Three things: Rams-Titans

November, 2, 2013
11/02/13
1:00
PM ET
EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Three things to watch when the St. Louis Rams take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

1. Finishing drives

The Rams' defense was so dominant against the Seahawks last week that the offense didn’t need to do much to pull off a victory. Of course, the offense managed to do less than not much and was unable to finish any of four trips into the red zone with a touchdown.

Through eight games, the Rams still don’t have a rushing touchdown, though they have proved capable of running successfully in the red zone. After a hot start in terms of red zone production in which they scored touchdowns on 12 of 18 trips inside the opponent’s 20, the Rams have tapered off the past two weeks.

[+] EnlargeZac Stacy
Jeff Curry/USA TODAY SportsRookie Zac Stacy and the Rams need to find ways to finish drives that reach the red zone with TDs.
In games against Carolina and Seattle, the Rams have scored one touchdown on seven on trips to the red zone.

Part of the issue last week was timing as Kellen Clemens took over at quarterback last week. In confined spaces, it can be difficult for a quarterback to get on the same page as his skill position players.

The Rams don’t necessarily need to get back to scoring touchdowns on two of every three trips to the red zone, but they have to find a way to finish the drives that get them close.

2. Doing it with defense

Despite the Rams’ inability to score a touchdown against the Seahawks, they still found themselves in position to steal a win on the game’s final play.

The reason? A defense that finally began playing up to the expectations that had many believing it could be a top 10 group when the season started.

The Rams were thoroughly dominant against Seattle, holding it to 135 total yards and seven first downs while racking up seven sacks.

It’s unrealistic to expect the defense to duplicate that performance every week, especially knowing that not every offensive line it sees will have leaky spots all the way across the line.

But even if the Rams can’t get all those sacks or hold opponents to minimal yardage outputs every week, they can get back to getting takeaways. The Rams had 12 takeaways in the first six weeks, but haven’t had one in either of the past two weeks.

A turnover or two, especially one that results in a defensive touchdown, would be especially helpful given the offense’s struggles to score.

3. Finding big plays

Last week against the Seahawks, the Rams’ longest play from scrimmage went for 26 yards, not exactly the type of explosive play that can change a game. That was the shortest long play from scrimmage the Rams have had this season.

Without the use of starting quarterback Sam Bradford, the Rams have to find ways to manufacture big plays that can change the course of a game. Clemens and the Rams spent much of their time last week looking to nickel and dime their way down the field.

While they had some success doing that, part of the reason for the aforementioned inability to score touchdowns was because they had to be nearly perfect for 10 or more plays at a time.

To make a timely baseball analogy, it’s the difference between waiting for a three-run home run in one swing and having to string multiple singles together to score a run.

This week, the Rams could use a little more creativity to try to generate some home runs of their own.

Nick Wagoner

ESPN St. Louis Rams reporter

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.


Insider