Wednesday, October 23, 2013
QB Watch: Rams' Bradford, Clemens
By Nick Wagoner
A weekly examination of the St. Louis Rams' quarterback play.
Rewind: Sam Bradford was in the midst of a solid day that could easily have been elevated to a big one were it not for a costly tripping penalty on left tackle Jake Long. He also could've used a little help from his receivers. Any frustration from those elements were wiped away by something far more serious in the fourth quarter, when Bradford suffered a season-ending knee injury as he ducked out of bounds after scrambling.
Kellen Clemens filled in for Bradford for the final five minutes and Rams coach Jeff Fisher made it clear Monday that Clemens will be the starter moving forward.
Fast-forward: Clemens' first start will be on "Monday Night Football" against the Seattle Seahawks. Seattle's secondary is probably the best in the league, so it's not exactly a soft landing in the starting lineup for Clemens. Seattle is second in the league in pass defense and yards allowed per game. The Seahawks are also tied for fourth in the league in sacks with 23.
Clemens' first game in a Rams uniform, ironically, came against Seattle on a Monday night in 2011, but he did not play in that game. In 31 career games and 12 career starts, Clemens has never taken a snap against Seattle.
The big picture: Losing Bradford is probably a fatal blow to any chance the Rams had to make a run to the postseason. Clemens is the consummate professional and knows the offense well. He also has some mobility, which makes him something of a wild card for teams to defend. But Clemens simply doesn't have the track record of production to think he can lead the Rams to a bunch of victories in the back half of the schedule.
Of more importance for the Rams is figuring out where Bradford fits long-term and what they must do at the position in the offseason. Fisher gave Bradford something of an endorsement Monday afternoon, but the Rams are going to have to at least look to add another young signal-caller who can provide more depth and some upside when 2013 comes to a close.
Prediction: Whenever something as devastating as Bradford's injury happens to a team, there are two ways to respond: a rally-the-troops mentality which leads to surprising results or a woe-is-me, it's-all-over type of performance. Clemens' ability to run around and make some plays will give the Rams an early boost against Seattle, but it's unlikely he'll be able to sustain it for a whole game. Expect the Seahawks to take advantage of some mistakes and make it a long night at the office for Clemens.