By Danny Cox
As Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos continue streaking toward another Super Bowl berth, the St. Louis Rams look like they are heading for another high draft pick in April of next year. Austin Davis is no Manning, but he may be the future of the Rams since Sam Bradford suffered yet another season-ending injury, and this is a great way for coach Jeff Fisher to see what his current quarterback has inside of him. Going against a team like the current Denver Broncos is very intimidating, and this game could say a lot for how Davis moves forward into the future.
CBS Sports’ Ian Eagle, known as “The Bird” to so many, took some time to speak with me about the upcoming game between the Broncos and Rams on Sunday. He’s been calling NFL games for many years and has virtually seen it all. His opinions on the game kind of gives you an idea of how he feels this weekend’s game will go, but Eagle knows that anything can happen in the NFL.
St. Louis has already upset the Seattle Seahawks this year, do you think they have a a chance at taking out the other Super Bowl team from last year?
Ian Eagle: “Any Jeff Fisher team will have a lot of fight. Defensively, they are competitive and their front is impressive. They’re just going against a juggernaut in the Broncos and that’s a tall order. To find a way to beat Peyton Manning, especially when you don’t have the offense to keep up…if you’re going to beat the Broncos at this stage, you’re going to have to score a bunch of points. St. Louis has not shown that they are capable of doing that.”
How can the Rams stop Peyton Manning and all of his weapons?
IE: “The only way to do that is pressure. Jeff Fisher knows Peyton Manning very well back from his Tennessee days in the AFC and he takes it as a personal challenge. A chess match. The problem is that Fisher doesn’t have the pieces to match up with all of Denver’s weapons. They are so deep and Peyton’s ability to make the right decisions, even after a slow start like against Oakland last week…he just has the Midas touch.
Even the players that you scout thoroughly…they aren’t the players that come back to bite you when you play Denver.”
The passing defense of the Broncos has a few problems and holes, how do you feel is the best way for Austin Davis to exploit those issues?
IE: “He had that one stretch where he got the offense humming, but the last few weeks has shown some poor decisions and inexperience that has come through. When you can accumulate tape on a player that didn’t have a lot of it, opposing defensive coordinators will find weaknesses and that’s what Austin Davis is facing right now. The Rams are trying to figure out whether or not this is a player they can grow with or at the end of 2014, are they searching for another quarterback based on Sam Bradford’s injury troubles.
This is definitely a time of evaluation for St. Louis, but they have seen enough flashes from Davis to see it is worth taking a closer look.”
While speaking of Davis, what do you think about Sam Bradford’s time in St. Louis?
IE: “It’s unfortunate. It is an incomplete grade. Moving forward, the Rams have to factor in his durability concerns. St. Louis can’t go into another season banking on the hope that Bradford can return. My gut feeling is that the Rams will probably have to move on and that’s saying a lot considering the amount of money they have already paid him. It’s setting the franchise back right now.”
Denver’s running game is virtually nonexistent, do you believe it will end up hurting them in the playoffs?
IE: “I think if you look through the last several Super Bowl champions…the rarity now is having a great running back. The majority of teams we’ve seen win a title over the last seven or eight years, it’s either been running back by committee or go with the hot hand.
We are looking for weaknesses with Denver because they’ve done everything with this group except win the Super Bowl. I think there is enough time left for them to figure out who they can depend on in the running game…whether it’s (Montee) Ball or (Ronnie) Hillman or (C.J.) Anderson. That remains to be seen, but I don’t think it is as large a concern as some may believe.
They made huge changes to their offensive line last week and will run with that line-up again this week. For a Super Bowl contending team to make those kinds of changes at this point in the season…it means they believe they can be better. They know they’re not a finished product, but with the pieces they have in place, I still think they’re capable of going all the way.”
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.