LA Rams Greg ‘Gazelle’ Gaines is the NFL’s best NT
By Bret Stuter
The glory days of the NFL nose tackle may have waned, but you can bet that has nothing to do with the outstanding performance of LA Rams nose tackle Greg Gaines over his short career. Greg ‘Gazelle’ Gaines may not be a name that every casual NFL fan immediately recognizes, but given time, that could all change. For now, many LA Rams fans know who he is, and why he is a key to the team repeating as NFL Champions.
Like his teammate A’Shawn Robinson, Gaines is ideally suited to play for the LA Rams and defensive line Coach Eric Henderson. He does not seek the limelight. From his days with the Washington Huskies, Gaines was always content to play against multiple offensive linemen, and allow his teammates like Elijah Qualls and Vita Vea to make the play, get the attention, and attract NFL scouts. It’s just who he is, more about the team than the limelight.
And then he discovered that he could actually enjoy both with Coach Henny’s #DAWGWORK.
Gaines is a stout and powerful young man who is the fulcrum of the LA Rams defense. As long as holds fast, the entire defense can do its work. But if he falters, then the entire defensive front collapses and the team is in for a long day. So far, Gaines had done his job.
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Lol, I can’t keep a straight face even when I type that out. Gaines has been one of the true stars of the LA Rams’ defensive front. Even though he is engaged in blocks, he is extremely vigilant, watching for a running back, helping his teammates on the defensive front, and even able to chase down mobile quarterbacks from behind. And he can even push his outstretched arm up from his 6-foot-1 312-pound frame to tip a pass at a crucial moment in the game.
Gaines is just coming into his own. His 2021 NFL season was outstanding, but you’re definitely a glass-half-empty sort if you do not expect an even better season in 2022. How much better? He put up 55 tackles, 4.5 quarterback sacks, and 13 quarterback hits in 2021. With Bobby Wagner playing in his shadow, I can see 80 tackles, 7.5 quarterback sacks, and up to 20 QB hits this season.
And he is pretty agile when wakeboarding too.
Gaines is in the last year of his contract. Some players have played themselves out of the LA Rams budget, but I fear Greg Gaines will prove himself to be invaluable to the team. He has always been more about the team than the limelight. He will get both in 2022, plus an added bonus. He will get paid in 2023.