The St. Louis Rams‘ season was full of up and down performances on the defensive side of the ball. The defense was horrid to watch at the start of the season but got considerably better as the year went on. The defense thrived off of the success of the line pressuring QBs into mistakes. In particular it was Robert Quinn who led the attack with 19 sacks nearly taking the first ever Deacon Jones Award and getting his name mentioned in the DPOY conversation. Chris Long and Michael Brockers provided support for Quinn on the line creating pressure so that if too much attention was paid to No. 94 they could clean up the mess.
The secondary should have performed well with the defensive line putting QBs under consistent pressure. Instead they struggled early and often in the soft zone coverage that was used most of the season. The most disappointing Ram of all has to be the fourth highest paid cornerback in the league. We all know that Janoris Jenkins didn’t do a lot to earn the faith of the coaching staff this season by getting owned by Steve Smith and the other No. 1 receivers he was matched against this season. Jenkins recorded a lowly one interception in his second season after showing a lot of promise last year. Still, he was at least able to get on the field and had a few strong performances late in the year. Fellow second-year cornerback Trumaine Johnson was able to step up in the MDP (most disappointing players)’s absence and seemingly secure the No. 2 CB role. Johnson is a tall, athletic corner that is needed in today’s NFL where receivers are only getting bigger. He played extremely well down the stretch and recorded three interceptions.
The MDP of the Rams is none other than Cortland Finnegan. He made a modest $10 million in just seven games this season. He dealt with a fractured orbital bone and attempted a come back while trying to fight through double vision that was a result of the damage. It’s admirable for a player to fight through injuries, but it was a detriment to the team. Quarterbacks abused Finnegan to the tune of a 136 passer rating and completing over 76 percent of the pass attempts thrown his direction.
The team now has to figure out what to do with Finnegan. If they keep him they are paying their third corner on the depth chart a whopping $10 million to defend against slot receivers he might not be able to keep up with. Or they could cut him and save at least $4 million this season and use that money to add depth elsewhere. It really shouldn’t be a tough decision to make unless he is willing to negotiate and restructure his deal to a more fitting salary figure.