After a week to recharge the batteries in the battering ram – how fitting – formally known as Zac Stacy, the St. Louis Rams return to the field in Week 12 after a generous Chicago Bears defense. There’s no doubt the game plan will have to revolve around the running game with Kellen Clemens under center, but could this be a repeat performance of the team’s shellacking of the Indianapolis Colts?
In that contest the Rams ran the ball and then ran the ball some more until the Colts cried ‘uncle’ and the 60 minutes graciously expired. Indy’s run defense is not very highly thought of as the No. 28 ranked unit in the entire NFL, but the Bears are actually worse at No. 31 coming into this weekend’s game. They allow a startling 133.9 yards per game and have shown a real inability to stand up to power running games in the trenches.
Stacy was absolutely on fire heading into the bye week with three straight games of 26 or more carries, and it would be a real surprise to see Jeff Fisher and the Rams deviate from that plan this week. Until the Bears can show an ability to slow the run game down, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer should keep dialing up plays on the ground for a St. Louis offense that has undergone a real identity change this season.
Coming into the year everyone expected the Rams to be a wide open passing attack with all of the new weaponry they had assembled and former workhorse Steven Jackson leaving town. What no one could account for, however, was that a fifth round rookie out of Vanderbilt would burst onto the scene in Week 5. This running prowess will also aid the backup turned starter under center in Clemens by helping set up a play-action passing game and pulling the defense up toward the line of scrimmage. This will allow the Rams to burn the Bears over the top with the speed of rookie Tavon Austin becoming a real factor in the team’s latest outing.
It may seem cliché, but in the case of this Sunday it’s more than applicable. Against one of the league’s worst rushing defenses, running the football with regularity will be absolutely vital to the Rams’ chances to stay alive in the NFC Playoff race.