St. Louis Rams’ Game Plan vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
St. Louis Rams Gameplan V. Tampa Bay Buccanneers
Despite the Tampa Bay Buccaneers opening the season even worse than the St. Louis Rams the Bucs do pose a threat to the hope of ending the year on a high note. They have been playing much better all around as a team in recent weeks. Especially on the defensive side of the ball where they made drastic changes in the offseason bringing in loads of talent.
Tampa Bay features two heavy-hitting safeties that will crush any foe that comes into their territory. That is a big challenge for a team of young receivers that have struggled with drops all season long. If one of the Rams get popped early, they will have to avoid the "hearing footsteps" mentality and buckle down to hold onto the ball. The Buccaneers' defense is 13th overall in the NFL and 15th in passing and rush defense. That may not seem intimidating, but for a Rams team that has been up and down all season, it could be a problem.
One of the main headlines for the Rams all season has been Robert Quinn's breakout performance. He should look to continue that trend against an offense that is anemic at times as well. With Mike Glennon being a strong armed rookie QB, Quinn could look to take advantage of a young QB that will try to do too much. The Bucs offense is averaged 18 points per game and only 283 yards per contest which is last in the league. The Rams' defense has an opportunity to control the game and make things much easier on the offense.
Zac Stacy Must Continue Ground Attack
Zac Stacy's outstanding rookie campaign only got better last week when he broke the century mark in rushing yards in the first half. He is without a doubt the most important piece of the offense for St. Louis this year. They live and die by the run with Kellen Clemens at QB. Clemens feeds off of the success of Stacy for play actions.
Teams have averaged 4.2 yards per carry against the Buccaneers this season, but that doesn't tell the tale on how good their defense can be at times. You have to remember that they started off the year so poorly that most teams could run the ball for much of the second half. He will have to be closer to five yards per carry mark if the Rams really hope to pull out an easy win. If he stumbles back to the two-three yards per carry average that he experienced against a couple weeks ago Clemens won't be able to be efficient or effective.
Tampa Bay has only allowed six rushing touchdowns all season, so he will have to be more determined than ever if he hopes to bring in a score or two. The offensive line could do a lot to help his cause if they can prevent Gerald McCoy from getting into the backfield and if they can spring him into the secondary like they did like week when he finished with 133 yards.
Use Jared Cook To Attack The Seam
Jared Cookmay be the Rams leading receiver, but it really hasn't been the breakout year most were hoping for when he signed a big contract. He really has not been a focal point of the offense since he dominated in Week 1 with seven catches and 141 yards including two touchdowns. Since then, he has only broken the 50-yard mark in a game once.
This week he could return to that form given the Buccaneers weakness in coverage at the safety position, where hard hitting Dashon Goldson and Mark Barron make a living. Goldson and Barron do pose a threat to any one that comes into their territory. They make up for their coverage weaknesses with the ability to knock your block off. Cook could be aware of this resulting in his hands turning to wooden blocks instead of big pass-catching mitts. The Rams should test these two early down the seam with Cook's athletic ability. They could opt to let Lance Kendricks take the seam route some as he can punish defenses with his improved pass-catching ability and hulk-like frame.
Be Efficient In Pass Attack
Kellen Clemens has been a surprisingly steady performer for the Rams who many expected to fold after Sam Bradford was injured. Not surprising for many though has been Clemens inaccuracy at times. His efficiency is a direct result of the Rams finding Zac Stacy and the run game. When that run threat is nullified, Clemens returns to his career averages or worse, though.
For Clemens to be successful this game, Stacy will have to do his ground-and-pound attack to weaken the defense and open up things in the passing game. Clemens' willingness to go deep could pay off as long as he avoids Revis' side of the field. Challenging Revis could be a quick end to a drive and put his team in a hole early. Basically, whoever is being defended by Revis should be an afterthought when it comes to passing.
Unfortunately for the Rams, the Buccaneers' defense buckles down against the run in the red zone, so he will be needed when they get within the 20-yard line. Using the big-bodied Kendricks, Cook and Brian Quick in the red zone will be the safest way to attack the defense.
Avoid Darrelle Revis
As I just said, avoid Darrelle Revis and you can survive the day. Attacking one of the league's best one-on-one cover corners is a subscription for disappointment. Even though he only has two interceptions on the season, Revis is still a dangerous weapon to toy with on the outside. He can cover and is a willing tackler that can force fumbles from the corner position. One of the keys to winning is to not let the other team's best player beat you. AKA, make someone else step up on their defense before you challenge Revis.
Don't Let Vincent Jackson Beat Them
Same thing here. Don't let the best player on the team beat you. Vincent Jackson is by far the best receiver that the Buccaneers will put on the field. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Jackson is a matchup nightmare for any corner in the league. He goes up and gets the ball with the best of them and is a physical runner when he gets the ball in his hands. Trumaine Johnson is the best matchup for Jackson that the Rams can throw at him. If the Rams decide to sag off on coverage it could be a problem because he is a handful to bring down.
The smart move would be to jam him at the line and provide safety help over the top. If they want to force the ball into tight double-coverage, then challenge Mike Glennon to do so. Johnson has been the most consistent performer in the secondary since taking over for Cortland Finnegan and he is getting better with each week. It's time to put him up against one of the better physical receivers in the league and see if he sinks or swims.