Dec 9, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings mascot Ragnar leads the team onto the field before the game with the Chicago Bears at the Metrodome. The Vikings win 24-14. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Fan Commenter Focus: Why Adrian Peterson Won't "Run All Over" The St. Louis Rams


With the St. Louis Rams back in the “spotlight,” the amount of coverage the Rams are receiving has picked up significantly. Moreover, the number of writers jumping on the Rams bandwagon is slightly picking up, meaning that more and more are picking St. Louis as the favorite on any given Sunday. With that, fans from the opposing teams are fighting back in outrage! How could they possibly be pick the Rams to beat the Vikings? Well, they did… So, as we trolled through the comment sections in some of those “predictions” post, there was a flashback to the beginning of the season when Ramblin’ Fan used to do a weekly piece that focused on a fan’s remarks, giving the everyday “commenter” some well-deserved recognition. The comments inevitably lost their luster towards the middle of the season, with a majority of the fan base sulking over the beat downs from Green Bay and New England after the high of the 3-2 start to the season. However, with the Rams on their longest winning streak since 2006, the comments are definitely picking back up, and there is actually some evidence, supplied by the Rams play on the field, to back up a thorough rebuttal.

This week, we will turn to the comment section in an article at Bleacher Report entitled, “Bleacher Report’s Expert Consensus Week 15 NFL Picks.” Lead author, Michael Schottey, claims that 8-3 “experts” on their staff picked the St. Louis Rams to upset the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. The few that go against the Rams seem to believe that Adrian Peterson will have a field day running through the St. Louis defense, with one claiming he “could end up doubling the 110 yards per game [the Rams] allow”. Others, presumably those who have actually watched the Rams play this season, cite the opposite; that the St. Louis defense will be the key to the victory, being able to slow Adrian Peterson and force Christian Ponder into difficult situations that may lead to costly turnovers. Naturally, that fired up the Peterson fan base, who quickly jumped to defend the league’s leading rusher. Here are the comment that stuck out the most to us, and our refute…

“How could the Rams be picked 8-3? Also, Miller, the ferocious rams d? How many rush yards per game do they give up? Adrian has run all over defenses better or as good as the rams. -Austin”

The St. Louis Rams have significantly improved since the opening quarter of the season, once Michael Brockers returned at defensive tackle after his ankle injury. The Rams have only allowed two 100+ yard games, one against Marshawk Lynch in WK 4 and then Stevan Ridley in London. Ridley is a product of Tom Brady’s passing game, forcing teams to drop back into soft zone defense that opens up hole at the line of scrimmage, plus the Rams were apparently more worried about meaning Arsenal players than preparing for a football game. Anyways…

Since the Bye, the Rams have played against some of the top rushing offenses in the NFL, including San Francisco (2nd) twice, Buffalo (6th), and New York (11th). In fact, the Rams are 4-0-1 against the Top 6 rushing teams in the league right now, having beat the Redskins and the Seahawks early in the season, even before the return of Brockers.

The Rams match up much better with teams that rely heavily on the run game, especially those with a sub-par passing game. Jo-Lonn Dunbar is one of the highest rated outside linebacker in terms of run support, and James Laurinaitis is much more effective down-hill tackling than dropping back in coverage. Both defensive ends are quick enough to maintain the edge on off-tackle plays and sweeps, and Michael Brocker will completely destroy the interior of the Vikings offensive line if they try to single block him. Against the Bills last week, who attempted to contain Brockers one-on-one, he racked up 7 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 tackle for a loss, and 3 QB hits… not a bad day.

With Percy Harvin out, the St. Louis Rams will stack the box and bring 5+ on a majority of snaps, just like they did against Fitzpatrick and Kaepernick. The difference is, Ponder is not as good as either of those players, and the Vikings do not have any healthy receivers that are anywhere close to Stevie Johnson, Michael Crabtree, Vernon Davis… the list goes on. St. Louis has the secondary to match up man-to-man on the outside and pull the safeties up in run support. Laurinaitis will be spying Peterson for a majority of the game, and the rest of the front severn will likely be playing with a run-first mentality, maintaining their gaps and playing their zones, as opposing to pinning their ears back and rushing the passer.

