get nervous if he faces a big kick at the end of the game. He has power and accuracy. Matt Bosher demonstrated leg strength in Week One as he averaged 46.8 yards per punt. The Falcons have a lot of confidence in Harry Douglas.
The Falcons should have full motivation for this game after dropping their opener when they could not score on a fourth-down in the final seconds. Atlanta has a major advantage at the skill positions, and that should be able to help them dominate this game. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor