St. Louis Rams vs. Washington Redskins: Primary Keys to the Game for St. Louis
On one hand, the Rams played an extremely competitive game on the road against a high-level opponent and nearly won until letting the game slip away in literally the final seconds.
Then again, the Rams still lost the game. A winnable game at that. The effort was clearly there, but it doesn't do much good until there are tangible results.
This week the Rams will have their home opener against the Washington Redskins, and they'll attempt to get off to a 1-1 start for the first time since 2006.
Initially, the Redskins were seemingly a modest opponent and provided the Rams with a great opportunity to pick up their first win of the season. But after watching the Redskins run over the New Orleans Saints on their home turf, it's impossible to take this game lightly in any way.
With that in mind, here are five things the Rams must do to avoid the same fate as the Saints.
The Rams have not been great at containing dual-threat quarterbacks in recent years—the 2011 season opener against Michael Vick and the Eagles comes to mind—but then again, they haven't been good at anything in recent years.
If the Rams want to win the game, they must contain Robert Griffin III not only on the ground, but also through the air.
The defense must make sure RGIII's legs aren't a game-changer, while the secondary must play intelligent football and force the rookie into making mental errors.
Also, the defense needs to remember that once he crosses the line of scrimmage, he's a regular ball carrier. They need to make him taste blood and welcome him to the NFL in a way the Saints couldn't. If his will and confidence are not fully in tact, the Rams have him beat.
Open the Run Lanes
If the offense is going to have success, they need to be able to run the ball effectively.
The offensive line did not get the job done against Detroit. 53 yards on 21 carries for Steven Jackson is unacceptable and is a direct result of pitiful blocking.
Running the ball is a vital part of Brian Schottenheimer's offense and Jeff Fisher's game plan. If they can't have success on the ground, then it will be hard to pull off a victory.
The line will be missing center Scott Wells this week due to a foot injury, while tackle Rodger Saffold and guard Rokevious Watkins are questionable.
The line is hurting, but the backups needs to step up and play at an acceptable level.
Find a Groove in the Passing Game
Quarterback Sam Bradford looked very sharp in the final quarter against the Lions, and he even led two scoring drives to take the lead late in the game.
However, Bradford was very shaky throughout the first half and made some very questionable throws. Overall, the passing game was completely out of sync and it hurt the team.
One of the keys to a victory against Washington will be Bradford and the receivers showing solid chemistry not just in the final quarter, but throughout the entire game.
Also, it will greatly help the run game if the Redskins secondary is constantly backpedaling and watching the pass instead of hovering near the line of scrimmage and focusing on Steven Jackson.
Continue to Make Turnovers
Last week, we saw the Rams defense come up with three interceptions against Matthew Stafford.
Stafford didn't necessarily make ugly throws and poor reads, but the turnovers came as a result of smart football and solid game preparation.
If the Rams want to come up with a win during the home opener, then they need to give themselves that same advantage. They need to win the turnover battle.
Stafford is a fourth-year quarterback, while Griffin is only a rookie. It's absolutely crucial that they use his lack of experience to their advantage.
If Griffin starts turning the ball over, then he'll begin to lose confidence. If that happens, the game is in the bag.
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