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Thread: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

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    TekeRam's Avatar
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    SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo rose to fame as the defensive coordinator of the New York Giants -- specifically behind the awesome performance of a defensive front that battered Tom Brady in Super Bowl XLII and stifled New England's record-setting offense.
    Those giant-slaying Giants of 2007 were not particularly great in any area, except one: with Michael Strahan, Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, they fielded the best defensive front in football, No. 1 on the groundbreaking Defensive Hog Index we use at ColdHardFootballFacts.com to rank each NFL front seven. That unit proved its ranking was justified by dominating New England's offensive line in that instant-classic 17-14 Super Bowl victory.
    Fast forward to today, and Spagnuolo's Rams are quickly following the same statistical blueprint that his Giants first drew up in 2007: they're building a contender around one of the most dominating defensive fronts in the game. The improvements from 2009, Spagnuolo's first year in St. Louis, to 2010 were nothing short of amazing.
    The 2009 Rams went 1-15 and struggled in all aspects of the game as the worst team in football. The 2010 Rams went 7-9 and were just one win away from making the postseason. In fact, their regular-season finale loss at Seattle was a de facto playoff game -- the winner earned the NFC West title and a spot in the tournament.
    St. Louis rookie quarterback Sam Bradford earned much of the credit for the turnaround, as quarterbacks often do. And he was certainly a steady and largely unflappable hand at quarterback, especially by the standards of a first-year player. But the truth is Bradford was not a difference-maker last year. It was the St. Louis defense -- and its Defensive Hogs in particular -- that brought the dreadful Rams of 2009 to the brink of the playoffs in 2010.
    Our Defensive Hog Index rates each defensive front in three key areas: ability to stop the run, ability to force mistakes (sacks, INTs) in the passing game and ability to get off the field on third down. No team in recent history rocketed up the Defensive Hog Index faster than Spagnuolo's Rams did last year. Check out these incredible Cold, Hard Football Facts:
    The 2009 Rams ranked 30th at forcing Negative Pass Plays (6.4% of dropbacks ended in a sack or INT); The 2010 Rams ranked 9th at forcing Negative Pass Plays (9.3%)
    The 2009 Rams ranked 29th in third-down defense (43.5% success against); The 2010 Rams were 2nd in third-down defense (33.5% success against)
    The 2009 Rams were 32nd and dead last overall on our Defensive Hog Index; The 2010 Rams were 7th overall on our Defensive Hog Index.
    The only area where the Rams failed to improve dramatically was in run defense: the 2009 Rams ranked 20th in run defense (4.4 YPA); the 2010 Rams ranked 22nd in run defense (4.5 YPA). But the ability to stop the run is largely overrated. It's a passer's league, and making life miserable on opposing passers is the singular key to successful defense in the NFL.
    The Rams were light years better pressuring the passer in 2010. The 2009 Rams forced just eight interceptions and 25 sacks; the 2010 Rams forced 14 interceptions and 43 sacks -- nearly doubling the total of Negative Pass Plays in the space of a single year (33 to 57).
    That pressure sparked a dramatic improvement in pass defense and, most importantly, a dramatic improvement on the scoreboard.
    The 2009 Rams ranked 31st in Defensive Passer Rating (96.9); The 2010 Rams ranked 9th in Defensive Passer Rating (80.2)
    The 2009 Rams surrendered 436 points (31st); the 2010 Rams surrendered 328 points (12th).
    Defensive ends James Hall (10.5 sacks) and Chris Long (8.5) emerged last season into one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the league. Spagnuolo's system certainly deserves some credit.
    In Hall's case, it was the second-highest sack total in his 11-year career and most since 2004; Long, who struggled in his first two years, emerged as the legit pass-rusher the Rams must have expected when they drafted him No. 2 overall in 2008 (pre-Spagnuolo). Meanwhile, defensive tackle Fred Robbins, an 11-year veteran who played for Spags in New York, also had a career year, with a personal best 6.0 sacks.
    Spagnuolo has proved his devotion to the position by doubling down on Defensive Hogs in his own drafts. He drafted James Laurinaitis in the second round of the 2009 draft, and the Ohio State product has started all 32 games at middle linebacker for the rapidly improving Rams defense. This year Spags grabbed talented pass rusher Robert Quinn with the No. 14 overall pick.
    The Quinn pick told the football world that Spagnuolo intends to win in St. Louis much the way he won in New York -- with a dominating group of Defensive Hogs. The unit he'll put on the field in 2011 has the potential to be the very best in the league.

