By Rich Kurtzman
2014 has been anything but easy going for the St. Louis Rams.
Before the regular season even began, the Rams lost franchise quarterback Sam Bradford to the same torn ACL which sidelined him in Week 7 of last season, ending his year. Somewhat incredibly, the team seems to have found a player in second-year pro Austin Davis, who has played decently considering he was just thrown into the mix at the start of the season. The knock on the 25-year old is his inability to take care of the football. In last week’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals, the Rams took a 14-10 lead into the fourth quarter when Arizona put up 21 unanswered points to win the game. Davis’ two interceptions and a fumble helped the Cardinals score and left St. Louis with more questions than answers at the most important position on the team.
“I didn’t play well enough to win today,” Davis said to the media after the loss. “I think the thing I’m learning really quick is you can play well for three and a half quarters but you’ve got to play four. You can’t have a single letdown and right now I’m having those and it’s costing our football team. I’ve got to stay the course, stay strong and keep getting better and eliminate these mistakes, mainly turnovers, that are costing our football team.”
On the season, he’s thrown 12 touchdowns compared to nine interceptions, in eight starts. Those numbers just won’t get it done.
Currently, the Rams are 3-6, sitting in the basement of the gritty NFL West. The team isn’t as bad as their record indicates, either, as two of their wins have come against the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks and the NFC Championship losing San Francisco 49ers.
Football fans will recall Jeff Fisher’s decision to run a fake punt deep in his own end of the field against the Seahawks to seal the victory. Earlier in that game, Fisher’s Rams faked as if they were catching a punt on one side of the field, drawing the Seahawks players that way, only to have a man catch the ball on the opposite side and run for a touchdown. Coaching-wise, Fisher is one of the gutsiest in the game, unafraid to go for it on fourth downs or use some “trickeration” to help his odds. The Broncos are likely aware of that and must be ready for anything this Sunday.
On defense, the Rams are eighth-best in the league at allowing touchdowns. Only 13 all season, which is, of course, Denver’s specialty. St. Louis’ other strength is forcing fumbles, they have seven on the season and have recovered all seven as well. James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree form a formidable linebacking duo, and they’re Nos. 2 and 3 respectively in tackles, while Ogletree has forced three of those fumbles.
Without a doubt, while the Rams may look like an easy opponent, with a 3-6 record, they’ll present difficulties for Denver this weekend. Fisher is a very good NFL coach, he’ll have his team prepared, meaning the Broncos must be ready to go in all three phases or risk losing on the road.
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Rich is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.