When the St. Louis Rams drafted linebacker Alec Ogletree at the end of the first round of the NFL Draft back in April, many believed that the talented and ultra-fast former safety made the Rams defense a contender to be among the elite defensive units in the league.
ESPN thinks that is right too. The website recently released their projected rankings of the defenses in the NFL and the Rams cracked the Top 10 at No. 9 overall. Here is what ESPN had to say about the Rams prospects on the defensive side of the ball and their rationale for putting St. Louis so high on the list.
“The Rams tied for the NFL lead with 52 sacks last year, which is partly a product of having defensive ends like Chris Long and Robert Quinn who regularly charge around the end, barely acknowledging the possibility of a running play. Indeed, run defense is an overall weakness here: St. Louis allowed a whopping 18 rushing TDs in ’12. It’s also a bit alarming that despite all that pass rush, neither Cortland Finnegan nor Janoris Jenkins had strong seasons in coverage. But let’s accentuate the positive: There’s talent at all three levels, and Jenkins is a playmaker supreme, with three pick-sixes in his rookie campaign.”
While it is great to see that the Rams defense is so highly ranked, they are not as high on the list as two other division foes. The Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers are No. 1 and No. 2 on this repectively, proving that defense will lead the charge to a division title in the NFC West this season.
It is painfully obvious that the NFC West will be the toughest division in football this season and offenses are going to be challenged to perform against the strength of this division on the defensive side of the ball.
While the focus for Rams fans has been on finding ways to become more explosive on offense, it is going to be tough sledding within the division. Running the ball effectively, burning clock and controlling the ball will also be important for the Rams in 2013. Moving the chains and wearing down teams like the 49ers.
Not only will the Rams need to hit some home runs via rookie Tavon Austin and second-year wideout Chris Givens, but they will also have to have somebody take the reigns in the backfield and carry the load vacated by Steven Jackson. Somebody that head coach Jeff Fisher can turn to down the stretch of a defensive battle, because there is a very good chance there will be some low-scoring games taking place when the Rams, Seahawks and 49ers collide.
The running back position is clearly a question mark that needs an answer quickly once the Rams start training camp.
But there is one thing that is clear. The Rams have a stout defense.
But so do the Seahawks and 49ers.
- St. Louis Rams: Vegas sees Rams as long-shots to win Super Bowl in 2013 (stlsportsminute.com)
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- St. Louis Rams: Tavon Austin compares himself to Percy Harvin (stlsportsminute.com)
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