Monday night is huge for the St. Louis Rams. Forget what is being said about the Rams moving out of town. That is something to be determined after the season. Anything you hear from outside sources is considered white noise, and the Rams front office personnel will simply deny until they die. So let’s stop focusing on a probable occurrence and talk football. The game on Monday is huge for one simple reason. If the Rams can pull off a win over the San Francisco 49ers, the NFC West gets interesting.
If the Rams win, they would be 2-3 and the 49ers would be 3-3. Let’s just jump through a fiery hoop and say the Cowboys shock the Seahawks and Seattle falls to 3-2. Arizona is facing the 1-4 Washington so I will ask for another miracle and suggest they lose as well. Then all the teams are either 3-2, 3-3, or 2-3. Every team is within reach but let’s forget about this notion and go back to the simple task. The Rams need to win.
If the Rams want these out of town headlines to go away, they need to become the story. Play better, rise above the noise and demand respect in your own city. It won’t be easy with the Cards entering the NLCS and the Blues kicking off the season, but the Rams can surely win back some thunder if they shock the 49ers on Monday night in front of a National audience. I remember a game last October between the Rams and Seahawks that almost turned out to be an upset win for St. Louis. It fell short, but I feel like this Week 6 matchup holds all the keys to the Rams season. If they win, they are alive in the playoff hunt. If they lose, their 1-4 record drops them to dismal status. It’s that concrete in the NFL. Win or go away.
How do the Rams win? Here are a few things they can do.
Austin Davis must be great again. The 49ers defense isn’t as strong without Aldon Smith. The 49ers defense has given 106 points in 5 games. They aren’t shutting other teams down and even let Jay Cutler throw more touchdowns than interceptions in a game 2 weeks ago. Davis must keep up with the fleeting and dynamic Colin Kaepernick. In a way, Davis is a poor man’s Kaep. He can move around the pocket, is mobile and moves the team down the field in tight ballgames. Davis has been great and showed his true colors last week in Philly. After a tough first half, Davis came out and nearly led his team back from a 20 point deficit. He didn’t wilt and he didn’t panic. He just got better. He comes home to a crowd that has taken pleasure in his style of play. He has to cut down on the turnovers and use 5-7 of his receivers again because SF will commit to limiting Brian Quick.
The Defense has to be better. They weren’t horrible against the Eagles but they must be great against the 49ers. They have to limit an offense that beat them up last year in the Ed Dome. Kaepernick isn’t easy to stop and the linebackers will have to be ready. The front seven must get pressure, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea for Robert Quinn to get his first sack of the season. The defense has to give Davis a shot to win this game.
Hey Austin Pettis and Jared Cook, catch the football please. Got it? Good. When the Rams get close to the end zone, mistakes can’t be made.
Also, the penalties need to stop. The Rams are among the top teams in the NFL through Week 5 in penalties and they missed one of those weeks already. Last week, take away the 10 penalties for 82 yards and the final score may be a bit different. Most of the Rams penalties are stupid, mindless and disturbing calls. If they continue, the Rams don’t win 4 games this season. It’s okay for a defense to be smash mouth and cocky. When you aren’t smashing teeth and are still cocky, that’s wrong. Fix it.
Jeff Fisher, adapt and learn. If you see your team getting smacked around at half, feel free to change a few things. Take control of your team because this is year 3 and the passes a new coach receives are used up, injured big money QB or not. I am not completely on the Fisher is the Cure bandwagon anymore. He must command this team to be better. The penalties comes from the coach not getting through to the players.
Run Stacy, Run. Zac has been steady all year and solid at times but anytime he is ready to break out with 100 yards, Davis and company would love it. He has shared carries with Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham but Stacy shined a bright light in a dark town a year ago. He woke up this Rams team with his running game. With a better QB behind center, Stacy’s running efficiency could help.
The Rams win and everything could change. The season could garner a few ounces of hope. If they lost, the sadness spreads and the whispers about next year become loud voices. Winning shuts everything else out. Losing welcomes it into the room.
I’d be crazy if I said the Rams had a good shot of winning this game, but call me an Austin Davis believer because I think the kid can pull it off. He just needs a little help.