Sunday, December 15, 2013
Rapid Reaction: St. Louis Rams
By Nick Wagoner
ST. LOUIS -- A few thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 27-16 win against the New Orleans Saints.
What it means: Trying to figure out the Rams in 2013 is a task that people much smarter than me would probably struggle with. But after 14 games, perhaps the easiest way to look at it is that this team's personality is found in its inconsistency. The Rams are the youngest team in the league for the second consecutive year, a fact that most fans don't want to hear as an excuse. But it's instructive to know that when looking at their performance.
The Rams now have impressive, convincing wins against Indianapolis, Chicago and New Orleans, at least two of whom are playoff-bound. When things click, St. Louis can play with anyone in the league. When they don't, the Rams can be manhandled. At 6-8, there's been more of the former than the latter, but there's been enough of the former to at least provide tangible hope for 2014.
Stock watch -- up: Defensive end Robert Quinn. The Rams had plenty of strong performances to pick from, but nobody completely wrecked a game plan like Quinn. On the Saints' first offensive play, he hit quarterback Drew Brees as he was about to throw, forcing an interception. That set the tone for yet another dominant performance. He spent most of the rest of the day in Brees' face, racking up two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Quinn so thoroughly dominated left tackle Charles Brown that the Saints benched Brown in the third quarter.
Stock watch -- down: Nobody. Yes, the cop-out method. The Rams thoroughly dominated a team near the top of the NFC playoff race, and nobody really had a glaringly awful day. Instead of nitpicking after a game like this, we'll give credit where due.
Run game rolls: In losses to San Francisco and Arizona the past two weeks, Rams running back Zac Stacy has struggled to gain traction, particularly early in games. He combined for 97 yards in those two games. He had 106 in the first half against the Saints and finished with 133 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. It's no coincidence that when the Rams play well and win, they have that type of success in the run game, with Stacy leading the charge.
What's next: The Rams get to stay home for the holidays with a second consecutive matchup against an NFC South opponent. This time it's Tampa Bay, a team the Rams throttled in south Florida last year. For whatever reason, the Rams have played well outside of the NFC West, and Tampa represents a chance to match last year's win total of seven.