Poor tackling dooms Rams' run defense
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Sunday, Dec. 04 2005
The Rams, who have a quirky way of making who's-he running backs look like Hall
of Famers, were at it again Sunday.
Much like New Orleans' Aaron Stecker, Carolina's Nick Goings and Green Bay's
Najeh Davenport last year, Washington's Rock Cartwright ran through the Rams'
defenders like Jim Brown in his prime. Cartwright, a fourth-year pro from
Kansas State who had rushed for 68 yards all season, gashed the Rams for a
career-high 118 yards on just nine carries.
And he wasn't even the Redskins' leading rusher in their 24-9 victory at the
Edward Jones Dome. That distinction went to Clinton Portis, who rolled up 136
yards on 27 tries and scored two touchdowns.
"We stuck with our bread and butter," Portis said. "The offensive line got an
opportunity to fire off the ball, and it opened up lanes for us."
That was a familiar refrain for the beleaguered Rams defenders, who have been
vulnerable to the run for most of the season. This time it was worse than
usual, though: They yielded 257 yards, which Rams publicists reported was the
highest regular-season total by an opponent since the team moved to St. Louis
in 1995, a span of 171 games.
"Once again, we shoot ourselves in the foot - missed assignments, missed
alignments, things like that," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "It's very
frustrating, especially when you watch film and you see the breakdowns. It's
just one person out of their place or one missed tackle. We work hard to try to
stop the run. And then to have breakdowns ... it's hard to win like that."
After holding their first three opponents to double-figure rushing totals, the
Rams have given up an average of 162.5 yards per game since. They went into
Sunday's contest ranked 27th vs. the run and likely will drop another spot or
Despite their woes, they hadn't seen two ballcarriers top 100 yards against
them. In fact, that hadn't happened to a Rams defense in a regular-season game
in 25 years (Detroit's Billy Sims and Dexter Bussey).
"When two backs go over 100 yards, you have to take it personally," defensive
end Leonard Little said. "It's really frustrating. People count on me to be the
leader of this defense, and I have to go out there and make more plays."
The Redskins dialed up 40 running plays, compared with only 22 passes.
Rams interim head coach Joe Vitt cited missed assignments and poor tackling.
"If you look at teams in the National Football League with good run defense,
they have good tacklers," Vitt said. "We have to get better tacklers."
Re: Poor tackling dooms Rams' run defense
I always said it, championship's are built with a good defense, I will stand by my quote. I missed seeing the game but I can see what happened, defense.
What about our new linebacker, Clairborn? Has he made it to a game yet? I am just so frustrated right now, not with the players, with the front office.