LA Rams defense pass rush gets there without blitzes

(Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Maxx Wolfson/Getty Images) /

The LA Rams defense has been getting to the opposing quarterback without the help of blitzes

The LA Rams defense is built to stop big plays from their opponent’s offense. Big plays can win or lose games for an NFL team. They happen when either a defender makes a mistake on coverage or tackle, or when the defense gamble and loses. So how to stop those big plays from happening? Don’t sell out to blitz the quarterback, for one thing.

That’s the goal of each and every NFL defense to date, but it’s much easier said than done. You see, NFL defenses, whether a 3-4 or a 4-3, typically send just three or four pass rushers after the quarterback. By rule, the offense has five offensive linemen to block. So all things being equal, The offense outnumbers the defense, and the quarterback is safe, for a while. Defensive coordinators blitz to improve the odds, and disrupt the quarterback’s rhythm.

Rams pass rush is a safe bet

Blitzing can be an effective weapon by the defense. But it takes a player out of the defensive secondary and places them into the pass rush. If the offensive line can hold, a savvy quarterback throws the pass where the secondary is weak and a big offensive play is a result. That’s the gamble – the defense bets they can sack the quarterback before he can complete a pass for a huge gain.

Thankfully, the LA Rams haven’t needed to gamble as often to get to quarterbacks this year. After six games, the LA Rams have 20 quarterback sacks, that’s better than three per game, and is fifth-best for all NFL defenses. While that is very impressive, the real magic appears to the overall pass defense which has allowed just 209.5 yards per game. That’s fourth-best in the NFL and is even more impressive when it is the only Top-Five passing defense facing over 200 pass attempts. In short, the Rams 6.5 yards per pass attempt is the second-best in the NFL.

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Rams defense is playing lights out right now

While some have shown impatience with the LA Rams defense under new defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, here are some hard facts. The Rams are among the Top-Five of NFL defenses in points allowed, yards allowed, passing yards allowed, and quarterback sacks, That’s a very impressive list, considering this is the first year that Brandon Staley is a full-fledged defensive coordinator and defensive play-caller

Keep in mind that the Rams defense is without nose tackle A’Shawn Robinson so far, inside linebacker Travin Howard, has played some games without rookie safety Jordan Fuller and outside linebackers Terrell Lewis and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, and even inside linebacker Micah Kiser. With the exception of Travin Howard, the entire defense should be healthy and back on the field after the bye week to face the Seattle Seahawks.

Enjoy the ride so far

The Rams should be learning and improving in this defense throughout the season.  The team should be adapting and getting stronger as players return to health and to the rotations. While all eyes fixate on the Rams offense, the Rams defense is making a serious run at the NFL’s top defense of the year. And they get a little bit stronger with each game.

You may want more quarterback pressure in any given game. You may scream for an interception, a forced fumble, or even a  hold to force a three-and-out series and not get it. You may even want the Rams defense to prevent a score when the opponent drives to the red zone, only to see this defense allow a score.  But the Rams are good on the defensive side of the ball. In fact, the Rams defense is a championship-caliber defense.  The two losses so far occurred when the defense allowed more than 20 points in the game.

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The LA Rams defense is very good.  Much like the Rams’ offensive line, it is exceeding expectations. With fundamentally sound pieces this year, the Rams are far better than advertised.