The overall play of the defense has been lacking in many areas. They have failed as a unit to be productive and do what they are suppose to do. What are they suppose to do? Based on Coach Spagnuolo's blueprint, the defensive line is suppose to excel at rushing the passer and contain the run. The linebackers are suppose to be physical and stop the run. The secondary is suppose to be physical and stop the run. The defense is suppose to be physical. Let's take a look at how this defense has been built.
The Defensive Line:
The defensive ends are interesting. The bulk of James Hall's career suggests he is more of a running stopping DE then pass rushing, although last year he played out of his mind. Chris Long is an active run stopper and pass rusher, but does not excel at either. Robert Quinn is obviously a pass rusher. The rest of the DE's are role players. The middle of the defensive line is built to stop the run. Robbins last year got decent pressure up the middle, but I believe age is catching up to Robbins and Hall.
I'd say the defensive line has no identity. The players who need to stop the run are not getting it done up front. The Rams have one pure pass rusher, but he is young. They need to develop an attitude and play with some confidence.
All three of the Rams' starting LB's are built to stop the run. They aren't very vast, but have good size and are physical. Coach Spagnuolo has the linebackers he wants for his system, but they cannot stop the run. The back up linebackers are more of the coverage type and are role players.
So the linebackers have an identity: Physical, downhill, run stoppers.
When the cornerbacks were healthy, the Rams' starting lineup had big, physical corners. They are built to punish the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage and stop the run should it come to them. If you have noticed, none of the corners, this includes Bartell, Fletcher, Murphy, and actually all of the safeties, have ball awareness skills. They have enough to get by, but Coach Spagnuolo does not put a premium on guys who come up with picks. Every single safety on this team is pretty solid in run support. Where are they lacking? Pass coverage. None of them are better then average at covering opposing players.
Therefore, it looks as though the secondary is built to be physical and stop the run.
The Rams' defense doesn't have one. They are built to stop the run and have fail miserably so far to do that. How is the defense suppose to have attitude/confidence/swagger if they don't no who they are? Opposing offenses have had their way with them. Every game the defense has been out-muscled. These players need to find out what kind of defense they want to be and start playing as a whole.