The St. Louis Rams defense has a the chance to be very good this season. Reports from practice point to a threatening defensive line and a deep secondary that can get the matchups it wants. Assistant head coach Dave McGinnis knows he has a good group on his hands, but he still wants to wait and see how they do before anointing them as such.
"I grew up in a catholic school being taught by the nuns and we learned not to canonize any saints very early, I promise you,' McGinnis said.
Chris Long and Robert Quinn have earned early praise, and even though McGinnis is hold off on canonization, he will admit that he likes what he sees from the unit.
"I think that our defensive line is working towards that," McGinnis said. "They've got a wonderful coach in Mike Waufle. I've been around this league a long time. I know good from not good - he's good. The guys that he's got to work with, they've bought whole heart and soul into what he's about and so they've got an opportunity to work to be good."
Preseason pass rushing usually leaves a little to be desired, players rarely put forth the same kind of effort getting to the passer as they do in the regular season. So as far as what to watch for from the Rams defensive line, keep an eye on how well they get pressure, whether it results in a punishing hit or not. As for McGinnis, he plans to watch the speed the unit, which will reveal more about how far along they are.
"The defense is installed and again, we had it installed in OTAs," McGinnis explained. "What we did is we came back and then we went through it again, but we also let the coaches break it down very finite to their position groups. The only way you can play fast on defense is you have to know exactly what you're doing and you have to have it down cold, and that was the objective coming into this camp is get this defense down cold, so we can play fast."
Fast has been used over and over again to describe Quinn and Long through training camp. Put it together, and you have arrows pointing to a big year from the group ... just don't get those Rosaries in a knot yet.
Against the Colts, the front four have a nice segue from practice to preseason. The tackles protecting Andrew Luck hardly rank among the elite, but they were brought in to protect Peyton Manning who could get the ball out with a quickness, putting protection in his own hands. Luck has the talent to do that as well, not to mention the playbook. If the Rams defensive line is going to get to him, they have to be speedy.
And what does McGinnis think of the group's chances this weekend?
"I'll tell you a little bit more on Sunday afternoon about 4:30 or 5:00."