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  1. #1
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    Rams' Mission: Stop The Run

    Rams' mission: Stop the run

    12 hours ago • By Jim Thomas 314-340-8197

    If the Rams are serious about making a playoff push down the stretch in 2012, their success defensively hinges largely on how they stop the run.

    They actually passed the first test last Sunday against Frank Gore and the second-ranked San Francisco rushing offense. Gore was limited to 2.5 yards a carry (25 for 58), his second-lowest rushing average in 11 games against the Rams in which he’s had at least 10 carries.

    This coming Sunday it’s C.J. Spiller, Fred Jackson and Buffalo’s fourth-ranked rushing offense.

    “And then unfortunately, not to look ahead, but the Vikings are first in rushing average,” coach Jeff Fisher said.

    That’s first in terms of yards per carry. In terms of rushing offense – or rushing yards per game – Minnesota and Adrian Peterson are ranked third in the NFL.

    Fisher didn’t need to stop there. After the Dec. 16 Minnesota contest, the Rams play rookie phenom Doug Martin and Tampa Bay’s 11th-ranked run game Dec. 23. Then comes Marshawn Lynch and Seattle’s seventh-ranked rushing attack in the season finale Dec. 30.

    “These next few weeks really, you look at every team and they’ve all got great running backs,” linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “That’s what December football’s all about in the National Football League.”

    At least it is for the Rams. Individually, the Rams are in the process of facing five of the league’s current top 10 rushing leaders: Peterson (first, 1,446 yards); Lynch (second, 1,138); Martin (tied for third, 1,106); Gore (ninth, 972); and Spiller (10th, 907).

    “So, we’re finding out about our defense,” Fisher said. “It is a challenge.”

    Or as defensive tackle Kendall Langford put it: “The run game is a grown man’s game. You stop that, then you can go have a little fun rushing the passer.”

    Langford spent his four previous seasons in Miami, playing Buffalo twice a year in the AFC East. So he’s more familiar with Jackson and Spiller than anyone else in the locker room at Rams Park.

    “Jackson, he’s a downhill back,” Langford said. “He can make you miss; he can run through you. Great hands out of the backfield.”

    And Spiller?

    “He’s a different type of back,” Langford said. “Speed guy. Perimeter-type guy. He can run it between tackles, but he wants to hit the perimeter. They just do a great job of complementing one another.”

    Fisher needs no convincing.

    “They’ve got as good a one-two punch in the backfield as anybody in the league, and obviously the pressure’s on our defense,” Fisher said.

    In recent years, Jackson has been the lead dog in the Buffalo backfield, but knee and concussion issues have limited his playing time this season, keeping him out of three games entirely and limiting him to 423 yards on 106 carries. But in his place, third-year pro Spiller is enjoying a breakout campaign.

    They’re a little bit different style from the Rams’ version of Thunder & Lightning – Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson. Spiller and Richardson are the speed backs. But Fred Jackson, at 6-1, 216, is a cruiserweight compared to Steven Jackson (6-2, 236). Nonetheless, Buffalo’s duo is even more productive so far this season.

    “They’re two different headaches,” Laurinaitis said. “Jackson’s obviously a very powerful, slasher-type runner. To me, C.J. Spiller is an every-down home run threat.”

    Members of the Rams’ defensive line have been so impressed watching Spiller on film this week, they were almost laughing out of respect. Laughing as in: “This guy’s no joke.”

    “He jumps off the film,” defensive end Chris Long said. “He’s so athletic. He makes so many people miss on one play, so we’re just gonna have to rally to the ball, and honestly it just takes more than one guy to get him down.”

    The Bills piled up a season-high 232 yards rushing in Sunday’s 34-18 victory over visiting Jacksonville. On a chilly, rainy, windy day at Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo all but put the passing game in mothballs. Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, the one-time Ram, threw only 17 times – the fewest number of passes thrown in a Bills game in six years.

    Jackson actually got the heavier workload against the Jaguars, with his first 100-yard game of the season (109 yards on 25 carries). Spiller had a 14-carry, 77-yard day. With that kind of ball control, the Bills dominated time of possession, with 35 minutes, 9 seconds to Jacksonville’s 24:51.

    Thanks largely to Spiller, the Bills also are capable of gobbling up yards in big chunks on the ground. Buffalo ranks second in the NFL in carries of 20 yards-plus, with 11, and Spiller had a 44-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter against Jacksonville.

    Spiller’s per carry average of 6.6 yards is eye-opening. It ranks second in the league to Robert Griffin III’s 6.8 and is just not the type of number you see in the NFL. In college, sure. But in the NFL it’s rare.

    “That’s tremendous for an NFL back,” Langford said. “If you’re averaging 4 yards as an NFL back, that’s good.”

    The Rams’ defensive task goes beyond the running game with Spiller and Jackson, because the Bills are a very active and adept screen team.

    “Their ability to throw screens is better than any team we’ve seen all year,” Laurinaitis said. “I think in the last four-games breakdown we have (of Buffalo) – 30-something screens. So they’re good at it, and they’ve got the playmakers in space to do it.”

  2. #2
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    Re: Rams' Mission: Stop The Run

    Yep. All 4 games. We gotta stop the run. No question.

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams' Mission: Stop The Run

    Sounds like another really physical game in the trenches.

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    Re: Rams' Mission: Stop The Run

    Gonna get interesting

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams' Mission: Stop The Run

    Good test for our defense as Jeff Fisher says. I also hope Schottenheimer will know how best to attack the Buffalo defense from his days with the Jets. We can do it.

    Go Rams!

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