During the bye week, every NFL staff completes a self-scout of all contests prior to the break, breaking down any and all tendencies in the game’s three phases (offense, defense, special teams) as the pro department, quality-control coaches and staff put the final touches on the upcoming opponent. This is a great time for players to recharge the battery, rehab injuries, spend time with families or visit their old college stopping grounds to watch and support their alma mater.
“I went home and saw family and just relaxed,” Rams wide receiver Tavon Austin said, “and now I’m back to work. Everybody needed it – not just me. Everybody needed it. Hopefully we just come back the rest of this season and finish strong.”
“Anytime you get a bye, it is good for your body to recover,” running back Zac Stacy seconded. “It helped out a lot of guys, in terms of guys being banged up a little bit. It was good to get out and fly around a little bit; I was excited about practice today.”
The Rams headed into the bye week with some momentum. Fans, coaches and players hope that excitement and juice that culminated in a win over the Colts will continue this week against the Bears. It is a series that dates back to 1937, and Sunday will mark the 89th meeting between the two franchises.
St. Louis’ defensive front seven is playing dominant football, stopping the run and creating pressure on the pocket. Offensively the team has played well over the last three games, while the special teams unit had some outstanding success.
The league’s youngest team (24.98 years) dropped a few games that it should have won (Atlanta, Seattle, Tennessee), but the growth meter continues to climb for this club.
A look back:
*Quarterback Kellen Clemens has played well, putting up good-but-not-great numbers after replacing starter Sam Bradford (torn ACL). The running game featuring rookies Stacy and Benny Cunningham, however, has taken off as the 2013 season winds to a close.
*The young St. Louis receivers continue to make strides in their route-running development and with respect to their willingness to aggressively make a play on the ball. The offense’s ability to run the football in the second and third quarter of the season has created a formidable play-action offense, which is a quarterback and receiver’s dream situation against the defense. It will be fun to watch the growth pattern in the last six games of the season – especially if the Austin explosion continues. With the running game ablaze and creating play-action fake opportunities, Clemens is spreading the ball around to receivers Chris Givens and Brian Quick, as well as tight end Jared Cook.
*Captain James Laurinaitis and rookie linebacker Alec Ogletree are neck and neck when it comes to overall snaps played, total tackles, interceptions and passes defended. It seems as though the front seven, as a whole, has found there stride. Sunday’s game against the Bears will be another big test.
Several players have mentioned the playoffs in a roundabout way.
“The ultimate goal is to win out and get in,” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. “That’s the only goal. Crazy things happen in the playoffs. The only focus right now is to get in.”
Cook, who never tasted the postseason nectar while with the Titans, alluded to it as well.
“We have to focus on what makes us a good team, things that are going to keep the ball moving,” he said. “That’s all you got to do. It’s time to finish out the season the best you can. Win as many as you can, and see were the chips may fall.”
“Sam (Bradford) had surgery yesterday,” coach Jeff Fisher said about his sidelined No. 1 quarterback yesterday. “I spoke with (head athletic trainer) Reggie (Scott), who’s down there with him, and he said everything went very, very well. It’s a very, very healthy knee considering the circumstances, and so they were pleased.”
Fisher also addressed a rather peculiar injury suffered by another signal-caller.
“Brady (Quinn) had some issues with his low back in the weight room,” Fisher said. “It was just kind of a very freak thing and we’re trying to get him back as quick as we can.”
As for Lance Kendricks and Harvey Dahl, the tight end and offensive guard remain out on a week-to-week basis.