 

 

“Why is everyone picking the Rams over the Vikings Adrian Peterson will probably get 150 or maybe 200 yards. Look what he did against the Bears defense who is one of the best in the league he got 150 yards against them so I don’t see why he can’t get that against the Rams.Vikes win 24-14 -Justin Tracy”

 

Because some people have actually watched the St. Louis Rams play football this season, as opposed to fawning over the miraculous season the Adrian Peterson is having this year…

The Chicago Bears front seven is beat up, with Brian Urlacher out, Lance Briggs hurt, and Israel Idonije getting dropped in the depth chart. On top of that, they have Charles Tillman hurt and Tim Jennings out. Aside from the injuries, their rush defense hasn’t been real solid since the midpoint of the season, even when a majority of those players were healthy. Starting at Week 9 (not including the games against the Minnesota Vikings), the Bears defense allowed all four of their opponents’ lead rushers, or tandems, to gain 100+ yards on the ground. Those include Chris Johnson (141 yards), Arian Foster (109 yards), Frank Gore/Kendall Hunter (105 yards), and Marshawk Lynch/Russell Wilson (158 yards).

As previously mentioned, the St. Louis Rams are 4-0-1 against the Top 6 rushing teams in the league right now, having beat the Redskins and the Seahawks early in the season, beating Buffalo last week, and winning/tieing with 49ers in WK 10 and WK 13. The Bears, on the other hand,  have lost four of the last five games, and are 1-3 against Top 6 rushing teams.

Since Michael Brockers has “fully” returned to the defensive line for the Rams, St. Louis has allowed only one 100+ yard rusher, if you include the disgusting showing in London against the Patriots as a “game.” They have held Reggie Bush (17 yards), Frank Gore (58 yards in WK 13), Shonn Greene (64 yards), and C.J. Spiller (37 yards) to below average games in that same time frame. The caveat for those teams is that they have, at least, one “viable” receiving threat on their team that is not a running back or a tight end: Bess/Hartline in Miami, Moss/Crabtree in San Francisco, Hill in New York,  and Johnson in Buffalo).The Vikings have NONE with Harvin on the IR.  Worse, even those team, aside from the Jets, have an average quarterback manning the backfield. The Vikings do not…

The only way the Vikings will beat the Rams is if the Minnesota defense can somehow cause Sam Bradford and the Rams offense to hand them the game with costly turnovers; in the same way the Bears handed them the game last week with interceptions and ineptitude on offense in the first half. Aside from the game against Chicago, when the Bears defense was in it’s prime, Bradford has not made many costly errors this season. With Danny Amendola returning, the Rams should have more than enough to rip through the weak Minnesota secondary, especially with both of Minnesota’s starting cornerbacks, Winfield and Jefferson, and their starting middle linebacker, Brinkley, nursing injuries. Peterson will have a sub-110 yard day, at best, with a single rushing touchdown. That will be more than enough for a Rams 24 – Vikings 14 win.

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  • Matty Jimmy

    Everyone has a plan until they get hit in the mouth. The Adrian Peterson is a beast but he isn’t the only reason the Vikings are running well. The whole offense blocks well. This game is going to be tight but Peterson will be a factor. Count on it.

  • Jake

    You make some good points here and the Rams do sport the #13 run defense in the league but you also have to realize that the Packers, Bears, Bucs, and Seahawks are all top 15 run defenses and Peterson has destroyed all of them just in the last 6 weeks. Peterson averaged 8.2 ypc against Tampa and they are the #1 run stopping unit in the league giving up only 78 yards per game.

    • :)

      I understand the rationale behind using the overall defensive rankings, but those are often extremely misleading, especially out of context or later in the season. For example, the Tampa Bay Bucs may have allowed the fewest total rushing yards this season, but they have not played a team with a Top 20 running back since Week 6 against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Bucs have also allowed 10 rushing touchdowns (15th in the NFL) and forced only 3 fumbles (26th). You also have to consider that they are 32nd in the NFL in passing yards allowed, meaning that teams have clearly deviated away from the run game to exploit their weak secondary (ex. Nick Foles – 32 of 51 for 381 yards, 2 TD, no INT, but only 13 rush attempts the entire game).

      For the Rams, the rush defense was complete garbage at the beginning of the season, allowing two rushing TDs in each of the opening two games of the season, as well as 259 yard on the ground. They allowed 6 rushing touchdowns and 541 rushing yards in the four games before Brockers return, meaning that nearly 40% of the Rams’ allow rushing yards and rushing touchdowns came in the first four game of the season. Since then, St. Louis has allowed only 99.2 yards per game, which would put them in the Top 10 rushing defenses. More importantly the did not allow a rushing touchdown in four of their last nine games. Also, factor in that the St. Louis Rams have played six games against Top 8 rushing offenses, and nine games against Top 20 rushers, including Marshawn Lynch (2nd), Alfred Morris/RG3 (3rd/20th), Stevan Ridley (7th), and Frank Gore (10th) twice, C.J. Spiller (12th), Shonn Greene (13th), Matt Forte (17th), and Reggie Bush (18th).

