It wasn’t always pretty and it certainly wasn’t the way they drew it up, but the St. Louis Rams escaped their Week 1 contest with the Arizona Cardinals victorious, 27-24. There are plenty of places to ridicule the team’s play in the season opener, but let’s keep it optimistic after a win to start the season; we’ll have all week to dissect the horrific gaffes in coverage and complete ineptitude on the ground.
Let’s start with the dynamic free agent acquisition Cook who many felt the Rams may have overpaid for this offseason. The former Tennessee Titan, who came into the league while Jeff Fisher was coaching there, never had more than 49 catches in a single season when St. Louis threw a five-year, $35 million contract his way. That investment looks relatively sound following his Week 1 showing with seven catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns.
Cook adds so many different dimensions to a Rams offense that really lacked any versatility prior to this offseason. His 4.4 speed in a 6-foot-5, 254-pound package is a matchup nightmare for any defense. Although he did lose out on a third potential score when Cards rookie Tyrann Mathieu punched the ball out of his grasp forcing a fumble that Arizona would recover for a touchback, Cook still was the top performer on offense for the Rams.
In switching gears to the defense, there really was only one performance worth writing home about. Robert Quinn was absolutely unstoppable with three sacks and two forced fumbles on the day. Even after a breakout year in his sophomore campaign a season ago, Quinn looks primed to top that showing this year after a stellar Week 1 effort. The struggles in the secondary were no fault of his as the fierce pass rusher pressured Carson Palmer frequently on the day.
Many were skeptical when the Rams selected Quinn in the first round of the 2011 NFL Draft given his health concerns, but now it seems like only a matter of time before he is in the same breath with many of the league’s elite edge rushers. Don’t be surprised if a contract extension is a focus for general manager Les Snead sooner rather than later as the team has shown a dedication to keeping their amazing defensive line intact. Quinn has the makings of a perennial All-Pro pass rusher, and with just two years left on his rookie deal, it would be wise to get him inked to an extension soon before his value escalates even further.
So if you were looking for negatively following the narrow escape over the Cards, sorry to disappoint. There will be plenty of time to harp on the mistakes that St. Louis made in their season opening victory as the week moves along. For right now, let’s just savor the fact that the Rams got the year started on the right foot.