The matchup between the St. Louis Rams and Tennessee Titans certainly has a few storylines. Jeff Fisher coaching against a team he nearly led to a Super Bowl against his current team. Rams TE Jared Cook and LB Will Witherspoon are facing their former team. Titans MLB Colin McCarthy even said that they will take shots at Cook. Hopefully St. Louis keeps their cool if things get heated once again. The Rams can not afford to lose anyone else to ejections or injuries.
The Rams have an obvious weakness with Kellen Clemens running the offense. Last week he surrendered three turnovers that proved costly in a five-point loss to the Seattle Seahawks. In order to be successful the Rams will have to run, run, and run some more to keep the ball out of Clemens’ hands as much as possible. The fewer passes that he has to throw the better their chance of winning is. It would be different if two of his turnovers weren’t interceptions on poorly thrown balls. He hasn’t proven himself in eight years, and I just don’t see that changing any time soon. With Head Coach Jeff Fisher adamant about sticking with Clemens, St. Louis has no choice but to run as long as rookie starter Zac Stacy can handle the load. Plus it isn’t like there is an immediate upgrade with Austin Davis or Brady Quinn.
Even though Davis doesn’t have the arm strength to continually stretch the field he is more athletic and has a chance to improve with experience. Quinn has had a few chances to impress teams throughout his career and hasn’t found a way to convince a GM that he belongs. Clemens might be the best option for the time being if he can limit the turnovers.
Stacy has proven to be a steal in the 5th round for St. Louis. He is running as tough as any back in the league right now. His running style is punishing and wears out the defense. The only problem is that he has missed time at the end of two games now, which is worrisome for such a young player. If he can’t stay fully healthy for a whole game then how good is he? He wasn’t available on the last drive against Seattle when St. Louis needed him most, but he is definitely the best fit for the offensive scheme. He makes quick decisions getting north and south with quickness and power.
The Titans come into the game with the 7th best pass defense in the league and the 24th ranked run defense. This makes the game plan for St. Louis clear — establish the run early and use it often. In order to keep Stacy available at the end of the game they could use the re-emerging Daryl Richardson on runs to the outside. Richardson is not meant for running between the tackles with such a small frame. His speed is best used to get to the edge and go full throttle. His performance against Seattle has mostly been overlooked, but he provided solid relief for Stacy on Monday night. With Benny Cunningham back on the mend and probable for the matchup against Tennessee he could provide a few runs of his own.
The numbers suggest that Clemens won’t have a great day, but if the Rams can get their running game entrenched in the Titans’ minds early it could open things up for Clemens and the receivers. The Titans Jake Locker made his come back from a hip injury with a solid day against the San Francisco 49ers‘ intimidating defense. Tennessee is looking to get back to .500 currently sitting at 3-4 on the season. It should be an interesting matchup for both teams as things could get heated between former teammates.