[N. Wagoner]: Rams-Broncos What to Watch Answered
Sunday, September 10, 2006
By Nick Wagoner
For Whom the Bells Toll
The Broncosí running game is consistently among the best in the league and no matter who starts seems to be able to produce 1,000-yard rushers with ease. Mike Bell and Tatum Bell are the top two backs looking to hit the grand mark this season. For the Rams to have a chance, they need to slow down Denverís zone blocking attack.
ANSWER: The Broncos started Tatum Bell at running back and, as usual, it didnít make much difference. Denver finished with 161 yards on 25 carries, an average of 6.4 yards per attempt. Despite Denverís running success, the Rams were able to force a pair of fumbles and held the Broncos to a single touchdown. Tatum Bell had 15 carries for 103 yards and Mike Bell finished with 10 carries for 58 yards.
A major reason for the success of Denverís running game is a passing game that relies on getting quarterback Jake Plummer out of the pocket and plenty of play actions and rollouts. To slow the running game, the Rams must keep Plummer contained.
ANSWER: The Broncosí air attack was grounded early and often by a ferocious pass rush and some ball hawking defensive backs. Plummer finished the game 13-of-26 for 138 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. His rating was a meager 26.3 and he was sacked four times.
A Speedy Trio
The Broncos boast one of the leagueís best linebacker trios in Al Wilson, D.J. Williams and Ian Gold. For the Rams to have an effective offensive day, they need to be aware of those linebackers at all times.
ANSWER: Wilson, Gold and Williams were all over the field and were effective in keeping the Rams out of the end zone. But the Rams stayed committed to the ground game and had enough success offensively to manage 18 points despite not getting in the end zone. Steven Jackson finished with 121 yards on 22 carries, a product of sticking with the run. That trio combined for 12 tackles, but had no sacks or turnovers.
A Champ-ionship Matchup
The one on one matchup between Denver cornerback Champ Bailey and St. Louis receiver Torry Holt should be a classic as the two superstars are expected to lock horns for most of the game. The player that wins that matchup will go a long way toward helping his team to a victory.
ANSWER: Bailey was outstanding in coverage and did well on his man all day. Although Bailey didnít exclusively cover Holt, Holt still had plenty of success. Holt finished with seven catches for 80 yards.
Rams coach Scott Linehan has made it his mission to make the Rams a more balanced offensive team this season. That means getting Steven Jackson involved and keeping the clock and the chains moving. If the Rams have a strong run/pass ratio, it means they havenít fallen behind and they are able to use all facets of the playbook. That could translate into a win.
ANSWER: The offense failed to get in the end zone, but for the most part that unit moved the ball well. The Rams finished with 320 yards of offense, most of the time moving with a short field to work with. St. Louis had 125 yards on the ground on 28 plays and 195 yards passing on 34 attempts. It wasnít pretty, but it was balanced and it was enough for the Rams to pull off a victory.
Re: [N. Wagoner]: Rams-Broncos What to Watch Answered
One more thing to add, Linehan uses the run to go long when the opportunity presents itself. There was not really the room in this game because of the excellent play of thier DBs. But as we continue to stick with the run, and play against some weaker D's namely SF, AZ, Minn, SD, and Seattle. I think that the toughest D we will face this year will be Chicago, and Washington, but our D will hold up against their average Offense.