Scouting the Rams: Offense

After besting the second-worst team in the league (Titans) on Sunday night, then going on a bye, the Colts draw the worst team in the league (Rams) this week. How will the beleaguered Rams attack the Colts defense? Brad Keller breaks it down.

Offensive Line:

So far this season, Dwight Freeney has feasted upon overmatched left tackles and has amassed six sacks, mostly against inferior competition.  This week, he draws Alex Barron, who did not give up a sack against talented Vikings right end Jared Allen in Week 5.

Despite their struggles on offense and the fact that they have been playing from behind and in known passing situations for most of the season, the Rams have only yielded 13 sacks so far.  Aside from Michael Roos in Week 5, this may be the stiffest challenge that Freeney has faced all season.

Given the fact that either Adam Goldberg or rookie Jason Smith will start on the right side, St. Louis will most likely shift any extra protection they can spare in the direction of Robert Mathis, who is also enjoying a stellar season against lesser adversaries.

Look for the Rams to focus on the weak side of the formation, where Indianapolis is giving up 4.1 yards per carry and St. Louis is averaging 7.9 yards per attempt on 18 attempts. Historically, the Colts have been weak in the middle, but that has changed since the Miami game in Week 2.

The Rams are averaging 4.54 yards per attempt running up the middle behind guards Richie Incognito and Jacob Bell and center Jason Brown on an 11th-best 48 attempts — again, they've been behind all season, so they haven't had much call for running up the middle — so they will try their luck there as well, since they have had success and the Colts will have to adjust schematically after the release of Ed Johnson last week. 

The interesting statistic here is that Indianapolis is giving up some pretty gaudy numbers everywhere but straight up the middle — 5.56 yards per carry to left guard and 6.1 yards per carry to right guard — but teams keep running up the middle on them, where they are averaging only 3.77 yards per carry.

Considering that Indianapolis has been ahead for much of the season, it seems odd that the Colts have faced the 10th most rushing attempts up the middle of any defense in the NFL, but don't even rank in the top 15 in any other direction, ranking at the bottom of the league for the most part.

St. Louis will try to buck that trend, but will still try to make their money right up the gut, since it has been one of the few bright points for the offense this season.

Wide Receiver:

After Torry Holt left town, this was not expected to be the bright point of the offense in 2009 and the unit as a whole has not disappointed.  Losing Laurent Robinson for the season was a big blow considering that the Rams did not have the depth in front of him, nonetheless behind him, to cope with the loss.

Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton are both listed as questionable for Sunday's game, but both were listed as questionable in Week 6 and both suited up.

Neither receiver is known for his ability to separate at the line of scrimmage and neither man is particularly dangerous after the catch, so the cornerback tasked with covering them — be it Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden, Tim Jennings, Jacob Lacey, or Jerraud Powers — needs to jam his man at the snap and allow the linebackers to cover the short area.

Antoine Bethea and Melvin Bullitt have been masterful preventing the big play over the top and they need to keep it up.  It's not as though St. Louis is a big play threat on the deep ball — they average only 6.64 yards per attempt on 28 deep passes — but one quick strike is all it will take to breath some life into a desperate, dying team.

Indianapolis has done an exceptional job preventing tight ends from scoring in the red zone on them and they need to continue that trend on Sunday against Randy McMichael.  McMichael's best years are behind him and he's no longer a player that can stretch the seam and burn a team for a long gain, but he is a very smart pass catcher that has a knack for sitting down in the soft spot in the zone.

Again, any success the Rams have on offense running a particular play might well be the first success they've had all year, so the Colts cannot allow them to gain any confidence, because it will start to come in waves once the flood gates are open.

Running Back:

Steven Jackson leads this team in receptions and rushing yards.  He is the one guy that Indianapolis needs to stop if they are to be successful on defense.  And, since there is a general dearth of weapons on the St. Louis offense, the Colts may not need to shut Jackson down, just keep him from breaking out.

Jackson has touched the ball 140 times this season, has gained 671 yards of total offense, and has yet to score a touchdown.  The Rams have only averaged nine points a game, worst in the league, but the law of averages says that, eventually, he's going to score.

Since Indianapolis has been able to put points on the board and St. Louis ranks 30th in points allowed, it's unlikely that one man will be able to take the Colts down.

