Redskins

Rams' streak comes despite offensive struggles

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Rams' streak comes despite offensive struggles

ST. LOUIS (AP) The St. Louis Rams find themselves with an opportunity to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2003 and an outside shot of making the playoffs.

If they accomplish either, Sam Bradford and the offense won't be the main reason for the success. The Rams offense is 29th in scoring and the third-year quarterback is ranked 22nd.

There's plenty of blame to go around, from lack of execution to failures on third downs.

``There's a lot of things,'' offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. ``A couple of weeks ago, we had a bunch of drops. He'd obviously like to have a few throws back during the course of last game. Last game was probably a game where he got a minus grade for some of his throws last week that normally doesn't happen. You can't really put your finger on just one thing.''

The inefficiencies have forced the defense and special teams to carry the load for the Rams, especially in the three-game winning streak they take into their game against Minnesota on Sunday. St. Louis has scored just four offensive touchdowns during the stretch and only scored more than 20 points four times this season. That includes a 31-17 victory at Arizona in which the defense scored two touchdowns.

Coach Jeff Fisher said getting more out of his offense is important, but it becomes even more so when facing Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

With an NFL-leading 1,600 yards, Peterson needs to average 134 yards over the last three games to become the seventh player to reach 2,000 yards in one season. The Rams could use some long drives to keep Peterson off the field.

``Obviously we're doing everything we possibly can to try to get the ball into the end zone,'' Fisher said. ``We've played some very good defenses as of late, it's just one of those things. You hope you follow the course of our turnovers to where we went six weeks without a turnover then, all of a sudden, they came in bunches. We're hoping that perhaps touchdowns will come in bunches here soon.''

Bradford zeroed in on the Rams' inability to extend drives. St. Louis is fourth-worst in the NFL in converting on third downs. In a 15-12 victory at Buffalo in their last game, the Rams went three-and-out on four of their first five possessions. They had four plays in the other drive.

Only once in the second half did they fail to get a first down on a possession, aside from kneeling on the final play of the game.

``It's something that we seem to look at every week,'' Bradford said. ``I think to convert on third down it takes 11 guys doing their job. There's just a lot of times that we don't have all 11 guys on the same page, and that's what we're working to get.''

Buffalo slowed the Rams' running attack in the first half and that changing the approach he wanted to take. But, both players and coaches repeatedly said that the Rams are doing a fine job hurting themselves on offense.

``Again, it comes down to execution. We're not going to change our approach,'' he said. ``We need to tighten some things up. That's kind of been the message this week is to tighten things up from a fundamental standpoint, a technique standpoint.''

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Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

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USA Today Sports

Jay Gruden shown no love in preseason coaches ranking

Yahoo! Sports ranked all 32 head coaches in the NFL and Washington Redskins fans may not be too happy with where Jay Gruden ended up.

Entering his fifth year as head coach, Gruden was ranked as the No. 27 head coach in the NFL. Here's Yahoo!'s rationale behind his ranking:

"Four years, one playoff berth, one plus-.500 season, one franchise quarterback run out of town."

All that is ... not false, but the whole franchise quarterback being run out of town thing is at least debatable. And even if the ranking is fair, it's still okay to be upset because it's the middle of July, training camp hasn't started yet and the offseason is the perfect time to get irrationally angry about things like these.

Elsewhere in the NFC, Giants head coach Pat Shurmur checks in at No. 23, Cowboys head coach Jason Garrett is No. 17 and the Eagles' Doug Pederson is No. 2.

Unsurprisingly, Bill Belichick was ranked No. 1; he may be the greatest of all time when all is said and done, if not already. The top five rounds out with Pederson at No. 2, New Orleans's Sean Payton at No. 3, Minnesota's Mike Zimmer at No. 4 and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin at No. 5.

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Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

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USA Today Sports

Stroman pitches 7 sharp innings as Blue Jays beat Orioles 4-1

TORONTO (AP) -- Blue Jays right-hander Marcus Stroman gave up hits to the first three Baltimore batters Saturday.

