Most fans are going through their pregame rituals right now, with kickoff happening in a little over an hours. The St. Louis Rams are making their first appearance after the devastating loss of Danny Amendola. If they want to stay relevant in the NFL, they will need to continue their dominance on defense and, at least, move the chains enough to get into Greg Zuerlein’s extremely long, field goal range. What it is going to take to achieve those two goals?
There are plenty of players that will be called upon to make huge contributions, just as they have all season. Steven Jackson, in better health, will likely be expected to carry a much larger load, even against one of the top rated rushing defenses in the NFL. Wayne Hunter will be expected to keep Sam Bradford upright against the dominating presence of Cameron Wake rushing off of the right side of the line. Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins, and Bradley Fletcher will be expected to shut down Brian Hartline and turn the Dolphins into a one-dimensional team on offense. Brian Quick and Chris Givens will need to progress quickly to help Sam Bradford in the passing game. It may seem like a huge hurdle to climb, but there are some factors that play into the St. Louis Rams hands. Here is a breakdown of those “by the numbers.”
Yards thrown by Ryan Tannehill this season, which ranks him 12th in the NFL between Brandon Weeden and Philip Rivers. He will be going up against a St. Louis Rams passing defense that is ranked in the Top 10 in nearly every category. The Rams have 8 interceptions (T-3rd), held opposing signal callers to a 66.6 quarterback rating (3rd), and allowed only 6.5 yards per pass attempts (7th). They have also only allowed teams to convert on 32.8 percent of their third downs (8th) and have given up only 2 receptions for longer than 50 yards, with only one counting for a touchdown.
Percentage of Cameron Wake’s total sacks that came against the Arizona Cardinals‘ pathetic offensive line. Outside of that game, he was able to get to the quarterback only one time. This should bode well for Wayne Hunter who has played surprisingly well on the left side of the line in place of Rodger Saffold, allowed only 0.5 sacks in his last 3 games.
Ryan Tannehill’s quarterback rating for the entire season. He is holding down the 30th spot among all NFL quarterbacks, with a 57.4 completion percentage, only 2 touchdowns, and 6 interceptions.
Percentage of Greg Zuerlein’s kickoffs that have gone for a touchback this season. Of the 25 kickoffs, 15 have sailed through the back of the endzone or been so deep that the return man would not dare step past the goal line. With Miami not having a dynamic returner on kickoffs, this number will likely go up after this week.
The St. Louis Rams have also won the Special Teams Player of the Week 60% of the time this season. Johnny Hekker has nabbed the award twice after dominating punting performances, while Greg Zuerlein has held the crown once for this 4 field goal performance against the Seattle Seahawks, two of them coming from 58+ yards.
Opponents quarterback rating when throwing into the coverage of rookie Trumaine Johnson this season. Johnson plays primarily in the dime package, but also will spell Bradley Fletcher on occasion as the nickelback. He has 5 tackles, 1 pass deflection, and 1 interception on the season.
Average yards per catch between Chris Givens and Brian Quicks. The duo has only caught 5 receptions, but made each of them count, amassing 131 yards. Givens has two catches for 50+ yards in the last two games, including a 53 yard touchdown.
Average ranking of the teams in terms of rushing yards per attempt for the five teams Miami has played this season. Their top ranked rushing defense has really not been tested so far this season, playing against Arizona (32nd), New York (30th), and Oakland (29th). In their one game against a top tier back, Arian Foster recorded 76 yards and 2 rushing touchdowns. Sounds line being elite by default…
Number of passing touchdowns that the St. Louis Rams have given up on defense the entire season. It is also the number of games that punter Johnny Hekker has averaged over 50 yards per punt. Last week he averaged 56.9 yards on 7 punts to the Arizona Cardinals, winning his second special teams player of the week prize.
Number of touchdowns passes from Sam Bradford to Danny Amendola in the regular season. For as much as Bradford relied on Amendola in the “move the chains” game, he did not really look his way in the redzone. Bradford has truly spread with ball around with Brandon Gibson (2), Chris Givens (1), Lance Kendricks (1), and Matthew Mulligan (1) all grabbing at least one of his 6 touchdown throws.
Number of times that Ryan Tannehill has throw consecutive games with a passing touchdown. For all the talk of “progression” of the young quarterback, it sure isn’t showing in his passing number or on the scoreboard.
Giveaway/Takeaway differential for the Miami Dolphins, which has been the difference between the Dolphins being 2-3 or being 4-1 this season. The St. Louis Rams, on the other hand, are +2 on season!