The St. Louis Rams struggled with a powerful defensive line in Week 3 against the Chicago Bears. This week, against the Seattle Seahawks, they meet another tough defensive line, but this one is a little different than Chicago's.
"They're really fast up front," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said about Seattle's defensive front. "They use combinations of defensive linemen in there and they do different things. They've got guys collapsing the pocket and guys chasing down. They do a good job. They've done a nice job with them."
Seattle can so many different combination because they have so many defensive linemen, most of whom are capable of being starters. Take a look at the snap counts from last week's game against Green Bay.
Red Bryant, LDE: 54
Alan Branch, LDT: 42
Brandon Mebane, RDT: 45
Chris Clemons, DRE: 60
Bruce Irvin, DE: 35
Greg Suggs, DT: 12
Jason Jones, DT: 26
Clinton McDonald, DT: 26
The damage done by those eight players speaks for itself. Suggs was the only one, according to PFF's stats, that didn't record a quarterback pressure. Clemons, the best player of the bunch, had four sacks and three hurries. Mebane had two sacks and a hit. Irvin had two sacks, a hit and three hurries.
Oh, Rams fans might recognize a couple of those players from past free agent talk. Billy Devaney and Steve Spagnuolo got used by Brandon Mebane to leverage a better deal with Seattle. Jones, one of Fisher's former players from Tennessee, and the Rams couldn't agree on the length and price of a deal.
Irvin was Seattle's widely panned first-round pick this year. Not a bad start, huh?
"They're good," Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said of Seattle's defense. "You look at what they've done this year, especially the past two weeks playing Dallas and Green Bay who both have really good offenses. They've done a very good job of shutting people down. They're big and physical up front. They've got a lot of speed in the back end."
Green Bay responded to the Seahawks' onslaught in the second half with a radically different game plan. Gone were the long routes that took too long to develop. Instead, the Packers went with something Rams fans should be very familiar with, a bang-bang pace with rapid fire passes and handoffs to keep the defense back a little. They also started using extra blockers, dispatching tight ends to the line and abandoning the three- and four-receiver sets.
The lesson was doubtlessly not lost on the Rams as the work ahead for this week's game.
"It just means that I've got to be able to get the ball out of my hands quick this week," Bradford said. "If something's not there, I can't hold it. Probably be a little quicker in the progressions this week.
"It's definitely going to be probably one of our biggest challenges of the year," he continued. "We need to have a great week of preparation, get prepared for all of the looks that they're going to throw at us and make sure that we're able to handle it and execute on Sunday."