For the St. Louis Rams to pull closer to a .500 record and help play spoiler against the Arizona Cardinals, certain players have to find success. Part of last week’s devastating loss for the Rams had a lot to do with poor passing and a considerable amount of drops. Most notably, Chris Givens, the team’s No. 1 receiver according to targets and playing time, had the worst game of all. St. Louis needs his speed threat on the outside to produce at some point this season, or else he will be in full regression mode.
Givens has the skills necessary to be an asset to this offense, if he could provide the home run shots down field that he did as a rookie. He will most likely be matched against Patrick Peterson most of the day, so this might not be his breakout performance of 2013. Peterson is a shutdown corner against the struggling Givens. Givens will best be used to pull Peterson away from the point of attack for the offense.
Tavon Austin was similarly ineffective in the season opener while being covered by fellow rookie Tyrann Mathieu. Still, Austin’s recent success has fans hopeful for what is still to come. The Austin/Mathieu matchup is one that fans can look forward to for the next few seasons. He is going to have to extend plays after the catch and break off big gains on any return chance he has.
Of course, the Rams’ offensive game plan wouldn’t be complete without including Zac Stacy. His power running is going to have to disrupt the Cardinals’ top 10 defense to even give St. Louis a chance at success. He should look to get plenty of carries and opportunities to bulldoze his way through the defense. He is the most vital part of this offense, no matter what anybody says. If he struggles, then the team will struggle around him.
On defense, it is going to be up to Robert Quinn and the rest of the line to corral Carson Palmer. He was able to rack up three sacks and two forced fumbles in the first matchup between these two teams, but that was against the immobile Levi Brown. Quinn will have to continue his monster of a season to help eliminate the amount of time that Palmer has to throw. Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are the two corners that will be in charge of trying to stop the elite pass catcher in Larry Fitzgerald. They failed to do so in Week 1, but that was when Cortland Finnegan was struggling to provide any type of pass coverage. It is unbelievably important for the Rams to step up and play some bump and run on the outside to disrupt the timing of the offense.
St. Louis has not been able to play an effective spoiler in a long time, and this could bring them one step closer to that .50o record and proving their own growth. A win will put the Rams at 6-7, which is better than most teams would expect to be at without their starting QB for much of the season. Going 8-8 may not be an ideal season for what was a hopeful Rams team, but it is a step in the right direction.