BY J.P. SCOTT ON OCTOBER 16, 2013
Shhh. Don’t tell anyone, but the St. Louis Rams are playing .500 football, one game behind the 49ers.
After what looked like another disappointing season of football for the good people of St. Louis following Week 4, the Rams have rebounded to win two straight — largely due to Sam Bradford‘s effectiveness.
Bradford has not put up Peyton Manning-like numbers over the last two weeks, but he has been accurate with his passes (31 of 50 with no interceptions) while finding the endzone six times.
Two things seemed to have taken the pressure off Bradford as of late: the stellar play of the St. Louis defense and the emergence of Zac Stacy (pictured) in the running game.
In the games against Houston and Jacksonville, the Ram defense allowed 16.5 points per game while logging four interceptions, seven sacks, three fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns. They have been the textbook definition of opportunistic, constantly making plays to put the offense in positions to win games. Defensive end Chris Long has lead the charge with 8 tackles, three tackles for loss and two sacks.
Rookie running back Zac Stacy out of Vanderbilt has all but solidified himself as the starter in St. Louis. In his two starts, he has 157 yards on 32 carries (4.9 yard per carry) and has established a solid running attack for the Rams to lean on — both to set up the pass and to close out games. Stacy has the look of a heavier Doug Martin when he’s toting the rock and looks like he has all the tools to become a premier back in the league.
Stacy’s presence and production have forced defenses to stay honest, creating more room in the secondary for Bradford to establish a report with his entire receiving corps, not just one guy. Nine different Rams receivers have caught passes from Bradford in the last two games. That sort of diversity in targets makes an offense that much tougher to defend.
Going forward, the road doesn’t necessarily get easier for the Rams. They still have games against the Colts, Bears, 49ers and Saints, as well as two against the Seahawks. If they can continue the success they’ve had recently and even just split those games, they could find themselves in the thick of the playoff hunt. Winnable games against the Buccaneers, Cardinals and the Titans could be what pushes them over the top.
Even if this isn’t the season the that Rams rise to the top of the NFL (and it likely isn’t), the progress and development they are showing bodes well for this young and talented franchise going forward. With head coach Jeff Fisher at the helm, the Rams have the look of a team to be reckoned with for years to come.
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