After being punked in San Francisco by the bigger and better 49ers, the Rams headed to the desert to take on the resurgent Arizona Cardinals. These two teams have definitely taken different paths after their week 1 meeting with the Rams fighting youth and injuries and the Cardinals looking to play their way into the last playoff spot in the NFC. The Rams were looking to play spoiler but instead were stepped on and punched in the mouth once again by a divisional foe.
Alec Ogletree - The Rams 2nd pick in the first round of the 2013 draft is really starting to come into his own as the Rams weak side linebacker. Ogletree led the team in tackles once again and at his current pace, is set to break the Rams single season rookie record for tackles.
TJ McDonald - When the Rams defense was struggling earlier in the year, McDonald was the lone bright spot. After missing most of the season with an injury, the rookie from USC really has bounced back in a big way. McDonald still struggles in coverage but his tackling skills have been stellar since taking over the safety spot in training camp.
Zack Stacy - Stacy only rushed for 25 yards but he continues to be the bulldozer the Rams hoped when they drafted him in the 5th round of the 2013 draft. If the Rams offensive line can figure out how to block, Stacy can do some damage to any defense.
Kellen Clemens - In the last two games, Kellen Clemens has shown us why he is career back up quarterback. The Cardinals defense is good but Clemens was just plain awful. He made some horrible throws, missed some wide open receivers and misread many things. The Rams don't ask Clemens to carry the load and throw the ball 40 times a game but they do expect him to limit the mistakes and play smart.
The Offensive Line - Part of Kellen Clemens problem was that he had zero protection. The Cardinals blitzed early and often and most times, the Rams had no idea who to block. The offensive line also didn't open any holes for the running game and that in turn forced Clemens to become more of a passer, something he really isn't know for. The recipe for Rams success is easy. Run the ball, burn the clock and mix in some passing along the way. If they can't do that, they struggle.
Defensive Line - The Rams D-Line has been their best unit all year but in this game, they were completely shut down by the Cardinals. Robert Quinn and Chris Long were no where to be found and it allowed Carson Palmer to pick apart the weak Rams secondary.
Secondary - I wish the Rams secondary could cover as well as they talk. I've never seen a bunch of guys continue to talk smack and get burnt over and over and over again. The Rams are young but at some point, that has to stop being an excuse.
Penalties - Same story, different week. You can't win games when you continue to commit 12 penalties a game.
Coaching - The Cardinals did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted in all phases of the game. The Rams, made absolutely no adjustments. They also once again failed to get the ball into their play makers hands, something that apparently is easier said then done.
As the Rams head into the final 3 games of the season, the team is playing for nothing but pride and where their draft pick will be. They do have the Redskins first round pick next season so the Rams brain trust will have 2 top 15 picks to try and fix some of the problems.
This week, the Saints come marching into the Dome, a place where they have actually struggled. However, this Rams secondary is hurt and young, a deadly combination when you have a MVP caliber quarterback in Drew Brees on the other side. The Rams are going to have to play mistake free football, take advantage of anything given to them by the Saints and wish for a Christmas miracle if they are going to spring the upset.