ST. LOUIS -- In the four games since he became the St. Louis Rams' starting quarterback, Kellen Clemens' statistical marks have fallen pretty much right in line with his career marks.
In no category is that more apparent than completion percentage, as Clemens is connecting on 51.9 percent of his 108 attempts. Coincidentally, that's the exact same percentage Clemens had in the 30 games he'd played before the 2013 season.
But Clemens' performances have served notice that it's not so much the quantity of the completions as the quality. He's completed 56 passes since stepping in for the injured Sam Bradford late in the team's loss to Carolina. Those passes have gone for an average of 14.3 yards per completion.
Clearly, Clemens isn't always the most accurate passer but the good news for the Rams is when he does hit on one, it's picking up substantial chunks of yards.
“Yeah, I guess that’s the key," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said, laughing. "You throw about seven, eight, nine completions a game, you score 40 points. I guess we had this thing all wrong early on. But, no, again I think the thing with us has always been runs and completions. How many rushing attempts and how many completions you get, that’s probably the second biggest determining factor of wins and losses after turnovers. But, again we have explosive guys that make plays and we just have to get the ball in their hands.”
When Schottenheimer says it's about runs and completions, he means the total combined number of those two results. Based on research, Schottenheimer has said in the past and again Friday that 50 is usually a magic number in determining victories. In other words, any combination of run plays and completed passes equaling 50 or more often yields wins.
That's not necessarily a hard and fast indicator, though. In fact, the Rams got up by so much against Indianapolis and Chicago that they didn't reach the 50 mark in either game. Conversely, they surpassed the number in losses to Seattle and Tennessee.
But again, that goes back to the idea of making the most of the passes completed. The Rams' recent ability to run the ball successfully has opened things up for play-action passes and the addition of playmakers like Tavon Austin and Jared Cook has resulted in some big plays.
“I think when teams have to try to stop the run, you’re able to kind of get some things behind them from time to time," Schottenheimer said. "I think, obviously, it speaks to Tavon getting more and more comfortable. We obviously know we have a lot of speed on this team and I think it comes down to guys making plays and guys have made those plays. Certainly, I think the style does help – it fits. The run actions with the runs certainly make it more difficult for the defense.”
A roundup of Friday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. … We began the day with Ram-blings and saying goodbye to Candlestick Park before diving into Double Coverage as 49ers reporter Bill Williamson and I broke down the matchup between the Rams and Niners. … Next, we put the spotlight on one of the unsung heroes of the Rams' run game revival, tight end/fullback Cory Harkey. … Next, it was a blog and a newser on the probability of a return for Rams running back Zac Stacy and his two other concussed teammates. … Finally, in keeping with the "How did the Rams run game turn it around?" theme, we looked at the offensive line and its love of run blocking.
No surprise here: Bears guard Kyle Long and fullback Tony Fiammetta were fined for their role in the scrum that took place with the Rams last week. Also not a surprise: Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers was not for the "roughing the passer" penalty he received.
Adam Schefter took a look at the early returns on the Rams-Redskins trade and how the bounty keeps growing with every Washington loss.
In John Clayton's First and Ten, he examines what he calls the "Jeff Fisher Effect" which has the Rams in position to battle for a playoff spot down the stretch.
At stltoday.com, columnists Bernie Miklasz and Bryan Burwell kindly ask any fans clamoring to make Clemens the full-time quarterback to calm down.
Jim Thomas discusses Clemens' wary view of a talented Niners defense.
Turf Show Times provides a look at some under the radar players important to Sunday's game.
At Foxsportsmidwest.com, Nate Latsch offers his three keys to the Rams-Niners matchup.
At NFL.com, Albert Breer writes that the Rams' investment in youth is starting to pay off.