      Michael Brockers’ return to the interior of the defensive line is the turning point for the St. Louis Rams rushing defense, which is a Top 10 since he came back around Week 4…

      • Jake

        You say that you can’t rely on defensive rankings but you’re doing the same thing here. You can’t discount the fact that the Bucs are the #1 run unit and then use the fact that the Rams are a top 10 unit to support your argument. Maybe the Bucs haven’t faced a top rusher but the Rams haven’t faced AP. You said the Rams have faced Lynch, Gore, Forte, Ridley etc.. but they’re still giving up 100 yards per game. If they were giving up 90 or fewer yards per game over that period I might be inclined to think Peterson may have a bad day. But as it is they’re giving up 100 yards per game to backs in the top 20, how are they going to do against the #1 back who not only put up 150 on Chicago but also put up 200 on GB. Honestly this is the same kind of stuff advocates for every team AP has beat down this season have said. Everyone thinks their team has what it takes to stop him. Maybe the Rams will stop him but the odds are against it. And lets not forget that AP wasn’t even supposed to be playing this year, so that shows how much the experts know.

        • :)

          The argument was supported with genuine numbers from the season, not throwing out an arbitrary ranking. The only reason it was even included in the rebuttal was because you cited the Rams were 13th overall, which was deflated by the poor start to the season. 99.9% of my argument had nothing to do with defensive rankings…

          Giving up 100 yards per game to those TEAMS is vastly different than giving up 100 yards to individual players on those teams. Russell Wilson, RG3, Kaepernick are all threats rushing the ball out of the backfield, Ponder is not… The St. Louis Rams have allowed only TWO 100+ yard rushing performances by a single player the entire season, including those nine players listed. The only real number that really matters:

          1) St. Louis has allowed only 99.2 yards per game since Week 5.

          2) Have not allow a rushing touchdown in four of their last nine games, and “lead the NFL with only 6 running back rushing touchdowns allowed in past 5 weeks.” (per PFF)

          The Bears, much like the Bucs, have a highly overrated rushing defense, which has been completely devastated by injury, but that was already talked about in the article. You can ignore the numbers if you so choose. No one said the Rams were going to “stop” Adrian Peterson. In fact, the post explicitly states “Peterson will have a sub-110 yard day, at best, with a single rushing touchdown,” which is not a bad day by any stretch of the imagination. Still, the notion that he will rush for 150-200+ yards is simply ludacris, especially those who are buying into the idea that AP could break Eric Dickerson’s single-season rushing record this season. Maybe, if he played the Bears every week…

          • Jake

            It’s simply ludicrous is it? It was ludicrous to think AP was going to start week one. It was even more ludicrous to think AP would lead the league in rushing this season. It was ludicrous to think AP would put up 210 yards on Green Bay. And yet he has done all those things. By the way defensive rankings are not arbitrary, they are based on performance. TB is the number one run defense because they allow only 78 yards per game. Maybe they have a weak secondary, maybe they get beat by the pass so badly because teams can’t run on them, either way they are still the #1 run defense. And since you love to throw out stats about the Rams vaunted defense, try this: since the Arizona game on Oct. 21 AP has averaged 157 yards per game and has gone over 150 in 5 of the last 7 games. I don’t care who the Rams have played so far, they have not faced a runner who is AVERAGING 157 yards per game. It is possible the Rams will shut him down but so far no one has been able to do it and he has faced far better teams than STL so I wouldn’t bet against him. As for Dickerson’s record, well, the season ain’t over yet and until it is all you got is speculation.

          • :)

            Chill out with the Adrian Peterson soap box! No one is denying that his story is amazing or that he isn’t the best running back in the NFL… he has clearly demonstrated that this season.

            But yes, rankings are still arbitrary, determined by which raw value you choose to solely base a defense, without giving consideration to the context of their schedule and their performance in other categories. The Houston Texans (2nd in rushing yards allowed) have only allowed 164 more yards than Tampa Bay, but have only given up only 3 rushing touchdowns (1st in the NFL), and forced 9 fumbles (3rd in the NFL); the Bucs rank 15th and 26th, respectively, in those rushing categories. The Bucs have the #1 ranked defense in yards allowed, but no where close to the top of the ACTUAL upper tier rushing defenses. Who care if they only give up 3.3 yards per carry, when they also give up a ton of touchdowns (i.e. the things that matter on the scoreboard) and cannot force any turnovers.

