Okay, so a couple of weeks ago, I said the Rams would have to get to 4-1 before they'd be taken seriously nationally. Well, no one's buying in yet. But, if the Rams beat Seattle on Sunday, watch how many stories will be done nationally on what Scott Linehan is doing in his first year as a head coach. When you beat the defending conference champions, people have to take you seriously..
The Rams are an imperfect 4-1. They have some holes in their game but they've been able to make plays at critical times that mask some deficiencies. After five games, some noteworthy trends begin to develop. The biggest compliment I can pay the Rams is that they're mentally tough. They don't back down when hit with adversity. That's a championship trait. Give Linehan and his staff credit for instilling toughness. Not the kind of toughness that limits teams to 50 yards rushing a game. That will come later. It's the kind of toughness that keeps the Rams in games.
Having said all this, the Rams are going to have to clean some things up to survive the the next five games. They are embarking on a stretch in which they'll play Seattle twice and play at San Diego and Carolina. They need to clean up the short yardage running game. Kicking field goals will keep the Rams in games. But, it will get them beat by good football teams. The running game in general is much improved but the short yardage running game is not. No excuse not to gain a yard inside the five yard line when you have two tight ends in and 266 pound fullback Madison Hedgecock leading Steven Jackson. Also, keep an eye out for Linehan using Stephen Davis more in short yardage situations. He's more of a straight line north-south runner than Steven. That's no knock on Jackson. He's been terrific so far.
Also, the run defense has to be better than it has been in the first five weeks. The Rams are one or two more big bodies away from being really nasty up front. In the meantime, Jim Haslett has to find a way to keep teams from controlling the ball. The Rams' injuries at cornerback helped contribute to the Packers 121 yards on the ground Sunday. With a rookie starting at corner and then two later injuries, Haslett didn't want to expose his corners to one on one coverage so he played a lot of zone defense meaning two safeties were deep to help out. That took an extra body away from the line of scrimmage or "out of the box". That makes it tougher to stop the run and the Packers were smart to take advantage. The Rams' philosophy against Green Bay was "bend but don't break."
The Seahwaks are a very good team despite that beating they took at Chicago in week four. Don't read too much into that because right now the Bears are in a league of their own. But, Seattle can be had. A win Sunday would let the Seahawks know the NFC West is up for grabs again. If Seattle comes in to the Dome and wins again, they'll continue to believe the Rams are not a threat.