Sometimes you don't know what you've got until it's gone.
For three-and-a-half quarters on Monday Night Football against the Seattle Seahawks, St. Louis Rams fans were longing for quarterback Sam Bradford, who has been criticized often in his four-year NFL career. While the Rams played in their first game without Bradford, who tore his ACL against the Carolina Panthers in Week 7, the differences in the Rams' offense were striking.
The spread-out look the team has been implementing looked out of sync and sloppy. Early in the game, tight end Jared Cook quit on a route. Kellen Clemens, the man who replaced Bradford, struggled to get his timing down with the Rams' wide receivers and had spotty accuracy.
Predictably, the Rams did not have impressive results against the Seahawks' tough defense. It took until the fourth quarter for Clemens to pass the 100-yard passing mark. He threw a pair of interceptions, both of which missed the mark by a long shot.
What it came down to was a consistent lack of trust. Rams receivers didn't trust Clemens to get them the ball, because his timing and accuracy were all over the place. The routes weren't as crisp and the focus of the offense was a bit off.
Fortunately for St. Louis, the defense was able to keep them in the game, which allowed for a development in the Rams' offense. Rather than air the ball out, like they have done so often with Bradford under center, the Rams resorted to pounding the football between the tackles and sticking to the running game.
Rookie running back Zac Stacy was the engine driving that portion of the St. Louis offense. Finally getting his chance to shoulder the load in recent weeks, Stacy has been the spark the Rams have needed on offense. On Monday night, he was the workhorse. He carried the ball 24 times for 133 yards, which was the highest total for a Rams rookie since Steven Jackson.
Late in the game, the Rams' offense finally seemed to be clicking. Clemens was on the mark with a few passes, and St. Louis had a chance to win the game. Stacy left the game with a twisted ankle, but Clemens and Daryl Richardson kept the ball moving toward the goal line.
The final pass of the game was a bad one from Clemens that sailed over his receivers head on a questionable play call, putting an end to and up and down night.
The numbers don't paint a pretty picture for Clemens. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes for 158 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. But while everyone expected the Seahawks to throttle the Rams, St. Louis managed to hold its head above water. Clemens was far from perfect, but he strung together a nice drive at the end of the game and put the Rams in a position to win the game.
Clemens' first start of the season was filled with adversity, but the fact that he and the Rams didn't come unwraveled was somewhat of a surprise. If nothing else, it's something for them to build on going forward, even if Clemens isn't the future of the franchise under center.