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Rams-Saints Film Preview: Run-Defense Will Go From Frying Pan To Fire

There’s no question the Rams defense will bend against the Saints running game. But will they break?

Los Angeles Rams v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The run-defense against the Minnesota Vikings was bad. This week, it will probably be worse.

The New Orleans Saints come to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon and their will be coming in red-hot. Through the combined efforts of RB Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara, the Saints running game has six consecutive games of 100 yards or more on the ground, four of which were for more than 160 yards.

The Los Angeles Rams defense has not surrendered 100 or more rushing yards in consecutive weeks since Oct. 1. However, their defense has been unable to stop the run against competent offenses

Through 10 games, the Rams’ have four games in which the defense has stopped the opposing offense from gaining 100 or more rushing yards. Those teams were the Indianapolis Colts, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and the Houston Texans.

So what has beaten the Rams in the six games in which they gave up more than 100 yards? Efficient work from the offensive lines and talented running backs.

Getting driven back and out

The Rams have too talented of a defensive line to get driven off the ball like they were against the Vikings.

Even against the Texans, where they surrendered 89 yards, RB Lamar Miller was able to break off big runs and solid gains because the offensive line was able get the lanes wide-open for him.

DE Ethan Westbrooks gets taken right out of the play and turned around, no problem. This run was able to gain 18 yards on the Rams.

Again, the right side of the Texans line is able to maintain their blocks just enough for the ball-carrier to gain six yards. DE Morgan Fox is moved right out of the lane, which was wide-open.

The lanes don’t even need to be wide-open. The Rams defense has been beaten just enough to get the run the offense needs to either keep the drive alive or get the touchdown. In the game against Minnesota, Murray needed just two yards for the score, the despite crowding the goal line, the Rams were driven back just enough.

Being right isn’t enough

There were quite a few times where the Rams were doing the right things to stop the run, but were just bested by the running back.

Ron Clements of the Sporting News pointed out one of those plays.

I initially thought the LB Alec Ogeltree had the right read and that the play was coming to him and but seeing the fullback tricked him into coming over to the other gap. But Clements points out that the play was actually going through the fullback, but it was Miller who switched the running path.

Reading his feet, Miller sees S John Johnson coming down to the initial running path and adapts.

Against the New York Giants, DL Michael Brockers makes a great move off the line and almost gets to RB Orleans Darkwa. However, Darkwa beats him with his cut and speed off the carry and finds the lane.

Again, DL Tanzel Smart has a good move off the line and looks like he could have a tackle-for-loss, but Darkwa just beats him and runs for 24 yards.

Bending is fine, breaking is not

The Rams defense is talented and they have the talent necessary to combat any rushing attack. As of late, they have not shown that. The defense has given a little, which teams like Minnesota and Washington have taken and turned into a lot.

New Orleans will do the same. The Rams cannot allow the Saints to seal off the lanes and man-handle them in the trenches. While the offensive lines of New York and San Francisco are not among the best run-blocking lines, they do enough to give their running backs room to work.

The Rams know that it’s all but certain that New Orleans will run for more than 100 yards. They just need to make the stops at the goal line and when the Saints are in their territory.