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PRO FOOTBALL DAILY REPORT : RAMS : Miller Braces for Cardinal Onslaught

August 31, 1994|MIKE REILLEY

Chris Miller, the Rams' fragile starting quarterback, starts only his 11th regular-season game in three years Sunday, against an Arizona defense designed specifically to annihilate him.

Coach Buddy Ryan has brought the "46 defense" to the Cardinals, complete with free-agent imports Clyde Simmons and Seth Joyner from Philadelphia.

So how concerned is Miller, coming off two knee surgeries, about the Cardinals' heavy pass rush?

"You're going to get hit more than normal against this defense," he said. "You have to take those hits because you're going to have an opportunity to make some big plays."

Offenses have struggled for years against the "46 defense," named after Doug Plank, who played for Ryan in Chicago and wore that number on his jersey.

It's designed to put heavy pressure on the quarterback without sacrificing run defense by placing as many as eight defenders within five yards of the line of scrimmage.

There's one flaw: it's sometimes vulnerable to big passing plays.

"Sometimes this defense makes you look real bad, but some times you'll go three downs and out, three downs and out and then throw a 78-yard touchdown pass," Miller said. "You have to be patient against it.

"We had success against it in Atlanta. With our four wideouts, it was hard for them to bring that type of pressure and heat all the time."

The Rams rolled up 374 yards total offense, including 316 yards passing, against Houston's "46 defense" last season, when Ryan was defensive coordinator with the Oilers.

And that was with a shaky Jim Everett as the Rams' starter.

"You have to bank on your guys up front to do the job against the 46," Miller said. "This will be a good test for us."

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