            NO ONE EVER SAID THE RAMS WOULD SHUT DOWN PETERSON! Again, here is the exact phrasing “Peterson will have a sub-110 yard day, at best, with a single rushing touchdown.” He has finished with under 110 yards rushing in 7 out of 13 games this season, and he hasn’t had a touchdown in 6 out of 13 games. I think predicting 110 yards and a touchdown is more than respectable…

            As far as Dickerson’s record goes, please stop Vikings fans. Peterson is the greatest running back in the NFL right now, and likely has been for the last 3-4 years, and will likely continue to be into the foreseeable future. However, he needs to average a little over 168 yards per game for the remainder of the season to surpass Dickerson’s record. Peterson has never averaged that amount of yardage in three consecutive games in his career, even with this last bunny game against the non-existent a non-existent Bears’ rushing defense. In fact, he has only eclipsed that 168 yard total 8 times in this 86 game career. Throughout his career, the has averaged approximately 64.4 rushing yards per game in the final three games of the season, after his bottom has taken the pounding of a full NFL year: 47.0 (’07), 114.6 (’08), 61.0 (’09), 58.3 (’10), 41.3 (’11, in his final three games before the injury). No feat is “out of the question,” but the “speculation” I have is really more of an educated, realistic estimation…

          • Jake

            I’m not on an AP soap box man but when you write a story trying to say why AP wont run all over the Rams, you’re gonna resistance because that’s the same thing the last 7 teams have said over the last 7 weeks. Rushing TD’s allowed doesn’t really mean much as far as a measure of a teams run defense. There are multiple ways to score. A team could allow 1 rushing TD all season but still give up 120 yards per game on the ground. I also get that you’re not saying STL will shut him down completely but what you are doing is saying they will contain him where no one else has been able to do so. Maybe, maybe not, most likely not. The argument you’re making is a very hard sell. You’re trying the convince the reader that the Rams are going to contain a guy who is averaging 157 yards per game over the last 7 weeks. You say they will do this by stacking the box; everyone who plays MN stacks the box, it doesn’t help. You say the Vikes don’t have Harvin; Harvin has been out going on 5 weeks and it hasn’t made a difference, AP still runs over everyone. You say Ponder is a liability; Ponder has been a liability most of the season and yet AP is still dominating. You’re going over the same talking points everyone goes over every week when talking about their team will stop AP. The only point wherein you are actually onto something is that the Rams have shown solid run defense lately against teams like SF and SEA. This is a good point, however, those aren’t exactly run oriented teams like MN is. If Gore goes out and gets 2.5 yards per carry on his first 5 carries Harbaugh goes to the pass; same goes for Lynch in Seattle. If AP goes out and gets 2.5 yards on his first 5, AP just keeps getting the ball until the D breaks and lately the D always breaks. As far as Dickerson’s record, I agree it’s an extreme long shot. I think he’ll get 2k but not sure about 2106. At the same time when was the last time anyone heard of a back averaging nearly 160 per game over such a long stretch like AP is doing now? It’s possible he will get it, just not probable.

          • :)

            Are you are trying to say that rushing yards is a better indicator of “true” rushing defense than rushing touchdowns? If so, that is just an ignorant statement to make… Neither single measure is a good indicator of the overall performance of a defense; but, points are the name of the game in football, so touchdowns allowed has to be more meaningful than yards allowed. However, if you mean that Tampa Bay’s rushing defense is top rated solely within the context of allowing the fewest yards (that being the most relevant measure for a running backs performance, solely in their ability to gain yards, but not score), than point well taken, sir.

            YES, the Rams will likely be doing precisely what teams have done in the past! Stacking the box, spying with linebackers, and maintaining gaps on the line of scrimmage rather than pinned back and rushing into the backfield. However, the point I have been trying to make is that the Rams actually have the ability to carry out that plan of action, whereas the other teams do not, and clearly have not. A game plan can be perfect, but if the team does not have the personnel fulfill their obligations or the coach staff to make the necessary adjustments as the game progresses… well, AP ends up running for 200+ yards. Unlike the Bears or Packers, the St. Louis Rams are near 100% healthy on the defensive side of the ball.

