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  1. #1
    mikhal5569's Avatar
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    Game Plan: What To Expect Against Kansas City

    Game Plan: What To Expect Against Kansas City
    By: Rick Venturi
    Published: August 25, 2011 @ 9:14pm

    After leaving the Dome Saturday night, Rams fans that drank the Kool-Aid after the performance over the hapless preseason Colts the week before, were a bit confused and loaded with a ton of questions. The way I score a preseason game resulted in an adjusted 8-3 win by the Titans, who dominated play when the significant players were on the field. Winning the junior varsity portion of a preseason game is and always will be a distortion of the performance of your team.

    In my opinion, Saturday night was a needed reality check for the Rams. Key areas like run defense, running the ball, and pass production need to be addressed. To me, this is anything but a bad thing. I never wanted a false sense of security in preseason. I always hoped to play against the best (Peyton Manning and Chris Johnson) to see exactly where my team is and what has to be fixed. There is no emotional carryover from the exhibitions to the regular system, so it's better to find out now.

    On offense, I was happy to see the offensive staff emphasize the passing game on the outside quarter of the field, both deep and in the second level. You saw the signature Josh McDaniels fast start, "establish the lead" philosophy with a play-action post to Brandon Gibson for a touchdown. We also watched Mike Sims-Walker and Donnie Avery catch balls in the deeper parts of the field, so Sam Bradford got some feel for timing with those guys. In the second half, they got the ball to Mardy Gilyard, Danario Alexander, Greg Salas, and Austin Pettis, so in that regard, they successfully got another look at a very competitive position.

    On the negative side, the Rams struggled in pass protection, both in regular situations, and also showed a vulnerability to third-down, nickel-blitz variations. The coordination of backs, offensive line, and quarterback were out of sync, and Bradford got hit way too much. The teams that get their protection problems worked out quickly are going to be ahead of the game. The Rams must fix this issue, because the NFL is a copy-cat league, and you will get a million blitzes until you fix it, and Bradford is too valuable to even think about it.

    On defense, the good news was that the Rams continue to play good red-zone defense, which forced three field goals, keeping the game at 16-7, instead of 28-7, which makes a comeback possible. The bad news was that the Tennessee offense dominated the Rams' defense with runs and screens. The most troubling part of the night was that the Titans did it with third- and fourth-team tailbacks. The failure to stop the "cutback" and "wrap" runs was the result of uncharacteristic, undisciplined "fits" of the front seven and the safeties, and the Titans winning the line of scrimmage battles.

    Looking forward to this week at Kansas City brings focuses on the key points in the preseason. While game one and game two are installation and evaluation exercises, game three must take on a sense of urgency. Two weeks from this Sunday, it's for real. The third game is traditionally the game to get your regulars ready. You normally game-plan, not so much to win it, but to establish the game-week routine mentally and physically, particularly for your new guys. Since the fourth game normally carries a token (if any) appearance by your starters, this is the week to push your guys physically to be in "football" shape to play four quarters against Philadelphia on Sept. 11.

    Offensively, it's very important to establish a running game Friday night against the Chiefs. It's ludicrous to think this team can be successful without having Steven Jackson as the primary force in this offense. Jackson is a runner and screen-pass receiver, so you must find a way to keep him relevant in these areas.

    The Chiefs are solid in their 3-4 front seven, anchored by their newly acquired nose tackle, Kelly Gregg. Though inside linebackers Derrick Johnson and Jovan Belcher are productive, they are not strong players at the point of attack. The 3-4 without big, physical inside linebackers is vulnerable to nose read, lead draws, and wham running plays. When you run the perimeter, make sure you crack their outside backers and always account for safety, Eric Berry.

    On early downs, play-action is effective on their aggressive safeties, and the "double moves" can be effective on corners Brandon Flowers and Brandon Carr. I also think it's important to establish the screen game to Jackson, in an attempt to get him in space against smaller defensive backs. Third down will be a challenge. In these situations, defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel shifts from the ponderous 3-4 to a fast nickel (four-man line) front featuring the rush standout Tamba Hali on the edge. Also, look for young athletic rushers Allen Bailey, Wallace Gilberry, Cameron Sheffield, and Dustin Houston. As a mix, he will bring the impactful Berry from his safety position and aggressive Javier Arenas from his nickel spot. After last week's protection breakdowns, hold on to your butt!

    On defense, the Rams couldn't ask for a better opponent. The Chiefs are a solid playoff team, which led the league in rushing a year ago. Supported by a solid run-blocking offensive line, the Chiefs lead with one of the best running back tandems in football, the North-South slasher Thomas Jones and the home-run space player, Jamaal Charles. If you are sharp, there is a package for each guy, but it may be too subtle to differentiate in a preseason game. You must stop the run on early downs with your eight-man fronts and pressures. How I would pressure the Chiefs would depend on the running back in the game (never give Charles the edge).

