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Talkin' 'bout the Runs

Haslett's blow up became the top Rams' topic around the water cooler today. Of course. When you launch into a pissed off tirade on the media, they'll make sure your tirade dominates the conversation. Simple media theory.

I can understand Haslett's frustration, but I can't agree with the sentiment. As I said below, the run defense is a legit subject of conversation when your team's 5-6 largely because of that run defense.

The Haslett "incident" and Haslett's defense in general is the subject du jour over on STL Today's Rams Talk Forum, with more threads dedicated to the Redhead's rant than to Mick Vick's finger to the fans (a far more entertaining story in my humble opinion). In one thread, a couple of Rams fans make some interesting points.  

One reader points out that Haslett's a pass pressure guy, and his defenses tend to emphasize that much more than they do stopping the run. I didn't pay much attention to the Saints during Haslett's tenure there, watching the Saints through the last 15 years just wasn't my idea of a good time, but that's certainly been his tendency in St. Louis this season.

What perhaps is dumb is not seeing that Haslett's 4-3 defense has always been more focused on pressuring the QB vs. the stopping the run. Thus, his personnel selections have usually been geared more towards the same.

Now, I'd had the impression that his status as a blitz-ophile was in part due to the Rams' lack of talent up front for stopping the run. Of course, Haslett and Co. brought in some of that talent, a point made in the post below the one cited above. In theory, media attention (reflecting fan concerns) about the run defense may force their hand at changing the situation for next season, in theory.

Regardless, Haslett's system should get a real test this week against the Cardinals. Their pathetic running game averages just 69.7 yards per game, dead last in the NFL. As anyone who drafted Edge James in their fantasy league will tell you, the Cardinals offensive line is terrible. According to Football Outsiders, the Cards line gets stuffed (runs resulting in no gain or negative yards) more than anyone else in the league. Their longest running play of the season was 18 yards.

The Cardinals did get 101 yards rushing against the Rams, Edge had 94 and a TD.

With rookie QB Matt Leinart the Cardinals pass the ball alot, and they've got the receivers to do it. Pass rushing will be in the spotlight for the Rams defense along with the secondary that Haslett seemed so adamant for the media to talk about. They'll get their chance this week.

Be careful what you wish for.