Kellen Clemens has thrown for exactly 761 yards since the beginning of the 2008 season. With Sam Bradford now sitting due to a torn ACL, the St. Louis Rams plan to entrust their 2013 campaign to the 30-year-old veteran who has thrown 131 balls in his last six seasons.
Clemens has more experience with offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer than Bradford does, which works in his favor. However, making his first start of the year against the Seattle Seahawks is a matchup that is far from ideal.
At least he’ll be at home. Also, there isn’t exactly a lot of recent tape on him for Seattle to study.
The vast majority of Clemens’ passing yards in his three years with St. Louis (90.4 percent) came in 2011, before Schottenheimer left his post as the New York Jets’ OC to man the same spot with the Rams.
St. Louis will most likely do what it can with its play-calling to protect Clemens. Picture a ball-control offense with fewer deep shots; Clemens has a 51.8 percent career completion rate, with an average of six yards per attempt and a 7-to-13 TD-to-INT ratio.
Ideally, the run game would be able to chew up some yardage. Seattle, meanwhile, has allowed opposing running backs to total 58 rushing yards and a touchdown—on two yards per carry—in the last two weeks.
Clemens will have to do his part in the rushing department. In his career, Bradford notched 5.5 percent as many rushing attempts as passing attempts and averages 2.5 yards per rush. Mark Sanchez has 6.6 percent as many rushes as tosses and averages 2.7 yards per carry.
Clemens has rushed 14.1 percent as many times as he has thrown the ball and averages 3.1 yards per tote. He’ll get at least a few carries on Monday night.
Engaging in a shootout is not the way for St. Louis to beat 6-1 Seattle, regardless of venue. The Rams have to hold the Seahawks below 20 points to really have a shot at a W, just like they did in 2012.
When Russell Wilson doesn’t throw an interception, Seattle is 12-1 (including playoffs). Forcing him into giving the ball up is absolutely imperative. The Rams caught three of his passes in their first meeting—his fourth career game—in 2012.
St. Louis and Seattle each won on their own home field last season. The losing team had 13 points in each matchup; the winner scored 19 (St. Louis in Week 4) or 20 (Seattle in Week 17).
Two of the three Rams who got picks in that game are no longer with the team. The lone holdover is second-year corner Trumaine Johnson. His interception was more like a well-timed forced fumble, underscoring the Rams’ need for their defensive backs to be both physical in coverage and sure tacklers in run—or catch-and-run—support.
St. Louis must be able to depend more on its run defense. If the DBs continue to miss tackles and allow big runs, Seattle will erase all doubt as to the matchup’s victor sooner rather than later.
Follow Jamal on Twitter: Follow @JCollierD