Rams-Colts study session: Offense

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- A look back at the St. Louis Rams' 38-8 win against the Indianapolis Colts after reviewing the coaches' film.

Big Play: Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens hit receiver Tavon Austin for a 57-yard touchdown and a 28-0 lead before the end of the first half.

On third-and-7 at the Rams' 43, the St. Louis offense came out with three receivers, Austin wide left, Austin Pettis in the left slot and Chris Givens split right. Clemens was in the shotgun with running back Zac Stacy to his right and tight end Jared Cook to the left.

Indianapolis lined up with three down linemen and two linebackers at the line of scrimmage with both safeties deep and the corners playing off.

At the snap, the Colts brought five rushers, one on a delayed blitzed, but none of that mattered as Clemens read it easily from the snap. Givens and Austin ran simple go routes down their respective sidelines with Pettis running a deep in from the seam.

Clemens clearly saw the higher safety roll over the top of Givens on the right side with Austin running free past cornerback Vontae Davis. Austin created separation right away but here's where Clemens deserves credit for his decision and throw: Cook came out of the backfield and ran into the left flat about as open as could be for what would have been a layup of a first down.

Instead, Clemens took the deep shot and dropped in a perfectly placed deep ball that hit Austin in stride for an easy 57-yard touchdown as Darius Butler arrived far too late to help Davis.

Hidden Play: Clemens hit Givens for a 35-yard gain to set up the Rams' second touchdown and take a 14-0 lead in the second quarter.

On third-and-3 at Indianapolis' 36, the Rams lined up with four receivers; Austin split left, Cook in the slot and Givens and Quick bunched to the right. Clemens was in the shotgun with Stacy at his side as Austin motioned into the slot behind Cook.

The Colts had their usual three down linemen with two linebackers at the line of scrimmage and the corners playing up on Quick and Cook with a single-high safety.

At the snap, the Colts rushed four with Stacy slipping into the right flat and Colts pass rusher Robert Mathis dipping to the inside. New Rams right guard Rodger Saffold quickly gets his feet back just in time to push Mathis off the path to Clemens, who slides to the right.

Meanwhile, Givens was running a dig route toward the middle of the field but quickly noticed Clemens being flushed from the pocket. Givens made a savvy move to run back toward the sideline as Clemens rolled that direction. While Stacy took linebacker Pat Angerer with him down the right sideline, Clemens had plenty of room to run to gain the first down.

Once again, though, Clemens showed plenty of faith in his arm and eschewed the easy first down in exchange for a bigger play. Givens created separation quickly and Clemens dropped in a perfect pass in stride to Givens who took it 35 yards before coming up just short of a touchdown at the Colts' 1.

Stacy scored on the next play to make it 14-0 but it was another prime example of Clemens not only extending a play with his legs but taking advantage when an opportunity for a big play presented itself.

Other observations:

  • I'm not sure you could ask for much more from Clemens in any game. Aside from a hiccup on an exchange with Stacy in the red zone (turnovers down there have to stop), he had a nearly flawless day. No, his completion percentage is never going to wow anyone but he took care of the ball, extended plays with his legs and hit on the big plays when they were there to be taken. He did a great job of stepping up in the pocket and delivering to Austin before getting hit on their second touchdown connection.

  • Much tougher sledding for Stacy in this one but a big part of that came in the second half when the Rams had the lead and everyone knew he was getting the ball. He still did a solid job and the Rams are clearly committed to feeding him the ball.

  • While Stacy didn't have as much run as usual, backup runner Benny Cunningham had his best day as a pro. He was quick to the hole, showed wiggle in the open field and made a strong case to continue as Stacy's primary backup.

  • Saffold had a really solid first go-round as a right guard. Want to see why some in the Rams' organization believe Saffold can be an elite guard? Check him out on Cunningham's 56-yard run in the second half. Saffold shows quick feet and provides a jolt on contact to spring Cunningham for the big gain.

  • There's not much left to say about Austin's performance but it is worth noting how much the Rams are trying to get him the ball further down the field these days. His 81-yard touchdown came on a crossing route where the Rams took advantage of Indianapolis' attempts to jam Cook. That created a little bit of a pick to shake Austin loose. Nice piece of coaching to take advantage of that tendency to get Austin in space.

  • Shelley Smith lost his starting job to Saffold but the Rams kept him involved in interesting ways. He was basically a fullback in the absence of Lance Kendricks, lining up in the backfield and motioning to attach to the line of scrimmage on occasion. He played around a dozen snaps and gave the Rams some more pop in the run game.

  • Not much work for Pettis, who is seeing his reps dwindle a bit as Quick and Stedman Bailey get more involved. Again, hard to really gauge that based on the Rams' big lead and their lack of need to throw the ball much in the second half.

  • Under the radar a bit but Givens had some nice run-after-catch plays in this one. Assuming Austin draws attention off, don't be surprised if you start seeing Austin having coverages rolled his way and Givens getting more opportunities.

  • Would be remiss not to mention the blocking of Quick, who is by far the team's best blocker on the perimeter. He physically removed a Colts cornerback from the field with a block on Austin's final touchdown.