|Jaworski on the Rams|
The St. Louis Rams are the best team in football, a fact made clear in their demolition of Miami. Initially it seemed like the Rams were doing everything right. But after watching the film, I thought the Miami defense actually played well. But Kurt Warner was phenomenal. He was finding the open receiver and completing balls, even to ones who weren't open. That's how hot he was. Even when the Dolphins played the perfect coverage, Warner still managed to squeeze the ball through a hole to his receiver. It was one of Warner's best performances.. He was throwing with a quick release, velocity and accuracy.
On defense, the Rams have been unbelievably improved. After only three games, their defense appears to be coming together. Their defense will win games for them. In fact, I think the defense won the Eagles' game in Week 1. At strong safety, rookie Adam Archuleta is starting to get a consistent feel for the NFL. The Rams are using him both in the box as a run stopper and in pass coverage at safety.
Five keys for the Rams:
1. Pedal to the metal. The Lions, to me, are the slowest team in football. And the Rams are the fastest. This is not a good matchup for Detroit. So the Rams will put the pedal to the metal. They don't want Detroit to have any sign of life. The Rams will come out winging the ball. Coach Mike Martz wants to score on every play. Detroit is struggling on both sides of the ball, so the Rams don't want to give them any positive vibes. They must start quickly.
2. The unstoppable Faulk. The Rams present matchup problems. One of the keys will be Faulk against Lions middle linebacker Stephen Boyd. Miami's Zach Thomas is one of the game's best coverage middle linebackers; Faulk embarrassed him. The Dolphins thought they could cover Faulk occasionally with Thomas. No way -- it didn't work. Boyd isn't close to the athletic player that Thomas is. So Faulk should exploit him as well.
3. Exploit the secondary. The Lions' secondary is banged up. They have Todd Lyght and Terry Fair as the corners, with Robert Bailey and Jimmy Wyrick as the backups. The Rams believe their third, fourth and fifth receivers are better than the other team's third, fourth and fifth coverage plays -- and they are right. Teams think they have to stop Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, but they really have to stop Az-Zahir Hakim and Ricky Proehl, who could start for other teams.
4. Blow up plays. The Lions are playing a West Coast offense without prototypical West Coast players. Their line is big, strong and hulking. They have a power running back in James Stewart. That means the Rams must use their speed and quickness to penetrate and fast-flow to the football. They can't allow the Lions' big-bodied line to blow them off the ball. They must penetrate the gaps, get players in the backfield and blow up their plays.
5. Pressure Detmer. Ty Detmer is coming off a seven-interception game (really eight, because one was called back on a penalty). Detmer needs to plant, step and throw to get the ball down the field. He lacks the consistent arm strength to be a top-notch NFL quarterback. The Rams must negate that ability by putting people in space and making him throw off his back foot.