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    ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    St. Louis must step up
    By Scouts, Inc.


    Why To Watch

    It is amazing to discuss playoff implications when two teams face off, but St. Louis comes to the Metrodome needing a win to possibly grab a wildcard playoff spot. Had Minnesota won last week, the Vikings would be in the same situation, but instead they lost the game without giving up a touchdown, eliminating them from any playoff consideration.

    The drama in Minnesota revolves around a quarterback change and a team on the verge of complete dissention going into the offseason. The Rams will bring a hungry team that still has a chance going into the season finale. Minnesota's new leadership must find a way not to have mutiny on the Vikings ship, and there is no better elixir for what ails this team than a strong effort and a victory to finish a frustrating season.


    When the Rams have the ball

    Rushing: The running game has been outstanding for St. Louis, with powerful Steven Jackson both bulling over opponents and possessing deceptive game speed to get to the edge. Jackson's abilities and durability have made the Rams' offensive line look better as a unit than the individual abilities might suggest. Minnesota brings the best run defense in the National Football League to the season finale, with the intention of finishing the season as one of the best run defenses of all time. Jackson brings his 1,386 yards rushing and 10 rushing touchdowns to the Metrodome to challenge this impressive defense.

    The anchor of this dominant run defense, Pat Williams, was overlooked in the Pro Bowl voting, but Rams center Richie Incognito and his offensive line mates are very aware of how stout Williams has been all season long, stuffing opposing ground games.

    The offensive game plan designed by Scott Linehan and his staff will search for ways to get Jackson going on the ground. St. Louis offensive line coach Paul Boudreau will have his front five ready, but must also concern himself with All Pro Kevin Williams playing the three technique for the Vikings, as well as strong run defending defensive ends Kenchi Udeze and Darrion Scott. This will be a big test for the Minnesota defense because its entire motivation will be on finishing as the best run defense in the league this season, as well as one of the top run defenses of all time in the NFL.

    Passing: St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger has had a Pro Bowl season and was rewarded earning a February trip to Hawaii. One of the reasons for his selection is Bulger's tremendous accuracy, hitting 62.9 percent of his passes for an impressive 4,053 yards, spreading the ball around to 12 different receivers. Both Issac Bruce and Tory Holt had over 1,000 receiving yards and running back Steven Jackson led the way with 88 catches out of the backfield.

    This Rams' offense is predicated on a power run game setting up a vertical passing game that averages 247.6 yards per game, ranking fourth in the league in passing offense and sixth in total offense in the NFL. Bulger's accuracy and the down-the-field routes of the Rams' receivers will carve up the Vikings' secondary, should Minnesota play predominantly zone coverage because the Minnesota pass rush has not effectively pressured the quarterback when bringing only the front four.

    If given time, Bulger is outstanding and will connect early and often with Holt and Bruce, who both run tremendously disciplined routes at full speed, and have the experience and savvy to read coverages, finding the soft spots in the zone. Minnesota defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin will change things up with a variety of man coverage blitzes, as well as a heavy dose of linebacker zone dogs to challenge the St. Louis protection schemes, getting pressure on Bulger.

    When the Vikings have the ball

    Rushing: Chester Taylor has had an excellent season, proving to have both ability and durability. In addition to bringing in Taylor, the Minnesota Vikings organization spent heavily in free agency this past offseason, adding the highest paid offensive guard in league history when signing Steve Hutchinson to start on the left side, trading for right guard Artis Hicks, signing huge left tackle Bryant McKinnie to a huge extension, as well as Pro Bowl center Matt Birk.

    For all the investment, as well as the athletic ability of the group, the offensive line play has been terribly disappointing and very inconsistent. The zone run scheme installed by Childress has not been as effective as it should have been all season, as this huge offensive line should be able to roll up most defensive lines, allowing Taylor and the reserve running backs to hit positive yards running downhill behind this big wall of blockers.

    Backing up Taylor, both Ciatrick Fason and Artose Pinner have been very good when afforded the opportunity, and change-of-pace running back Mewelde Moore continues to be an excellent dual threat out of the backfield.

    St. Louis has an undersized defensive line and Minnesota's passing attack is poor, so expect a heavy dose of Taylor and the Vikings' ground game this Sunday. By generating a solid rushing game, it takes the pressure off rookie quarterback Tarvaris Jackson in his second start and it will set up the movement and play action passes for young Jackson.

    Passing: Can you say anemic? Minnesota's pass offense has steadily regressed as the season progressed to the point of making veteran quarterback Brad Johnson the scapegoat. Tarvaris Jackson started last week versus Green Bay. Brad Childress has come under fire for his offensive system and showed uncharacteristic emotion defending his "kick-ass" offense, instead blaming the problems on his player's lack of execution.

