- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
After watching the Week 8 matchups, Scouts Inc. shares these key observations:
1. The St. Louis Rams used a ball-control offense to really dominate the time of possession and shorten the game at home against the Carolina Panthers. It wasn't an aggressive game plan, but it worked. QB Sam Bradford didn't press and valued the football. He hasn't thrown an interception in the past three games. As the game went on, the the game plan worked better and better. On defense, the Rams keyed the run and made Panthers QB Matt Moore pull the trigger more than Carolina would have liked. Moore often found himself in unfavorable down-and-distance situations. (It is also safe to say that RB Jonathan Stewart squandered his big opportunity as the lead back with DeAngelo Williams inactive.) Overall, this formula will not work against just any opponent, but this organization looks to have gotten to the point where it can play it close to the vest at home to defeat inferior opponents consistently. That is progress. It wasn't long ago that St. Louis was that "inferior opponent." Not anymore.
2. Is there a more up-and-down player in the league than Jacksonville Jaguars QB David Garrard? Well, on Sunday, he was up and very accurate. Garrard had as many incompletions as he had touchdowns: four. And he didn't just take short checkdown options. He showed an improved rapport with Mike Sims-Walker and distributed the ball quite effectively to his top targets against a Dallas Cowboys secondary that continues to really struggle. Correct that, the Cowboys' secondary is atrocious right now. But still, there have been many instances in his career when Garrard would not have taken advantage. Meanwhile, Cowboys QB Jon Kitna is a turnover machine. Are the wheels officially off in Dallas? I think so. But the Jaguars are still treading water.
2dEric D. Williams