This week I'll be taking a look at the top five things the Rams need to do to succeed in 2011. Everyday, I'll post up another area where the Rams need to succeed if they want to move past the middle of the pack and go to the playoffs. Yes, something that has been foreign to us Rams fans for too long. They have a real shot and right now I'm going to go through what needs to be done to get there.
Hit the jump and check out key #5.#5: Maintaining last year's success with the defensive line
Last year we were treated to a very nice surprise: The Rams defensive line played stellar. Most of the time. Chris Long had a breakout year with 8.5 sacks, James Hall was a man possessed, and Fred Robbins made us forget about all the DT busts the Rams have had in the draft for the past 10 years.
At times last year, this line was unstoppable. Chris Long drew double teams, mauled tackles, and still was a QB pressuring machine. The same could be said for Hall and Robbins. But then again, sometimes the pass rush dissipated. Better lines neutralized Spagnuolo's famed blitz attack, and as a result, the defense was torched.
In this system, probably the most important objective is to get the QB on the ground. The defensive scheme is built around it; we know how important outside linebackers are (or lack thereof). We know that the secondary needs to be physical and aggressive, to allow the pass rush that first moment to terrorize the QB.
For this reason, the Rams need a constant pressure from the front four, without any help. The Rams drafted Robert Quinn, who figures to come in on passing downs and assist the line, which is a great improvement. Darell Scott has also been playing with the first team in practice, and I'm sure we are all hoping he can constantly show the talent we so briefly glimpsed before.
And this is why a constant pass rush is #5 on the list. If the Rams regress here, the defense is going to have significant problems keeping opposing teams from scoring. Hopefully a rotation of James Hall, Robert Quinn, Chris Long (and a shout to C.J. Ah You, who has a few pass rushing chops as well) at DE, and Fred Robbins, Darrell Scott (we can hope) at DT can allow fresh legs to attack the QB every game.