Because Starrc10 Is A Good Guy

Starrc10 is one of my favorite readers here at Vikings Gab, as he’s always game to leave smart comments, provide some good story ideas, and give me crap for my hatred of Brett Favre.  Recently he asked me to do a weekly story where we look at the upcoming opponents.

I’ll be honest, this one is kind of cobbled together at the last minute.  I leave for vacation on Saturday, and while I will probably post a few things here and there, have a pretty full schedule.  So, I won’t be able to do a Ravens preview.  One of our other writers, Chris Boynton usually does a nice job previewing opponents, however.

But, since I like Starrc10, and since he requested it… here is my very brief preview of the Lambs:

 

The Offense

The Rams have one of the best running backs around lined up behind what was supposed to be a much improved offensive line.  For some reason, however, Steven Jackson has been unable to bust out so far this season.  He hasn’t been doing terrible, averaging 4.4 yards per carry, but the stat that is most troublesome for the Rams is that he hasn’t been able to find the end zone yet.

Part of why the Rams run game has been stifled probably has to do with their horrid passing game.  While he may not even play on Sunday due to injury, Marc Bulger has been the best passer for the Rams… and that isn’t saying much.  Bulger has only completed 51.5% of his passes, averaging only 5 yards per attempt, and only has one touchdown on the year with a quarterback rating of 70.6.  The good news for the Rams is he has not thrown an interception; the bad news for the Rams is that Kyle Boller has and he may be their starter come Sunday.

The news for the Rams gets worse when you realize that their top pass catcher, Laurent Robinson, has been placed on the injured reserve making him unavailable during the Vikings game.  Their second leading pass catcher, Donnie Avery, is questionable for Sunday’s game due to a hamstring issue.  The Rams may not even be able to find out what kind of depth they have at wide out because receiver Brooks Foster is also on the injured reserve, and receivers Ruvell Martin and Keenan Burton are also listed as questionable because of hamstring issues.

Basically, this leaves Steven Jackson and Randy McMichael as the Rams’ top passing threats… which shortens the field a great deal for their offense.

Those two players should not be underestimated in the passing game, however, as the Vikings have shown a great vulnerability to tight ends catching passes in the seam and running backs catching passes on the flats.  Steven Jackson has the potential to absolutely burn our defense on screen plays if the Vikings don’t scheme for flat protections a little more soundly.

The most important matchup of this game will be watching E.J. Henderson sticking to Steven Jackson.  The Vikes will doubtless plan on E.J. following him around all day long.  The next important matchup will be our safeties covering the Rams tight ends, particularly McMichael.

Considering that the Rams receivers will not really require much double coverage to speak of, the Vikings should be able to allocate the necessary assets towards stopping Jackson and McMichael.  Given that there will be a lot of film on how to smoke the Rams from a defensive standpoint compliments of the Forty-Niners.

I give the advantage heavily to the Vikings here, but memories of Steven Jackson shredding the Vikings for 142 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2006 should at least be cause for a little worry.  Make no doubt, Jackson will be the guy to focus on as the Rams injuries, the Vikings great pass rush, and our secondary should pretty much shut down the passing game.

THE DEFENSE

To underestimate the Rams defense would be a big mistake.  Sure, they’re nineteenth in the league, but our defense would be nineteenth in the league as well if our offense played as poorly as the Rams offense does.

Up front, Leanord Little is still kicking out stats, and he has 3 sacks through the first four weeks.  Defensive end James Hall is also doing a good job of getting pressure.  Last year’s top-five pick, Chris Long, is still struggling in the NFL, and has yet to register a sack this year… but that just means he’s hungry.  Losing defensive tackle Adam Carriker to shoulder injury was an unfortunate blow to the Rams’ defensive line.

Rookie linebacker, and former Wayzata star, James Laurinatis has really stepped into the leadership role of this improving defense.  Laurinatis leads the team with 34 tackles, 25 of which were solo.  He gets tremendous help from outside linebacker Will Witherspoon who has 24 tackles and a forced fumble.

The secondary for the Rams is also a little banged up.  Starting cornerback Ronald Bartell is probable with a thigh injury.  Safety Eric Bassey is on the injured reserve.  Safety James Butler has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a knee injury.  To make matters worse, safeties Craig Dahl and Anthony Smith are questionable with injuries of their own.

