It’s been a generally hot topic of discussion all season long, but the St. Louis Rams’ fierce pass rush has really been the primary reason behind the defense’s revival in recent weeks. Though the secondary has been marginally better and the unit as a whole has shown a bit more cohesiveness, the real reason behind this improvement has been the pressure applied to opposing quarterbacks.
One needs to look no further than how the Rams rattled one of the coolest customers of them all in New Orleans Saints signal caller Drew Brees on Sunday to see just that. When discussing what led to his side’s lackluster performance in Week 15, Brees told MMQB:
“You have to give a lot of credit to (the Rams), their defensive front, their pass rush and they got after us a little bit today. But, for me, you still have to operate; you have to find a way to get completions and get first downs, move the football and be efficient. There’s no excuses, and you can’t give yourself any.”
Most of the time there is a bit of cop out answer to sugarcoat what actually took place out on the field, but Brees didn’t dance around the subject at all. The Rams got after it on Sunday, and the Saints didn’t make it any easier on themselves with their lack of a running game. Now granted, they were playing from behind for the entire game, but that’s their M.O. regardless of how the game plays out. Their lack of a running game made it easy for the Rams to sit back with two safeties high and date the Saints to run the football.
Of course Robert Quinn was again the subject of plenty of attention, and he deserves it after his showing on Sunday. His two sacks were impressive enough, but numerous pressures forced Brees into mistakes and hurried throws from the normally calm QB. Though he is still most effect with his speed around the edge, Quinn is diversified enough to beat linemen inside now with a power move that is just as difficult to stop. He showed that on a play where he beat Saints tackle Charles Brown and pressured Brees into a critical interception. It may not show up on the stat sheet as anything, but Quinn’s impact goes beyond that at this point.
Even though Quinn is deservingly in the spotlight, the entire defensive line deserves some serious praise for its performance on Sunday. From Chris Long to Eugene Sims to the tackles inside in Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford, this group flat out got after it during Week 15. Even reserve defensive tackle Matt Conrath made an impact on a couple of plays which just goes to show the Rams’ depth along the line. These guys can cover up a lot of deficiencies on the back end of the defense, and if the secondary can catch up to the defensive front in terms of development this St. Louis defense could be scary.
For now Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie QB Mike Glennon had better consider this his fair warning. Quinn and company are coming to ravage his offensive line this weekend, and it might not be pretty if you’re a Bucs fan.