ReFo: Titans @ Rams, Week 9
With the Rams losing Sam Bradford, most expected them to end up as whipping boys for half-decent teams but so far they have run teams close under Kellen Clemens, albeit coming up short in the end. This was another example against the Titans. This game was close all the way through and was only settled for good when Clemens lofted a hopeful jump-ball to the Tennessee end zone which Austin Pettis was unable to reel in and send the game to over time.
For the Rams, they will be encouraged that they can still be a viable team even with Bradford down, but the Titans will be a little concerned they couldn’t pull away from a team they will have been expecting to beat, even on the road.
Let’s take a closer look at the individual performances that shaped the game.
Tennessee: Three Performances of Note
Weak Link on the OL
The Titans’ line put in mixed performances when it came to protecting Jake Locker. The left side in particular held up well, as you might expect. In 56 combined pass blocking snaps the left side of Michael Roos and Andy Levitre remained perfect in pass protection, allowing not a single pressure all day. As we move right though, the problems start to emerge. C Brian Schwenke allowed a hurry and knockdown and RG Chance Warmack coughed up a sack and three further hurries. But the biggest issue came from RT Mike Otto, who surrendered a sack and five more hurries for a -6.6 overall grade. That mark is by far the poorest grade of any of the Titans’ linemen and he struggled dealing with the Rams’ defensive ends all game long. This was a tough ask for Otto, stepping into the lineup at RT against one of the league’s most fearsome pass rushing duos at DE, and unfortunately for him he showed every inch of the difficulty in his performance.
Casey’s Up and Down Afternoon
Jurrell Casey started the season on fire in 2013. Though he has calmed down his performances recently he is still putting in positive games and making a nuisance of himself, especially in the pass game. He earned a pair of sacks in this game from his relentless rushing, and notched another four hurries along the way. His pass rush grade was an impressive +3.9, but his run defense was a -1.5 as he found himself driven off the line a couple of times by St. Louis double teams. As if his day wasn’t complete he was also asked to line up as a linebacker and defend TE Jared Cook one-on-one during the game. Needless to say this did not go well. To be fair to Casey he hustled, gave chase, and made the tackle, but he was hung out to dry by the Titans’ scheme and allowed essentially a free first down to the Rams.
Locker’s Post-Injury Performances
When he went down injured, the initial thought was that Jake Locker would miss quite a bit of time. As it turns out, he came back quickly enough, but with a brace on his knee and visibly gutting it out. In this game his stats speak for themselves to a large degree and the advanced numbers and grading back it up. He completed just a single pass that traveled more than 10 yards in the air from seven attempts. Under pressure his already iffy numbers fell off a cliff and only a rushing touchdown saved him from a very poor game being bailed out by an unusually potent rushing game.
St Louis: Three Performances of Note
Another OL Weak Link
Just like Tennessee, the Rams had one member of the OL plumb new depths compared to the rest of the unit. Unlike Tennessee, however, the member of the Rams’ unit that was suffering was a former first-round pick. LG Chris Williams managed a -7.0 grade overall, being beaten for a knockdown of his QB and two hurries while also being abused in the run game. He also got flagged twice, once for a false start and once for what looked like a vaguely harsh tripping call after he fell to the ground at the second level and collected LB Akeem Ayers with his legs. Other than Williams, the line held up well with Jake Long putting in another strong performance at LT to suggest the Rams did well signing him despite injury concerns this off-season.
HB Yin and Yang
Zac Stacy’s 131 rushing yards speak for themselves to a large degree, but he also gained 81 of those yards after contact and made seven people miss along the way, including three on one play as he spun off defenders and reversed field to gain extra yards. Stacy was the bellcow for the Rams, carrying 27 times while nobody else topped three. That is probably largely planned, but his backup Benny Cunningham may have sealed matters by fumbling the ball on one of his three carries. Fumbles are bad enough in the eyes of coaches, but this was completely untouched as he ran through a large hole opened up by his blocking. You have to feel for Cunningham, a guy just trying to make an impact in his opportunities, and ends up doing something he may well have never done before, simply losing the ball mid-stride.
Kellen Clemens Comes Up Short
This was probably about as good as you are going to get from Kellen Clemens. He started the game hot, spreading it around to different receivers and getting rid of the ball on time and in rhythm. As the game progressed and the Rams felt the clock winding down on them needing to score, they started to ask more of Clemens, giving him deeper drops and expecting the ball to be in his hands for longer and that’s when the wheels began to fall off the wagon. His fumble was unfortunate and was the play that really put the Rams in a hole as Chris Johnson scored on the next play, forcing them to chase the game. He ended up coming up short, despite giving his receiver a chance to make a play on their last chance on 4th down. The bottom line for St. Louis is that they need to put Clemens in beneficial situations – when they do he can be viable, but when he is asked to do too much they come up short.
– Under pressure, Jake Locker’s passer rating fell from 78.1 to 9.2
– No Titans’ receiver was targeted more than five times, with Kendall Wright leading the way.
– Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey combined for 11 of the 17 total pressures Tennessee generated.
PFF Game Ball
You won’t see this too often, but for blocking well all game and making the most of the one pass that came his way for a 22-yard gain, Collin Mooney gets the PFF Game Ball.
Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam