It’s hard to argue with the gameplan that the St. Louis Rams have employed over the past two weeks with a run-heavy offense. Taking the load off of quarterback Sam Bradford and utilizing a ball control attack with their newfound weapon in bowling bowl with legs Zac Stacy has been a welcomed change for an offense that started the year quite pass-happy. Unfortunately, that successful gameplan may need some adjustments with the stout run defense of the Carolina Panthers on the docket for Week 7.
Clearly the Panthers have a solid unit all around to be ranked third in the NFL in total defense, but where the team really excels is stopping the run. Carolina is the fourth best squad in the league at stopping the run, allowing a paltry 88.8 yards per game on the ground. They are one of just nine teams that can say they are giving up less than 100 yards of rushing per contest, and this could force the Rams to deviate from the blueprint to their recent success.
The numbers that Bradford put up for the Rams last week against the Houston Texans were lower than usual (12-of-16 passing for 117 yards) but his three touchdowns tied a season-high. His efficiency certainly illustrates that this type of attack suits his skill-set much better than the pass-happy philosophy the team attempted to utilize earlier in the year, but not every game is the same.
This week against a stout Carolina run defense, the Rams are likely going to need Bradford to come through big-time. The Panthers do have an impressive pass rushing group with Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson coming off the edge along with rookie Star Lotulelei pushing the pocket inside, but the Rams have been solid up front allowing just 13 sacks so far this year for the ninth-lowest total in the NFL. Having the confidence to step up in the pocket and deliver accurate, on-time throws will be key for the Rams offensively this week with their run game unlikely to see as much success.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer will have to call a stellar game for the Rams to experience the type of success they’ll need to get a victory on Sunday. Bradford has shown the ability to hang in there and make tough throws so far this season, but his receivers need to step up and start hanging onto the ball. Right now the Rams rank third in the NFL in dropped passes, and that trend must start to reverse itself for the offense to gain some traction.
It’s clear Bradford has the poise needed to make clutch throws when needed. Now it’s time for the coaching staff along with his teammates to start giving him the support he deserves to help lead this team to a key road victory on Sunday.