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Chapter 3, Game 7 - vs. Indianapolis Colts (Oct. 25th)

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This intro has been removed by the Center for Disease Control for suspicion of being contaminated with H1N1 flu. Please wear a mask while reading the rest of this post, and if you or anyone you know sneezes, has a runny nose or a sore throat, farts, takes a nap, blinks, wears pants or has a first name with at least one vowel, please escort them to the nearest medical provider for immediate castration.

Breakdown after the fold.

For game-specific info, check out tthe SBN event page for this game. For Colts news leading up the game, check out Stampede Blue.

St. Louis Rams, 0-6, 4th - NFC West

Indianapolis Colts, 5-0, 1st - AFC South

Parentheses include NFL rankings in that area out of 32 teams. Statistics taken from ESPN & FootballOutsiders.

STL pass - 113/195, 57.95% (23rd), 173.83 yds/gm, 5 TD, 4 int, 74.3 rat, -6.6% pDVOA (22nd)

IND pass D - 120/195, 61.53%, 192.4 yds/gm (9th), 2 TD (1st), 4 int, 71.0 rat,

-11.2% pdDVOA (8th)

On paper, this doesn't look like a matchup in the Rams' favor. In reality, though, it's worse. It's not so much that Indy's pass defense is incredibly talented, but that the pressure they get up front makes it tough for teams to go deep on them. While Marlin Jackson will miss this one, it's not as if the Rams have the WRs to take advantage. The real question mark is what effect Brandon Gibson will have. Still, it's hard to believe the Rams will have much success through the air. if anything, it may be a combination of Randy McMichael and Daniel Fells who has a significant impact rather than the WRs. Short good news in closing: Donnie Avery will play.

STL run - 24.67 rsh/gm, 104 yds/gm (17th), 4.22 yds/carry, 0 TD (t-30th),

-18.5% rDVOA (28th)

IND run D - 25.4 rsh/gm, 103.2 yds/gm (14th), 4.06 yds/carry, 4 TD, -0.9% rdDVOA (23rd)

If there's a game that Steven Jackson is going to have to win for us, this is it. The passing game may slide us out of a 3rd down or two, but the big play ability is pretty much non-existent for this team. It's going to have to be Cowboys 2008 redux - Steven Jackson is going to have to take over. Is it possible? Strangely, yes. Gary Brackett has been dealing with injuries, it looks like Freddy Keiaho will sit out, and Indy's OLBs may be the weakest positional grouping on the team. For this to happen, both Mike Karney and the O-line are going to have to be on board for the big play.

STL O-line - 2.17 sacks all./game, 3.81 rbALY (Run Blocking Adj. Line Yards) (19th),

6.0% ASR (Adj. Sack Rate) (15th)

IND D-line - 2.6 sacks/game, 4.49 drbALY (27th), 6.9% ASR (13th)

Before getting into the player specifics, the numbers reinforce what I said above. Indy is susceptible to the run, but gets a good pass rush thanks to Dwight Freeney. If Alex Barron can continue to play like an OT about to hit the free agent market, then maybe Bulger can have a decent day. Still, to have any shot, it's going to come down to the running game. This is a good chance for Jason Smith to get work in on both sides and prove his worth in terms of run blocking.

IND pass - 133/181, 73.48%, 326 yds/gm, 12 TD, 4 int, 114.1 rat (2nd), 69.1% pDVOA (2nd)

STL pass D - 126/189, 66.67%, 252 yds/gm (27th), 8 TD, 5 int, 95.5 rat, 36.9% pdDVOA (29th)

If our running game is the facet that has to work perfectly to win it, this is the unit that has to play perfectly for us not to lose it. Let's be blunt - it doesn't matter who the WRs are, Peyton Manning can orchestrate a passing offense as well as any quarterback ever.

With Ron Bartell and James Butler back, the secondary is healthy. Some help from the D-line to pressure Peyton would go a long way. If it's entirely up to the CBs to shut down the Colts' passing offense, it could get ugly.

IND run - 23.6 rsh/gm, 78.8 yds/gm (29th), 3.34 yds/carry, 5 TD, -0.5% rDVOA (14th)

STL run D - 32.5 rsh/gm, 132.5 yds/gm, 4.08 yds/carry (18th), 9 TD (t-30th),

6.0% rdDVOA (27th)

Nothing to see here, really. Indy doesn't try to establish much of a run game despite having some talented youths in Joseph Addai and rookie Donald Brown. The key here is to make sure the Colts don't suddenly develop a running game. The Rams can't afford to give Manning any more weaponry.

IND O-line - 0.4 sacks all./game, 3.92 rbALY(17th), 1.9% ASR (2nd)

STL D-line - 2 sacks/game, 4.21 drbALY (22nd), 5.3% ASR (25th)

Here's the real breadwinner for the Colts - their pass blocking. When you can protect a talent like Peyton Manning as well as they have (2 sacks through 5 games), you're going to get great returns. I don't really expect the Rams to flip the switch and suddenly wreak havoc on QBs, but with Larry Grant on Dallas Clark and Peyton pointing and tippity toeing through his usual QB mannerisms, we have to find a way to at least get in his face.

This week's top 3 storylines brought to you by the number 0. Zero - it's more than -1:

1.) Sacks by Chris Long : At the beginning of this season, I said I wasn't as concerned with our win-loss record at the end of the season as I was with what kind of progress (or regress) I saw in our young talents. To be blunt, Chris Long needs a sack now. I don't care if it's a cheap ass sack where Peyton trips and Chris just puts a hand on his shoulder. The mental hurdle of his first sack needs to be passed ASAP.

2.) Rushing TDs by Steven Jackson: Aside from the depression and anger the Rams provide me with, the greatest emotion I have felt this year has been the pity I feel for Steven Jackson. To see his talent squandered on a rebuilding team yanks at my sympathy strings. Maybe I should send him a card...

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3.) Wins during the Spagnuolo era: Just like the mental hurdles Chris Long and Steven Jackson are dealing with, Coach Spagnuolo has one of his own. He has to validate his approach to coaching the Rams not so much to the fans or the media, but to himself and his players. Granted, it's not all about Ws; Ron Zook has guided the Redskins to two victories this season after all. But for the Rams to turn a corner as a franchise with Spagnuolo controlling the ship, we have to get a win...eventually.

Go Rams!