This week, we are joined by 3k from Turf Show Times to discuss the Rams and what the Bengals must do in order to stop their skid at two games. How does a Rams fan see this matchup playing out? Read on to find out!
Q: After nine games, Jeff Fisher decided to bench Nick Foles and go with Case Keenum. While Foles was not lighting it up, the Rams were still in position to battle for a wildcard spot. Why did Fisher decide to make this move? Do you think it is the right move? And what does Keenum offer, that Foles did not? Who will be playing on Sunday?
A: I think you can explain this one easiest with the same rationale for the Nick Foles-Sam Bradford trade: change for the sake of change. It's not so much that Keenum is a "better" option or improves the passing game. It's just a matter of Foles not getting it done the last month. Sometimes it's enough of a spark to change momentum and get things going. Now obviously, it didn't work...but that doesn't necessarily mean it was the wrong call. And you wouldn't have found many Rams fans a week ago who were all that upset about the switch.
As for this Sunday, it's down to Keenum passing concussion protocols. If we're being honest though, it doesn't matter. Jeff Fisher football cuts the quarterback down to 50 percent in any case, so it's not all that big of a decision.
Q: Speaking of Fisher, this is his fourth year in Saint Louis and he has yet to put up a winning record or find a quarterback. In fact, he hasn't had a record over .500 since 2008 when he went 13-3 with the Kerry Collins/Chris Johnson lead Titans. Do you believe Fisher is coaching for his job this year? And if so, what will it take in order for him to keep his job?
A: I guess you could argue he's coaching for his job, but I don't think he's losing that battle. The Rams won six games last year and he made it to the 2015 offseason unscathed. I'd be surprised (a) if the Rams don't win at least two more games and (b) the same outcome doesn't repeat itself.
The promise of Fisher-ball is always alluring. To win 13 games with Kerry Collins at the quarterback position tells you what you need to know. You don't need a great answer there. You need everything else. Most would argue, and I'd be inclined to agree, the Rams are close. But getting the final offensive components are going to be tough to pick up in a single offseason. It's likely the last one Fisher gets without a winning record.
Q: Todd Gurley has taken the NFL by storm and is the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year (if not Rookie of the Year). Despite missing the first two (really three) games, he ranks fourth in the NFL in terms of rushing yards (775), is tied for second with six rushing touchdowns and his 5.0 YPC is tied for fourth amongst running backs with 100+ carries. Just how good is Todd Gurley? And what makes him so difficult to stop?
A: He's good. He's real good. It's just a combination of skills. He's too fast for his size and he plays too big for his speed. It's just a rare skill set to have in a single back.
The bigger concern for the Rams is that it took a Matt Millen-like effort to get there. The Rams draft four running backs from 2012-2014 under Jeff Fisher to begin preparing for the post-Steven Jackson era. Landing Gurley has been an unquestioned hit, but it cost the Rams 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th round picks in the preceding years to get there. Oh, and of those four RBs drafted in the three seasons prior to Gurley? None were in a Rams uniform on Sunday.
Q: The Rams have one of the best defenses in the league. In my opinion, they probably are the top defense in the league. What makes this defense so good? And are there any weaknesses on this defense?
A: It's just well-staffed front to back. The line grabs most of the headlines with DT Aaron Donald the superstar, though DE Robert Quinn is starting to get overlooked at this point (struggling with some injuries this year is certainly adding to that). The linebacking corps is capable, though the potential of OLB Alec Ogletree was burning obvious. He's now on IR, which really stings. He was developing into a top quality sideline-to-sideline LB. And the secondary is just talented. You've got athletes at CB in Janoris Jenkins, Tru Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner, though perhaps the best pure cover options among them is second-year man E.J. Gaines...also on IR. And Rodney McLeod and T.J. McDonald at the back combined with the run-stuffing Mark Barron won't make problems. It's just very well-built.
If there's a weakness, it's over-aggression, both from a scheme standpoint and a pursuit one. Def. Coordinator Gregg Williams loves to bring extra rushers into the fray, and the Rams are a very, very physical defense in general. When they put all those chickens in one basket though, it's bound to backfire from time to time. The two 80+-yard receptions (which were really 5-yard passes and 75-yard runs) are clear examples of that.
Q: If you were the Bengals coordinators, how would you attack this Rams team on offense and defense?
A: On offense, you have to get the running game off. If you can run the ball at least a bit against the Rams, you can attack them underneath the middle. If you can't run though and you get stuck in 3rd and long situations or feeling desperate to move the ball through the air in bigger chunks before 3rd down. you're playing into the Rams' defensive hands.
On defense...just load up against Todd Gurley. The Rams can't pass the ball to save their lives, so it doesn't make sense to allocate a ton of defensive assets across the back.
Q: What is your prediction for Sunday?
A: I don't see how the Rams win this...which is exactly the kind of game they win under Jeff Fisher. Three weeks ago, the Rams were 4-3 and looking to set up position for a playoff run. Their last three games have been an overtime loss in Minnesota, a bounceback loss at home to Chicago and Week 11's loss to the Ravens after being up 13-3 to start the 4th quarter... Everything's headed in the right direction to pull off an unfathomable win.
But, nope. Can't do it. Yall win by two touchdowns with an early pick-six. The Rams will score less than 10 points. Tears will be shed. Children will scream. Woe. Woe for ever and ever.