So why is this team so much better with Danny in the game? There are two major types of impact that he has. The first is his ability to attack the middle of the field in both man and zone coverage effectively. This takes stress off the outside edges of the offense, and opens up lanes in the seams (hashes), because the safeties have to drop deeper to account for his ability to beat his coverage team.You can see the Rams motioning Richardson or Jackson out wide, into no back sets on third down, when Danny is in the game. This forces a linebacker out of the middle of the field to go cover the back, and opens up space in the middle of the field. Danny can beat his coverage man-on-man, or zone, if you give him plenty of space, and this strategy was incredibly effective for the first 5 games. Unfortunately, no other Rams receiver can effectively run this scheme, and it has hurt the Rams, as this has been their go-to 3rd down strategy this season.
The second major impact he has is in the running game. Watch how the line backers line up in deeper sets (below) when Danny lines up in the slot (6-7 yards deep, opposed to 3-5 yards). This basically gives the Rams running back a free 1-3 yards, and provides more space to make a move and get up field. You can also see in the video that often the opposing team will cheat the linebackers towards Amendola creating wide running lanes for the back, which is perfect for a runner like Richardson.
The 49ers will be a very tough test this week for the Rams, but the Rams are well built to attack and defend this foe. The 49ers have some explosive elements on offense, but their quarterback is simply a maintenance man, and this should bode well for our defense. That leaves our low-ranking offense to pick up the slack, and with Danny back in the lineup, it will be exciting to see if this group can build on their progress from the first 5 weeks.
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