But, if there's one man that can do it on this team, it's Steven Jackson.  No matter how dominant a force Indianapolis has faced so far this season, though, there hasn't been a player, unit, or force that could match Peyton Manning.

The smart money is on Manning being the most dominant force on Sunday, but the Colts defenders can make sure that Jackson is less of a factor by doing what they've been doing the past three games — maintaining their lanes, attacking the line of scrimmage, and tackling soundly.  If the defensive line can do their jobs and Clint Session, Gary Brackett, and Tyjuan Hagler can flow to the ball carrier, they should bottle up Jackson enough so that he is not a game-breaking factor.

Quarterback:

Marc Bulger has fought through a shoulder injury this season and has been nearly as embattled as head coach Steve Spagnuolo to this point in 2009.  Bulger has averaged only 5.9 yards per attempt and, as stated previously, the deep passing game for the Rams has been ineffective to say the least.

He has thrown only one interception in 109 attempts and the Colts have not forced many turnovers this season, but he may not need to make a critical mistake in order for the Indianapolis defense to be effective.

Indianapolis has proven throughout the course of the season that they will not allow sustained drives consisting of a series of short passes underneath and they have also proven that they are not susceptible to the big play.  The Rams have proven that they cannot hit the big play and haven't been consistently successful enough in the short passing game to move the ball on the Colts using that method.

Bulger will not beat them deep, he will not beat them short, he cannot get involved in a shootout with Manning.  That leaves Bulger short on options and long on obstacles.  His best option is to set up the playaction pass by getting the ball in Jackson's hands early and often.  If Jackson is successful, Bulger has a better shot at being successful.

Take away Jackson and you take away Bulger.  The St. Louis passing attack against the Indianapolis passing defense is a matchup of weakness against strength.  As they have done all year, the Colts need to put their foot on the neck of their opponent and never stop pressing down.

Any success that the Rams have will only build confidence and several consecutive gains in confidence will create an exponential growth rate in confidence and faith in this young team.  Any glimmer of hope that they have is only an obstacle towards achieving victory for the Colts.  They need to make sure those obstacles never appear and take care of business on Sunday.


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Colts Blitz Top Stories

","mobileBody":"Offensive Line:

So far this season, Dwight Freeney has feasted upon overmatched left tackles and has amassed six sacks, mostly against inferior competition.  This week, he draws Alex Barron, who did not give up a sack against talented Vikings right end Jared Allen in Week 5.

Despite their struggles on offense and the fact that they have been playing from behind and in known passing situations for most of the season, the Rams have only yielded 13 sacks so far.  Aside from Michael Roos in Week 5, this may be the stiffest challenge that Freeney has faced all season.

Given the fact that either Adam Goldberg or rookie Jason Smith will start on the right side, St. Louis will most likely shift any extra protection they can spare in the direction of Robert Mathis, who is also enjoying a stellar season against lesser adversaries.

Look for the Rams to focus on the weak side of the formation, where Indianapolis is giving up 4.1 yards per carry and St. Louis is averaging 7.9 yards per attempt on 18 attempts. Historically, the Colts have been weak in the middle, but that has changed since the Miami game in Week 2.

The Rams are averaging 4.54 yards per attempt running up the middle behind guards Richie Incognito and Jacob Bell and center Jason Brown on an 11th-best 48 attempts — again, they've been behind all season, so they haven't had much call for running up the middle — so they will try their luck there as well, since they have had success and the Colts will have to adjust schematically after the release of Ed Johnson last week. 

The interesting statistic here is that Indianapolis is giving up some pretty gaudy numbers everywhere but straight up the middle — 5.56 yards per carry to left guard and 6.1 yards per carry to right guard — but teams keep running up the middle on them, where they are averaging only 3.77 yards per carry.

Considering that Indianapolis has been ahead for much of the season, it seems odd that the Colts have faced the 10th most rushing attempts up the middle of any defense in the NFL, but don't even rank in the top 15 in any other direction, ranking at the bottom of the league for the most part.

St. Louis will try to buck that trend, but will still try to make their money right up the gut, since it has been one of the few bright points for the offense this season.

