St. Louis Rams vs Pittsburgh Steelers quick hits

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Sep 20, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; St. Louis Rams quarterback Nick Foles (5) throws the ball against the Washington Redskins in the first quarter at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Quarterback Nick Foles has been a welcomed addition under center, but has had an up-and-down start to the year. Accumulating 447 passing yards and just two passing touchdowns on the year, he lags behind Roethlisberger by almost double in each category. Foles has yet to turn the ball over through the air, but is averaging less than eight yards per pass attempt. With the potential for the score to take the express lane on Sunday, we may see Foles begin to take some shots downfield.

Once again, the wide receiver group in St. Louis has lagged in production. Once touted as a number one option, Brian Quick, has yet to see the field this season due to roster space. The teams leading receiver is tight end Jared Cook and last years number one option Kenny Britt has been held to 81 receiving yards through two games. However, there have been a couple of bright spots.

Wide receiver Tavon Austin has been used all over the field and is always a threat to break a big play. He has lined up out wide, in the slot position and as a running back. Cook already has three plays of 20+ yards, but has yet to find the end zone. Foles has done a good job of spreading the ball around with eight players recording at least one catch this year gaining 19 first downs through the air in the first two weeks of 2015.

The new and improved running game was advertised all offseason long as the new focal point of this offense. Unfortunately, fans have been left wanting. With an early season injury to Tre Mason, and rookie Todd Gurley unable to go, the rushing numbers have suffered. Currently wide receiver Tavon Austin leads the team with 57 rushing yards on eight attempts. He and Foles own the only two rushing touchdowns credited to St. Louis.

Even though Gurley has been removed from the team’s injury report there is still a string possibility he is held out until Week 4. Reports throughout the week have indicated that Gurley is taking the full amount of reps in practice, but the coaching staff is being very cautious, and understandably so. The Rams view Gurley as a potential staple at the running back position for the next decade.

The Rams defense will once again need to rise to the task and attempt to limit the damage this Steeler’s offense is capable of. Having accumulated eight sacks through the first two weeks, 2.5 from all pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald, the defensive line can get the penetration they need to put a stop to this Pittsburgh passing game. Winning the time of possession battle will also be key. The Rams have lost that fight the last two weeks asking their defense to bail them out a few too many times.

St. Louis leads the all time series against Pittsburgh 15-8-2, but the Steelers took the last meeting by the score of 27-0 in 2014. With Rams’ linebacker James Laurinaitis looking to break the franchise tackle record and a defense looking to rebound from an ugly performance fans should expect some fireworks on this side of the ball. Laurinaitis needs two tackles to pass Merlin Olsen for the franchise lead in tackles. Olsen posted 915 tackles while with St. Louis from 1962-76.

With a few key stops and better quality play from the offense the Rams should earn their second win of the year at home. Running the ball will be key for St. Louis. Mason and company need to help control the clock, allow their defense to rest and open up the play action pass for Foles to take shots at a weak secondary. The Rams hold all the advantages on the defensive side of the ball. This is no gimme game, but has the potential to be a big win for the 2015 season.