It looked like there was some promise on the Rams defense in their first four games, but 3k from Turf Show Times pointed out why injuries have turned the unit into a major question mark for the rest of the season.
Q: After watching the Torrey Smith fiasco, and the Ron Bartell injury, I expected their secondary was a mess, but the stats look decent (holding opposing quarterbacks to a QB rating of 85.5). Is this unit the strength of their team right now?
A: No, no, no and no. The Rams didn't just lose Bartell, their number one starting CB. They lost their no. 2, Bradley Fletcher, for the rest of the season during a bye week practice last week. And the third corner, Jerome Murphy, broke his ankle in the preseason sidelining him for this season as well. Most people don't believe in curses, but this has been a hell of an argument to the contrary.
In their absence, Justin King assumed a starting role, and quickly drew the ire of fans who saw him overplay shoulder fakes time and time again. The Baltimore game was just an extension of the injuries and King's inabilities. There wasn't a WR prospect in last year's draft more one-dimensional than Torrey Smith; while he can fly, he was literally a speed-only option. One would think it would be in the defense's best interests not to allow Smith to get behind coverage. Given that the Rams allowed him to do that three times in the first quarter, I have to assume the secondary does not place much value on their best interests...
The strongest unit has to be defensive end. Chris Long is an incredibly underrated defensive end who forces tackles to set up a variety of blocks over the course of a game. Rookie first-round product Robert Quinn has shown plenty of natural pass rushing ability after missing all of the 2010 college season for accepting impermissible gifts at UNC. And the Rams have enough yeomen on the interior to create opportunities when the Rams blitz (which is often).
Q: Looking at Football Outsiders, they rank the Rams with the worst run defense in the league, which surprised me. What's wrong with their run defense?
A: For one, the front office has set this line up (like their offensive line) to be a pass-first unit. And without placing almost any value on OLBs, both GM Billy Devaney and HC Steve Spagnuolo have consistently seen run containment failures during their tenures in St. Louis. While Fred Robbins contributed a very strong 2010 season, it appears as if his 34-year old body just isn't capable of what his 33-year old body was. Yes, MLB James Laurinaitis is a beast. But one man alone does not a run defense make. With the Rams so concerned about being burned with the pass, it's opened things up for opposing rushers. It should be noted that the Rams have faced some very capable rushing offenses, but excuses ring hollow right now for a fan base that has heard far too many of them this year.
Q: If the Rams are pulling off the upset, how do you think they are going to do it?
A: Dear God, I have no idea. No, I guess it's going to require some fluky plays. A defensive or special teams touchdown here, some big sacks there, and maybe a playaction that just completely pulls Burnett and Peprah out of position. I mean, we're talking about arguably the best team in the NFL right now against the worst team. It would be easily the biggest upset of the league this year, so for that to happen, we'd end up watching a ridiculous game.