FanPost

Tale of the Tape: Why a DT should still be the Pick


I truly wrestled with whether or not I should write this post, whether or not it even had any significance at this point, and whether or not it would be cohesive and drive the point I’m trying to make at the level it should.  With Slingin’ Sam putting on a show on Monday, and the collective media orgasm that ensued, it all drenched a "who cares how much effort you put into these thoughts, we’re the media and we will get our QB" stench on any draft talk or opposing views I have. That said, I wasn’t about to let a little hyperbole from Gil Brandt (akin to the epic Russell hyperbole in 2007) erase the fact that I worked hard on this post. After examining the things I was trying to do in the first place, I realized that whether or not there’s reason left to hope for a Defensive Tackle at #1, my post was meant for a different purpose.

This fanpost was inspired by a recent post titled "St. Louis Rams Team Needs." In it I aim to address the curious thought that Defensive Tackle isn’t one of the Rams’ top 8 needs. To do so, I took the time to create a video that supports my claim rather strongly, as well as a video that illustrates the reasons why some believe drafting a Quarterback is more important. I realize we’ve beat this thing about a million times, but I simply aim to at least get us to agree that, whether you’re Bradford/Clausen or Suh/McCoy, Defensive tackle is no worse than our 3rd or 4th most pressing need (I must admit, even that seems a little too generous). Hit the jump to read/see my argument.

 

 

WARNING: If you get nauseous easily, or didn’t watch any Rams football last season (which would mean that you’re probably not ready to see this carnage), I recommend you don’t watch the videos posted. It borders on cruel, but it needs to be here.

I invite you down a rather sad road. It took me a whole afternoon to make this video(I’m slow with these doohickeys), but I have to say I’m kind of proud of it. Mixing the audio so that it fit with some of the effects was kind of challenging, but I’m glad I know how to do it now. In any case, the premise of my video was to take at least one or two plays (run and pass) from each of the Rams’ regular season games in 2009 that illustrate our front-seven’s inability to either create a pass rush or contain the run game, both of which are important responsibilities for the Defensive Tackle position, specifically controlling the run game.

NOTE: Your internet is NOT slow/loading if the video slows down or freezes. It’s really because I placed a slow-mo effect for run plays and a still image effect for pass plays. On run plays, the video slows at around the time the RB gets the ball and is about to hit what used to be the line of scrimmage. On pass plays, it freezes to show the amount of space the QBs had to step up into their throws (usually 5 yards or so).

One thing you should definitely keep an eye out for as it relates to the draft is where the DTs are both pre and post play (hint: DTs are not supposed to be on the floor unless they’ve wrapped up an RB). Also, on pass plays, look at the gaps between our DTs and the QBs.

Another thing to look for was that one several occasions the DE actually got around the corner, but because the QB had so much space to step up, it was an easily avoided rush.

 Keep your ears open for phrases like "right up the middle," "walks in untouched," "big hole,"  "plenty of time," or "steps up in the pocket." There might be a couple of plays in there where the pass was incomplete, but I included them anyway because of how poor the interior pass rush may have been. Ok, here goes:

Why the Rams Need a Defensive Tackle (Suh or McCoy) (via MrTrojanRam)


 

Quite honestly, I wish I didn’t have this much material to go by. Believe me, if I had download access to all the film (since I’ve rewatched it thrice), I’d be able to make 2-3 more of these vids of the same length. Maybe for shorter plays, but for equal breakdowns and messes that were usually cleaned up by Laurinaitis/Butler. 

 

In this league, the way it has evolved, the ONLY way you can stop a QB like Manning or Brady is to get an interior pass rush. Sometimes the guy will burn you either way, but it is quite worthless to have an outside rush with a DE if the QB can easily just step up into his throw and avoid the rush (as it happened many times in this vid). As far as the run game goes, it is almost sad to see how many times in this video our linebackers and safeties get gobbled up by an Offensive Lineman  because our DTs couldn’t control their gaps (and DEs at times). 

That said, there weren’t too many huge runs that weren’t directly up the middle. There were a few in the Tennessee game courtesy of Chris Johnson, as well as the Jacksonville and Minnesota games with MJD and Adrian Peterson. Those are elite backs, but for Christ’s sake, when Tim Hightower and Justin Forsett are running straight up the middle for 20-30 yard gains, something is definitely wrong. And it’s NOT your Weakside Linebacker or Defensive end. It just can’t be.

 Since we’re into pointing out particular positions in regards to why a particular aspect of a football team fails (i.e. : "it’s a passing league, you need a quarterback in a passing league"), then I can boldly, confidently state that NO position on the field on Defense is more important against the run than the Defensive Tackle spot. At this point, I count one solid tackle, and his name is Clifton Ryan.

It wasn’t all bad for the D in 2009, and I composed a nice Defensive Highlights clip for the Rams’ D. In it I believe I got every sack we bagged, every interception, and every fumble forced/recovered.  More on this later.

Rams' Defense Highlights 2009 (via MrTrojanRam)


 

Since I said I’d be fair, here is a passing lowlights clip. In it I show the mistakes made by Rams’ QBs during the season that led to turnovers, fumbles, or crucial incompletions. If I could show you all the incompletions, I would, but NFL network doesn’t have many of those highlights, so we’re stuck with turnovers. Suffice to say the best Rams’ QB only completed 56.7% of his passes.

Why the Rams need a QB (via MrTrojanRam)


 

Believe me, watching this clip isn’t fun for me. I acknowledge that there is a serious need for a Quarterback. I’ve thought long and hard about this one since the Bradford talks started rolling. The point of this post is more to prove that DT is arguably as big a need as QB, and I guess here comes my reasoning.

