Saturday, October 1, 2011

Rams vs. Redskins: 5 Things That Will Ensure A Rams Victory

The St. Louis Rams (0-3) will play host to the Washington Redskins (2-1) at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis this Sunday. 

The Rams will look to secure their first win of the 2011 season, while Washington will attempt to rebound from their "Monday Night Football" defeat in Dallas. 

The stakes are high for the Rams, who are growing increasingly desperate. They'll enter their bye week after facing the Redskins and then face a grueling three-game stretch against the Green Bay Packers, the Dallas Cowboys and the New Orleans Saints.

If the Rams do not beat the Redskins, then an 0-7 start to the season is a real possibility.

Fortunately for the Rams, this upcoming game is very winnable. The Redskins are not as talented as any of the previous opponents that the Rams have faced so far in 2011 (Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens).

With a victory against Washington, along with a week of rest during the bye week, the Rams could find themselves getting back on track. But they have to win on Sunday for that to happen.
So here's what needs to happen... 

1) Feed The Beast

Luckily for the Rams, they have been running the football effectively, that is if you ignore their game against New York.

They have the 11th ranked rushing offense, averaging 108.3 yards per game, which is extremely impressive considering Steven Jackson only has six carries on the season. 

They ran for 154 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles, and despite being completely dominated by the Baltimore Ravens, backup running back Cadillac Williams was still able to gain 75 yards on the ground. 
Except this week the Rams will likely have Jackson back in the lineup as the full-time starter.

With Jackson taking the bulk of the carries and with Cadillac giving him some relief, the Rams should be able to run the ball effectively against the Redskins for all four quarters.

The Rams need to jump out ahead with an early lead and then feed the ball to Jackson and Cadillac all day long, which will eat up the clock and keep the Washington offense off the field. 

2) Keep Rex Grossman On His Back

The Rams have a defensive front capable of pressuring a quarterback, and Redskins quarterback Rex Grossman does not perform well under pressure.

Chris Long already has three sacks in three games and rookie Robert Quinn has a sack despite missing the team's 2011 opener. The team has eight sacks in three games, which is impressive considering that the group has been playing well below their potential. 

It's time for them to come alive against the Redskins—a consistent pass rush will help out the Rams weak secondary and it will force Grossman to make mistakes, which could result in multiple turnovers. 

Also, if Grossman becomes ineffective due the the pass rush, the Redskins will have to rely solely on the run and the Redskins are flat out not good enough to win games as a one-dimensional offense.

3) Avoid Turnovers, Create Takeaways

The Rams have given up three defensive touchdowns in three games. The opposing defenses have just as many touchdowns and the Rams offense. 

That is unacceptable. Teams cannot win in the NFL if they give up defensive touchdowns on a regular basis. 
It is vital that the Rams prevent the Redskins from picking off any passes or forcing on fumbles. 

The running backs need to take care of the ball, Sam Bradford needs to make the proper reads and the offensive line has to provide a suitable amount of protection. Those three things will ensure a turnover free game for St. Louis. 

On the contrary, the Rams defense has to come up with some takeaways. 

Given how poorly the Rams offense has played so far this year, there is no such thing as too many opportunities. The defense has to create more opportunities for the offense by coming up big with interceptions and forced fumbles.

If the Rams can avoid giving up a defensive touchdown and win the turnover battle, then it will likely result in a victory.  

4) Get Bradford And the Receivers Rollins

It has come in the form of dropped balls by the receivers, or even tipped passes by Sam Bradford. But so far in 2011, the Rams have not been able to find rhythm in their passing game. 

Bradford put up 331 yards against the New York Giants. During that game, Danario Alexander had 122 yards and Mike Sims-Walker had 92.

If the offensive line can play at a somewhat respectable level, then the Rams offense is perfectly capable of moving the ball through the air, regardless of the team's lack of an elite receiving threat.

However, they have not been able to produce a solid aerial attack on a consistent basis due to mental mistakes, such as dropped passes. 

The receivers need to remain focused throughout the game and the offensive line has to create a solid pocket for Bradford. 

The Rams will get some relief in the passing game with the return of Steven Jackson, who is highly underrated as a receiver, but in the end the wide receivers will have to step up and play consistent football. 

5) Find Some Swagger

The Rams have not been losing because they don't have the talent to win or because the opposing teams are far superior.

They have been losing because they are beating themselves.

They look flat and lifeless on the field, as if they are just going through the motions. This type of play has resulted in penalties, dropped passes, blown assignments and turnovers.

The opposing teams are not beating them because they are beating themselves.

They need to play Washington on Sunday with some intensity. They need to make hard hits and big plays, and they need to display the demeanor of a team that's hungry for a win.

To put it simply, they need to play with swagger.

Instead of playing not to lose, they need to come out and expect to win the game.  

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