There were more points to be had. Steven Hauschka missed a 38-yard field goal and Tarvaris Jackson fumbled an exchange with Marshawn Lynch well into Rams territory. The box score tells you Jackson was good with 96.4 passer rating, that the running game was great with 115 more yards for Lynch and a team yards/carry of 4.5, and Doug Baldwin was solid with seven catches in eight targets for a team high 93 yards and a score. Don’t be fooled. This was not an efficient offense.
Jackson missed throws all night. He was locking in on primary receivers, and missing wide open players throughout the game. His accuracy was just okay, and he still held onto the ball too long. There can be a more honest evaluation of him as he starts to recover from his injury. Yet, he is an incredibly perplexing player to grade. He is a completely different passer in the no-huddle. He is decisive, accurate and goes quickly through his progressions. His performance is uneven when under center. There are outstanding passes to Golden Tate on third down against the Ravens to help seal the game, and then complete misses. His best case for progress is that after throwing an interception in 6 of his first 7 games this season, he’s thrown zero interceptions in 3 of his last 5 games. His pick against the Redskins came very late in desperation mode. The TV may not have shown it, but there may have been more yards that Jackson missed yesterday than he made, mostly due to a lack of scanning his receivers. It was a winning performance, but not a great one.
The defense was also not as dominant as the score would indicate. Stephen Jackson had 50 yards rushing at halftime and was well over 5 yards/carry. Cadillac Williams ended with a 6.1 average, and the secondary gave up three huge plays (26 yards to Lance Kendricks, 50 yards to Jackson, and 37 to Brandon Lloyd). Those three passes accounted for 59% of the total passing yards for the Rams, and each was the result of poor discipline in the secondary. A team can get away with that against the Rams, but must improve down the stretch. The run defense simply is not what it was earlier in the year.
This blowout win wasn’t all bad…
– K.J. Wright, according to TeamRankings.com, now has 9 tackles for loss on the year which is tied for the team lead with Chris Clemons. He has reached that level despite only starting 10 games. Aaron Curry, for comparison, had 9 tackles for loss in his 35 career games with the Seahawks. Wright has a sack in each of his last two games, and is getting them with explosive speed and violent hits. Malcolm Smith is waiting in the wings and could give the team two play-making young linebackers early next season.
– The offensive line deserves major props for clearing the way to 145 yards rushing, a 4.5 average and giving Jackson ample protection most of the night. A nod to the coaching staff for keeping this unit working. I expected a far worse showing, especially in pass protection.
– Alan Branch had a terrific game. He occupied space and shed blockers for tackles. Really nice work in the trenches.
– Anthony Hargrove collected another sack. Remember when Raheem Brock had 9 sacks?
– Brandon Browner racked up another bushel of penalties while tying for the league-lead in passes defensed and picking off another pass.
– Earl Thomas had his most impactful game in a while with several big hits on running backs and nice tackling around the line. Still waiting for that game-changing interception…
– Michael Robinson laid some licks on Rams defenders while clearing the path for Lynch. He also scored a touchdown on special teams. Nice game.
– Lynch was special again.
The coaching staff made some odd choices in the first half, passing 17 times while running only 10. They flipped that in the second half by running 22 times and passing only 15. The team’s performance followed the coaches commitment to the run. That has been a consistent theme all season. There was something that caused the staff to try running wide more often this game instead of challenging the middle as they have through this recent stretch. It was not successful for the most part. They returned to going up the middle in the second half and did much better. This offense needs the coaches to stay with the run even if they are getting a couple yards per carry. The Bears defense will be very difficult to run on, but letting another team move you off of your strength is a defeat waiting to happen.
Next week will be fun. Pray for snow and some Seahawks revenge. The Bears have knocked the Seahawks out of the playoffs the last two times they made it. It would be nice to return the favor.