October 4, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb (4) is tackled by St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo (93) and defensive end Robert Quinn (94) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated Arizona 17-3. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

St. Louis Rams Vs. Miami Dolphins Week 6 Breakdown: Cameron Wake, Robert Quinn, and The Defensive Line

Both the St. Louis Rams and the Miami Dolphins have been pretty below average this season on offense, which is surprising given that the teams have a combine 5-5 record on the year. How do teams that cannot score offensively win games? Defense. Both teams have been phenomenal on the defensive side of the football, and it is the primary reason that the Rams and Dolphins have been in nearly every games this season. So, how to the two defenses stack up position-by-position?


Defensive Line

While the defensive line is multidimensional in terms of their duties in the front seven, the down linemen are typically measured in terms of their pass rushing abilities.  The St. Louis Rams and Miami Dolphins are both among the leaders in wrangling down opposing quarterbacks, tied for 7th most in the league with 15 sacks each.

The Miami front four is composed of Odrick, Starks, Soliai, and the defenses only true Pro-Bowl caliber player, Cameron Wake. The starting linemen on the team account for 11.5 out of the 15 total sacks, with each player contributing at least 0.5 sacks this season. Even their rotational defensive end, Olivier Vernon, has contributed half of a sack. The Miami defensive line is responsible for 69 of the teams 325 tackles (21.3%), which is roughly on par with the typical contributions from the men up front. However, they only account for 4 tackles for a loss out of the 14 total TOL takedowns on the team, 3 pass deflections out of the team’s 29, and have zero forced fumbles by the starting defensive linemen (although, Olivier Vernon has 2 forced fumbles, and Tony McDaniels has the only defensive fumble recovery).

Similarly, the St. Louis Rams defensive line has accounted for 11 of the 15 total sacks, with Chris Long and Robert Quinn carrying a bulk of the load, with 9 sacks between the two of them. In terms of tackles, the defensive front four have accounted for 55 of the 317 total tackles (17.3%), which is not surprising given the reliance on the nickel package and the absence of Michael Brockers for the first 3 (more like, three and a half) games of the season. Continuing the pattern of similarity, the St. Louis Rams line has attributed 4 of the 18 tackles for a loss, but only one of the team’s 25 pass deflections this season, while forcing and recovering one fumble.

The real difference maker for the St. Louis Rams is the return of Michael Brockers to the defensive rotation. Since Brockers came back into the lineup in Week 4, the St. Louis Rams have recorded 11 of their 15 sacks and  allowed only one rushing touchdown, after allowing 5 touchdowns in the previous 3 games. He forces opposing teams to focus their blockers on the interior of the defensive line, whereas before, teams could double and triple Long and Quinn on the outside, and single block Jermelle Cudjo or Kellen Heard on the interior of the line. A single-block, or chip block from a running back or tight end, will not contain Long or Quinn, which has been demonstrated over the past couple of games.

With the addition of Brockers, the Rams have as much quality depth as any team in the league at defensive line, with seven different lineman contributing at least 4 tackles this season… certainly more depth than the Dolphins. They also have much younger and much more talented rotation, having three 1st-rounders in their starting lineup in Brockers (2012), Quinn (2011), and Long (2008), with Quinn and Long progressing in each of their seasons in the league. The Dolphin are bare after their fifth man on the depth chart and have only two “proven” players on their defensive line. Starks is playing well above the level his career would indicate, having averaged only 3.5 sacks per season, let alone 3.5  in the first five games. Cameron Wake is the only true threat on the defensive line, but really hasn’t been a constant presence in the opposing backfield, with 4.5 out of 5.5 of his sacks coming in a single game against the Arizona Cardinals. At the end of the day, the St. Louis Rams are deeper, younger, and more talented on the defensive line as a whole, and it will show on Sunday at Sun Life Stadium.

Advantage: St. Louis Rams, 3-2 

If you missed the breakdown of the offense, you can see how the Quarterbacks and Running Backs and the Offensive Linemen and Receivers stacked up put click on the links provided.


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Tags: Miami Dolphins St. Louis Rams

  • Thiswritersucks

    This is retarded, how is there no mention that Miami’s defense is 1st in the league in rush yds/game and rush yds/attempt? Obviously a St Louis biased article.

    • ApparentlyISuck?

      I was planning on get to Miami’s superior rush defense when comparing the linebackers, be patient. The ability to stop the run has as much to do with the linebackers and secondary as it does the defensive lineman.

      As I said in the article, “down linemen are typically measured in terms of their pass rushing abilities,” since is hard to objectively measure the defensive lineman solely on their ability to stop the run.

      A truly great defensive line doesn’t necessarily have the most tackles, but rather, clogs up the holes and maintain their gaps to allow the linebacker to do their job “bringing down the ball carrier.” Inherently, that means you cannot reliably gauge the performance of the defensive line without taking into consideration that abilities of the linebacker.

