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The 2011 St. Louis Rams Defense

Written by Will McDougle

Coming off several great years of success during the “Greatest Show on Turf” days, the Rams hit a wall, and by wall I mean 69 losses over last 6 seasons.

Enter Steve Spagnuolo. When Spagnuolo arrived 2 yrs ago, it was assumed the defensive schemes that he had learned under Jim Johnson in Philadelphia, and perfected with the Superbowl winning Giants would be brought to the NFC West. That level of domination hasn’t materialized quite yet, but if last year was any indication..It’s progressing nicely.

Scheme: 4-3 Multi Front zone rotation Defense. (also likes to give a 5-2 look vs  2 TE sets)

Defensive Philosophy: Getting pressure with a dominant front 4. Everything defensively is built off this requirement. The Fire Zone blitz packages, the coverages, the additional LB blitzes… Everything. ¬†Steve Spagnuolo was able to build this in New York with Jason Tuck, Osi Umenyiora, and of course; Michael Strahan. The Rams are trying to recreate that with Defensive ends Chris Long, James Hall, and a nice rotation of Defensive Tackles.

Greatest Defensive Strength: Creating pressure with their front. The speedy and relentless DE Combo of Chris Long and James Hall produced 19 sacks in 2010. According to Coldhardfootballfacts.com the Rams front was ranked 32nd in 2009 and jumped all the way to 7th in the NFL in 2010. That’s some serious progress. Of note was the fact that on 3rd down only 1 team outperformed them in 2010 and that was the NY Giants.. Interesting, and scary at the same time.Greatest Defensive weakness: Run defense. According to NFL.com the Rams allowed 15 runs of over 20 yds in 2010. They also allowed 113 YPG at a 4.5 YPC average putting them at 17th on the list. While this is not stellar, its a vast improvement over 2009 when they ranked 27th. Another sign of progress under Steve Spagnuolo’s watch.

When you factor in the NFL Lockout shortened training camp and the inexperience of our Offensive line; communication is again, a huge concern for the us against this pressure team.It’s painfully obvious that the theme of our opponents in the NFC West is Pressure, Pressure, and more pressure. At this stage, it seems like the Rams are the only one that have been able to execute theorized scheme, and design to the field. I predict the Rams defense will continue to mature into a defense that creates a buzz in the NFL. The Seahawks biggest concern will be protection of whatever QB we choose to start.

Up next: The 2011 San Francisco 49ers.

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