Welcome to the latest edition of my weekly chat with an SB Nation NFL colleague. Because the Saints will be in St. Louis this Sunday to take on the Rams, I talked with VanRam from SB Nation's Rams blog, Turf Show Times. Naturally we discussed the threat of Steven Jackson and the possibility of this being a trap game for the Saints but you won't want to miss what VanRam had to say about former Saints Mike Karney and Jim Haslett.
CSC: A couple of years ago the winless Rams came to New Orleans following a bye week and defeated a hot Saints team on a four-game winning streak. Any chance of that happening again this year?
TST: I wouldn't bet on anything like that happening again. In 2007, we still had Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce paired with to give the Rams some offensive weapons. We still have Jackson, but the receiving talent isn't there anymore. Basically, we have some possession guys and a deep threat, Donnie Avery, miscast as a #1 WR. Something else to consider is the decline of Marc Bulger since then.
CSC: What do the Saints need to do to shut down Steven Jackson?
TST: Most teams stack the box with 8-10 players, daring him to run through the mass of bodies. That's just about all you can do, and even then Jackson is going to put up some nice numbers. Opposing defenses feed off the offensive imbalance between the Rams running game and the passing game
CSC: What do you expect the Rams defense to do to try and shut down the Saints offense?
TST: The best they can do is play mistake free, aggressive football. I'll be honest, it's a tough matchup because we lack talent along our defensive line, and I think the key would be to get pressure on Drew Brees. Hopefully our secondary is well rested, and our #1 CB is over a nagging thigh injury that's made him susceptable to getting burned by QBs. We're without rookie surprise Bradley Fletcher who suffered a nasty hyperextended knee injury against the Colts, but we do have some speed guys in Jonathan Wade and Justin King who could matchup decently against the Saints speedy receivers. They'll need to play the ball better than they have, and that means we need to see more from FS O.J. Atogwe who hasn't been the ball hawk he usually is.
CSC: How is Mike Karney working out for the Rams?
TST: Wonderfully. He's been a big factor in a run blocking unit that is really starting to gel. Watching him take linebackers out of plays is very refreshing since the Rams mysteriously cut under Linehan.
CSC: Tell us something about the Rams that Saints fans would be surprised to learn.
TST: We don't hate , but we're glad he's not our head coach.
TST: I'd like to predict a close game, but I cannot. I'll be anxious to see how much momentum the first win gives us and a bye week to rest help out embattled players. I just don't think our offense, outside of Steven Jackson, can make it happen.