Entering the 2013 season, the Rams were considered a young defense that should be a premiere defense in the National Football League. The Rams rush defense has had its games giving up big plays on the ground and is relatively inconsistent. the biggest concern is something the Rams can not fix right now, that would be their youth and it shows in the ability to stop the run. The Rams biggest days are 193 yards, 219 yards, 153 yards, and 198 yards.
What is the cause for some of these struggles caused by? I took a closer look at the last few games against the Titans and Texans. As I watched the plays, it became apparent that gap integrity was the Rams biggest issue. It is a technique error by the Rams, they play solid run defense has a whole, but their technique issues allow for more 10+ yard runs which makes their defense much more statistically worst. Against the Tennessee Titans, the Rams gave up 112 yards on 8 carries, which went for 8+ yards. They gave up a total of 198 yards on 35 carries, remove the 8+ yard runs and 86 yards on 27 carries. It paints a different picture.
Lane Integrity would be the biggest reason for these lapses, Alec Ogletree and Kendall Langford are the biggest culprits in these issues. As with any big play, it is usually a missed assignment from the defense, Ogletree and Langford stand out much more. Langford has allowed himself to be pushed around by the guard or center, which has allowed for the line to reach the linebackers and the fullback to lead an open path to big plays. It has become more clear that Langford may not be the defensive tackle the Rams need for the future, but he has been getting more consistent. As far as Ogletree, he doesn't keep lane integrity which allows Chris Johnson for several cut back runs. On Chris Johnson's first TD run, Ogletree pressured inside and allowed for a quick cutback and score. Chris Johnson had 82 yards on 4 cutback runs, all to the side of Long and Ogletree, from the looks of the play Ogletree just engages inside too quickly and against a fast runner like Chris Johnson, it burned them.
Against the Houston Texans, Langford and Ogletree were the problems of the bigger plays. Langford on the first two runs of the game, got pushed down and gave up 30 yards to Arian Foster. Ogletree did not keep lane integrity for Arian Foster's 23 yard run later on. On 4 carries above 10 yards, the Rams gave up 65 yards, the Rams only gave up 153 yards on 30 carries. The Rams defense only gave up 78 yards on 26 carries if the big plays are removed.
Alec Ogletree has made fantastic plays and definitely will remain the Rams starter for years to come, he will just have to be smarter about his aggressiveness and not allow his team to give up big plays. Langford is getting paid a good amount of money to be the starter, he is getting $6 million a year, but hasn't played up to his contract. Langford has been more consistent; hopefully, he continues his trend and solidifies this Rams defensive line.
So, for the Rams rush defense isn't a problem, they are giving up 4.2 yards a carry on the year, they are just allowing bigger plays, which speaks more to their youth then it does their overall players. The Seahawks are also giving up 4.2 yards per carry. In 5/10 of their games, the Rams have only given up 100 yards 5 times. Running backs like Arian Foster, Demarco Murray, Frank Gore, Chris Johnson and the Carolina offense which is run heavy. On any given day these running backs could gash about any defense. The Rams will take that next step next year, when their youth won't be as big of a factor.
The Rams have an exciting future, their are a lot of young guys poised to take the next step, we all see the talent, we just don't see the consistency. That will come with age and experience, both of those things, the Rams are lacking. Even though they are lacking consistency and experience, the flashes of a great defense are there.