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Rams defense high on the intangibles list

Using the game charting data from Football Outsiders, Yahoo Sports has a look at the NFL's All-intangible team. Several players from the St. Louis Rams defense make the cut.

The names won't exactly surprise you. These three players, two of them pre-date Spagnuolo, made up the foundation of the Rams defense this year, just one year removed from being the league's second worst defense. 

Let's take a look at the players that made the All-Intangibles cut.

DE Chris Long - No surprise here. Long commanded the attention of opposing double teams all season. He didn't actually lead the team in sacks - James Hall did with 10.5 - but he did lead the league with 38 quarterback hurries, a sign of just how often he was in the backfield. That was a big help to another player on the intangibles list...

CB Ron Bartell - Yes, the dropped interceptions haunt us, but Bartell was excellent in coverage all season. Of 78 passes thrown his direction (completions and incompletions) he had a yards per pass of 4.7 YPP, second best in the league. 

A new addition to the Rams starting lineup in 2010 had a big impact on the defense's overall improvement. 

DT Fred Robbins - Remember when the Rams used to get gashed by running backs of all stripes? Backup runners piled up numbers that would be a good game for Adrian Peterson against the Rams defenses of old. Not this year. The Rams run defense had a 0.5 percent DVOA this year (20th); the year before they had a 10.8 percent DVOA against the run, the league's worst. Robbins limited opposing rushers to just 0.1 yards per carry (obviously that's on runs in his direction) the best mark in the league. 

If the Rams can get another year like that out of Robbins and address a glaring need at weakside linebacker, they could have a really elite run defense. Think of what those run defense numbers would have been with a stouter DT next to Robbins too.