While the Los Angeles Rams dominated Week 1 versus the Chicago Bears, they missed one facet of their game: the run defense.
Bears running back David Montgomery gashed the Rams defense for 108 yards across 16 carries and a touchdown. His longest run of 41 yards came after slashing through the middle of the line before a jumpcut that allowed him to reach the second level.
Overall, the Rams defense, led by defensive tackle Aaron Donald, was strong in Week 1 against the Bears. The one area that left room for improvement was their efforts in clogging the running lanes to slow down Chicago's ground attack. Nose tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day left briefly in Week 1 due to a knee injury but is expected to play in Sunday’s game, according to coach Sean McVay. A key starter on the defensive line, the Rams need Day, as they didn't have much luck in stopping the run even when he was on the field.
In Week 2, the Rams will take on the Indianapolis Colts, who offer a two-headed rushing attack. The Colts are led by Jonathan Taylor, a second-year running back who had a tremendous second half of his rookie campaign. After posting only 428 yards and four touchdowns on the ground through his first nine games, Taylor put up 741 yards and seven touchdowns across his last six contests. Missing only one game due to COVID-19 protocols, Taylor was the most effective rookie rusher down the stretch last season.
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Complimenting Taylor is Nyheim Hines, who profiles as a pass-catching extraordinaire. In Week 1, Hines snagged six of his eight targets for 48 yards. While Hines primarily sees 3rd down work, he can be a change of pace back. Hines' prototype can be described more as a speed guy, where Taylor is a physical runner who will wear teams down in the trenches. This tandem will be very involved within the passing game. Without a true number one receiver in the Colts offense, quarterback Carson Wentz often relied on his running backs in Week 1.
The Colts offer one of the more underrated rushing tandems in football. With a physical back, combined with a speed presence, this rushing attack is a dynamic bunch. The Colts could look to follow a similar game plan as the Bears did last week, rushing the ball effectively and then try to open up the passing game. For the Rams to come out strong in Week 2, their run defense needs to be able to stop this two-man rushing attack.