Rams Defense Not Really so Scary

What may be surprising to some is that the St. Louis Rams defense is statistically ranked only in the middle of all NFL defenses in total yardage allowed at 356.5 YPG.  It is also vulnerable to the run and if the Packers can exploit it, they stand a good chance of winning this week's game at Lambeau Field.  

If you paid any attention to the many so-called experts this week, you would think that the Green Bay Packers will be facing the reincarnation of the Rams Fearsome Foursome of the 1960’s this coming Sunday at Lambeau Field. 

That group, generally considered to be one of the all-time best defensive lines, was comprised of David “Deacon” Jones, Rosey Grier, Lamar Lundy and Merlin Olson.  Bears great Dick Butkus once called them "the most dominant line in football history.”

While the current group is good, it is not even close to dominating opponents like their 60’s counterparts once did.

That is not to say that the St. Louis Rams defensive line isn’t talented.  It is.  But dominant?  Just not so.

The Rams will certainly present a challenge up front for the Packers offensive line.  Their four starting linemen are all talented and each carry the distinction of being a former first round pick.  Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers, and Chris Long will lead the charge to try to contain Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 10th ranked yardage and 6th ranked scoring offense.  

The Rams defense is currently tied with the Packers in quarterback sacks through four games with 17, good for second in the league.

What may be surprising to some is that the Rams defense is statistically ranked only in the middle of all NFL defenses in total yardage allowed at 356.5 YPG.  In addition they are only 13th best in points allowed per game with a 22.2 PPG average.  Although the Rams passing defense is a middling 14th (235 YPG) their run defense is 7th worst in the entire league, allowing 122.2 YPG. 

One could easily draw the conclusion that this Rams team is vulnerable to the run and it is.

The good news out of the Packers practice this week is that injured starting right tackle Bryan Bulaga is practicing and has a chance to play on Sunday.  Should that happen, the Packers O-line gets a huge boost. 

Fill-in Don Barclay is coming off a less than stellar performance against the 49’ers when he was credited with allowing all three sacks of Aaron Rodgers. 

Coach Mike McCarthy has backed up his beleaguered right tackle when he suggested that those critical of Barclay should perhaps take a look at the job done by the Packers coaching staff.

“Don Barclay was put in some challenging situations in Sunday’s win over the 49ers. Staff needs to do a better job at making sure players are put in position to succeed,” McCarthy said Wednesday.

The reality is that Barclay is the Packers lowest ranked offensive lineman – and by a lot.

Barclay’s game performance ranks him a mere 123rd overall by Pro Football Focus when comparing all offensive lineman.   On the other hand Bryan Bulaga is is an lofty 11th.   Admittedly there is a huge difference between the two tackles.  But even if Bulaga is held out and Barclay is once again manning the right tackle position, there is reason for optimism.

The Packers still boast the 3rd leading rushing attack in the league averaging a healthy 136.2 yards per game even with Barclay in the lineup.   Not too shabby.

In what very well might be the key to a Packers victory will be the ability of their offensive line to open up running lanes.  Do it early and do it effectively it will open up the passing game for Aaron Rodgers. 

However if the Rams are successful in bottling up Eddie Lacy and crew, it will allow their skilled pass-rushers to tee off on Rodgers and in effect dictate the Packers play-calling.

Other injury news:

Bulaga was a full participant in practice on Thursday along with Randall Cobb, Demetri Goodson and James Jones.  Davante Adams, Morgan Burnett and Jake Ryan remained sidelined and will probably be long-shots to play this coming Sunday.

 

 

 

 

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Comments (30)

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sheppercheeser's picture

October 09, 2015 at 06:09 am

I still think that the Packers should start the game with Barclay and see how he does. I'd like to see Bulaga rest that knee another week. If Barclay doesn't do the job, give him a little help and if that doesn't do it, THEN maybe a Bulaga appearance is in order- IMHO.

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DrealynWilliams's picture

October 09, 2015 at 01:03 pm

Me too, UNLESS Bulaga is fully ready to go. I was against playing Lacy and Adams after those ankles injuries and look how Adams turned out. Lacy is playing well, but isn't given End Zone touches. Certain injuries shouldn't be rushed.

