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Defense Eyes Rams' Jackson, New-Look Offense

For seven years, the St. Louis Rams were "The Greatest Show on Turf," with stars like Marshall Faulk, Kurt Warner, Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, among others.

With the departure of Mike Martz last season, the Rams hired Scott Linehan to take over as head coach and implement a new offensive philosophy.

Linehan's offense now revolves around running back Steven Jackson, who has had a Pro Bowl season.

Jackson has rushed for 1,236 yards, sixth-best in the league and third-best in the NFC, and nine touchdowns. He also has 82 receptions for 680 yards and also ranks among the league leaders in that category.

It appears "The Greatest Show on Turf" has become "The Steven Jackson Show."

"He is able to bounce the ball wide," assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams said. "He is able to cut the ball back. He is able to press the hole and run over you. We are going to have a tough offense to defend and we are going to have to play some of our best team defense to handle it."

The Redskins will take on Jackson and the Rams this Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

Jackson, at 6-2 and 231 pounds, is a back similar in style to New Orleans Saints running back Deuce McAllister. The Redskins limited McAllister to just 48 yards on 15 carries in last Sunday's 16-10 victory at the Superdome.

Jackson is more of a threat in the passing game, though. He leads the Rams with 82 receptions, sixth-best in the league and third-best in the NFC, for 680 yards and one touchdown.

"He does a very good job in the passing game when they give him an opportunity in space to get the ball in his hands," Williams said.

Rams' quarterback Marc Bulger, who has never faced the Redskins in a regular season game, still has Holt and Bruce in the passing game. Holt has 80 catches for 1,044 yards and 10 touchdowns, while Bruce has 61 catches for 884 yards and two touchdowns. Bulger and Holt both earned Pro Bowl nods with Jackson.

But the Rams are no longer a finesse team. With Jackson, they bring more physicality.

"They have really good skill guys with T-Holt and Isaac, and Jackson is a big ol' back and he brings a lot to their offense," Shawn Springs said. "He brings physicality to their offense and he also has speed."

Added Carlos Rogers: "They're still explosive, and they have a great running back coming along. We have to prepare for a lot of different things

Last year, in the Redskins' 24-9 victory over the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome, the offense got an early lead and the defense bottled up Jackson, limiting him to just 24 yards on 11 carries. St. Louis started rookie quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick that game and the Redskins sacked him three times and intercepted him once.

The formula to win would appear to be similar: get an early lead, stop Jackson and the Rams' ground attack, and then pressure Bulger.

The Rams have been without injured left tackle Orlando Pace most of the season and Bulger has been sacked 48 times, second-highest in the NFL.

Williams hopes there is carry-over from last week's victory over the Saints at the Superdome, another indoors stadium.

"When you go indoors and play on a flat field, you have to all of a sudden get up to pace on a team that is used to playing indoors," he said. "It is more of a space game and more of a speed game. I thought our [team] did a very good job last week of playing fast. That is the only way you can attack some of these explosive offenses, especially when they want to put you in space.

"They want to open up the formations. They want to have pitch and catch out in the open field. They want to try and get the backs out in the open field. If you don't play with great speed, usually you allow those explosive plays. Last week, we really minimized those opportunities by how well we swarmed."

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