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The offense, not defense, will have to stop Vick
By Bernie Miklasz
Of the Post-Dispatch
Thursday, Jan. 13 2005
Playoff update: The Rams don't have the Seattle Seahawks to kick around
anymore. As exciting as it has been to watch the Rams come to life, momentum
can only take them so far. And this week the Rams are going to Atlanta.
Unfortunately, they can't return to Seattle to torment Mike Holmgren and the
NFL's most gutless team.
It's one thing to travel to the Pacific Northwest and slap around the feckless
Seahawks. After all, the Rams did that in the regular season, before they
supposedly found a righteous path to their newfound glory.
A playoff win is an impressive achievement, but was anyone really surprised to
see the Rams hold off Seattle? The terrain, and the challenge, have changed.
Now the Rams move up in class. Now they go to Atlanta and the Georgia Dome
hothouse. Now the Rams must face the Falcons, who clobbered them by 17 points
in the second game of the season.
"They lined up and whipped us, and whipped us good," Rams coach Mike Martz
said. "And not because we didn't have somebody. They lined up and physically
whipped us on both sides of the ball."
And now the Rams face their own version of Mission Impossible: They have to
trap Michael Vick, who bobbed and weaved through an overwhelmed, overheated,
oxygen-deprived, arm-tackling, flat-footed Rams defense on Sept. 19.
In a one-man demonstration of futuristic quarterbacking, Vick all but used the
game to film another Nike commercial, with Rams' defenders serving as extras
and props. Vick rushed for 109 yards, averaging 9.1 yards a carry, and
completed 73 percent of his throws. Vick played at 70 mph. The Rams crawled
along in the slow lane.
"Obviously, Michael Vick did what he wanted," Rams quarterback Marc Bulger
Vick is basically the best option quarterback in football history.
The Rams may be able to prevent Vick from going off again, but I tend to doubt
it. The Rams did a superb job of halting Seattle running back Shaun Alexander
last week, but Atlanta is a different beast. When Seattle opts to run, everyone
in the stadium knows Alexander will carry the ball. But Atlanta isn't as
formatted. Vick can zoom off on a designed bootleg. Vick can fake a run and
slip the ball to halfback Warrick Dunn. Vick can hand off to 242-pound
bulldozer T.J. Duckett. Or Vick can drop back to pass, then launch himself on a
Tapping into such grand diversity and extreme athleticism, the Falcons led the
NFL in rushing. Coach Jim Mora wisely plays to this strength. When the Falcons
get the early lead, which is often the case, Mora preserves it by smashing
away. And that's especially true at home, where the Falcons are 7-1 and
averaging an astounding 180 yards rushing per game.
So how do the Rams do it?
How do they pull off Mission Impossible and nab their target in this
high-speed, action-filled pursuit of Vick?
Here's how: The Rams offense outscores Vick.
And the Rams offense seems primed for an attack. Since returning from a
shoulder injury, Bulger has completed 68 percent of his passes and has a passer
efficiency rating of 108.7. If the offensive line secures Bulger in the pocket,
the Falcons won't be able to cover Mike Martz's remodeled lineup of flyers.
In the second game, Bulger had old reliables Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, but
they've been joined by emerging and exciting wideouts Kevin Curtis and Shaun
McDonald. The Rams also have two backs, Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson, who
are assets in the passing game. And the Rams are even tossing the ball to their
tight ends. That's too many options for the Falcons to cover.
But it won't matter if Bulger is on his back.
"Coach will do some things as far as matchups, and putting us in some
situations where we can get some one-on-ones," Holt said. "We feel very
strongly about our one-on-one matchups, it's going to come down to us winning
those. If our offensive line is doing their job, and blocking and protecting
like they've been doing the last three weeks, then we feel like the sky is the
limit for this offensive team."
If the Rams can get out to a quick start and an early lead of, say, two
touchdowns, Vick's game will change. He will have to be a passer instead of a
runner. And then the Rams will have a chance to keep Vick from taking over.
Some telling numbers on Vick, and the totals include his two previous playoff
When Vick rushes seven or more times, the Falcons are 18-4-1. When he rushes
fewer than seven times, the Falcons are 7-15.
When Vick rushes for 64 or more yards in a game, the Falcons are 12-2. When
he's held to fewer than 64 yards, the record is 13-17-1.
When Vick rushes for a touchdown, the Falcons are 9-1-1. When he doesn't,
When Vick attempts 25 or more passes in a game, the Falcons are 7-8-1. When he
throws fewer than 25, the Falcons are 18-11.
When Vick passes for 181 yards or more, the Falcons are 6- 7-1. When his
passing yardage comes in under 181 yards, the record is 19-12.
Saturday night in Atlanta, the Rams' best defense will be a prolific offense.
Re: The offense, not defense, will have to stop VickSaturday night in Atlanta, the Rams' best defense will be a prolific offense.
The Ram's Defense needs to play and play well against Atlanta. The offense can not win this game by itself.
Both sides need to bring out their best game.
Come on Rams, bring it to Atlanta :ramlogo:[SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
Re: The offense, not defense, will have to stop Vick
Yes utter, the defense does have to step up. However, if the Rams can jump up 14-0 or 14-3, that may force Atlanta to go to the air. This is not what the Falcons want to do.