Don't tell Mike Martz or the media still clinging to the Greatest Show label (er, um, yeah), but the Greatest Show on Turf has reemerged in Arizona with former Turf Show QB Kurt Warner and some of the finest receivers playing the game today. Hey, St. Louis's old team and their new team's old QB....
The Rams have to disrupt the turf show's unlicensed sequel in order to win the game. That means an aggressive pass rush and applying constant pressure on Warner to get him off his throws or fumble the ball. With 6 fumbles and 4 lost fumbles, Warner's on pace for a career high. It also means air tight coverage in the backfield. But let's just take a quick look at Arizona's pass protection.
They're pretty much right in the middle of the pack. The Cardinals have allowed 15 sacks for a sack rate of 5.9%, 16th in the league. Part of the issue is a lack of solid tight end play, hurting their protection but somewhat less noticeable with Fitzgerald and Boldin as the top two WRs.
Numerically, it's a good match. The Rams have 17 sacks on the season - 10 in their last three games, you know the games when the season turned around. With a rate of 7.7%, they have the 9th best sack rate in the league. Among Rams opponents this season, Dallas, Philly, Washington and the NY Giants have better pass protection. The best comparison in this case might be Dallas, whose pass protection ranks 13th but the Rams did a fine job of disrupting Brad Johnson and making the passing game difficult. Obviously, padding the Dallas example is the fact that Kurt Warner is no Brad Johnson (or is it the other way around?) and T.O. and Roy Williams, in his first game with the team, are no Larry Fitzgerald and Anqaun Boldin.
There are two injuries looming confronting the Rams defensive line that could significantly affect the pass rush. DT Adam Carriker and DE Leonard Little. Little leads the Rams in sacks with 4.5 (half a sack more than rookie DE Chris Long), and Carriker is an essential part of crashing the pocket in the middle. Both went through individual drills at practice yesterday, but this quote makes it sound as though Little will play...and is ready to pick up another sack or two.