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Rams Defense Got Out-Schemed, Out-played, And No Respect


Tim Godfrey
When the Lions reached the red-zone, everyone knew what was coming. Still, the Rams had no hope to stop Stafford and the offense.  | Photo Credit: Paul Sancya/Associated Press

LA was out-schemed, out-played, and shown no respect as Detroit's offense did whatever they wanted. 

Before his team played in Week Six, Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke recently spoke with the Associated Press on a stroll around the Pepsi Center, and gave a verbal nugget about his team. 

"We're competitive," Kroenke said. 

That is just the tip of a very disappointing iceberg. 

"We're young. I think its the fifth year in a row we're the youngest team in the NFL. We're building this team."  

There is plenty of building left to do, apparently.

Switching roles, the offense was the very reason the Rams kept the game close during Sunday's contest against the Detroit Lions, and it was their defense that could not get anything done. Ultimately, those roles were returned to normal as the offense, more specifically Case Keenum, made a terrible error, resulting in their third loss of the season. 

Matthew Stafford was electric against the Rams, extending plays and hurling the ball with a flick of his wrist in Farve-like fashion. Throughout the game, Stafford threw the ball wherever he wanted, no matter how tight the window, and the defense was powerless. 

"At the end of the day, we didn't really get out-schemed," Rams middle linebacker Alec Ogeltree said after the game. "We knew what was coming, but we had to win our battles, one-on-one." 

That is where I disagree. The Rams were out-schemed. 

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When the Lions reached the red-zone, everyone knew what was coming. Still, the Rams had no hope to stop Stafford and the offense. In the above play, the Lions have three receivers lined up on Stafford's right, with Anquan Boldin lined up in the middle. As the receiver closest to the inside runs a bubble screen, LaMarcus Joyner bypasses Boldin to try and blow up the anticipated pass. Meanwhile, Boldin is allowed to run open into space and get the pass before T.J. McDonald can run up and stop him. Ogeltree is in pass coverage, and has the ball float right over his head. 

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On this play, the Lions do what the Rams can almost never accomplish: throw an effective WR screen to their small playmaker. Golden Tate gets the ball, and as soon as he turns to run, the Lions' right tackle is already out in front of him, bulldozing Troy Hill. The right guard also reaches the second-level to delay Ogeltree and Mark Barron. 

If it wasn't through schemes, it was through their ability to make the play no matter how close the Rams are on top of them. The Rams were out-played. 

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The first touchdown of the day came on the Lions' first drive and it was a hell of a catch. Troy Hill, starting in the No. 2 corner spot was no threat to Marvin Jones Jr. Stafford throws a high pass right over Hill's shoulder as Hill is left to look at the ref in search of a push-off call. 

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The Lions were 2-for-2 on fourth down, and while they were only 6-for-11 on third downs, the conversions they did make were done so with frustrating fashion, at least for Los Angeles. The Lions were backed up on their own 39-yard line with nine yards to go. The pass-rush was coming hard, and everyone off the line dropped back into coverage, preparing for the big pass. Except Stafford simply dumped it off to South Dakota alum Zach Zenner. A simple deke off the first defender, and Zenner took it about 15 yards to keep the drive alive.

This was not Zenner's only act of the day. In fact, Zenner was a major problem for the Rams throughout the day. 

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The San Francisco 49ers defense said they knew what the Rams were going to do on offense. This week, the Lions offense knew exactly what the Rams were going to do on defense, and who they had on defense, and they went after them relentlessly drive-after-drive. The Lions were so effective on offense they had just one three-and-out the entire game. 

The Lions gave no respect. 

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This was the most impressive play the Lions have had, and probably will have, all season. A four-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Empty backfield. Shotgun. Everyone knows what is coming. Yet, once again, no one is able to stop it. 

Stafford almost immediately receives pressure from Aaron Donald, who stunted to the right side of the line. Ethan Westbrooks came around the other end, and it looked like Stafford was out of room and out of time. But Stafford pulled a side-arm throw off the back foot on the tail end of his backwards run. The ball hits the hands of Andre Roberts, who is practically being hugged by E.J. Gaines. 

This play is the epitome of the Rams at this point in their season. At first, they look like they are going to come through and accomplish what they set out to do, only to fall short in embarrassing fashion. 

 

Tim Godfrey is a Featured Analyst who covers the Los Angeles Rams for Pro Football Spot. Follow him on Twitter @MrTimGodfrey!


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