By Cedric Williams
It’s a distinction no team would be happy to have, but it’s hard to imagine any two teams played worse last week during Week 4 NFL action than the St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars did in losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts.
The Rams were hoping to show a national TV audience on Thursday Night Football that they were indeed worthy of the high praise as one of the league’s top up-and-coming teams that they received during the offseason.
Instead, St. Louis was exposed as not ready for primetime in a 35-11 loss to the Niners. And Jacksonville was just pummeled by the Colts, 37-3.
This Sunday, the Rams and Jags will meet at the Edward Jones Dome in a matchup of teams with just one win between them; it will provide the victors the chance to believe that they’ve righted their ship, while the loser will continue to march down a path that could lead to the worst record in the league.
And if the Rams were to lose to the Jacksonville, there would be little reason to believe they won’t finish the year with the worst record in the league, and vice versa.
Jacksonville on Offense
Through four games, the Jags have the worst offense in the league.
They rank 30th in pass offense (175.0 yards/game), 32nd in rushing (49.0 yards/game), and are the lowest scoring team in the league as well (7.75 points/game).
Last week, Jacksonville managed just 205 yards against the Colts, with quarterback (and native St. Louisan) Blaine Gabbert passing for just 165 yards, no touchdowns, and three interceptions.
The run game continued to be atrocious as well, with veteran Maurice Jones-Drew—once considered the best back in the league—carrying the ball 13 times and gaining just 23 yards.
And though leading receiver Cecil Shorts III caught seven passes for 61 yards last week. This season he’s been targeted 52 times and caught just 26 balls for 337 yards.
Jacksonville on Defense
Defensively, the numbers aren’t quite as bad for the Jags, who rank 23rd in overall defense and are a respectable 11th in the league in pass defense.
But part of the reason Jacksonville hasn’t given up as many passing yards as some other teams is because the Jags have by far the worst run defense in the league, which allows 164.2 yards/game.
The second-worst rushing defense in the league belongs to the Washington Redskins, and they “only” give up 142.2 yards/game.
If Jacksonville could hold an opponent to that “low” a number, Jags fans would probably consider that a win.
Jacksonville’s best player on defense is middle linebacker Paul Posluszny, who ranks second in the league with 40 total tackles.
Sunday’s meeting will mark just the fourth time the Rams and Jaguars have met in regular season action.
St. Louis leads the all-time series 2-1, with each team winning the games played at their home stadiums.
The last meeting between the Rams and Jags was in 2009, when Jacksonville won 23-20 in overtime.
The two previous games in St. Louis went to the Rams (17-14 in 1996 and 24-21 in 2005).
If the Rams can’t handle the team that, at the first quarter-pole of the season, looks to be the worst team in the league, in a game at home, following an embarrassing loss on national television to its arch-rivals, then it might be time to consider firing everyone.
From the head coach and general manager to the guy selling popcorn in section 417, if the Rams can’t get a win against Jacksonville, then everybody’s head will be on the proverbial chopping block.
With 10 days to prepare though, St. Louis figures to find the right formula and get back on track against the Jaguars.
For more Rams news and updates, visit Rams Central.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a freelance reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the Rams and small-school college sports for Examiner.com and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at email@example.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.