The Pack being 4-0 also helps. If a player isn't a 100% - no need to rush a Knee/Ankle injury.

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FITZCORE1252's picture

October 09, 2015 at 02:57 pm

If Bulaga is cleared, you play him. It should really be that simple.

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TommyG's picture

October 09, 2015 at 07:06 am

Numbers never tell the stories about match ups. The Rams get pressure with 4 linemen and keep two safeties deep. Decent coverage by their secondary will equal the recipe to slowdown our packers offense. Our entire offense will need to play nearly mistake free in order to overcome the Rams defense. On the other side of the ball our defense needs to just keep doing what it has been doing.

I do not believe this game will be a blowout in the packers favor. The Rams represent the type of defense we struggle against. At the same time do believe the pack will win because I don't think there is any way that the Rams can keep up on the scoreboard. I expect a result something to the tune of 17-13.

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4thand1's picture

October 09, 2015 at 09:28 am

The Packes are 9 point favorites, and have covered the spread in every game so far.

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croatpackfan's picture

October 09, 2015 at 05:37 pm

Two mentioning: Redskins and Steelers... Redskins w/o trully ground attack and Steelers Bell-less with half a game w/o Ben... Hmmmm

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Bearmeat's picture

October 09, 2015 at 07:17 am

As long as STL doesn't force a couple turnovers, GB will win. It's possible to "Ram" the ball down their throats - and with our OL and Lacy, I expect that's just what Rodgers will do. Then chuck it over their heads.

If GB plays adequate run D like it has been, this is another win.

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Chad Toporski's picture

October 09, 2015 at 07:23 am

Playing at Lambeau is a huge boost. Even if the hard count doesn't draw penalties, it will keep the pass rushers from getting a jump on the offensive line. It's a subtle, though critical, advantage.

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 09, 2015 at 07:27 am

To be noted the Rams have been the highest penalized teams for jumping offsides on defense since Jeff Fisher has taken over.

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Portland Mark's picture

October 09, 2015 at 12:00 pm

With that in mind, what's the over under on Rodgers "free play" TD passes?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 09, 2015 at 04:12 pm

I'd say 1 (because you require a TD pass). Over/under on free plays (12 men + offsides): how about 2.5?

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RCPackerFan's picture

October 09, 2015 at 09:39 pm

Lol, I usually don't look at the likes/dislikes, but having 8 likes and 2 dislikes tells me something. It tells me that there are 2 Rams fans here and I upset them. :) Sorry for telling the facts.

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wimiller's picture

October 09, 2015 at 08:05 am

do not take much solace in the Rams D allowing middle of the pack yards per game, or points for that matter, that is a function of having an offense that puts them on the field for a couple extra series a game.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

October 09, 2015 at 04:13 pm

The Rams defensive line has 8.5 sacks, which is exactly half of their 17 sacks. By comparison (and take that with a grain of salt since the Rams run a 4-3 and we run a 3-4), GB defensive linemen had 3 sacks. OLB Ogletree has been placed on IR and won't play. Laurinaitis is still pretty good, if not what he once was. Their defense does not really have any glaring holes. Looks like St. L. can play 2 safeties deep and generate some pressure with their front 4. GB needs to grind it out against St. Louis and not have turnovers.

As a note, we are playing yet another team with a so-so offensive line. OT (Edit: he is playing OG) Greg Robinson has been bad. OT Havenstein has been below average. The interior guys are just okay. WRs are nothing to write home about (we should be able to play man with a lot of 0 coverage again). Their TE Cook has the dropsies. RB Todd Gurley exploded last week. QB Foles is mediocre; that said, he looks like the best passer we've played.

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chugwater's picture

October 09, 2015 at 11:27 am

Keep in mind they run a 4-3 and we run a 3-4 variant. Their D line should have more sacks than us.

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 09, 2015 at 07:52 pm

Robinson and Havenstein are below ave pass blockers, but really good run blockers, which is what Fisher wants. Pound the rock. That's why both were drafted, not to mention Gurley. Their OT will have problems w/ pass blocking our OLB if they get in catch up mode. But if Fisher gets what he wants, a close game, you can bet those same OT will be just fine.

Bet the under on this game. I don't see the Packers covering the 8 or 9 pt spread, but they will win.

