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Clemens’ Current Competence Won’t Provide Long-Term Payoff

You may be one of those who want Kellen Clemens to shine down the stretch and lead the Rams to the playoffs. I certainly am. But I’m also realistic enough to know that he is not the long-term answer at quarterback for the Rams. In 15 career starts, Clemens has completed 52.2 percent of his passes, 10 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, with a passer rating of 65.3. In St. Louis, Clemens is at 52.8 percent, with five TDs, four interceptions and a rating of 74.3. Tim Tebow, who had that one glorious playoff season with the Broncos, has a career 47.9 percent completion rate, 17 touchdowns, nine interceptions and a passer rating of 75.3. That’s right: Tim Tebow, who isn’t in the league, has better career numbers as a starter than Clemens.

The Rams have done a fabulous job of working with Clemens, and he’s done a great job of filling in for Sam Bradford. But usually 30-year old quarterbacks are what they have been. He’s a really nice backup and a great guy to have on a team, but Kellen Clemens isn’t going to lead a team to a Super Bowl. It’s fair to question whether the Rams have that guy on their roster, but it’s not the guy starting against Chicago on Sunday.

As Mizzou heads to Oxford to take on Ole Miss on Saturday, there’s an area where Gary Pinkel and his staff can take advantage of a decided advantage against the Rebels. Ole Miss has allowed 1,504 rushing yards, 150.4 per game, and just 27 of the 125 FBS teams have allowed more than their 21 rushing touchdowns. The Tigers, meanwhile, have rushed for 2.358 yards and a 5.72 yards-per-carry average. Mizzou’s rushing attack ranks 18th in the country, and the Tigers’ 26 rushing touchdowns are tied for 13th in FBS. This could be a game in which the Tigers’ rushing triumvirate of Henry Josey, Russell Hansbrough and Marcus Murphy march up and down the field and keep the ball away from the Rebels. This isn’t to say that the Tigers can’t throw on Ole Miss – they’re 64th in defensive passing efficiency – but only nine teams have allowed single-digit touchdown passes this year, and Mississippi, despite having only 14 sacks, is one of them.

The Rebels can score, averaging 34.5 points per game. The play for Mizzou on Saturday is likely to run the ball and keep it away from them, and throw when they need to. That’ll be good practice for the next week, when they face Johnny Manziel and Texas A&M.

There are times when a team gets off to a fast start, and you just have the feeling that the other shoe is going to drop. I don’t get that feeling with the Blues, who are off to the best start in franchise history at 15-3-3 as they come home to Dallas on Saturday night. The Blues have everything a Stanley Cup champion needs. Despite a rough stretch of three games, Jaroslav Halak is good enough between the pipes to win a cup. The defense corps is arguably the best in the league when Jordan Leopold is healthy. No threesome in the league can get the puck out of their zone and provide blueline offense better than Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Kevin Shattenkirk.

As we saw against Boston, the Blues’ offensive depth is great. Derek Roy has found his role with the Blues and scored his sixth goal. David Backes is back to his 30-goal-a-season form, Alexander Steen has been a revelation, and Vladimir Tarasenko has scored seven goals in a quarter of a season. We know that guys like Chris Stewart, Patrik Berglund, Brenden Morrow and Jaden Schwartz have goal-scoring talent. With that goaltending, defense, depth at forward and the coaching of Ken Hitchcock, this start isn’t a fluke.

A couple of people I really like were in the news this week. It’s hard to argue the Cardinals’ show of confidence in Mike Matheny. Not many managers get to an LCS and a World Series in their first two seasons. In addition to being a terrific leader, Matheny is a sensational ambassador for the franchise and for St. Louis. He’s lived here a long time and truly cares about the region – in addition to the ballclub he manages – doing well.

My first job for a paycheck in radio came from KMOX, when I produced Dan Dierdorf’s “Sports Open Line” show after his retirement from the NFL in 1983. Dan is an amazing entertainer who happens to know more about football than just about anyone. After 30 years as an analyst for ABC’s “Monday Night Football” and then for CBS, Dan is retiring because he’s having trouble getting around. The Pro Football Hall of Fame bestowed the Pete Rozelle award, which is given “for longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.  Dan is another great ambassador and cheerleader for our town, and I hope we continue to hear from him somewhere on the St. Louis airwaves. He’s been a phenomenal full-time broadcaster for 30 years, and we would be diminished if we didn’t hear Dan’s voice somewhere in St. Louis.