One of the biggest mantras in sports has been “defense wins championships.”
The NFL has seen great defensive teams like the ’85 Chicago Bears, the ’90 New York Giants and the ’00 Baltimore Ravens win the Super Bowl believing in that motto.
But over that past few years the league has shown it is more about putting up gaudy offensive statistics and worrying less about the defense. Every season it seems like a quarterback is breaking someone’s passing record.
Peyton Manning and Tom Brady have been the face behind most of the ridiculous stats, leaving the new generation of quarterbacks trying to find a way to leave a mark of their own.
The emergence and success of Cam Newton and Collin Kaepernick has caused some teams to move away from a pocket quarterback and more towards a dual-threat quarterback.
St Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher knows this and has not lost sight of it. He sees the read option quarterback becoming the future and is taking the time now to build the right defense.
In the Rams division alone, the defense faces Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick twice a year. If they want any chance at dethroning the Seattle Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, they have to put in the right pieces on the defensive side of the ball.
In this past NFL Draft the St. Louis Rams selected outside linebacker Alec Ogletree and safety TJ McDonald. They are not the prototypical mold of their positions, but they add speed and toughness to the defense.
Ogletree is blessed with the combination of size and speed. Not only will his size help him take down tight ends that come through the middle, but he also has the speed to catch a Wilson or Kaepernick if they decide to keep the ball and run.
McDonald is also versatile for his position. He is able to play deep coverage or drop down in the box and make hard-hitting tackles. McDonald is not afraid to take on tight ends and has the right skills to shed a blocker in order to tackle a running back.
These two new additions are only making the Rams defense stronger. In the past three seasons the Rams have added Robert Quinn, Michael Brockers, Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins. Also in those three years, defensive end Chris Long and linebacker James Laurinaitis have developed to become the corner stones of this young defense.
The Rams defense ranked 14th last year and was able to finish with a 3-1-1 record against these duel threat quarterbacks. The defense also came in close to breaking the sack record previously set by the ’84 Bears.
The Rams defense has steadily improved every year and is looking to finish the season ranked in the top ten.