Can St. Louis Rams Succeed With Kellen Clemens?
It looks like the rest of the season is going to be a tough one in St. Louis. The St. Louis Rams could be in immediate trouble with Kellen Clemens taking control of the offense against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football. It could be a long night for Rams fans against the top team in the NFC West. The defense will have to step up their game a few notches to keep it a close game. Marshawn Lynch has decimated the Rams in his performances topping 250 yards in two games last year against St. Louis. The Rams defense has surrendered 126 yards a game against the run this year. I’m sure Lynch has been waiting for this matchup all season. If the defense doesn’t find a way to bring him down, he might be eating a lot of skittles on Monday.
Zac Stacy could be the biggest key to the Rams seeing success by providing an effective run game helping to control the ball. Lynch and Russell Wilson can’t score if they don’t have the ball. Stacy has been tough in his starts, continuously gaining yards after contact punishing the defense. He is averaging three yards after contact per rush on the season. That is better than former starter Daryl Richardson’s yards per carry. That stat alone is a lift to what was a poor running team. While Stacy has not put up ridiculous numbers, he helped solidify a running game in desperate need of help. St. Louis will need even more from him against the Seahawks.
Clemens has served as a backup for most of his eight-year career only playing 10 games twice in a season. His career completion percentage of 51.8 is undeniably atrocious. In 31 career games, he has been sacked 46 times while throwing 12 TDs to 17 interceptions. He knows the offense well having been under OC Brian Schottenheimer for several years helping now injured Sam Bradford learn it himself. That is why he was brought into St. Louis, to aid Bradford in learning the offense. Knowing it and being able to execute it are two entirely different things. His career average of six yards-per-attempt is in line with Bradford’s career and season average.
Clemens earned the backup position with a less than stellar performance in the preseason. He did perform well against the Baltimore Raven in the preseason finale against their second team defense going 13-18 for 188 yards. He showed command of the offense and moved extremely well in the pocket buying time for his receivers to get open — something that Bradford didn’t do as much as we would like to see was stretching the field with deep passes. Clemens will try for home runs with Chris Givens and Jared Cook posing threats. This could either lead to the big plays St. Louis has been missing or the key turnovers that they have been able to avoid for the most part. Clemens should know better than to test one of the best corners in the game in Richard Sherman. Avoiding his side of the field would be a wise choice for the veteran play caller.
St. Louis will need to lean on the run game to take control of the ball-possession game. Putting the game in Clemens hands could be a recipe for a quick deficit. Schottenheimer will probably look to find ways for easy completions to allow Clemens to get a feel for the game much like he tried to do with Bradford. He has the arm strength to succeed, but he will need to be more accurate to be effective on Monday. If he provides solid play against the Seahawks, then he will earn another start. If not, I would expect a quick change to Austin Davis or the well-traveled 28-year-old Brady Quinn.