Notebook 10/19: Rams Look to Solve Carolina Defense in Search of Second Straight Road Win

Posted Oct 18, 2013

While Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher chooses not to place any additional emphasis on any individual games throughout a given season, a win this week would establish a couple of key milestones.

A win Sunday would push the Rams above the .500 plateau this late in the season since 2006, when they were 4-3 following Week 7. It would also mark the first time since 2010 that the Rams would pick up road victories in consecutive weeks. The Rams won three straight on the road last year, though they came in the midst of a five-week span.

For the second straight week, the Rams will be up against one of the league’s best defensive fronts. The unit, led by Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera and Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott, is ranked fourth in run defense, allowing 88.8 yards per game, and has the league’s second-stingiest scoring defense, permitting just 13.6 points per game. By contrast, the Rams have produced their best scoring production in consecutive games in nearly seven years. The Rams’ 72 points over the past two games is the largest two-game total since scoring 78 points during the final two weeks of the 2006 season.

It’s very talented,” Fisher said of the Panthers’ defense.  “The Texans’ defense was talented, but this is a different design, different scheme. A lot more pressure I think, pass rush pressure early downs. They’re very good at collapsing the pocket.”

On the strength of an opportunistic defense and efficient offensive attack a week ago, the Rams piled up a season-best 38 points on the league’s top-ranked defense in Houston, despite totaling just 216 yards of offense. The scoring spree was led by QB Sam Bradford, who produced the most efficient game of his four-year career, completing 12 of 16 passes for 117 yards and three touchdowns for a passer rating of 134.6. Bradford credits the Rams’ improved run game and offensive balance for the recent uptick in offensive production, and expects this week to be no different.

“You’ve seen the past two weeks just having some balance between the run game and the pass game, I think it’s led us to be more efficient,” Bradford said at his mid-week press conference. “We’ve kept defenses off balance with what we’re doing. I think it’s been really good for all aspects of our game. When you play a defense that’s as good as Carolina, you’ve got to be able to run the football and you’ve got to be able to keep them off-balance. The biggest thing for us is last week playing Minnesota, they did a pretty good job stuffing the run on first down, got them behind the chains. For us to be successful this week, if we do run the ball on first down, they’ve got to be positive runs and we’ve got to play from ahead of the sticks.”

News and Notes:

-Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher and Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera were teammates while playing for the 1984 Chicago Bears.

-Sunday is the Rams’ first visit to Carolina since 2006. The Rams are 8-10 all-time against their former NFC West rivals.

-The Rams’ offense has not committed a turnover since Week 4 against San Francisco. If the unit does not commit one this week, it will be the first three-week span without a turnover since 1995, when the Rams played the first four weeks of the season without a turnover.

-Rams K Greg Zuerlein and Panthers K Graham Gano are two of only three remaining NFC kickers who have not missed a field goal in 2013. Zuerlein and Gano are a combined 15-for-15.