Rams vs. Dolphins: What St. Louis Has to Do to Beat Miami in Week 6
The St. Louis Rams are an entirely new team in 2012, and their record so far proves that.
After starting 3-2, the Rams have already surpassed their win total of two games from last year. They have shown an impressive charisma and newfound confidence under head coach Jeff Fisher. The defense, of course, has been one of the main components of their success, and they look to continue their run of dominance against opposing offenses.
Week 6 brings a new, tough task as the Rams travel to Miami to take on the Dolphins, who are 2-3 but could easily have four wins. Two of their losses were by only three points, and the play of their offense has finally started to emerge.
The Rams are winless on the road so far in 2012, and they have a big opportunity to finally get that first win away from the Edward Jones Dome under their belt. These are the keys to the game that the Rams must follow to get a win in Miami, tally a 4-2 record and move one step closer to the top of the NFC West.
Stop Reggie Bush
Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
One of the main reasons the Dolphins have some wins this year is because of the play of running back Reggie Bush.
Fresh off a knee injury two weeks ago, he is now closer to 100 percent for when the Rams come into town. So far this season, he has three touchdowns and is averaging 4.8 yards per carry. He can also be a nuisance to cover in the passing game as he has eight yards per catch in 2012 and is usually a mismatch going against linebackers.
The Rams have to stop the run in order to win this game. The Dolphins are eighth in the league in rushing offense, and they will face the Rams defense that is giving up 117 yards per game on the ground.
It's clear the defensive line is a strong point of the St. Louis team, and they must not only get after the quarterback but plug up those holes and keep containment on the outside so Reggie Bush cannot do any damage.
Keep Airing It out
Scott Rovak-US PRESSWIRE
Yes, we know Sam Bradford's favorite target Danny Amendola will be out for quite a while.
The injured receiver caught more than a third of the team's passes through Week 5. Still, the Rams have to keep the offense moving by throwing the ball.
Bradford still has Steve Smith, Chris Givens, Brandon Gibson and Brian Quick to throw to in order to move the chains. Just because their go-to receiver is no longer in, the Rams still have to keep a balanced offense where new opportunities will arise for the younger players to step up.
The Dolphins are allowing a 27th-ranked 281 yards per game through the air, and St. Louis has to capitalize on the weak secondary. The running game will be there through play of Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson, but there still has to be a passing attack in order for the offense to work on all cylinders and to keep the defense honest.
Pressure the Rookie Quarterback
Andrew Weber-US PRESSWIRE
The Thursday-night matchup against Arizona showed everybody that the Rams can definitely get to the quarterback.
Week 6 will be no different, and in order for St. Louis to notch another win, the defense will have to put rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill on the ground.
He has already seen the film so he is expecting bull rushers to be coming from both sides in this game. But Tannehill has been slowly becoming more comfortable in the pocket. After throwing for 431 yards against the Cardinals in Week 4, his lack of true receivers has been his downfall.
With the Rams secondary playing as well as they have in a decade, the coverage will force Tannehill to wait in the pocket for just a short time longer. This is when those aggressive defensive linemen from the Rams will have to make their moves. The Dolphins have only given up nine sacks this season, but their quarterback has been prone to slip up when pressured. He has thrown only two touchdowns to six interceptions.
A ball-hawking Rams defense looks to keep that pressure up and take Tannehill to the ground as much as possible. This will force him to be uncomfortable within the pocket, which will hopefully, in turn, keep his touchdown to interception ratio even lower.
Play Their Game
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A newfound confidence can easily turn to cockiness in the NFL.
Head coach Jeff Fisher will look to keep his team grounded by all means heading into Week 6.
In order for the Rams to get that coveted road win, they will have to play their game the way they have played all season long.
On offense, they will have to establish the running game.
Creating holes for Steven Jackson to run through while putting in the speedy Daryl Richardson will account for a nasty one-two punch the Dolphins have not truly witnessed from a team this year. The Rams also have to continuously move the chains by connecting on short routes in which the receivers can run after the catch.
Defensively, the Rams look to play the hard-nosed football they have all year.
They bend, but they do not break. They hold their coverage for the most part and always go after the ball. Letting up against Miami is not an option, so the defense has to keep playing their heart out every drive, no matter how long they have been on the field.
Special teams is the last factor in order to attain a Rams victory.
Rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein has impressed everyone by being perfect on field goals this season so far. Getting the ball to the opponent's 40-yard line seems to be automatic points for the team. Let's not forget the rookie punter, though. Johnny Hekker is averaging almost 50 yards per punt this year, and he has been a major factor in the field position battle. With a long of 68 yards and seven punts inside the opponent's 20-yard line, these overlooked special teams highlights make a major difference between a win and a loss.