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Monday, October 14, 2013
Upon Further Review: Rams Week 6

By Nick Wagoner

HOUSTON -- A review of four hot issues from the St. Louis Rams' 38-13 win over the Houston Texans:

Stacy's the one: Two weeks into his tenure as the Rams' starting running back, rookie Zac Stacy has proved he should be getting the bulk of the work. Stacy's fearless style allows him to run between the tackles with the type of abandon that moves the chains and allows the Rams to have a much-needed second dimension for the offense.

St. Louis' Zac Stacy
Zac Stacy is averaging 2.42 yards after contact per carry the past two weeks.
Stacy finished Sunday with 18 carries for 79 yards and is averaging nearly 4.9 yards on the 32 carries he's had the past two weeks. Stacy's ability to pick up yards after contact has helped him convert eight first downs over the past two weeks and average a solid 2.42 yards after contact per carry.

Maybe Stacy won't wow anyone with speed or dazzle with moves in the open field, but his straightforward, no-nonsense style is exactly what the Rams need.

Special teams surprise: The Rams' issues with special teams penalties have been well documented, especially in this space, but when credit is due, it needs to be given. The Rams showed improved discipline on special teams, committing just one infraction (an illegal procedure penalty for kicking the ball out of bounds on Greg Zuerlein) though they didn't have many punt-return opportunities.

Still, the Rams' coverage units have quietly been outstanding all season, and that surfaced Sunday as the group scored a touchdown while covering a kickoff when linebacker Daren Bates recovered a fumble and returned it 11 yards for the score.

Run D woes: It can be hard to nitpick a team when it wins, but it's not really nitpicking when the one weakness the Rams showed was so glaringly obvious. To nobody's surprise, Houston gashed the Rams for 153 yards on the ground with an average of 5.1 yards per carry. Aside from a bit of progress last week against Jacksonville, run defense has been an ongoing issue.

The Rams did a good job of keeping the Texans out of the end zone, but they are now 31st in the league in run defense, allowing 130.5 yards per game on the ground. With teams like Carolina and Seattle lurking, the Rams need to find solutions sooner rather than later.

Red zone success: It seems as though the Rams have been dealing with red zone issues, especially on offense, for the better part of the past decade. Quietly, that appears to have changed in the first six weeks of this season. They converted all three trips inside the 20 into touchdowns against Houston and now sit third in the league in red zone efficiency, scoring a touchdown two thirds of the time.

The defense has been fairly solid in its own right, holding opponents to a red zone efficiency of 52.4 percent, 13th in the league. That unit denied Houston on four of its five trips inside the Rams' 20.