            1) To start, the Rams play out of a 4-3 base defense, which it naturally stronger against the run (likely the problem in GB, especially considering they were without their top two linebackers and B.J. Raji has been hurt all season). On the defensive line, Michael Brockers is one of the best interior lineman in the NFL since his return, and Chris Long/William Hayes are one of the better run-stopping 4-3 defensive end duos in the league.

            2) James Laurinaitis is one of the best, underrated inside linebackers in the game, hence 4th in tackles and with more interceptions since ’09 than any MLB in the NFL (likely the problem in Detroit, definitely the problem in Chicago the second time around with Urlacher out, and possibly the problem in Seattle and Tampa Bay since both are rookies; really good rookies, but still rookies taking on a veteran Peterson). Also, Jo-Lonn Dunbar has regularly been graded in the Top 5 outside linebackers in run support, including last week, when he was the highest rated run-stopping linebacker in the NFL, taking on C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.

            3) Lastly, Cortland Finnegan and the St. Louis Rams secondary easily one of the top run-support secondaries in the NFL, although the safeties sometime have trouble with that whole coverage thing… Jenkins has had some trouble with wrapping up, but Finnegan is the only CB in the NFL besides your Winfield in the Top 40 in tackles, and it isn’t because he is allowing a ton of receptions. In fact, four of the top six tacklers on the Rams are Dahl, Mikell, Finnegan, and Jenkins.

            Again, you are right that the Rams will likely be employing the same game plan as the other teams that AP has ran all over in the second half of the season. The difference is, that the St. Louis Rams actually have the personnel to execute that game play, and have done so against some of the better backs in the league (usually having to also worry about a passing game, which the Vikings lack). Oh yea, and I forgot to mention Jeff Fisher! He is a pretty decent defensive coach with a couple years of experience scheming against top tier players… 15+ years or so, actually.

            P.S. The Seahawks and the 49ers are the definition of a run-oriented offense. Just because they are not solely one-dimensional like the Vikings does not mean that their entire offense is not based around the running game. Russell Wilson is currently the 26th ranked quarterback in passing attempts (330), and, if you combined Kaepernick and Smith, the 49ers’ QBs would be right on par with Wilson, taking the 26th spot with 346 attempts. San Francisco (397) and Seattle (435) are, however, in the Top 7 in rushing attempts, whereas Minnesota is 10th in attempts (374)…. so, who is more run-oriented? There is a huge different between run-oriented and run-dependent…

          • Jake

            You make some good points here. First, yes STL has some good talent on D but so do the Bucs, ‘Hawks, Pack and Bears. Yes the Pack and Bear were depleted. I think you’re overlooking the fact the Seattle is one of the better D’s all round in the league and AP put up 182 on them. Yes STL may have the personnel to stack the box and stop the run against guys like Spiller and Bush but as I said they haven’t faced anyone of AP’s caliber. Just because Josh Koscheck beat everyone else in the welter weight division doesn’t mean he can take GSP (MMA reference). Even Lynch is more than 300 yards behind AP at #2. The Vikings O-line also is pretty good in run blocking (not as much in pass protection) and Jerome Felton has been spot on as AP’s lead blocker. Rudolph at TE is also a good blocker. One last point AP leads the league in yards after contact, which isn’t good news for any defense, even the Rams. The difference I was illustrating between between MN and SF/SEA is that when the run suffers for other teams they just go to the air. When the run game suffers in MN they just keep running until it works and so far it’s working perfectly. The point is that STL may have had early success against the run with SF/SEA which contributed to those teams shying away from it. The Vikings wont do that. The Rams will have to deal with AP all game long and that makes for a very long day on defense.

  • Jake

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I tried to tell you. Despite all the stats you wanted to throw out about how the Rams have done against other runners, I told you they had yet to face anyone like AP. You said that wouldn’t matter. You said Brocker and Finnegan and the rest would be enough to slow him down. Someone should check Finnegan for permanent brain damage after the beating AP put on him. I told you Peterson is different than of the other guys the Rams have done well against. Not only were you wrong about keeping him 110 yards but you were waaaay wrong. I don’t think it’s possible for you to have been more wrong. In the end it could have been any runner having the season AP is having an you would have been wrong. Everyone thinks their team has what it takes to stop him. Every week a new writer is talking about how their team will shut him down where others could not because they have the right players to do the job. And every week Peterson makes fools of them. You don’t bet against a guy who is averaging 160 yards per game over half the season. The truth is AP is on a roll right now and it doesn’t matter who lines up against him, no one can stop him right now. Never bet against a guy who is one a roll.