      For example, if the defensive lineman maintain the edge and fill their gaps, but the linebackers are consistently missing tackles and allowing the running back to gain additional yards, should have negatively reflect on the line? No.. Alternatively, what if the defensive lineman are getting blown off the ball and not creating an edge on the outside, but they have elite linebackers that compensate by taking good angles, shedding blocks, and making every tackle all over the field? They may still have a top ranked rushing defense, but is that an accurate representation of the defensive linemen’s ability? No…

      So, you have to compare two teams with the non-subjective data available that is directly associated with the play of the defensive linemen. That is what I did!

  • Writer Knows Nothing

    Only 1 pro bowl caliber line man? Starks (2010) & Soliai (2011) are also pro bowl linemen. How about you get your stats right. The Dolphins Dline definitely has the advantage over the Rams’.

    • Doesn’tGetHisFactsFromWiki

      It says “defenses only true Pro-Bowl caliber player,” that doesn’t mean their aren’t Pro Bowlers on the team. The Rams’ Quintin Mikell has been to a Pro Bowl, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is a true, Pro-Bowl caliber player right now in the NFL. Chris Long had 13 sacks last season, fourth most among all defensive lineman, but wasn’t voted into a Pro Bowl, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t a Pro Bowl caliber player.

      Technically, the players you mentioned were made the 2011 and 2012 Pro Bowl rosters (although I can understand the confusion if you got your information from Wikipedia haha)

      Soliai is a big body in the middle, but he isn’t a threat rushing the passer or a big contributor in terms of tackles, he just get publicity because he plays for one of the major sports cities and because of the talent around him that helps keep the Dolphin in the Top 5 in rushing defense each year. He had 27 tackles, no sacks, and no forced turnovers in the 2011 season. He didn’t even make the original cut for the Pro Bowl, but was added in place of Haloti Ngata.

      Starks has been voted to the Pro Bowl once in his 9 years in the NFL, and ended up making the Pro Bowl as a defensive end in a year where he had 30 tackles, 3 sacks, and no forced turnovers (but one fumble recovery). Starks, like Soliai, did not get voted in originally, but replaced Pittsburgh defensive end Brett Keisel because the Steelers were in the Super Bowl. It is clear that he only made the cut because the fans, unjustly, have a say in the voting and Miami has a lot of people to vote. Starks should not have even been allowed to watch the game from the sidelines, in season where players like Osi Umenyiora (33 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 10 forced fumbles), Jared Allen (45 tackles, 11.0 sacks, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble), Chris Clemens (33 tackles, 11.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble), and Chris Long (26 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles) did not make the Pro Bowl.

      The Dolphins play in an AFC with only a handful of elite pass rushers and play in one of the major sports hubs that garner unnecessary attention, which gets players into the Pro Bowl. The key is “true, Pro Bowl caliber players,” and Soliai and Starks are “good” players, but are both extremely lucky add-ons to talent devoid AFC Pro Bowl rosters.

      • HiImBlack

        Have to agree with Writer Knows Nothing. As a whole, the Dolphins D-Line is better than the Rams. Starks is a Pro Bowl caliber player now with 15 Tackles, 3.5 sacks(should be 4), and an INT through 5 games. Projected to have 9-11 sacks and 40-50 tackles. He should have went in 2009 not 2010 imo (56 Tackles and 7 sacks) What DT have you heard of that gets 40+ tackles and 3+ sacks on the regular besides Ngata and Suh? “he just get publicity because he plays for one of the major sports
        cities and because of the talent around him that helps keep the Dolphin
        in the Top 5 in rushing defense each year.” Clearly don’t know what you’re talking about. While Soliai isn’t a pass rusher he almost immediately demands double teams because a single defender can’t handle him one-on-one.

        • HilmBlackIsAnIdiot

          Starks is having an above average year, which he said in the article, but starting off hot doesn’t mean that he will keep it up, when he has proven to be an “average player,” at best for the last 9 years.

          Suh gets 40+ tackles and 3+ sacks on a regular basis? Really now, he has played two full years and that gets to count as regular? Interesting…

          Miami, Dallas, New York, and “big name” teams like the Colts and Steelers have undeserving players in the Pro Bowl every year simply because homers from those cities and unintelligent football fans have can only recognize a handful of players will vote for them.

          Since when does demanding a double team and not producing tackles, sacks, or any other statistic get you into the Pro Bowl?!?! Maybe in the mystical land of the Miami Dolphin where Ryan Tannehill is an elite quarterback or the future and Reggie Bush s*** out golden coins to pay for the lack of ticket sales during your home games.

        • miamisucks

          Starks should have got in with 7 sacks? as a DE? shut up miami homer…

  • http://www.facebook.com/alfonso.rivas.52 Alfonso Rivas

    Great article. I agree with everything said. Unfortunately miami fans will not. they somehow think that their d-line is superior. Why? I dont know. But after spending all week reading all this talk from miami fans about how much better the dolphins are over the Rams I have come to the conclusion that they in denial. They actually believe they have a superior team, which of course they dont. I see the dolphins as a decent team with some good players. Vastly superior to the Rams? Ridiculous.