On Sunday afternoon at the ED the St. Louis Rams will take the field vs. the Washington Redskins. On paper, or when comparing the rosters, the Redskins are stacked with double digit Blue players – Pro Bowlers , difference makers and a future hall of famer in Donavan McNabb. The Rams are limited to one or perhaps two Blue players in Steven Jackson and Donnie Jones.
Keeping McNabb on the sidelines is the key to beating the Redskins on Sunday. First, containing him in the pocket and forcing him to throw off of his back foot, rushing his delivery with pressure on the pocket will be extremely important.
Containing the running game will help in the upset in two ways. It will stuff the run while corralling Clinton Portis. It will also take away play action, waggles, fake tosses and throw backs seen in the first two games and force the Redskins offensive coaching staff to become one dimensional.
Now, let’s focus on the formula that will defeat the Redskins. Pat Shumur – the Rams offensive coordinator – should take advantage of multiple receiver formations with 3, 4, or even 5 wideouts. SJ39 needs to run mad like a rabid dog in order for the offense to maintain a good run-pass balance. My theory is the run first offense sets up the pass, an old and very effective football concept. The NFL unlike the college spread game is passing less and only when needed, this allows the offense to control the ball and clock, shortening the game, while keeping McNabb on the bench. I think the Rams will take advantage of the Redskins aggressiveness on defense. Attack the blitz with short passing game, hitting hot receivers, screens and draws while punching out run yardage.
Washington’s corners – when frustrated – get hot headed and you can upset them with a few big plays in space; routes with double moves and throws to backside shoulder (receivers fade back to ball while defender maintains forward movement). With the changes to the pass interference rules several years back, it makes it easier for big plays while moving the chains. Letting the run set up the pass in this game will pay dividends. Good play selection and a balanced attack will keep the potent Washington Redskins offense off the field while winning the possession game.
I have watched film of the Redskins four preseason games, the first two games of 2010 and the 2006-2008 seasons. I looked at the trends and the statistical analysis of the Jim Haslett defense. I studied the complete detailed play-by-play data from 2006-2008 and the first two games of 2010; the game stats, total yardage, down and distance, third down conversion, red zone and short yardage.
Despite the talent inefficiency to stop the pass on the edges and the middle of the field really jumped out. Yards per attempt were high, along with net yards. Even though sacks and sack yardage along with pressures were up for this defense, the inability to prevent yardage was a below median position among league rankings of team defenses. The most interesting data to come out of the study was the fact that Sam Bradford handles pressure well. His two touchdowns came while being pressured, and his ability to complete short and intermediate passes is a plus. I don’t mean to bore you with the statistical information; I reached back into my past as a system analyst and broke this game down. Time will tell if I’m right.
In this game, allowing Sam Bradford the imbalance of pass over run and bucking the trend of run setting up the pass will make the difference. Give this young gun slinger protection and the opportunity and time to make plays, will give the Rams their first WIN of 2010.