Burning questions for Week 5--NFL.com
By Vic Carucci
National Editor, NFL.com
(Oct. 8, 2004) -- Four burning questions for Week 5:
Will Mike Martz be as willing to run the ball against Seattle as he was when the Rams' ground game trampled the ***** in Week 4?
No, but it's imperative that he at least tries to maintain some offensive balance.
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The Rams actually ran the ball 36 times, compared with 25 pass attempts, in their blowout victory over San Francisco. It was a radical change from the 55 passes and 14 runs Martz called in the Week 3 overtime loss against New Orleans. But it made perfect sense considering the ***** showed no ability to stop the run -- or much else.
On the other hand, the Seahawks have the NFL's top-rated defense and rank third against the run. The superb play of their interior defensive linemen allows them to overcome the general lack of speed and athleticism among their linebackers. And their cornerbacks' outstanding pass coverage gives safeties Terreal Bierria and Ken Hamlin the freedom to make a strong contribution in run support. Consequently, Martz will be less inclined to pound the ball and likely want to take his usual pedal-to-the-metal approach as much as possible.
However, to have a chance of handing the Seahawks their first loss of the season, the Rams must strive for as much balance as they can on offense and utilize the great skills Marshall Faulk continues to provide (with some spelling from Steven Jackson). By doing so in the early going, they can discourage Seattle defensive coordinator Ray Rhodes from getting too creative with his pass rush and coverages and keep what quarterback Marc Bulger must diagnose as simple as possible.
Also, Grant Williams, who has replaced injured Kyle Turley at right offensive tackle, is far better at run blocking than pass protection. The need to help him when protecting for the pass compromises the ability of the rest of the line to keep Bulger upright and sometimes requires that a back or tight end augment protection rather than provide another receiving target to stretch the defense.