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4thand1's picture

October 09, 2015 at 09:52 pm

BLASPHEMY!

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Dan Stodola's picture

October 09, 2015 at 10:31 pm

LOL, Be happy to be wrong.

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J0hn Denver's Gavel's picture

October 09, 2015 at 09:11 am

I predict the Packers will score early and lead the entire game.

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DukeDivine's picture

October 09, 2015 at 09:13 am

Getting pressure with only 4 and bump coverage is how you slow the PAckers apssing attack. I think the Rams can do that. However, this does not worry me as it would have in years past. Lacy and Starks are going to have big games and not just running the ball. 24-13 PAck.

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porupack's picture

October 09, 2015 at 09:48 am

Thanks for the perspective on Rams D. I think they will give us trouble, b/c Packers Oline has yielded a lot of penetration and then the holding penalties. If not for Rodgers's mobility, packers Oline would have scored far worse. packers faced some good dlines however...so that's good prep for this game.

The other good news is that TGurley had his breakout last week, so Capers can game plan with him in mind.
Also good fortune has it that Packers have faced some of the league's best RBs in first 4 games, and so it seems to continue through the season....so...they should be getting premier reps; Lynch, Forte, Charles, .... to prepare for Gurley...then AD and Detro's new motorbike.
I had circled this a loss as I still think Rams front 4 does enough disruption.

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Rossonero's picture

October 09, 2015 at 10:13 am

It all depends if we allow the Rams to pressure Rodgers and drop a bunch of guys into coverage. It's cliche, but it applies more than ever before in this game: it will be won in the trenches.

On the defensive dude, the Packers must get stops on Gurley. The Rams will try to eat up clock with him, but their o-line is very average.

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jh9's picture

October 09, 2015 at 11:36 am

I expect this to be a relatively low scoring game. The Packers will run a little more than usual to soften up the Rams front four and negate their pass rush. With our defense playing well, we should keep the Rams to under twenty points while I expect our offense to score at least twenty-four. If this game was in St. Louis, we might have a problem, but since it's at Lambeau I expect the Pack to prevail 27-17.

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4thand1's picture

October 09, 2015 at 11:58 am

The game plan to stop GB was to rush four or five and drop into coverage. It worked in the past, but now we have a running game. Seems like the rams started slow last year up front but came on later in the season. The o-line needs to bounce back after a bad game last week. Nothing like Lambeau and Rodgers to neutralize a pass rush. GB 31-21.
GOPACKGO

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Tundraboy's picture

October 09, 2015 at 12:29 pm

All good points. Do not understand why someone gave you a dislike.

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4thand1's picture

October 09, 2015 at 03:13 pm

Probably some one trying to provoke shit. I won't waste my time responding to the BS and infighting.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 09, 2015 at 03:32 pm

Yes way too much of that already.

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Tundraboy's picture

October 09, 2015 at 12:27 pm

I believe this will be the toughest test thus far. Rams are formidable and I trust we will not overlook them. MM knows this and it will be a closer game than we want. Go Pack Go

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Otto's picture

October 10, 2015 at 01:10 am

Not as much optimism this week as last. Did the low scoring affair in Santa Clara take some of the wind out of my fellow Pack fans' sails?

The narrative of this game reminds me of Philly last year. A lot of concern about them the week prior. They had destroyed Carolina the week before. They were playing well in all phases and it was going to be a "real" test for the Packers. With Rodgers taking a full game check for 3 quarters worth of work, that discussion was over.

Based on what I'm reading the Rams D is worried about the Offside Offense. They're jumpy as it is, now their overly focused on it. I can see AR getting 2 or 3 free shots out of them.
Does anything on their offense really scare you?
They've beaten two teams they see twice every year. And lost to two inferior teams (to the ones they beat) that are not common opponents.

I think the Packers win comfortably.

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NickPerry's picture

October 10, 2015 at 05:07 am

The Packers ST better be ready for anything. The Rams ALWAYS have a few trick plays off Special Teams against a opponent that's as good as the Packers. While the ST have been better, it's still Ron Zooks coaching who was a part of the worst ST in football under Slocum. Spacial Teams have become the new 2013 version of Mason Crosby. I hold my breath every time they're there until the play is over.

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