Wide Receiver:

After Torry Holt left town, this was not expected to be the bright point of the offense in 2009 and the unit as a whole has not disappointed.  Losing Laurent Robinson for the season was a big blow considering that the Rams did not have the depth in front of him, nonetheless behind him, to cope with the loss.

Donnie Avery and Keenan Burton are both listed as questionable for Sunday's game, but both were listed as questionable in Week 6 and both suited up.

Neither receiver is known for his ability to separate at the line of scrimmage and neither man is particularly dangerous after the catch, so the cornerback tasked with covering them — be it Marlin Jackson, Kelvin Hayden, Tim Jennings, Jacob Lacey, or Jerraud Powers — needs to jam his man at the snap and allow the linebackers to cover the short area.

Antoine Bethea and Melvin Bullitt have been masterful preventing the big play over the top and they need to keep it up.  It's not as though St. Louis is a big play threat on the deep ball — they average only 6.64 yards per attempt on 28 deep passes — but one quick strike is all it will take to breath some life into a desperate, dying team.

Indianapolis has done an exceptional job preventing tight ends from scoring in the red zone on them and they need to continue that trend on Sunday against Randy McMichael.  McMichael's best years are behind him and he's no longer a player that can stretch the seam and burn a team for a long gain, but he is a very smart pass catcher that has a knack for sitting down in the soft spot in the zone.

Again, any success the Rams have on offense running a particular play might well be the first success they've had all year, so the Colts cannot allow them to gain any confidence, because it will start to come in waves once the flood gates are open.

Running Back:

Steven Jackson leads this team in receptions and rushing yards.  He is the one guy that Indianapolis needs to stop if they are to be successful on defense.  And, since there is a general dearth of weapons on the St. Louis offense, the Colts may not need to shut Jackson down, just keep him from breaking out.

Jackson has touched the ball 140 times this season, has gained 671 yards of total offense, and has yet to score a touchdown.  The Rams have only averaged nine points a game, worst in the league, but the law of averages says that, eventually, he's going to score.

Since Indianapolis has been able to put points on the board and St. Louis ranks 30th in points allowed, it's unlikely that one man will be able to take the Colts down.

But, if there's one man that can do it on this team, it's Steven Jackson.  No matter how dominant a force Indianapolis has faced so far this season, though, there hasn't been a player, unit, or force that could match Peyton Manning.

The smart money is on Manning being the most dominant force on Sunday, but the Colts defenders can make sure that Jackson is less of a factor by doing what they've been doing the past three games — maintaining their lanes, attacking the line of scrimmage, and tackling soundly.  If the defensive line can do their jobs and Clint Session, Gary Brackett, and Tyjuan Hagler can flow to the ball carrier, they should bottle up Jackson enough so that he is not a game-breaking factor.

Quarterback:

Marc Bulger has fought through a shoulder injury this season and has been nearly as embattled as head coach Steve Spagnuolo to this point in 2009.  Bulger has averaged only 5.9 yards per attempt and, as stated previously, the deep passing game for the Rams has been ineffective to say the least.

He has thrown only one interception in 109 attempts and the Colts have not forced many turnovers this season, but he may not need to make a critical mistake in order for the Indianapolis defense to be effective.

Indianapolis has proven throughout the course of the season that they will not allow sustained drives consisting of a series of short passes underneath and they have also proven that they are not susceptible to the big play.  The Rams have proven that they cannot hit the big play and haven't been consistently successful enough in the short passing game to move the ball on the Colts using that method.

Bulger will not beat them deep, he will not beat them short, he cannot get involved in a shootout with Manning.  That leaves Bulger short on options and long on obstacles.  His best option is to set up the playaction pass by getting the ball in Jackson's hands early and often.  If Jackson is successful, Bulger has a better shot at being successful.

Take away Jackson and you take away Bulger.  The St. Louis passing attack against the Indianapolis passing defense is a matchup of weakness against strength.  As they have done all year, the Colts need to put their foot on the neck of their opponent and never stop pressing down.

Any success that the Rams have will only build confidence and several consecutive gains in confidence will create an exponential growth rate in confidence and faith in this young team.  Any glimmer of hope that they have is only an obstacle towards achieving victory for the Colts.  They need to make sure those obstacles never appear and take care of business on Sunday.


Talk about it in our Insider's Forum!

Follow ColtPower's updates on Twitter!

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