As the Rams go to Arizona this weekend to take on the Cardinals, one thing is for sure; Josh McDaniels has his plate full. The Cardianls, though their defense isn't playing very well, have some great individual defensive players. Adrian Wilson is one of the most underrated safeties in the league, Patrick Peterson is starting to get into the groove, but the one I'm most concerned with is 5 technique, or 3-4 defensive end for you less savvy folks, Darnell Dockett. He has been one of the best at his position over the last few years, and he is a rock for the Cardinals defensive line. After the jump a breakdown of Dockett and what the Rams might do to combat him.
First off the stats for Mr. Dockett this year - 13 solo tackles, 7 assisted tackle, and 0.5 sack. His tackle numbers are around where they usually are, but a bit behind. He usually gets about 50 solo tackle a year. The number that was shocking to me is he only has a half a sack. He is one of the better rushing 5 tech players in the league. Maybe he is just getting older and losing some explosion, but he is still one of the best.
Darnell Dockett first off has great size for his position; 6' 4" 290 lbs. He is super strong and he has good, not great movement for his size with nice explosion off the line. He also possesses some very good pass rush skills. The thing about him that sets him apart is he plays with fantastic energy. He plays crazy. His motor and his great skill set allow him to get great penetration, and if he gets that, you will have a tough time on offense.
Now the Rams obviously will have to try to contain him. I think on passing downs for the most part they will just trust the protection. We have two good pass blocking guards and a center who is playing solid this year. Whether he lines up on the right or the left I think he will probably be maned up on by either Bell or Dahl, with Brown providing support. The problem for the Rams will be if they play him a bit out wider than usual to take advantage of our struggling tackles. If they do start putting him outside at more of a DE position, I expect the Rams to use a TE or a RB to help block Dockett on passing downs. I expect to see a chip before they go out on their routes, or just to stay as an extra blocker.
On most rushing downs I expect the Rams to trust their interior to block Dockett, though it's a very tough task. I could easily see them double teaming Dockett initially and then having Brown release and try to get to the second level. The Rams might also be smart by trying to stay away from Dockett in the running game and try to get outside on this Cardinals defense.
Overall, because of Dockett's great motor, and good pass rushing arsenal, he will have a great impact on the game Sunday against the Rams. He is definitely a player to keep your eye on.