We are heading into Week 11 of the 2015 NFL season and the St. Louis Rams are... unfolding.
Last week, we saw a heavily favored Rams team flounder against the less than stellar Chicago Bears. The week before, a tough, close loss to the Minnesota Vikings. The common denominator in both games – abysmal quarterback and receiver play.
Well, head coach Jeff Fisher benched quarterback Nick Foles, but will that change the Rams' odds of winning?
Here's the players to watch versus the Baltimore Ravens:
Players to Watch
G/T Andrew Donnal/Cody Wichmann
Honestly, the entire offensive line room should be listed here since:
A) They are all pretty shitty
B) Rob Havenstein will probably-maybe-not likely playing this week.
C) Big Rob's backup, Darrell Williams is out for the season after undergoing surgery on his wrist.
D) We – and probably not even Fisher – have no a clue who will start.
Whoever ends up starting, needs to pave the way for the next guy on this list. The odds of winning increase exponentially when thisd kid has a good day in the office.
RB Todd Gurley
Todd Gurley is still No. 4 in the league in terms of rushing yards with 709 rushing yards to his name. That is good. Really good, in fact, for a rookie running back that is coming back from an ACL tear, it is exceptional.
The Rams need Todd to be exceptional. He lead the rams offense during his four game stretch of 125-plus rushing yards. It was no coincidence the Rams went 3-1 during that period.
He cannot have another outing like last week's. Twelve carries for 45 yards will not be enough. Of course, the Rams cannot commit fully to the run if they are playing from behind. So, if they get a lead, the team needs to make sure to uphold it and run it all day.
CB Janoris Jenkins
Whether it is finally clicking or he's betting on himself, Janoris Jenkins is in full #ClampSeason mode.
Janoris his tied with fellow cornerback Trumaine Johnson with 10 passes defended. Alshon Jeffery was held to 23 yards by the duo. In Week 9, Vikings receiver Stephon Diggs was held to 42 yards. Against the Browns, JJ and Tru held Travis Benjamin to 47. See the trend. #Clamps
Jenkins has also been more willing to hit this season. His forced fumble against the Cleveland Browns? A hard hit.
Against the Ravens, he will most likely be asked to "clamp" down on ex-Ram Chris Givens. Givens hi a sprinter at the WR position. He his pretty much good for the go route. And like other receivers of his ilk, he struggles against man coverage. Lets hope for less 10-yard cushions.
QB Case Keenum
It's Case's time to shine now. And luckily for him, he does not need to shine too bright.
Let's take a quick case study, a look at Keenum's last start, back when he was with the Houston Texans. In that game – Week 17 against the Jacksonville Jaguars – Keenum threw for 25 out of 35, 250 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams need this Case to show up.
The fourth year signal-caller out of the University of Houston will not be asked to throw 35 times. This offense will run the shit out of the ball. Case does, however, need to replicate his 71% completion rate. That is what this Rams need; an accurate passer that can hit those open receivers.
Will Keenum be accurate is the question. He has a career completion percentage of 55.2.
Will his receivers make the catch is another question altogether...
DE Robert Quinn
Despite ranking third in terms of sacks with 29, the defensive line has struggled as of late to generate a consistent pass rush. Aside from Aaron Donald and Nick Fairley pressuring the quarterback, no one has done much. Part of that could be explained by Robert being injured.
As my good friend, and fellow beer enthusiast, Brandon "No Diggity, No Doubt" Bate noted, Quinn has appeared on the injury report list in some sort or fashion since late October. He's back on the list again this week. He did not participate in Wednesday's practice. He was a no-go on Thursday's hypothetical injury report as well. So, we will have to see if he plays.
At least it seems Chris Long will be returning to action.