Upon Further Review: Rams Week 9

November, 4, 2013
11/04/13
8:00
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ST. LOUIS -- A review of four hot issues from the St. Louis Rams’ 28-21 loss to the Tennessee Titans.

There for the taking: Sunday’s loss dropped the Rams to 3-6, a disappointing record well below the team’s preseason expectations. Of course, if you knew quarterback Sam Bradford would miss most of the season because of a knee injury, that record wouldn’t cause much surprise.

What has to be most maddening for the Rams is how they’ve dropped the two games since Bradford’s injury. The two losses post-Bradford have both been one-possession games and have been there for the taking.

The Rams haven’t been able to overcome their mistakes or take advantage of opponents' miscues enough to steal either one of those games. The margin for error in the NFL is small to begin with. It’s even smaller for the Rams without Bradford at quarterback.

[+] EnlargeCortland Finnegan
AP Photo/L.G. PattersonCortland Finnegan's interception set the Rams up with a golden opportunity, but the offense couldn't take advantage.
Missed opportunities: Speaking of small margin for error, the Rams did something against Tennessee that they couldn’t do against Seattle: force a couple of mistakes. The Rams had two interceptions against Jake Locker, one from Cortland Finnegan and another from safety Rodney McLeod.

Although the run defense was atrocious and the overall defensive performance wasn’t even close to what is was against the Seahawks, a couple of takeaways can often help mask other struggles.

But the Rams were unable to take advantage of either takeaway. Finnegan’s interception gave the Rams the ball at Tennessee’s 26. They promptly went three-and-out and missed a field goal.

McLeod’s pick gave the Rams a first down at their 21 with a chance to take a late lead. They again went three-and-out, this time with the help of a second costly tripping penalty in three weeks.

Clemens improves: Rams coach Jeff Fisher maintained all week that quarterback Kellen Clemens would be better in his second week as a starter than he was in his first week. Fisher was right.

Clemens was downright sharp early in the game, completing his first seven passes and putting together some solid drives. Clemens’ late touchdown pass to tight end Jared Cook was a thing of beauty, and he finished with an 84.2 quarterback rating, the third highest of his career.

Of course, Clemens couldn’t make it through completely unscathed. His late fumble set up Tennessee’s winning touchdown run.

Stacy the centerpiece: There’s not much left to say about rookie running back Zac Stacy, who has been a revelation for the Rams' offense. It’d be easy to make the case that he’s the team’s best offensive player right now.

After putting up 178 yards of total offense with a pair of touchdowns, Stacy has clearly established himself as the team’s best running back. This week, he also made an overwhelming case to be the focal point of the entire offense moving forward.

Fisher has found his newest bell cow running back.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

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