 

How can we possibly properly gauge how good Bulger, Boller, or Null really were when you had THIS happening?:

In Defense of the Rams' QBs (via MrTrojanRam)


 

There’s a myth that the Rams offensive line was fixed in 2009. Really? It's hard to debate the fact that they improved,  but 44 sacks (8th worst) and 98 QB Hits (3rd worst) tell a different story. A story that, as this video shows, isn’t as simple as Richie Incognito or Alex Barron f'ing up (though that happened a lot). The more you dig into the meat and bones of football, the more you realize how interrelated the different positions on offense must be to be effective, especially the passing game. As the video shows, a big part of the blame this year goes to our young but inexperienced receiving corps. There were less breakdowns in pass protection this year by the O-Line, but even when they gave the Rams’ QBs time, often times no one in Horns was open.

Donnie Avery has speed for days but isn’t physical enough at the line of scrimmage to gain separation (but he might next season with his weight gain), which is critical in a short passing game that uses a lot of slant patterns. Keenan Burton is a decent possession receiver, but lacks the speed to get open consistently. Danny Amendola was a pleasant surprise, but slot receivers rarely dominate games like Wes Welker does. The mid-season pickup of Brandon Gibson seemed great, but he is still an unknown and faded a little as the season went on. Lastly, tragically, Laurent Robinson never got the chance to get rolling.

Such was the fate of our WRs. Injuries, low draft picks, lack of openness. You can see in the video that a few times Rams’ QBs would have adequate time, but they had to pull the ball down because a guy was covered. It’s especially noticeable on quick drops. There just wasn’t a consistent big body for those slants. Nothing ever really opened up throughout the year for any of us to say all three of these QBs are total garbage and we need the new guy here now. Sure, they messed up a lot. I’m not sitting here trying to make you think that the QBs are absolved from this. They surely played a huge part, but I wonder if the other elements of the passing game receive their due share of blame or if we just look at the QB because he’s the one laying on the floor or throwing the INT.

 

Does any of this mean we don’t need a QB? Nope. But to me it says that the evaluations of the QBs that we have on the team deserve as much of a pass as units like the Linebacking corps or Defensive Backfield seem to be receiving.

When a team is this bad, quite honestly, EVERYTHING is wrong. I’m just sick of people placing it on one position just to justify the argument they have for a particular player in this draft.

I am by no means saying that drafting Suh/McCoy would automatically erase our 4.4 yards per carry (10th worst) debacle, or our 24 rushing TD (worst in the NFL) showing. Much the same way that drafting Bradford won’t likely catapult our 6th worst passer rating and worst point scored per game rating to the top of the charts.

All I’m really trying to say is if Justin Forsett gained 130 yards on your team, mostly straight up the middle, and some d-bag Seattle Seachickens announcer had the audacity to scream with enthusiasm IN THE Edward Jones Dome "THE FANS HERE LOVE IT!" after another huge run by said Nobody RB, then you need a goddamn Defensive Tackle. Pretty bad. To me it’s #2 right behind QB, and don’t  think for a second that adding 33 year old Fred Robbins and getting Adam Carriker’s out of position ass back is going to change that.

I might be one of the last people that think we should take a DT #1 Overall, but I take solace in knowing that some people, real football people, agree with what the hell I’m saying.

One Steven Jackson.

One Torry Holt(which by the way doesn’t think any QB should be taken in the top ten(and that Clausen should be ahead of Bradford), and scoffs at the notion that St. Louis fans can be weird enough to fall under the "the fanbase needs a jolt" cliché).

One D’Marco Farr. (note, Farr believes Bradford WILL be the pick, but he feels Suh/McCoy should be the choice).

Not many on the list, but two of these guys have played in our offense in the last two years, and one of them was a Pro-Bowl DT for us. I like how that stacks up against anything Brandt says.  

 

I realize this will fall on deaf ears or loud praise. Let’s face it, the lines have been drawn. I feel like most of the Suh/McCoy supporters have just been overwhelmed by this amount of hype the other way, but if you believed it before Sam threw the football on Monday, after careful thought and reflection, don’t forget the reasons you believed it in the first place. The guy looked good. We expected him to. He wouldn’t throw it unless he felt it was good to go.

But that doesn’t change the stuff we saw throughout the season that is magnified in the video I made. This team is a long way from being competitive again, no matter which route the Rams’ decide to go. Van’s article showed a bunch of needs that I agree with completely. The only issue I had is that, to me, he depreciated the need for a Defensive Tackle excessively to strengthen the point of drafting a QB as the #1 need. He may truly believe those 7 other positions (DE, WLB, TE, Backup RB, CB, RT, WR) are really more important, but I just can’t look at the tape and fathom why.

I just feel that, on the defensive highlight film, the missing piece is that key cog in the middle. We've got a Middle Linebacker making plays. A safety who's services we're gambling with. A young DE that seems to be coming into his own. A veteran DE we just got back that looks like he still has some juice, and one starting caliber, solid CB. I just feel like that cog can mean so much more to the defense faster than Bradford, who'll need at least 1 more WR, TE, Lineman, and RB to truly show his worth.

Anyways, thanks for reading if you have this far. I realize all of this is probably moot and Devaney has probably already written SB14’s name on a card for the commish to read on April 22nd. I really can’t lie to you and say that I wouldn’t be disappointed, but know that I fully intend to eat my words when SB’s initials stand for Superbowl as well as Sam Bradford. I’ll GLADLY eat every last one of them and I’ll likely cheer louder for the guy than anyone in the fanbase.

I just think I’d rather cheer for Suh as of now. That’s all. Go Rams! Pick the best guy Billy D!

 

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