LA Rams pass rush finally finding the range to harass quarterbacks

Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona RepublicNfl L A Rams At Arizona Cardinals
Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-Arizona RepublicNfl L A Rams At Arizona Cardinals /

After a six sack performance on Thursday Night Football, the LA Rams defense boasts a pass rush finally able to harass quarterbacks

The LA Rams pass rush is finally coming into its own. After a six-sack performance on Thursday Night Football, the Rams pass rush has sacked opposing quarterbacks 42 times this season. With three games left this year, the Rams could match last season’s total of 50 sacks in one year. In the five games since the bye week, the Rams have sacked the opposing quarterback 17 times.

In 13 games on the season, these Rams have brought down the opposing quarterback at a rate of over 3.2 sacks per game. That is even better than last seasons 3.1 sacks per game that led to the team getting to the quarterback 50 times in one season, good enough for the fourth-ranked defense in the NFL in that department.  The Rams are on pace for 52 quarterback sacks this year. So where is the newfound production coming from?

Aaron Donald leads the D

Well, the first place to look on the Rams’ defense in the front seven would be to check in on All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald. While he is not quite at his 2018 pace for 20.5 quarterback sacks, he is already well on his way for his second best production.  His current total of 12.5 sacks in one season has already tied his second best, and he has three games to go.

Donald’s career total of 84.5 quarterback sacks is just three behind LA Rams All-Time sack leader Leonard Little’s career total of 87.5 sacks. Donald may reach that number with a good game this Sunday against the New York Jets. But he should be the All-Time team leader by the end of regular season. Little needed 147 games to reach 87.5 sacks.  Donald had just completed in 107th NFL game so far.

Lots of defensive help

Meanwhile, the team did not offer much support in 2018 at sacking the quarterback. In 2019, that all changed when the team added a full season of Dante Fowler Jr. and Clay Matthews from the edge. That combination added 19.5 sacks. But they are gone, so who has stepped up in their wake? For starters, the addition of Leonard Floyd has added a surprisingly effective pass rush from the outside. In addition, long time Rams defensive lineman Michael Brockers is having a career season.

So far this  season, the LA Rams have been able to manufacture quarterback pressure and sacks when needed. The Rams have gotten a respectable number of sacks, 13.5 to be exact, off the edge from their young outside linebackers. The team has also manufactured some interior pressure with a rare A-gap blitz.

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The Rams have a solid secondary that forces a quarterback to hold onto the ball for just a bit longer. That allows the Rams pass rush to get to the quarterback. But that same pressure forces quarterbacks to make faster decisions, and creates mistakes that the defensive backs can take advantage of. The Rams defense, and in particular, the pass rush is peaking at the right time.