The Orioles got just two more hits the rest of the afternoon.

Stroman pitched seven sharp innings for his second win in three starts and Toronto beat Baltimore 4-1 for its sixth straight victory over the struggling Orioles.

"He started working both sides of the plate with his sinker and I think that threw them off a little bit, especially late in counts," Blue Jays catcher Luke Maile said. "Overall it was just kind of vintage Stroman."

Baltimore right-hander Alex Cobb picked up his major league-worst 13th loss. The Orioles dropped to 1-8 against Toronto this season.

"I absolutely hate seeing that win-loss in parentheses next to my name," Cobb said. "It's sickening."

Stroman (3-7) allowed one run and five hits. He threw a season-high 107 pitches, the first time this season he has topped 100.

Stroman is 3-2 with a 3.03 ERA in five starts since returning from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss more than a month. He went 0-5 in seven starts before the injury.

"Since he's come back from the DL he's been really good," manager John Gibbons said. "I just think he's pitching like he's always pitched."

Stroman said he's focused on forgetting his early season struggles.

"I know I didn't have the first half I wanted but I've always been someone who prides myself on the second half and finishing strong," Stroman said. "That's something I'll look to continue to do this year."

Friend and teammate Devon Travis likes what he's seen from Stroman since the right-hander returned from injury.

"He's got that fire back," Travis said. "He's really under control. I think he's locking in on every single pitch."

Seunghwan Oh worked the eighth and Ryan Tepera finished for his seventh save in 12 opportunities.

Baltimore scored one run or fewer for the 27th time, the most in the majors.

The first three Orioles batters all singled, although Jonathan Schoop was thrown out trying to stretch his hit into a double. After Adam Jones gave Baltimore a 1-0 lead with an RBI hit to right, Mark Trumbo grounded into an inning-ending double play.

The Blue Jays answered with a three-run fourth against Cobb, taking advantage of a key Orioles error.

Justin Smoak opened the inning with a walk and, following a video review, was ruled safe at second after Cobb's high throw pulled shortstop Tim Beckham off the base on at attempted force play.

"That's not it in a nutshell but I can understand why that's the focus, a play we haven't been making," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Randal Grichuk followed with an RBI double, a second run scored on Diaz's double play grounder, and Maile capped the rally with an RBI single.

Diaz had four hits Friday, including the game-winning single in the 10th. He went 2 for 3 Saturday with a pair of singles.

The Blue Jays made it 4-1 in the fifth when Teoscar Hernandez doubled, advanced on a fly ball and scored on Cobb's balk.

Cobb (2-13) lost his sixth straight decision, allowing four runs, one earned, and four hits in five innings. Showalter said Cobb was removed to avoid worsening a blister on his pitching hand.

"I was only going to have a few more pitches going into the sixth so he felt like the risk-reward was not really worth it," Cobb said.

Grichuk made the defensive play of the game, a running catch on the warning track in left center to retire Trumbo for the first out of the ninth.

GOING DOWN?

Jones and Chris Davis got stuck in an elevator at the team's downtown hotel following Friday night's defeat. Jones documented much of the saga on Instagram. The players and fellow passengers were eventually rescued by Toronto Fire Services staff. The sound system at Rogers Centre played a few bars of Aerosmith's `Love in an Elevator' before Jones batted in the fourth inning Saturday.

NO HOMERS

Toronto won without hitting a home run for just the third time in 26 games this season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: Baltimore is expected to demote a reliever when RHP Andrew Cashner (neck) is activated off the 10-day disabled list Sunday.

UP NEXT

Cashner (2-9, 4.56) last pitched July 10, when he allowed five runs and five hits in 6 1-3 innings against the Yankees. Blue Jays LHP J.A. Happ (10-6, 4.29) is 0-3 with a 9.75 ERA in three July starts.