The St. Louis Rams have lost the last three of the four times they’ve met up with the Seattle Seahawks. Their last win came in St. Louis on October 3, 2010 during week 4 when they beat the Matthew Hasselbeck lead Hawks 3-20. That was also the last time the Rams started the season at 2-2.
Two years later both teams find themselves in similar situations. Seattle comes in at 2-1 and St. Louis finds itself at 1-2 heading into week 4. Rams running back Steven Jackson is nursing a groin injury again and is questionable for the game. In 2010, Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung left the game with an ankle injury and finds himself in 2012 playing with a bum knee. Déjà vu isn’t just a song by Dionne Warwick, folks.
Despite his strained groin Jackson managed to play through the pain in 2010 and lead the Rams with a combined 126 yards rushing and receiving (70 yards rushing on 22 carries and 3 receptions for 54 yards.)
Jackson will have to have a repeat performance in order for the Rams to beat a much improved Seahawks in 2012.
The Five Things I’ll be watching for in week 4:
1) Will running back Steven Jackson be effective?
I’ve already recapped what he did back in 2010 when he was dealing with that groin injury. Can he take the team on his shoulders or in this case his legs and take the Rams to a .500 record? Jackson didn’t participate in practices all week so there’s optimism that he’s healed up enough to give it a go on Sunday.
If Jackson can’t be effective then Coach Fisher has a back up plan.
Well, we’ve been splitting reps. They’re all ready to play, even (RB) Terrance (Ganaway) is ready to play. We’ve been splitting reps in the event that ‘Jack’ can’t go.
Last week the sixth ranked rushing defense (76 yards per game allowed) of the Chicago Bears held the entire Rams running game to 59 yards on 17 carries. The Seahawks are ranked second allowing a meager 58 yards per game. It’s not looking very promising at this point.
2) Can the Rams run defense keep Seahawks running back Marshawn “Skittles” Lynch in check?
Week 4 should be the season debut and very welcome return to the playing field for Rams defensive tackle Michael Brockers. The Rams have had virtually no depth at DT with both Brockers (ankle) and Matt Conrath (knee) side lined. Although Jermelle Cudjo did fill in and did a pretty job at right tackle.
Brockers’ threat of the stuff and big presence is needed to try and keep Lynch from extending his rumbling ways in the Dome. Lynch is currently ranked fifth in the league in rushing yards with 303 yards and 4.2 yards per carry. Incidentally, the Rams have been giving up on average 120.7 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry. This lands them 22nd in the league at defending the run. No bueno.
Rams fans will have to hope their resident rookie cookie monster can stuff the run as well as he can stuff chocolate chip cookies into his jaws.
3) Can the Rams keep quarterback Sam Bradford from suffering eight first half sacks like Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers?
Honestly, I don’t have great confidence right now. I have to give props to the Seattle defense. They absolutely beasted last week in Green Bay. I’ve already mentioned their eight first half sacks: DE Chris Clemons (4), DT Brandon Mebane (2), and LB Bruce Irvin (2). They also recorded 10 tackles for losses and 12 QB hits. Aaron Rodgers was not a happy camper last week.
The biggest thing to take away from the Packers-Seahawks game were the half time adjustments made by the Packers head coach Mike McCarthy according to an AP report.
After calling 24 pass plays against the Seahawks — resulting in 15 pass attempts, an eye-popping eight sacks and one Rodgers scramble — and just three running plays en route to a 7-0 halftime deficit, McCarthy morphed into his old mentor Marty Schottenheimer during the break and went heavy with the run to start the second half.
Which brings me back to my first point about how the Rams running game will be a big factor. Who better than the channel Marty Schottenheimer than his own son, Brian, the Rams offensive coordinator. Take note, Schotty. The Rams have to establish the run game to have any shot at winning this game.
4) Can the Rams defense take advantage of the mix-and-match offensive line of the Seahawks?
Doesn’t that sound oh too familiar? As the Rams deal with their own offensive line issues the Seahawks have a few of their own as well. Their starting left guard John Moffitt is doubtful and their right guard James Carpenter will be making his season debut at that position this Sunday. But there’s more:
The other complication is right tackle Breno Giacomini, who did not practice all week due to a strained pectoral muscle. He is listed as probable, but if he aggravates the injury the Hawks will have to shuffle up and deal a new tackle. That would be either McQuistan or Frank Omiyale, who filled in for left tackle Russell Okung in Week 2 against Dallas.
With Brockers back plugging up in the interior this should give the outside ends, Chris Long and Robert Quinn more opportunities to say hello the Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson. Long took advantage of a porous Bears offensive line to get his first two sacks of the season on Jay Cutler.
5) Do you know about Michael Robinson?
He could be Seattle’s super secret weapon on the offense. He’s listed and plays full back for the Seahawks but what most people don’t know is he played quarterback at Penn State and finished fifth in 2005 for the Heisman Award and was the 2005 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year.
The last time he threw a pass was in that very same game in week 4 against the Rams during the 2010 season. The Seahawks had a third and one in the second quarter and Robinson threw a 28 yard pass deep to Leon Washington to convert the first down. Robinson can also catch passes. Just sayin’ the Rams might want to keep him in the back of their minds.
The Seahawks defense doesn’t make me shudder as much as the Bears defense did last week. But that doesn’t mean I am taking them any less seriously. And neither should Bradford.
Schottenheimer needs to follow the Packer adjustment model and plug away at the running game regardless of whether Jackson is leading the charge. Back up running back Daryl Richardson has shown he can handle a good portion of the work load like he did in week two at the Dome.
No running game will spell disaster for Bradford and the passing game. He will probably still see at least two sacks Sunday afternoon probably through the left side of the line. He’ll still come up with one passing touchdown though.
The Rams defense will have some fun and give Wilson a proper “Welcome to the Dome” greeting. He’ll take a few spills as well if Lynch doesn’t get rolling. I can also see cornerback Cortland Finnegan collecting his fourth interception in as many games.
Overall, this will be a closer match up than last week in Chicago. Something tells me this one will come down a winning performance from Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein.
I like the Rams to squeak this one out by 3 points. They win 23-20 and send the Hawks home on an unhappy flight.