Chris Long has been one of the lone bright spots on the St. Louis Rams roster this season. He is on pace to finally break the double digit sack mark in his 4th season. He played right end for his first 2 seasons after being the 2nd overall pick for the Rams in the 2008 NFL Draft. It was apparent that he wasn't completely comfortable on the right side. After Leonard Little retired, the Rams decided that Long's skill set would be better fit at left end. This led to Long finally reaching his potential in the NFL. Last year Long had 8.5 sacks and led the league in pressures.
This year he has 7 sacks in 8 games, including the fantastic 3 sack performance against the Saints. Barring any huge surprise, this will be the first double digit sack year for Long, probably in the range of 12-14. After the jump I'll explain why I think he will have a good game this week.
The reason I think Long will have a good game is the match up he has against a marginal RT, Tony Pashos (Illinois represent!!). Tony is a good run blocker but he's fairly mediocre when it comes to pass protection. Here's what burntoragneandbrown from Dawgs by Nature had to say about the Browns' offensive line on their post on TST.
One thing I forgot to mention. We have an all-world LT (as mentioned), and a pro-bowl caliber center.
At LG, RG and RT we have turnstiles. We have a "one man through at a time" rule with our turnstiles.
If your defense would be so kind to adhere to that rule it would be much appreciated. Our QB is still a little tender and sore from last week’s thrashing.
The mismatch is obvious and one the Rams will have to try and exploit. If Long can get pressure it will really help the Rams defense. Colt McCoy is a very mobile QB and excels rolling out to his right. So the Long - Pashos match-up could be key this Sunday.
To combat Long, the Browns will obviously try to double team him. They probably don't have to worry about Robert Quinn. He'll be singled up against one of the best offensive left tackles in the NFL: Joe Thomas. ( A good game to see how Quinn measures up?).
I think the Rams will start blitzing more if the Browns start double teaming Long. There is a high upside, and good risk-reward ratio to blitzing the Browns. The risk being that their head coach, Pat Shurmur, has intimate knowledge of the Rams defense. Putting pressure on a young QB like Colt McCoy is key to making him force some of his throws. Furthermore, Long won't be able to be doubled every play. If Chris Long can bring his "A" game, it will be a "Long" day in Cleveland.
I personally think that Long will have a multiple sack game and have an big impact on the Rams third down defense . He is definitely a player to watch.