Rams vs. Dolphins: Drawing Up a Game Plan for Miami
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From their inability to run the ball, to their inability to stop the run, the Rams' weaknesses play right into the Dolphins' strengths.
It's pretty easy to see what their game plan should be headed into this one, but let's emphasize the details.
Use the Full Stable of Running Backs
The St. Louis Rams have given up just 11 pass plays of over 20 yards. They have allowed just two passing touchdowns, while grabbing eight interceptions, and have the league's third-best defensive passer rating at a stifling 66.6.
So the Dolphins are probably going to have to find other ways to move the ball.
Sure, Tannehill has been efficient against some good defenses these past couple of weeks, but against another good defense in St. Louis, efficient should be about the most we expect from Tannehill.
That's okay, because that's all the Dolphins have really expected of him, too.
The clear weakness of this Rams defense is the run, where they are the league's 10th-most generous team to opposing rushers in giving up 4.4 yards a tote.
He has cooled off a bit since his hot start; it's probably not happenstance that his dip in production coincides with the leg injury he suffered against the Jets.
Look for running backs Daniel Thomas and Lamar Miller to be a bit more involved in this week's game plan as the Dolphins will have an opportunity to get moving, to take some of the pressure off Bush.
Against this Rams defense, there should be plenty of carries to go around.
Thomas has proven effective at times, despite his 3.1 YPA, but his penchant for turnovers (two fumbles on 36 carries) has been frowned upon by the coaching staff.
Miller didn't get a single carry last week against the Bengals, but his similar skill set to Bush could serve as an opportunity to provide Bush with some much-needed rest. He's been the Dolphins' most explosive back on a per-carry basis, averaging 5.5 YPA, but only has 22 carries to his credit. The Dolphins would be wise to get him a bit more involved this week against a leaky Rams run defense.
Tee Off on Sam Bradford
The St. Louis Rams have one of the worst rush attacks on a per-carry basis in the NFL, running at a clip of just 3.7 yards per carry.
Up against a Dolphins defense that suffocates opposing running backs to the tune of 2.7 yards per carry, it's safe to say the Rams could have a hard time running the ball.
And until the Rams prove that not to be the case, the Dolphins should come out, guns blazing on the defensive line, getting after Rams quarterback Sam Bradford. He has been under pressure on 39.8 percent of his drop-backs according to ProFootballFocus.com, making him the league's fourth-most pressured quarterback on a per-drop-back basis.
That's exactly what the Dolphins did against the Arizona Cardinals, another team that has proven to be incapable of running the ball. Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb was sacked eight times in that game.
The Dolphins sold out to rush the passer, even with the back lined up behind Kolb, because they knew they could stop the run and that the Cardinals couldn't run it.
As a result, Kolb had no time in the pocket and had to get rid of the ball on a checkdown when he might have liked to hit one of his receivers on the sideline, or possibly his tight end over the middle.
If the Rams struggle to move the ball on the ground early, they could face similar problems in the passing game against a Dolphins front that is underrated in its ability to get after the quarterback.
The way both the Dolphins' front seven and the Rams' offensive line are playing right now, though, that should be the case anyway.
Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless specified otherwise, all quotes are obtained firsthand.
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