    The best Vikings' receiver, Marcus Robinson, was vocal in his frustration following the Packers loss, eliminating the Vikings from playoff contention and Childress immediately cut the wide receiver on Christmas Eve. Jackson has all the physical tools and is an intelligent, hard working young player with natural charisma who will allow him to be an excellent leader and quality quarterback in the future.

    The frustration level is to the point of near mutiny on Childress' Vikings ship, yet the Minnesota head coach remains inflexible in adjusting his offensive system to the abilities of his personnel. Childress rigidity has not allowed his quarterbacks to make on-field adjustments, nor does his offensive staff do a very good job of making in-game adjustments reacting to opposing defensive changes. These limitations along with the tendency-laden, predictable play calling by the head coaches have left his team questioning Childress.

    Rams' defensive coordinator Jim Haslett will bring a multitude of man blitzes and zone dogs, while disguising coverage, to confuse the Vikings' rookie signal caller creating turnovers. Also, expect line stunts from the more athletic Rams' defensive line to get Minnesota offensive linemen on edge or bumping each other off, allowing free runners on the quarterback. St. Louis faces no vertical threats from this offense, so the Rams' secondary will squat on routes, making the passing lanes very tight and tough for the rookie quarterback. Haslett will also continually make game plan adjustments, challenging Childress and his offensive coaches to a tactical chess match.


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    I smell a win for sure....probably a blow-out!

    GO RAMS!

  3. #3
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    wow good read!

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    Re: ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    How can the idiots refer to richie as our center when he hasnt played that position in two weeks. These guys are supposed to be professionals, dont they watch the games, read the articles and prepare before they write? Obviously not. Romberg for president.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


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    Re: ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    The frustration level is to the point of near mutiny on Childress' Vikings ship, yet the Minnesota head coach remains inflexible in adjusting his offensive system to the abilities of his personnel. Childress rigidity has not allowed his quarterbacks to make on-field adjustments, nor does his offensive staff do a very good job of making in-game adjustments reacting to opposing defensive changes. These limitations along with the tendency-laden, predictable play calling by the head coaches have left his team questioning Childress.
    Next time we want to jump on our rookie head coach, we may want to re-read this article.

    Linehan may not have delivered the 16-0 season some were secretly expecting, but he doesn't have a lockerroom full of turmoil either.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    I think we should possibly win this game........but Chester Taylor will most likely be Week 17 P.O.T.W.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    I think we should possibly win this game........but Chester Taylor will most likely be Week 17 P.O.T.W.
    Not if we stack the box.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

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    Re: ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    Quote Originally Posted by RAMMAN68 View Post
    Not if we stack the box.
    Even if we stack the box, our run D has shown little life. The line is too small, and the 2nd layer of defenders is non-existent. Take the first half of the Redskins game. Over and over again, I'd see the D-line suck up blockers, and then hold my breath expecting the next helmet through the crowd to be either a LB or S laying out the runner. But it never happened. There it was time and time again, a naked runner with no 2nd layer to meet him.

    I've been supporting Kennedy for some time now. But we might as well go back to the old Lovie days with a pair of 3-techniques. What good is a NT pulling in multiple blockers is there is no 2nd wave to meet the runner?

    That's why I think even stacking the box won't stop Taylor from putting up huge yards on us.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  9. #9
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    The Rams havent won in MN since 1978.
    "You people point your 'f'in' finger and say theres the bad guy....what that make you....good?" Tony Montana

  10. #10
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    Re: ESPN Insider: Scouting Matchups Week 17 (Rams vs Vikings)

    Quote Originally Posted by HUbison View Post
    Even if we stack the box, our run D has shown little life. The line is too small, and the 2nd layer of defenders is non-existent. Take the first half of the Redskins game. Over and over again, I'd see the D-line suck up blockers, and then hold my breath expecting the next helmet through the crowd to be either a LB or S laying out the runner. But it never happened. There it was time and time again, a naked runner with no 2nd layer to meet him.

    I've been supporting Kennedy for some time now. But we might as well go back to the old Lovie days with a pair of 3-techniques. What good is a NT pulling in multiple blockers is there is no 2nd wave to meet the runner?

    That's why I think even stacking the box won't stop Taylor from putting up huge yards on us.
    Taylor will put up yards, but if we can force some third and longs it will play into our defense's scheme. Of course if the offense strikes early and often, it will force the Viks to abandon the run.
    JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS


    "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

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