Still, the fact that Ronald Bartell and Oshiomogho Atogwe will be playing makes the Rams defense one with potential for the big play.  Atogwe, known as a risk-taker, has 14 interceptions since 2007, which is 2nd in the NFL in that span. 

The combination of a banged up Vikings offensive line, a solid pass rush from Leanord Little, and a playmaking secondary could spell trouble for the Vikings.

Expect to see the Vikings take few risks in a game that should be won easily barring big mistakes.  The game plan should be to simply push Adrian Peterson down their throats, while completing short, high-percentage passes.  This could spell big games for Chester Taylor, Percy Harvin, and Visanthe Shiancoe in addition to Adrian Peterson.

The Special Teams

The Rams stole our 2008 Special Teams coach.  Good riddance.

The 2009 Rams special teams looks a lot like the 2008 Vikings special teams… terrible.  Struggling to find a true kick returner (5 have tried in 4 games) the most promising of those is Danny Amendola.  The fact that he is averaging only 22.4 yards on 12 attempts makes him appear unthreatening. 

The Rams have also used three punt returners in four games.  Nobody has really jumped out as a true return threat, and the team averages only 8.6 yards per attempt.  5 of the 13 times opponents punted have been fair caught, which goes to show that their special team blocking leaves much to be desired.

In short, the Vikings have still been inconsistent covering kicks and punts, but the Rams do not seem to have a return threat dangerous enough to scare us.  After all, we have Heath Farwell on our side.

On the flip side, punter Donnie Jones and Kicker Josh Brown are very solid at their positions.  Brown is fully capable of hitting long field goals if need be.  The Vikings need to make sure that this game is not close enough to be decided by a Brown field goal, or else things could get very scary.

As A Whole

Let’s be frank, the Vikings outmatch the Rams in every phase of the game.  Thank goodness we get to play them on our short week.  With their injury issues piled on top of a lack of talent and off the field distractions coming from Rush Limbaugh’s flirtation with purchasing their team… this is a game the Vikings should win easily.

Which is exactly why we should be worried.

The Rams are still a professional football team, capable of making plays.  The Vikings are still a group of guys, facing injuries of their own, that are capable of making mistakes.  They need to focus on the task at hand, stick to a hopefully solid game plan, and just do what they’ve been doing.

My Prediction:  31 to 9, Vikings

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9 Responses to “Because Starrc10 Is A Good Guy”

  1. […] Upside-Downsies. “If they’re going to give him one, then they should give George W. Because Starrc10 Is A Good Guy – vikingsgab.com 10/09/2009 Starrc10 is one of my favorite readers here at Vikings Gab, as […]

  2. starrc10 says:

    Aw… you shouldnt have.

    I predict 30-19 Vikes. Defense holds them to 3 field goals (one thanks to a short field) and they will pick up one flukey TD via Special Teams or Defense.

    Thanks, since I did not know a thing about the Rams, I am glad to have some info. Saturday I will need to dig into some of their human interest stories (remember Nick Urban? that kind of thing…).

    Thanks Adam, safe travels!

  3. Tomb says:

    These ARE nice digs, Adam. Good work.

    SOOOOOOO…any language filters in here??

    • Adam Warwas says:

      Keep it clean, or else our machines will turn filters back on, which means delayed commenting… which would inhibit our ability to have real-time conversations.

      And thanks, Tomb!

  4. bigjohnny84 says:

    Adam you have been busy today. Great work. You hit the nail on the head in the as a whole section. This could be a recipe for disaster. I think we win, but it will be close. We have to be drained mentally and that leads to mistakes.

    • Adam Warwas says:

      thanks big, thought I’d get as much stuff out there as possible today since I’ll be gone for a while.

      Much like the Lions game, nothing good can really come from this. If we win, then that’s what we were supposed to do. If we barely win then we’re criticized. If we lose… well, the humiliation would be unbearable.

  5. Fran the Man says:

    Great preview Adam.
    I’m calling for a blowout.
    I think we win by at least two TD’s.

    Have a good vacation!

  6. c.carterhof says:

    Big game for our D.

    AD for at least 150.
    32-13 Vikes roll!
    The good that comes out of it is 5-0, and 3-0 on the road.

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