St. Louis Rams at Miami Dolphins, Sun Life Stadium
Rams, 19.2 points for/game (23rd), 18.8 points against/game (9th)
Dolphins, 20.6 points for/game (19th), 20.6 points against (12th)
Rams, pass 183.4 yards/game (30th), rush 94.6 yards/game (22nd)
Dolphins, pass 237.8 yards/game (18th), rush 135.6 yards/game (8th)
Rams, pass 218.2 yards/game (12th), rush 117.2 (18th)
Dolphins, pass 281.8 yards/game (27th), rush 61.4 yards/game (1st)
St. Louis Offense vs. Miami Defense -
Miami is coming off a big win on the road against a Bengals team who had just won three straight. Miami was able to put up 17 points and had only one turnover.
This week, the run stuffing Miami defense faces a 22nd ranked (94.6 yards/game) rushing attack in the Rams. Rams are averaging a mere 3.7 yards per carry.
St. Louis has no rushing TDs this year and Steven Jackson has not been his old self. He is battling injuries and averaging only 3.5 yards per carry.
As I watched coaches film on the Cardinals/Rams game, there were a couple of drives late in the 2nd half where Jackson showed flashes of his old self against a stingy Cardinals defense.
With a lead going into the 3rd quarter, the Rams handed the ball to Jackson 13 times in the second half and he managed 65 yards (5.0 yards/carry).
Rams back up Daryl Richardson also looked good and managed a long run of 16 yard run in the 2nd half of the game.
It is safe to say, with the Rams WR core being banged up; the Rams will try and sustain a running game against the Dolphins to keep Cameron Wake at bay in the passing game.
Bradford had mixed results against the Cardinals. He had a few big plays and a couple of TDs, but otherwise Bradford struggled against a less than impressive Cardinals secondary.
Bradford only completed 7 of 21 passes (33.3%) for 141 yards (6.71 yards/attempt) and had an INT. His first TD was a beauty as he scrambled and hit an open TE on the run.
Miami's defense is coming of a stellar performance against the Bengals where they managed 3 takeaways and garnered 3 sacks versus a solid Cincinnati OL.
Sean Smith had a strong outing versus A.J. Green and Miami's front four harassed Dalton all game allowing him to complete 26 passes for a total of 5.4 yards per attempt.
The Miami run defense gave up their longest run of the year (29 yards), but otherwise were strong and held the Bengals to 80 yards on 19 attempts (4.2 yards/carry).
Bottom line: This game will come down to Miami's front four versus the Rams OL. I don't think the Rams can just come out and throw the ball on us as Bradford is still inconsistent.
The Rams will really miss Amendola as he was 37.6% of their receiving offense this year (32 reception out of 85 total). The Rams will need a big game from Jackson and the Rams OL.
Miami Offense vs. St. Louis Defense -
As many of us saw last Thursday night, that Rams pass rush can really bring the heat. Robert Quinn and Chris Long are two very good pass rushing DEs.
The Rams managed 9.0 sacks and 11 QB hits. Quinn led the way with 3.0 sacks of his own and pass deflection on a bubble screen.
As I watched film, the pressure seemed a bit sporadic. There were times Kolb had time to throw and he ended up holding the ball too long and taking a sack.
The Rams are strong on the perimeter with Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins shutting down opposing WRs.
Finnegan really stood out on film. He is probably the most physical CB in the NFL and he is great in run support. I saw him make a few tackles at the LOS against the Cardinals RBs.
Jenkins is really playing well for a rookie and made a couple of big pass break ups on his man when the Cardinals tried to take him deep. He should have had an INT on a slant, but he dropped it.
When the Rams play Nickel (which they did on 54 of the 63 pass plays against the Cardinals), the Rams move Finnegan inside as the Nickel CB.
They like to move Finnegan inside because the Rams love to use the Tampa 2 almost exclusively. When lined up in their Nickel and Dime defenses, they ran a cover 2 zone 57% of the time.
The Rams will also run some man defense, but not very often and usually only when they are blitzing. Speaking of blitzing, the Rams love to blitz.
On 63 pass plays by the Cardinals, the Rams sent 5 or more rushers on 21 snaps (33%). So they will send 5 or more about one third of the time on passing plays.
On 3rd down, they sent pressure on 8 of 18 pass plays (44.4%). That may work out for us, because Tannehill is one of the best this year against the blitz.
Tannehill looked strong against the Bengals and his efficiency showed it. 92.3 QB rating and 65.4% completion rate were the best of his young career.
More importantly it was his 2nd game without a turnover and (not coincidentally) his 2nd career win when not turning the ball over.
Miami's run game has taken a step back the last couple of games (77 yards/game). Some of that can be attributed to Reggie's lingering injuries.
Some of the blame can fall on the last two teams we faced having some imposing defenders on the DL (G. Atkins and C. Campbell).
This week, I think we can run the ball much better. The ex-Dolphins Kendall Langford leads the Rams DL in the middle.
And I think that is where we will find most of your run success. Quinn and Long set the edge well, but the two Rams in the middle can be moved off the line.
Bottom line: Our game plan should be to attack the Rams' interior rush defense. That may be hard as we may be without Daniel Thomas and Reggie is still banged up.
That means, we may have to hinge our hopes on the right arm of Ryan Tannehill. If our OL can buy him some time, I think he carve up the Rams secondary.
As well as the Rams played against the Rams, I often saw guys open down field against the safeties and over the middle against the LBs.
The Cardinals also fond some success with WR and RB screens to help cool that blitzing Rams defense. I expect us to do some of the same.
If Jake Long and company can keep Tannehill upright more often than not, I expect a good game from the rookie and for him to lead us to a victory.
My prediction: Miami - 20 Rams - 9
*edit: added more information
I went an watched the Rams versus Bears game and studied the pass rush of the Rams only.
The Rams pass rush was not as dominant against the Bears as they were against the Cardinals.
Cutler dropped back to pass a total of 36 times. Much much less than the 60+ drop backs Kolb had.
Makes it much easier if your OL has to take less hits from the opposing defenders.
In 36 drop backs, the Rams blitzed (5 or more rushers) 15 times (41.7%).
That number is up from the 33% that I saw them blitz the Cardinals.
The front four alone did not generate much pressure against the Bears.
Of the 13 pressures I calculated, 8 of them were when they sent 5 or more rushers.
The Rams used a Nickle formation on passing plays 61% of the time and 4-3 base defense 39% of the time.
No matter the formation, the Rams used a Zone - cover 2, Zone - cover 3, and Man - cover 1 defense about the same amount (31% of the time each).
Finnegan is still their best defensive back and they likr to move hime around from boundary CB, to slot CB and he even played a little Safety.
Finnegan and Jenkins do not switch sides when they both line up outside, so if we want to exploit a match up, we can by alignment.
Again, after studying film, their LBs and Safeties are susceptible to play action and do get out of position if you can get your QB time.
An effective run game will be key for us, but I don't expect much because of Thomas and Bush's injuries and the Rams like to stack 8 in the box.