Being a fan, it's hard to think about the Rams roll over job agains the Jets without stirring the passions a bit. Reading around to try and make sense of it, I came across this at Football Outsiders, in their "Audibles at the Line" weekly round table:
Sean McCormick: The Jets' defensive line dominated the interior of the Rams' offensive line, and the Jets' offensive line dominated the interior of the Rams' defensive line. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, sometimes this sport really is that simple. Kris Jenkins and Calvin Pace continue to make their cases for Pro Bowl consideration, and they were able to completely take away any threat of a ground game. Really, the only run plays St. Louis executed successfully were delays that took advantage of the fact that Jenkins was already deep in the backfield. With the ground game non-existent, that offensive line really had no chance against the Jets' blitz packages, or even against a four-man rush.
That's about as rational an explanation you're going to get. Talent against talent, the Rams just didn't matchup. The quitting, which was obvious, came later, once the chips were down.
The latest issue of Sports Illustrated features a short article about the rise of the big, burly nose tackle, the immovable object in the middle that in many opinions forms the cornerstone of a defense for the role they play in shutting down the running game. All else comes emerges from that plain, zen-like truth. Oh, you'll recognize the issue I'm talking about because it has Titans NT Albert Haynesworth on the cover.
No opposing DTs have stepped on the forehead of Rams C Nick Leckey this year. They don't have to. Defensive tackles roll over the Rams interior line on every play. We've talked about the offensive line ad nasuem here, so let's move to the interior of the Rams d-line.
DT Clifton Ryan has given the Rams solid play through his second year as a pro, and why he wasn't starting earlier in the season defies explanation. He's given them a solid presence in the middle and was playing well against the run...against some lesser lines than the Jets' o-line featuring C Nick Mangold. But Ryan doesn't really fit the true NT mold and can sometimes get held up by bigger blockers by themselves. He's an under tackle, more like what La'Roi Glover used to be.
DT La'Roi Glover's best days are behind him. Not a big guy to begin with - his role has always been more as a wiggle through blocks to the pocket type DT - one of the two most, ahem, experienced members of the Rams roster (only Trent Green has more years in the league) lacks the motor to play against above average o-lines.
Nine games into this season, I'm not so sure DT Adam Carriker should still be playing DT. His playmaking ability, though he lacks speed, might fit better at DE against the run. Maybe that's why the first rounder has looked like more like a fifth rounder this season, the transition from DE to DT. Maybe, he'd be better playing next to a NT that demanded double teams, something none of our DTs can boast. That way he could use his playmaking ability to stay with the ball rather than get eaten up by the blockers who don't have much else to worry about.
Willie Williams, the only other DT on the active roster, may have some pocket crashing abilities, but he was handled by the Rams backup linemen in camp this year., yeah, Rams backup linemen.
I think the Rams have a solid group at DE (though it's time to start asking about how much longer DE Leonard Little can play). They can't do much when the middle of the line gets tossed aside by opposing guards and centers, and the Rams lack talent among their LBs to make up for an interior d-line unable to require double team blocking. Line play has a lot to do with the guy playing next to you, just like our guards on the offensive side suffer because of the problems at C.