It has only been a couple weeks since the San Francisco 49ers and St. Louis Rams squared off on Monday Night Football. However, enough has gone down in those ensuing two weeks that it is worth another Q&A about the Rams. I chatted with 3k from Turf Show Times about what the last two weeks brought for the Rams. They knocked off the Seattle Seahawks, and then were crushed by the Kansas City Chiefs. They've been dealing with numerous injuries, and currently sit at 2-5, so he gave us some insight into what the rest of the season holds.
Niners Nation: What exactly went right in the Seahawks game?
Turf Show Times: Everything at first, then nothing, and then just enough to win. Of all of the themes that define the 2014 Rams, one is that they have very good pre-game scripted plans and execute them well. Of the Rams' 7 games, five of them have included a strong offensive start. That included our previous matchup when we shot out to a 14-0 lead. Of course you don't go 2-5 by holding onto those fast starts, and it looked like it was going to happen against against Seattle. We raced out to a 21-3 lead that was cut down to 21-19 in the fourth quarter.
The Rams finally got some late-game offense with an extended touchdown drive, a rarity in 2014, though Russell Wilson responded with one of his own. When the Rams' next drive stalled, Rams fans knew what was coming. Wilson was going to lead the Seahawks down the field for a game-winning field goal...but the Rams dialed up a fake punt that worked to perfection. We nearly found a new way to Ram away a game as Tre Mason fumbled the ball after picking up the 1st down needed to get to kneeldowns, but Richard Sherman couldn't verifiably recover the fumble on tape.
It was a perfect example of the 2014 Rams, but one that featured just enough escapism to get the win.
NN: On the flip side, what the hell happened in that Chiefs game?
TST: All the bad.
It started as all Rams games do with a perfect opening drive. The defense looked capable too, and at the end of the first quarter the Rams held a 7-0 lead. Then the offense died. Then the defense died. Then all things ceased to exist.
It's kind of hard to explain the offense's ineptitude between the first and last drives of the game. Through the nine drives in between those two possessions, Austin Davis went 4 for 12 for 25 yards. Clean that vomit up. And it featured more of the Rams' inexplicable running back by committee approach which ensures three capable backs avoid getting sufficient carries to help the team win. Zac Stacy? You get five carries after your impressive rookie season. Benny Cunningham who averaged 6.8 yards per carry? You get a whopping four carries. Rookie standout Tre Mason? Here's 7 carries because surprise!
Injuries? Injuries! The Rams lost their left tackle and top wide receiver for the rest of the year. That's not the best thing to ever happen.
Throw in a sick Greg Zuerlein who missed a 37-yard field goal and muffed the kickoff to start the second half which led to Knile Davis returning it for a touchdown, and that game never happened. I don't know what you're talking about.
NN: It seems like the Rams have instituted a committee at running back. What's going on there?
TST: Oh man, sorry for taking the wind out of this one, but the answer is nobody knows. The popular quote in the preseason was that the Rams would "ride the hot hand", but they've made sure that nobody gets enough work to actually get a hot hand. So I have 0% confidence in guessing who will start at RB on Sunday, who will get the most work and who might even be inactive because this is where strategy comes to die.
NN: What's the situation like in the secondary? The team acquired Mark Barron after dealing with numerous injuries. Who will sit and what do you make of the Rams secondary?
TST: Well, the talent's been upgraded compared to years past, but the execution is just woeful. In case you forgot, Brandon Lloyd torching Janoris Jenkins happened at a time when you can't let that happen if you want to win a football game. Sadly, that wasn't out of character for the Rams who have miscommunicated coverage far too often leaving guys like Dez Bryant and Jeremy Maclin wide open for touchdowns. Those are generally guys who need to be covered with a member of the defense, but the Rams tend to do things differently.
As to how they're going to implement Mark Barron...that's confusing too. TJ McDonald has been our box safety, and Rodney McLeod has been the passing rover. Of the two, most would say McLeod's done the lesser job; however, Barron's better suited to McDonald's role so I'm not sure how they're gonna work the personnel. I'd guess that Barron takes over the SS job and McDonald gets to play center field more, similar to what he did at USC. But it was a somewhat confusing move for a team that tends to be interested in confusion.
NN: How do you see the Rams finishing out the season?
TST: I don't. I think they'll decide that there are many better things they and Rams fans can do with their time than either lose in explosive fashion or mess around for 60 minutes to waste early leads. They could make biscuits or go to the zoo or read a book about Prussia. Those are all better things to do than to have your body pummeled in the name of the 2014 Rams. Jeff Fisher will continue to be unfazed by the chaos and go back to hunting for the elusive permit fish. He'll name Sam Bradford the starter for 2015, and the Rams will spend Christmas at home.
NN: Bonus: Prediction for the game
TST: I'm going with 21-20, with you guys getting the win. The Rams will get a 14-0 lead. Again. Then you guys will do what you guys do and we'll do what we'll do aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand ballgame.