Rams team report
RAMS TEAM REPORT
Starting Sunday, the Rams' season could very well be defined in a short period of time. In a span of five days, the Rams will play two home games against division rivals Seattle and Arizona, currently two of the better defensive teams in the NFL.
No, that is not a misprint. The Seahawks and Cardinals, after three games, are two of the better defensive teams in football. Lost in the chaos of Monday's night's officiating debacle was just how good Seattle's defense was against Green Bay. The Seahawks sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers eight times ... in the first half.
In three games, the teams ranked first and second in points allowed in the league are Seattle (39) and Arizona (40). As a point of reference, the Bears, who beat the Rams Sunday, are fifth, having allowed just 50 points. Overall, the Seahawks are ranked fourth in the NFL in yards allowed, while the Cardinals are 10th.
Also, in a variety of 10 defensive categories, Seattle is in the top nine in seven, while Arizona is there five times. Only six other teams are ranked in the top nine in at least five categories.
It's not exactly a revelation to say that the Rams have to find a way offensively to move the ball on those two teams a lot better than they did in Chicago on Sunday.
Are the Rams capable? That's the question. A shuffled offensive line doesn't help, and coach Jeff Fisher knows that playing well by that group is imperative if the Rams are to have a chance at success.
Asked what can be done on the line, Fisher said, "We're going to continue to work with them. As I said yesterday, we're going to have another week to work together. We'll continue to do the same things that we've been doing with these guys. You coach them up, you put them in positions where you think they can be successful, and then you've got to adjust. We did make some adjustments at times yesterday that we thought were the correct ones, but that's a very talented defense. At times, we were just put in positions where we were just outmatched up front."
Being outmatched certainly has a chance of happening in these quick turnaround games. The saving grace could be that they are at home. The Rams put up 452 yards against Washington in Week 2, but the Redskins are currently ranked 30th in the league in yards allowed.
Asked about Seattle's defense, quarterback Sam Bradford said, "They've done a very good job of shutting people down. They're big and physical up front. They've got a lot of speed in the back end. It's definitely going to be probably one of our biggest challenges of the year. We need to have a great week of preparation, get prepared for all of the looks that they're going to throw at us and make sure that we're able to handle it and execute on Sunday."
What is abundantly clear is that if the Rams are to make the progress Fisher believes is possible, they have to start winning division games, especially at home.
In the last five seasons prior to this year, we all know the Rams are 15-65, a statistic quoted frequently. Even more depressing is the team's 4-26 record in division games. In the 2010 season when the Rams were 7-9, they were 3-3 in NFC West games and 2-1 at home. The only other division game the Rams have won since 2007 was a road game that season in San Francisco.
In 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2011, the Rams were a horrific 1-23 in division games and 0-12 at home.
The last time the Rams won at home over the Cardinals was 2004. The Rams did beat Seattle at home in 2010, but that was the first win over the Seahawks at home since 2004. Add that up, and it means the Rams' home record against Arizona and Seattle starting in 2005 is 1-13.
Starting Sunday, that has to change.
SERIES HISTORY: 28th regular-season meeting. Seahawks lead series, 17-10, and have won 13 of the last 14 including the last three. Seattle has outscored the Rams in those three games, 70-26.
—After playing only three snaps in each of the first two games, wide receiver Brian Quick was inactive for Sunday's game against Chicago. Fourth-round receiver Chris Givens was active, but he has better speed and also plays on special teams.
The return of Austin Pettis from a two-game suspension bumped Quick, the 33rd overall player selected in the draft, to sideline observer for the game.
A disappointed Quick was asked Monday if he has been told what has to happen to get more playing time. He told the Post-Dispatch, "I have to do that. That's what I have to do. Obviously, it's something I have to do to get on the field. So I need to work harder, I need to do things a little bit better. And we'll see what happens."
He added, "I'm ready to go out there. I'm anxious just like anybody would be. If you're here on the team, you definitely want to contribute. But things didn't happen that way."
As for whispers that he has had problems learning the playbook, Quick said he is comfortable with it and added, "I'm a young player. I feel like there's lots of things I need to work on. So we'll see as the weeks go by. I haven't been playing much. I'm just going to keep working, practice, get better, so I can be able to go out there and play."
Coach Jeff Fisher explained little when asked about Quick after Sunday's game, saying, "The other guys. You're not going to keep seven guys active. Sometimes you'll keep six and sometimes you'll keep five. We have Chris Givens handling some of the returns. It's just one of those things. But he's going to be a good player. The other guys are still ahead of him."
—The Rams are ranked 19th in yards allowed after three games, but safety Quintin Mikell believes the unit is improving each week.