    The passing game is very average for the Chiefs. Their lead guy is Dwayne Bowe, a big physical guy who can muscle for the ball. Jerheme Urban and Steve Breaston are former Cardinals, who never have been successful as anything but three or four receivers. The most dangerous and explosive player on the team is wildcard running back Dexter McCluster. He is most dangerous on check-throughs from the slot, screens, and quick hitting runs. You must defend him with a very good defender, because he will embarrass a stiff, space athlete.

    The offensive line is a much better run blocking line than pass protection line. On third down, this is a line you get after. Chris Long should be a real positive match on their right tackle Barry Richardson. As good a receiving threat as McCluster is, he is a total liability on pass protection. Quarterback Matt Cassel is solid, probably a better athlete than you think, who can be forced into turnovers. I look at this game plan in simple terms - stop the run and protect the deep ball on first down, while mixing a hard rush with a ton of blitzes on third down (always have a good player on McCluster in these blitzes).

    This is a perfect test for the Rams. The Chiefs will force the Rams to shore up their issues from the Tennessee game against a tough opponent. The fact that they have to go on the road adds another important learning experience. Kansas City can be a hostile environment, even in preseason, so this will be a good test. I think this game will be a good barometer for where the 2011 Rams are. After all, two weeks from Sunday, gym class is over!


  2. #2
    Keenum's Avatar
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    Re: Game Plan: What To Expect Against Kansas City

    Of course there are a lot of things I want to see, but to put it simply it all comes down to one thing:

    I want to see the big guys dominate!

    The O-line impressed me in the first preseason game, but had a bit of a letdown against the Titans. Not much, if any, push in the middle for most of the game. We can't have that! If they can get just a little push I have no doubt Jackson is going to have a huge year.

    Same with the D-line. I'm expecting an excellent pass rush this year, but they too got pushed around against Tennessee. I'm hoping that was just a fluke and these guys will dominate the line of scrimmage against KC. This is the perfect game to see how the D-line should turn out; not only is it against a great running team, but also this is the 3rd preseason game and is as close to a "real" regular season game as it will get.

    I hope these guys are comfortable with the new system as well and are ready to open some things up. Really looking forward to seeing what the 2011 Rams should look like!

  3. #3
    GoChiefs Guest

    Re: Game Plan: What To Expect Against Kansas City

    Last year we played our starters 3 quarters.

  4. #4
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    Re: Game Plan: What To Expect Against Kansas City

    The way I score a preseason game resulted in an adjusted 8-3 win by the Titans, who dominated play when the significant players were on the field.
    Ummm what? If you are only going to count the part where significant players are on the field, then surely an 83 yard TD pass on the first play of the game against their starting D should be included?

    I know the Rams starting O wasn't impressive outside of that TD pass. But does that mean we should ignore it?

    I'd like to adjust the score based on when the starting units were both on the field, fully healthy and not gassed in any way. In that case we should only count the first play of the game. Therefore Rams win 7-0 on an 83 yard TD pass in 15 seconds.

    Yes my logic is ridiculous, but i have applied logic and shown my reasoning. I'd like Venturi to do the same in future as i can't see how he arrives at 8-3! If he had said 13-7 Titans, the score after the first quarter, then i would understand

  5. #5
    RamsFanSam's Avatar
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    Re: Game Plan: What To Expect Against Kansas City

    One thing that wasn't addressed is the fact that McDaniels knows Cassel - and his strengths and weaknesses - and can help the D plan accordingly. Todd Haley, the KC coach, also once worked under Belichick. Our QB is much better than Cassel, and Comparing Jackson and Charles shows Jackson to be a much better back - and the depth we now have at the RB position gives us the edge. We may not have a true #1 WR (I'm not sold on Sims-Walker yet), but our stable of WR's we do have are VERY serviceable. This means to me one thing - advantage: Rams.

  6. #6
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    Re: Game Plan: What To Expect Against Kansas City

    What I don't want to see is the Chiefs starting offensive unit scoring any points. I think I have read somewhere that they have not scored any points yet in the pre-season. All the points were by 2nd/3rd stringers. I'd really hate to see them come out and drop a bunch of points on the Rams defense after being shut out in the first two games. I know it doesn't really mean much if they do, but I would like the Rams defense to continue the trend.

    I know a bunch of people who I work with that think the Chiefs are just going to have their way with the Rams and it will be a blowout by halftime. I sure hope our boys come to play and show the nation that they are for real.

  7. #7
    GoChiefs Guest

    Re: Game Plan: What To Expect Against Kansas City

    Steven Jackson is better than Charles?

    LOL

  8. #8
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    Re: Game Plan: What To Expect Against Kansas City

    Quote Originally Posted by GoChiefs View Post
    Steven Jackson is better than Charles?

    LOL
    If elementary school smack is your thing, we could recommend some other sites for you.

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