No need to pinch yourselves Rams Nation, this isn’t a dream! The St. Louis Rams got their first Clemens-era win of the season yesterday, humiliating the Indianapolis Colts on the road in a 38-8 blowout performance. Not a soul outside of St. Louis, understandably, would have thought the Rams could take a win against the “NFC West killers,” who had made a solid case for top team in the NFL with several convincing wins over arguable contenders. None of that mattered on Sunday. Anyways, without wasting more time on the intro, here are Ramblin’ Fan’s quick thought on the win…
1. About time! Kellen Clemens and the St. Louis Rams had been in position to win every game since Bradford went down to injury against the Carolina Panthers. Missed field goals, untimely turnovers, and pathetic playcalling on the “final” drives against Seattle and Tennessee gave Rams’ fans an empty sense of “what if” that had been lingering on everyone’s mind heading into Sunday. Well, we finally saw what would happen if St. Louis executed in all three phases of the game. Nice.
2. It is very rare that the backup quarterback has a better grasp of the offensive playbook than any other player on the roster. That is the case for Kellen Clemens, who has essentially followed Brian Schottenheimer since his inception into the league. Instead of “dumbing down” the playcalling and shrinking the playbook, the Rams offense appears to have actually expanded with Clemens under center, allowing the offensive line and skill players to continue to progress and build chemistry within the offense.
In this game, specifically, the former second-round quarterback played “efficient,” extending plays and completing 56.3% of his attempts. Moreover, he was able to connect with open receivers, leading to 15.4 yards per attempt, a +2 touchdown-to-interception differential, and a nearly perfect 140.6 passer rating on Sunday. Clemens did botch a hand-off in the redzone, and had trouble “feeling” the pressure early in the game. However, when you win by 30 points, there is no sense in focusing on the bad.
3. The St. Louis Rams made a surprise move on the offensive line Sunday, starting Rodger Saffold at right guard, and keeping Joe Barksdale on the outside at right tackle. In return, Saffold stone-walled the interior of the Colts defensive line, allowing no sacks, no hits on the quarterback, and only one “hurried” throw in the game. More impressively, he posted his first positive run blocking grade since Week 12 of last season, a game against the ailing Arizona Cardinals. If Saffold can continue to play at a high level inside, the St. Louis Rams would certainly be more apt to re-sign the former second-rounder at the end of the season. Jeff Fisher puts a high premium on offensive linemen that can play multiple positions, and having two starting guards that can also swing out and play offensive tackle would be invaluable in his eyes.
4. Zac Stacy finally had that “bad game” as a starter, averaging only 2.4 yards per carry on 26 rushing attempts. However, his “bad game” still produced 62 rushing yards and as many touchdowns as the entire Indianapolis Colts offense. If yesterday was Zac Stacy at his “worst,” we should all pity the team that sees him as his “best.”
5. During the game, the commentators referenced Howie Long and a handful of other notable defensive linemen who had a different outlook on defensive encroachment. They argued that, on occasion, the psychological effect of that “quick jump” on the opposing offensive lineman’s psyche would outweigh the yardage lost on the actual penalty. That was certainly put the test yesterday, with the St. Louis Rams defensive line getting flagged six times for jumping the snap count. In return, the St. Louis Rams defensive end rotation picked up 3 sacks, 3 hits on the quarterback, 12 hurried throws, an interception, and 6 defensive stops. Toss in the interior lineman, both of which graded out with a significant positive grade against the run, and you have an air-tight case for the “encroachment vs. psychological effect” debate. Now that we have that settled, let’s never do it again…
6. The St. Louis Rams continued their theme of “boiling-or-frozen” on run defense yesterday, turning up the temperature on the already struggling Colts’ backfield. Excluding Andrew Luck and his failed nose-dive touchdown run attempt, the Indianapolis Colts’ running backs averaged an astounding 0.22 yards per carry, amassing 2 total yards on 9 attempts. Naturally, being in a 28-0 hole at halftime will significantly slow the running game, but that cannot take away what the Rams were able to accomplish yesterday.
7. Plenty will look at the box score and defend Andrew Luck, using his 61.7% completion percentage and 353 passing yards as some indicator of a solid passing performance. Anyone who actually watched the game knows the truth…
Outside of the 4th quarter against the newly-inept Houston Texans, Luck has been abysmal since losing Reggie Wayne in Week 8. The St. Louis Rams allowed only 94 total yards in the opening half yesterday, forcing six punts and a sack-strip fumble that led to the opening score of the game on rumbling scoop-and-score by Chris Long. Even with plenty of help from the officiating crew, the Colts did not score until 5:15 was left in third quarter. By that time, the Rams had already intercepted Andrew Luck twice, and reverted to the dreaded “soft zone,” prevent defense. Those “garbage time” passing stats will likely be the only thing keeping Andrew Luck from getting roasted by the NFL media this morning, if anything.
8. Welcome to the NFL, Mr. Tavon Austin! 314 yards, 3 touchdowns. Becoming the first player in NFL history with a 95+ yard punt return touchdown and a 55+ yard receiving touchdown in the same game. Joining Randy Moss and Gale Sayers as the only rookies to score three times in a game from 50 yards or more. Becoming the only rookie with three 55+ yard touchdowns in one game. Joining Carolina’s Steve Smith as the only players in league history with 140+ yards from scrimmage and 140+ yards as a punt returner in a single game (via ESPN’s Nick Wagoner). There were likely plenty more little-known, arbitrarily-defined records broken yesterday by the Rams’ eighth overall selection in the 2013 NFL Draft. However, the most important “stat” may have been that Austin finally “broke out” and helped his team get a “W”!
9. Johnny Hekker, again, put on a brilliant punting performance, booting three “un-returnable” kicks and allowing only 25 total yards on two returns. To make the performance even better, Hekker joined the tackling party on Sunday, chasing down his own kick and stopping LaVon Brazill for his first takedown of the season. #ProBowl2014
10. Just enjoy this…
— NFL (@nfl) November 10, 2013