I am struggling with this preview. I do not see a strength or weakness in the Green Bay defense. They are 14th overall in total defense, 18th in passing defense, and 17th in run defense. If there is one area they stand out, it is sacks. They lead the league with 21 sacks. At the same time, they have one guy, Clay Matthews, with almost half of those sacks.
With the offense, it is obvious. When Aaron Rodgers is on, their passing game is almost unstoppable because they have so many weapons for Rodgers to target. Their running game lacks any oomph. This season, their success has depended on Rodgers. Last season, he was nearly perfect and Green Bay was 15-1. This season he has shown that he is human (on occasions) and Green Bay is 3-3, with one highly disputed loss to Seattle.
The real question is whether a defense can cause Rodgers to be off his game or whether it is simply a matter of luck. Houston was 5-0 going into their game against Green Bay, and they had a highly ranked defense. Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers in particular, came in angry and scored 42 points. Rodgers was 24 for 37, for 338 yards, 6 touchdowns and zero interceptions. Certainly, the defense in that game was not able to stop him. If you blitzed him, he killed you with a quick pass. If you rushed 3 and dropped 8, he took his time and found a hole or ran.
With no obvious holes to attack, I think the Rams need to take some risks in this game. Here are my thoughts to give the Rams the best chance to win:
1. WELCOME TO THE TERROR DOME
In the words of Chuck D.
I got so much trouble on my mind
Refuse to lose
Here’s your ticket
Hear the (crowd) get wicked
If we want to increase our chances of a down game from Aaron Rodgers, it starts with the crowd. There is no doubt that a noisy environment can affect an offense. Communication is vital. The offensive line has to communicate about blocking responsibility. The QB has to communicate about audibles. The Rams’ fans have a role in this game. If we can make the Edward Jones dome, the Terror Dome for Green Bay they will help the Rams tremendously. I will be there doing my part.
On a side note, the Terror Dome is a wonderful nickname for the Ed because it also creates fear that the Rams will move. It is the sole reason for a potential move.
2. BE UNPREDICTABLE ON DEFENSE
I would love to say we should blitz Rodgers on every obvious passing situation. It makes me feel good to say it. However, we saw what a blitz heavy defense can do for an offense in the Washington game. The Rams had one of their best offensive performances of the year because a blitz creates holes. If you can predict a blitz is coming, you can attack it. Therefore, I want to see a nice mix of 6-man blitzes, zone blitzes, corner blitzes and no blitz. In all honesty, it would be great if we could create pressure consistently with our front four. However, I believe that is unrealistic. Therefore, I want the Rams to switch up often. If Rodgers cannot predict our method of attack, we have a chance.
3. STOP THE RUN
The Rams run defense has continued to improve. Green Bay is the 23rd ranked rushing offense. The Rams are now the 14th best rush defense. Cedric Benson will miss the game for Green Bay. Wherefore, the Rams have no choice; they have to stop the run. Stopping the run will make Green Bay more predictable and we saw what happened when Green Bay becomes predictable in the 1st half of the Seattle game.
4. RUN, RUN AND RUN SOME MORE
The Rams’ running game is vital, because it has so many advantages. A run eats up the clock, which means less time for the Green Bay offense. With two running backs now, we need to run more to ensure each gets sufficient carries. Steven Jackson has historically improved with more touches. He wears a team down. If Steven Jackson is going to lose carries to Richardson, we need to ensure there are more carries overall to increase @SJ39’s total carries. Richardson has to get sufficient carries because he adds a dimension that Steven Jackson no longer offers. In the end, we can’t run on every first down or run 75% of the time. In the NFL, predictability on offense makes defense easy. Thus, I am asking for a 54% to 60% runs. In the passing game, I want to take some risks. I realize that Green Bay can rush the passer, but to have success in the running game, we can’t allow the safety to sneak up. Four to five deep throws should keep the safeties at home.
5. GIVENS GIVETH?
We know that Givens can beat anyone deep. Obviously, I want to continue to throw deep balls to him. At the same time, let’s see what he can do with some shorter passes also. The West Coast offense made its reputation with 10 yard passes that led to 60 yard touchdowns. I would like to see some bunch up screens to Givens where he gets a pick or two. I would also like to see a slant or two, where the tight end is ready to throw a block to spring him. I asked for some deep throws in the paragraph above. They do not all need to be to Givens. In fact, after one to Givens, he might be an excellent decoy to draw the safety away from the intended target. Gibson can get deep and is showing an ability to both drop a ball and make a tremendous catch. I do not mind a drop on deep throw. Also, while we are waiting for Quick to develop, a 9 route (Go or Fly) makes a ton of sense to me.
6. BEWARE THE WEAPONS
This will be the first game since Detroit, where the team we are playing has multiple weapons in the passing game. While our pass defense has been excellent this season, it will be tested. We have three above-average corner backs. Unfortunately, Green Bay has more than three above-average targets in their passing game. Our linebackers and safeties are going to be tested in this game. Trumaine Johnson is going to be tested in this game. It will be interesting to see how this works out for us.