Rams Might Have Trouble With Seattle’s Defense
By Chris Cuff
Opponent: St. Louis Rams
Season record: 1-2
Head coach Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams cannot like this math: Rams Quarterback Sam Bradford was sacked six times by Chicago last week while Seattle sacked Aaron Rodgers eight times. Bradford and the Rams were held to a season-low 160 yards by the Bears as a hobbled Steven Jackson and a decimated offensive line offered little help.
Fisher, one of the league’s best coaches, can’t like his team’s chances against NFC defensive player of the week Chris Clemons and the Seahawks’ No. 1 scoring defense. The Rams have all kinds of issues on offense. Jackson is working through a groin injury, which limited him to 11 carries for 29 yards against Chicago. He has just 41 attempts for 140 yards this season.
Part of the problem is the Rams’ tattered line, which — like Seattle’s offensive line — is poised to start its fourth combination in four games. Center Scott Wells (broken foot) and tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) are out for weeks, and former Seahawk Wayne Hunter figures to start at left tackle. Hunter reportedly is hobbled by knee and ankle injuries, and he isn’t that good even when healthy.
If Bradford gets any time, he has some decent receiving options. In the Rams’ 31-28 win over Washington in Week Two, wide receiver Danny Amendola caught 15 passes for 160 yards and a touchdown. Former Washington State Cougar receiver Brandon Gibson caught a touchdown pass in each of the first two games.
Of course, the Seahawks might not give Bradford any time to find those guys. After a poor first game against Arizona rushing the passer, they have turned it up the last two weeks. They sacked Dallas QB Tony Romo just once, but they hit him half a dozen other times, and then they put Rodgers down eight times in the first half Monday — four by Clemons, two by first-round pick Bruce Irvin and two by defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, who is playing at a Pro Bowl level this season.
The Seahawks rank first in the NFL in scoring defense (13 points per game), second vs. the run (58.7 yards per game), fourth in total defense (272 yards per game) and fifth in sacks (10).
The Rams’ best weapon might be rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein, who replaced former Seahawk Josh Brown. Zuerlein has made all eight field-goal tries, including a 56-yarder last week. Of course, the Rams have to move the ball well enough to get him within field goal range.
With little chance of moving the ball consistently, the question for the Rams becomes: Can they stop Marshawn Lynch? With rookie quarterback Russell Wilson at the helm, the Seahawks are the league’s worst passing team, so Seattle head coach Pete Carroll is playing it conservatively on purpose. He has made it very clear how he intends to win games this season: Play great defense and run the ball. Lynch leads the NFC with 305 rushing yards and is poised to add to that total against a St. Louis team that gave up 203 yards and two touchdowns to him in two games last season.
Those numbers can’t look good to Fisher.
And here are some more stats Fisher won’t like: The Rams have beaten the Seahawks just once in the last 14 games and have lost four straight in the series, including a 24-7 setback at home last season.
The Rams don’t seem to be in position to end that streak.
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Chris Cluff worked as a sports editor and writer for The Seattle Times for 11 years and has written two books on the Seattle Seahawks. Since leaving the Times, he has written about the Seahawks and Seattle sports for Bleacher Report and the blog he shares with a fellow sportswriter, outsidethepressbox.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.