Sep 9, 2012; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is sacked by St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn (94) and defensive end Chris Long (91) in the third quarter at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-US Presswire
The St. Louis Rams(3-3) will host the Green Bay Packers (3-3) looking to correct some of the mistakes that kept them from getting the win in Miami last weekend. If the Rams want to defeat the Packers missed field goals wont be the problem they need to correct, it will be converting those opportunities in the red zone into touchdowns to keep pace with a Packers offense that is averaging 32 points per game since their Monday Night “loss” to Seattle. So what are some of the things the Rams will need to do to put themselves in a position to beat the Packers?
Slow Down Rodgers. Of course that is easier said than done as the reigning league MVP showed last weekend against the Houston Texans. Passing defense is probably the greatest strength of the St. Louis Rams team, and since Brockers returned to the interior of the defensive line the team has been generating more consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The St. Louis Rams pass defense rank in the top of the league in every statistical category.
Yards Per Attempt# 6 @ 6.5 yds/attTD’s allowedTied @ #1 with 4INT’sTied @ #5 with 8SacksTied @ #4 with 18Passer Rating Allowed#5 @ 72.8Yards Per Game#5 @ 208 yds/game
The Rams defense will also have the benefit of not having to stop the Packers best receiver Greg Jennings. The Rams corners will have the advantage against the Packers receivers, especially if the defensive line can generate pressure on Rodgers. The Packers lost Cedric Benson to injury which could help the Rams defense as the Packers aren’t likely to run the ball as often, although putting the ball in Rodgers’ hand more often isn’t necessarily a good thing for the Rams. With the Rams excellent pass defense and injuries to the Green Bay Packers there is hope that the Rams will be able to slow the Packers down on Sunday.
Control Game Tempo. This could also be read as “run the ball early and often”. Limiting the number of touches that Aaron Rodgers has will greatly improve the Rams chances in this game, and with the emergence of Richardson as a legitimate #2 option at running back the Rams should be able to pound the ball at will against a team that averages 110 yards per game on the ground against them. The Packers will also be without B.J. Raji in this game which should make finding running room much easier for the Rams. If the Rams can have similar success in the run game as they did last weekend against the #1 run defense in the NFL they should have a good day offensively, look for a Rams running back to finally break into the end zone.
Keeping Pace. As good as the Rams defense is they probably wont be able to completely shut down the Packers offense. So the Rams will need Sam Bradford and his wide receivers to step up and put some points on the board this weekend. The Packers defense will be without CB Sam Shields and LB Nick Perry leaving them without an important player at each level of the defense (B.J. Raji also being out) which should make it easier for Bradford find open receivers. If the Rams offense is going to get on track this weekend they will need to protect Bradford, most notably from Clay Matthews who is currently second in the NFL with 8 sacks already this season. So far this season most of the Rams points have been generated by the special teams and the defense, if the Rams want to make a serious push towards .500 and a potential playoff race the offense has to start generating more points.
Special Teams. The special teams unit had several errors last weekend that had a direct impact on the outcome of the game. I certainly wouldn’t put the loss on Greg Zuerlein considering how hard the wind was blowing in Miami. The Rams coverage unit and return unit both had mistakes that were just as costly as the misses by Zuerlein. This unit needs to return to the form it was showing in the earlier season games, controlling field position and putting points on the board when the Rams offense stalls. Perhaps this is the weekend Jenkins breaks through in the return game and gets a TD to spur the Ram to victory.
The Rams are hoping to stay perfect at home this season before traveling to London for their next “home” game against the New England Patriots. This should be a great game, and it is an opportunity to show the NFL just how good this Rams defense has become against a offense that has really been clicking lately. Go Rams!!