The LA Rams are 10-1 and among the top stories in the NFL this season. They are explosive on offense, loaded with superstars on both side of the ball and also happen to be next up on the schedule for the Detroit Lions.
With the Rams heading to town, Lions head coach Matt Patricia is game planning to slow down the high-flying attack.
In discussing the approaching matchup, Patricia heaped praise on LA.
First, when while discussing the improvements the Lions have made in run defense, Patricia took a small detour to acknowledge the Rams' star running back.
"We obviously have another huge problem this week with the run game with the Rams," he said "(LA Rams running back) Todd Gurley is one of the best backs in the League. This guy’s phenomenal. So, it’s a big challenge for us. And then obviously, the other skill players that they have."
later, Patricia gives a nod to the coaching staff, offensive scheme and overall talent level of the Rams.
“Coach (Sean) McVay does an outstanding job of controlling the game on the offensive side of the ball with tempo," he said. "They use different tempos, they probably have about three or four different tempos that they can use offensively to dictate the game.
"So, we just have to do a good job of being really sound fundamentally and making sure that we’re doing a good job with our reads and our eye control. There are a lot of mis-directions in there. Certainly, there are different approaches to the game that you can see on tape where there are a lot of teams trying to do a lot of different things to stop them from doing what they do so well, and not a lot of teams (are) having a lot of success.
"So, it’s a big challenge for us. They have a lot of great players and they use them really well on offense. They have great players on the defense, and are getting another great player back this week (Aqib Talib), which is going to be a problem for us. I just think that they’re a really well-coached and well-played team right now. So, it’s a big challenge.”
Patricia then dissects the defense's dilemma of focusing on the run or pass.
“I think that’s where you go through the games and you take a look at the different teams that played them, and teams have tried both and really haven’t been successful," he said. "I think you have to, again, give credit to Kevin Demoff (Executive Vice President of Football Operations/Chief Operating Officer) and Les Snead (General Manager) and everybody there in their front office putting the team together. They have great players. Obviously, Sean McVay has done a great job of controlling that offense and putting everybody in position.
"I think you have to try to stop both, it’s just a situation where control of the game is important, but whether running the ball or throwing, that’s the biggest thing for them. There obviously very explosive, they’re dynamic and we have a big challenge for us in both the run and the pass game. They’re a very balanced offense and I think something we talk about all the time, that when you can be balanced on offense, it’s very difficult to defend and they’ve done a great job of that all year.”
When you a team has both phases of their offense rolling, the play action pass becomes that much more dangerous.
“They do a great job—they’re one of the best teams in the League actually off of play action because of their yardage, and conversions, and their production—They do a great job of it," said Patricia. "They have different types of play action—different sort of either block it up and throw it deep, they have move the pocket type plays, everybody outside play actions, different motion play actions from either empty’s or condensed splits, wide splits. They do a great job of mixing it from that standpoint, and I think that’s what becomes so difficult. And when you combine that with the run game, which is—they’re just really good at doing what they do in the run game, they’re just really solid. They understand what kind of run team they are and do a good job of marrying up the play actions that it all kind of looks the same as the packages go through the course of the game. Definitely has been a real productive part of their offense.
“One of the things that’s really important with this team is just understanding how good they are on special teams and how good they are defensively. I think John Fassel does a phenomenal job on special teams. It’s one of the most dominate units in the League. They’re very consistent and they really make big plays. So, and that along with obviously Wade (Phillips) running the defense and the players that they have, especially in the front and now in the backend. I’ve coached (Aqib) Talib, he’s of the best players that I’ve coached, he’s a competitor. They’ve got some great players out there in all three phases, I think that’s what’s important to know with this team is that they do a great job of just playing the game really in all three phases.”
Speaking of the defense, Patricia elaborated on the strengths of the unit.
“Obviously two phenomenal players inside in both Donald and Suh," he said. "They’ll also put (Michael) Brockers inside in certain situations, which is another problem as far as the protection is concerned. And then I think the addition of (Dante) Fowler was great for them out on the edge.
"I think it really stresses the tackles and the speed across the edge, which can move the quarterback or influence the quarterback in a way where now he has to move to the inside part of the pocket and now you’re moving up into Donald and Suh and some other guys in there that can just really create a lot of havoc for you.
"The front is definitely an issue, it’s obviously part of the success that they’ve had with those players and they’ve done. Like I said before, they’ve done a good job of putting that all together.”