Rookie running back Zac Stacy could have a huge day on Sunday against the Chicago Bears. It is no secret that the Bears’ defense has gotten old quick, this season, struggling against the run. Ray Rice dominated the game on 25 carries for 131 yards and a touchdown against them on Sunday. That is a good sign for the St. Louis Rams as Rice had struggled all season long. A breakout game for him against the Bears points towards Stacy seeing a lot of touches on Sunday.
Stacy is averaging 88.83 yards per game in which he was the starter. After the bye week, Stacy will be at full strength against a Bears defense that is giving up 133.9 rushing yards per game. He definitely could have used the break after averaging just over 26 carries over the last three games. Stacy also averaged 107 yards a game during that same three game stretch. His performance against the Indianapolis Colts was less than impressive, but they stacked the box to shut him down which opened up things for Tavon Austin to score his two receiving touchdowns. Even in that game he carried the ball 26 times which leads me to believe that HC Jeff Fisher still believes that Stacy was punishing defenders and wearing them out.
It was Benny Cunningham that broke off the big run for 56 yards late against the Colts and he will probably continue to get looks as the backup. Aside from that lone run Cunningham was ineffective on his other 6 carries. The Colts were simply honed in to stop the run and they did that on all but one play. You have to love the fact that St. Louis didn’t abandon the running game at the first sign of failure. Earlier in the year, they would completely forget about running and leave the game in Sam Bradford’s hands.
With Stacy in the backfield and rested, St. Louis will look to use him early and often against the aged Bears team. He will have to find the hole and hit it hard like he has done all year, but with the Bears defense he will have to be sure to secure the ball. They still attempt to do their typical wrap up and strip tackling form. It has worked to their advantage for the better part of a decade. This year Chicago is boasting a +10 turnover ratio thanks to 16 forced fumbles. Ball security and time of possession will be the theme of the day for both teams. Stacy will be playing a large part in both categories for the Rams. The game is going to rest on his powerful legs.
Look for at least 20 carries, 100+ yards and probably a handful of chances for him if St. Louis can get into scoring position. The Bears defense seems to always tighten up when they are backed up to their goal line. Making them wary of Stacy in the red zone will open up the Rams play action-multiple tight end sets that have freed up the tight ends for short TD passes this season. A huge day for Stacy could leave him with a real shot at his first 1,000 yard rushing season.