5 Critical Takeaways from the St. Louis Rams' Week 6 Win
This gave the Rams their third win of the season, which puts them one game behind the San Francisco 49ers for second place in the NFC West.
The Rams played solid offense and very stingy defense, which resulted in a few Texans turnovers, including a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Here are a few takeaways from the Rams’ impressive victory on Sunday.
Sam Bradford Continues to Improve
The growing criticism of Sam Bradford is seemingly coming to a halt after Bradford’s 12-of-16, 117-yard and three-touchdown performance Sunday.
Although Bradford didn’t blow viewers away with his passing yards, he limited his mistakes and helped deliver St. Louis their biggest win of the season.
Bradford is on track to have the best season of his career. Through his first six games of the 2013, Bradford has accumulated 1,432 passing yards and 13 touchdowns. He has also only thrown just three interceptions while completing 59 percent of his passes.
Through the Rams’ last three games—against the 49ers, Jaguars and Texans, respectively—Bradford has passed for 541 yards and seven touchdowns against just one interception. Much like his overall numbers, he has also completed 59 percent of his throws during this time.
As of right now, it appears that Bradford has the Rams heading in the right direction. The Rams do play in a very tough division, but his continued improvement is giving Rams fans hope for the future of the organization.
Zac Stacy Puts on Another Solid Performance
Rookie fifth-round pick Zac Stacy continues to emerge as a threat, and he rushed for 79 yards against the very tough Houston Texans defense on Sunday.
Stacy’s emergence has been a key to the Rams’ victories in the last two weeks. Stacy is versatile, and he can also make an impact in the passing game, as he had two receptions for 11 yards on Sunday as well.
Before their Week 5 matchup against the Jaguars, Stacy accumulated just four yards on one carry. Since then, Stacy has racked up 157 rushing yards while maintaining a 4.9 yards per carry average.
Those numbers don’t jump off of the page, but Stacy has brought some stability to the Rams’ rushing attack. Instead of loading the box, defenses are now forced to account for Stacy, which creates some downfield opportunities for Bradford.
When watching Stacy, his rushing style reminds me a bit of Maurice Jones-Drew, but he seems to be a little quicker than Jones-Drew in the open field.
Stacy is far from a finished product, but he is on the fast track to becoming the Rams running back of the future.
Alec Ogletree Comes Up Big in the Third Quarter
First-round pick Alec Ogletree had another stellar day on Sunday.
Ogletree had 10 tackles, seven of which were unassisted. More impressively, Ogletree forced a fumble and also had a 98-yard interception return for a touchdown off T.J. Yates in the third quarter.
Ogletree has continued to build on his impressive rookie campaign. For the season, Ogletree has accumulated 46 total tackles, 39 of which have been unassisted. He has also forced three fumbles.
Ogletree has overachieved this season and is a solid building block for what the Rams want to do in the future. The combination of Ogletree and James Laurinaitis at inside linebacker has been solid this season, and they will be key to the Rams' hopeful long-term success on defense.
Right now, if he is able to maintain his high level of play consistently for the last 10 games of the season, Ogletree is my pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year.
The Offensive Line Continues Their Strong Play
The Rams' offensive line held up against Houston, allowing zero quarterback sacks and just three quarterback hits—one of them coming from Texans All-Pro defensive end JJ Watt.
This is a very encouraging sign for the Rams. There has been a narrative throughout the Sam Bradford era that he takes too many hits due to subpar pass protection. The Rams have allowed 10 sacks through six games this season, however, which ranks 10th in the league.
The offensive line should be credited with the leap Bradford has taken in 2013. In fact, the addition of Jake Long at left tackle might have been one of the biggest pickups of the offseason.
If the Rams can continue to protect Bradford, they could put themselves in position to snag one of the two wildcard playoff spots in the NFC.
The Rams' Red Zone Defense Shuts Down Houston
The Rams’ defense was solid in the redzone on Sunday. Of the Texan’s six redzone attempts, only one resulted in a score, which was a one-yard touchdown run by Ben Tate at the end of the fourth quarter.
The Rams defense did allow 420 total yards—including 153 on the ground—but they were able to stop the Texans when it mattered the most. Michael Brockers made an impact throughout the day, making seven solo tackles, two of which were sacks.
The Rams will need to step up the defensive intensity and limit the production of opposing offenses going forward, though, especially with another matchup against the 49ers and two games remaining against the Seahawks left on the schedule.
If the Rams can continue to limit opposing offenses in the redzone, they could provide themselves the luxury of relying upon their improving offense to win close games.