Friday, September 20
Faulk needs to get the ball more
By John Madden
This week the Outback Steakhouse Madden Cruiser is headed to Florida for Monday Night Football (ABC, 9 p.m. ET) and a game between the St. Louis Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
These teams have played several close games over the last few years, and the Buccaneers' defensive front four, led by Warren Sapp, has always been tough on the Rams' offense. Something I wrote about earlier this week is that Sapp just knows how to disrupt the St. Louis offense. He always seems to get a good push and he gets good pressure on the Rams right up the middle. St. Louis throws on rhythm, and a pressure or someone coming right up the middle will knock the rhythm out of their passing game.
You don't necessarily have to knock the quarterback down or get a sack, but you want to keep him from being able to step up in the pocket, and Tampa Bay seems to do that when they face Kurt Warner and the Rams. Other than maybe the New York Giants, the Buccaneers' defense over the years has had probably as much success as any team in slowing down St. Louis' offense.
The Rams are winless so far this season and even though it doesn't look like their offense is playing that well, their defense doesn't seem to be playing well, either. That's something that Tampa Bay's going to have to try and exploit when they are on offense. Other teams have done that to St. Louis this season.
Faulk's not only one of the best running backs in the league, he's one of the best players in the league and his team has to take advantage of that. St. Louis can try to spread defenses out and stuff, but at some point, it has to run Faulk 20 times in a game.
It's interesting because I still think in any grouping you would put the Rams in as one of the top teams in the NFL. But they haven't played that way this season. They are starting out 0-2 and you can't get to a point where this is a "have-to" game this early in the season, but at some point they have to start winning and start putting things together.