Rams know how potent San Diego can be

The Chargers have playmakers LaDainian Tomlinson and Antonio Gates, plus a 3-4 defense that the Rams don't face very often. It has led to a very wary St. Louis team that is travelling to San Diego.

On San Diego's defense, Linehan said, "It's not unconventional. You see a lot of 3-4 from people. You do have to prepare for it. Most of the defenses you see now, the four-man fronts are just variations of really originally what 3-4 defenses were. Under fronts and over fronts, it's basically just reduction fronts that you see now from four-man lines. You just deal with the guy who simply puts his hand on the ground, as opposed to standing up. I spent the year in Miami going against, basically, that defense. I've played a lot of 3-4 teams in that division. You have to prepare for it.

"It can create some issues, as far as your rules and protections and runs, and things like that. I think it's beneficial, at least from a preparation standpoint, we've still got to block them and match up against their personnel, to have a little time, since we haven't been going against a lot of 3-4 up until now."

When asked about linebacker Shawne Merriman, Linehan said there are several players in the front seven that cause problems.

"Just like really their front seven, even with the injuries they've had, their front seven's just really the key to why these guys, like Merriman, are having such great years," Linehan said. "(Luis) Castillo being another as far as individuals go. What they do is they create a lot of one-on-ones. Matchup problems. You get Merriman on a running back, not that our running backs aren't tough and accept the challenge, but it's a tough matchup when the other guy is 270 pounds plus, or whatever he is. It does create matchup problems. We've got to do the best we can to hopefully not have those matchups too many times. You can't avoid it sometimes, it's just the nature of the scheme.

"These guys benefit from being really good players in a really good system. It does create some challenges for us, and we've had to spend a lot of extra time getting ready for it."

In addition, Rams quarterback Marc Bulger was sacked six times in their last game against Seattle, and several came when the Seahawks rushed only three players.

"It's certainly a big challenge," Linehan of facing the Chargers. "This team presents unique problems in protection because they create so many one-on-one matchup problems where we're going to have to hold up some and some we're going to have to give a little more help than normal. I think our biggest challenge there is to make sure we don't put guys in position where they can't have success. I think the whole goal of being better at protection this week is a big team goal. I think as an entire team, depth of routes, getting open, throwing the ball away, and hanging in there on a critical third down up front. Whatever it is we've really got to step up big this week if we're going to be able to achieve that because this is probably our biggest challenge to date when it comes to that."

On the flip side, Linehan noted that it's not only Tomlinson and Gates that the defense has to worry about.

Linehan said, "What's unique about it is that you have to focus on those guys. Then you look and you watch them play a team like Pittsburgh that has one of the best defenses in football and you have a young 6-5 receiver catching a fade in a big play of the game, you have (Eric) Parker making big plays as a vertical threat. You have guys out there that are quietly being very effective. That's the beauty of what they have going for them because you have to stop the run and focus on their tight end, and those (other) guys are getting some good looks.

"We have to hold up against them because there is really no other way. Whether it's fast death, slow death, however you want to look at it, you have to be prepared. It's going to be a fun challenge. We're focusing on all the problems that will be presented. They present a lot for us. I think the fun part of what we're getting ready to do is go out there and see how we measure up, and our guys are very excited about it."


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