Mikell told the Post-Dispatch, "We had some moving parts the first couple weeks. "I feel like we're still gelling, we're getting closer together. It's been a good thing to see. I feel like everyone's playing with some fire, everybody's not giving up, and we're flying around hitting people, which is a lot of fun."
How much has changed on defense? There are seven new starters from last season, and this week it's possible rookie defensive tackle Michael Brockers might see his first action after suffering a high ankle sprain in the preseason finale.
"We haven't even scratched the surface of how good we can be," Mikell concluded. "We haven't had a game yet - and there's no perfect games - but we haven't had a game yet where we haven't had mental errors or mistakes or anything like that. So I'm just excited for what we've got brewing here. Because we've got guys that can flat out play and we're working towards something special."
—It's the Rams' turn (and Arizona's) to play on Sunday and Thursday. Asked about the difficulty of doing that, coach Jeff Fisher said, "It's not easy, but we'll certainly deal with it. We've already addressed it. The players have a good sense for what's ahead. They've been given the schedule in advance and they know how we're going to go about approaching it. So, when they come back to work, when the coaches come back to work Sunday after the ballgame, it's Wednesday. When the players come back to work on Monday, it's already Thursday, so they've got to get a lot of work done."
BY THE NUMBERS: 0 - Number of fumbles the Rams have forced in three games. Every other team in the NFL has at least one.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Well, what I didn't like was the explosive runs early in the game, but we made the adjustments. I think if you take out Jay's (Cutler) scramble, I think, they had seven carries for 11 yards in the second half, so we made some good adjustments. We got some pressure on him. We felt like we needed to get pressure on him. We need turnovers. We have yet to force a fumble on this football team and we need to start, not that we're not trying, but the ball has not come out. Those types of situations, whenever we get a couple balls on the ground, those types of situations can help you."
Actually, Fisher had his figures almost reversed. The Bears had 26 yards on 15 attempts in the second half, but one was a 21-yard scramble by Cutler and three were kneeldowns for minus-three yards. Michael Bush and Kahlil Bell had a combined 11 runs for eight yards in the second half.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—DT Michael Brockers was back at practice, albeit on a limited basis, for the first time since suffering a high ankle sprain in the final preseason game Aug. 30. Coach Jeff Fisher wouldn't commit Brockers playing Sunday, but said the fact he is back at practice is "a good sign."
—RB Steven Jackson, who played against Chicago Sunday despite an injured groin, did not practice Wednesday.
—OT Wayne Hunter, who played on the left side Sunday despite an ankle injury, was listed as limited Wednesday with a knee injury.
—DE Eugene Sims did not practice Wednesday because of an undisclosed illness.
—S Matt Daniels, who missed Sunday's game against Chicago because of hamstring injury, did not practice Wednesday.
GAME PLAN: The plan is somewhat simple; the question is whether it can be executed, especially on offense. The Rams will have to pick their spots against a very good defense that has allowed 58.7 yards rushing per game and 3.1 yards per attempt. Most important will come down to being productive on first down and converting on third down.
Defensively, the Rams will have to control a Seattle ground game that is averaging 141.3 yards per game and 4.1 per carry. The bulk of that has come from running back Marshawn Lynch, who has 305 yards and is averaging 4.2 yards per carry.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams RT Barry Richardson and LT Wayne Hunter vs. Seahawks LDE Bruce Irvin and RDE Chris Clemons - Irvin doesn't play every snap as a rookie, but he is explosive off the edge and has 2.5 sacks. Clemons is one of the best pass rushers in the game and already has 5.0 sacks in three games. Four came against Green Bay Monday night, all in the second quarter.
Rams DLE Chris Long and DRE Robert Quinn vs. Seahawks RT Breno Giacomini and LT Russell Okung - Long had his first two sacks of the season against the Bears, and coupled with Quinn, should be able to get pressure on Seattle QB Russell Wilson. The challenge is keeping Wilson contained. He is the team's second-leading rusher with 66 yards on 15 attempts.
Rams special teams vs. Seahawks KR Leon Washington - A potential game-breaker, Washington has a kickoff return of 83 yards and a 52-yard punt return.
Re: Rams team report
I will add this to consider about these stats, they played each other. They both have bad offenses and by playing each other only helped to improve their defensive stats.
OK AZ beat the Pats BUT the Pats have been kind of struggling all year with that offense. The same can be said for the Eagles which is a turn over factory in every game this year.
Seahawks lost to AZ then beat Dallas. Seahawks beat down a Packers team in the first half that only ran the ball twice. The Packers took control of the second half once they started to run the ball. We all know the Hawks are 1-2 if you are keeping score at home.