This season the St. Louis Rams have a chance to challenge a record that has stood for 30 years. Flaunting the most talented and deepest defensive line in the National Football League, they have the potential to be one of the most disruptive front-fours the league has seen in quite a while. The Chicago Bears earned 72 sacks in 1984, and newly drafted DT Aaron Donald’s arrival to St. Louis could push the Rams to surpass that mark this season.
Proving just how special this group is, four first-round picks will likely be starters when game one rolls around on September 7, when the Vikings come to town. Furthermore, two backups – DT Kendall Langford and DT/DE William Hayes have starter ability, and are relegated to backup roles on this Ram squad. Not to mention DE Robert Quinn, the most dynamic 4-3 pass rusher in the league, rising star DT Michael Brockers, and the relentless DE Chris Long all return healthy for the 2014 season.
Apart from the addition of Donald, four other factors should contribute to more sacks this year. The first is defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is renowned for exotic blitzes and putting pressure on quarterbacks. Tim Walton was a terrible defensive coordinator last season and he still managed to get 53 sacks out of this defense in 2013, which was good for 3rd in the league. Williams is more accomplished and competent than Walton, and he is sure to be more creative with how he uses defensive personnel.
Next is the addition of Lamarcus Joyner, who is an adept blitzer from the nickel position. Joyner lead college DB’s in sacks, with 5.5 in 2013. Williams loves blitzing from the secondary and Joyner should thrive in that role. Also, OLB Alex Ogletree may get more opportunities to blitz in Williams’ defense. His speed off of the edge could produce some sacks if he is used correctly in that role.
Lastly, the Rams should be more competitive with a healthy QB in Sam Bradford and a deep and talented offensive arsenal to work with. That means the opposing team will need to throw the ball more, so the defensive line should get plenty of opportunities to pin their ears back and get after the passer. The Rams may not break the record held by the Bears, but they sure have a shot at getting close this season.