Looking at the numbers, this doesn’t look good for the Rams. Since the end of the 2007 season, the Rams have won exactly five road games. Yes, this is a different team, but this new team is 0 and 2 on the road. The Rams need to be able to run the ball, or at least threaten the run to have offensive success. Turns out, Miami is the number one defense against the run in the NFL. The fins only allow 61.4 yard per game.
The Dolphins weakness is pass defense. They are 26th against the pass, but the Rams are not at their best when they are pass happy. Furthermore, the Rams just lost their favorite target in the passing game, Danny Amendola. Last week’s seven completion game may not give Rams’ fans warm and fuzzy feelings. With our back-up offensive line still playing, I should also note that Miami is 6th in the NFL in sacks with 15.
I am certain some fans will say: Arizona beat the Dolphins, and we beat Arizona. Unfortunately, the NFL is not that easy. Given the facts above, Rams’ fans should not look at this game as an easy win.
With that said, I think the Rams can and will win this game. We have the better coach, the better quarterback, and the better defense. We know we have the better coach because both teams wanted Fisher, and we got him. The Dolphins had to go with option 2.
I like Ryan Tannehill. I think he has potential. However, our quarterback has NFL experience, which is going to be necessary in this game. Both teams are well-coached defensively and will cause problems for the other offense. I give the edge to Bradford in recognizing those problems, addressing the problems, and having the patience to win this game in the end.
Finally, both teams are neck and neck defensively if you look at the stats. Nevertheless, after watching prior games, I give the edge to the Rams defense in this game. Why? I am relying on the amorphous term “talent”. Looking at the defensive roster, the only player on the Dolphins defense that I would prefer to have over the Rams’ player is Cameron Wake. I am still not sure if I would want him over Long or Quinn, but I would want him on my team.
Here are my thoughts on what the Rams need to do to win:
1. SCREEN TO RUN
With the meat the Dolphins have up the middle, I can see why they are good against the run. Furthermore, Jared Odrick at left defensive end isn’t small at 6’5” 305 lbs. As you will see with point 2, the Rams still need to try to run, but I think the Rams can have success with the screen. Let’s make the big guys run around and see how that works for them. In particular, throwing a screen on Cameron Wake’s side would have the added benefit of slowing him down in the pass rush. I want to see 4 called screens to the running backs in the first half. This has not been a strength of the Rams to date, but I think it is time to try.
2. IF AT FIRST, YOU DON’T SUCCEED ….
I hope that Steven Jackson can have success in this game, but the numbers suggests this might be an arduous task. At the same time, he is still Steven Jackson, and they can’t ignore him. The more we try to run, the more they respect the run, which allows play action. I will be happy with 15 to 20 attempts for 60 to 70 yards. With Cameron Wake coming at Bradford, we can’t get one-dimensional in this game.
3. LIFE WITHOUT DANNY
The loss of Danny Amendola was devastating last year because we had nothing better behind him. I don’t know if we have anyone better, but we have potential. It is time to find out whether that potential will be fulfilled. I was upset with the Austin Pettis pick when he was drafted because he is a larger Danny Amendola. Well, now that doesn’t look so bad. Also, Steve Smith had his best success in this league in the slot. Moreover, Brian Quick could look really good in the slot. Think Anquan Boldin.
4. I SEE NOTHING
There is nothing in the Miami offense that scares me. Yes, they have an impressive offensive line, but does that really scare you. The QB is a rookie. Reggie Bush has never proven himself to be a number one running back. They have one wide receiver showing star potential (Brian Hartline), but we have three excellent cornerbacks. The Rams should have a tremendous advantage when Miami tries to throw.
Miami has three running backs, and the Rams have some poor numbers defending the run. Thus, it is fairly obvious that the Dolphins plan to come in here and run over the Rams. I don’t think they can.
Reggie Bush is a great change of pace back, but he is now the pace. Daniel Thomas is their big back, but I don’t see him pulling a Lynch and running over our guys. Additionally, it is tough for Daniel Thomas to get significant carries because Miami also brings in Lamar Miller, who is Reggie Bush II. If we focus on the run with eight men in the box, these running backs should not kill us. Reggie Bush may break one or two longer runs, but he should not consistently get thee to four yards. I want many rushes for two or less yards and more than one rush for negative yards. This will force Miami to try to beat us with the pass, which plays to the Rams’ strength.
If we keep the Miami offense stagnant, the home field advantage becomes less and less as the game goes on. In my mind, we need to keep Miami to less than 300 total yards in this game.
5. WIN IT IN THE FOURTH
Given the advantages I believe we have in this game, if we keep the game close through three quarters, we should win it in the fourth quarter. I do not know if special teams, our defense, or a surprise deep pass on offense wins this game, but I have to believe that Fisher will have his team ready to win late. If our team has watched any film, it is obvious that Hartline likes the double move. He sets people up for this move throughout the game. I trust that Fisher has our team ready for this in the fourth quarter. Without that, Miami has no way to go deep. I have Faith in Fisher. The Rams will do something in the fourth quarter to win this game.