I'm kind of confused when it comes to thinking about today's game for the Rams. Houston isn't a 2-3 team, but it's what the standing say. With a smothering defense against the pas, they've allowed opposing teams to run the ball well enough to slide into post season doubt. Today could be a very rough day for Sam Bradford, as Houston tries to re-establish itself as an NFL force. J.J. Watt and Brian Cushing will be hell-bent on getting to Bradford through his dubious offensive line.
When I look at the St. Louis Rams defense, I get a rumbling in my stomach. This unit should be far better than they've shown themselves to be this season. I can't help but think all the preseason hype of how good the Rams' defense "should-could" be, peaked the interest of opposing offensive coordinators. They have obviously found a flaw in Jeff Fisher's pride and joy? With a top notch front four consisting of Chris Long, Kendall Langford, Michael Brockers and Robert Quinn, there's simply no way to explain why the Rams rank #28 against the run. Did Quintin Mikell - playing up in the box from his safety position in 2012 - really make that big a difference? Now that Jo Lonn Dunbar is back, can the Rams defense at least find their way back to a semblance of their form from last season?
Alarm bells should be going off in Jeff Fisher's head, but the visibly unflappable head coach doesn't give much away when he talks to the media. As an armchair coach of the first order, I think I'd be making some big changes for this game against the Texans. What changes, you ask? Let's see...
First, I'd make Ray Ray Armstrong - the former college safety turned penalty prone outside linebacker - a safety/OLB hybrid for this game. In a morphed version of a run oriented nickle package, I'd bring back the old "madman" position, keying Armstrong on Foster and occasionally turning him loose to rush a shaky Matt Schaub on 3rd and long situations.
Next, I'd sit Chris Long if his nagging hip injury keeps allowing him to get "kicked-out" by mediocre right tackles. In the last few games, I've watched Long being handled one-on-one far more than should be possible. It may help to play him in a hybrid 3-4 defense, standing up behind William Hayes. I'd shift Laurinatis to the left and move Ogletree to the right next to Dunbar in my 3-4, and bring them both hard up the middle. Taking the Texans guards out of plays would stymie the "against the flow" opportunities the Texans love to run. The bad news here is this set basically commits the defense to "all-in" against the run, leaving corner backs in man-coverage against Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins. It also could open opportunities for the Texans' tight ends to break free in the flats, or in short patterns up the middle seam of the defense. Matt Giordano played deep against the jaguars last week, and I'm not sure how he'd fair against Owen Daniels in space.
The bottom line: the Rams' defense need to be wild and crazy to have a chance against a balanced Texans' offense. Shutting down Arian Foster is a tough assignment, but to win this game, it's job #1.