    I believe!

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    KoaKoi is offline Registered User
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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    this line in the article says it all:

    "• The 2009 Rams surrendered 436 points (31st); the 2010 Rams surrendered 328 points (12th)."

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by KoaKoi View Post
    this line in the article says it all:

    "• The 2009 Rams surrendered 436 points (31st); the 2010 Rams surrendered 328 points (12th)."
    I agree completely. This is the stat that really puts the dramatic defensive improvements into perspective. The other stats support it, but the bottom line for an effective defense is how many points they allow an opponent. Exciting stuff. Is the lockout over yet??

    Nice find Teke.

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    This article makes me giggle... Everyone loves offense and great touchdowns and all that stuff, but if we can build a great defense we can be perennial contenders.

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    The way I look at it is this... Spags is making the Rams to be the Colts(top notch offense with scary pass rush to hold the lead gained by the offense perennially winning their division), in the combination of 2007's Patriots offense and Giants Defense.

    It's scary to others in the division just to think about!

    If we were only concentrated on defense, we'd have picked up Suh last year, but Spags knows that 2000 Ravens teams are extremely rare, and the passing game has come a long way in just the last 10 years. A strong consistent defense will keep you in most any game, but you need that killer QB to win it for you and give your defense a rest, which is what we saw last year. A more rested, and therefore aggressive defense.
    Last edited by TekeRam; -06-15-2011 at 02:38 PM.
    I believe!

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    I believe a big part of our defense doing so good was that we have Sam now. In 09 the defense couldn't get off the field they were worn down. Not to mention the fans getting into and pumping up the defense. I was there at the whiner game at home and they fed off our noise. The rams needed a offense to help the d rest.
    Last edited by sjacksonrules; -06-15-2011 at 05:06 PM.
    TekeRam likes this.

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by thermobee View Post
    This article makes me giggle... Everyone loves offense and great touchdowns and all that stuff, but if we can build a great defense we can be perennial contenders.
    It seems to me (I could be completely wrong) but franchises with premier QBs are great until that QB gets old and then do a complete rebuild that can take years. Teams that build around defense are better able to avoid the meltdowns as they transition between offenses because the focus is spread out.

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    I think people are mistaken if they believe you can only build around offense or only build around defense. Teams that do only one or only the other (usually) don't win consistently, because they have a glaring weakness on one side of the ball.

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by BrokenWing View Post
    I think people are mistaken if they believe you can only build around offense or only build around defense. Teams that do only one or only the other (usually) don't win consistently, because they have a glaring weakness on one side of the ball.
    Good thing the Rams are building both.

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    It's a good time to be a Ram fan. After about a decade of tough years the Rams are showing a lot of promise on the defensive side, while building an offense that could feature one of the best QB's in the league in the next couple of years. Fix up the guard spot, back up RB, and this has the potential to be a fun few years.Not to mention picking up on of the league's premier OC's to run it.. With the defense the Rams have, it'll be harder for teams to get in shootouts with Bradford.

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    Before we all get giddy over these stats, remember that the Rams played an incredibly soft schedule last year. That had something to do with the improvement in stats, believe it. Don't get me wrong, the Rams D was much improved, but ready to dominate? Hardly. Not this year at least. I like the path Spags is going, but I still think the D is two years away at best from being a top D in the league. Dominate the NFC west maybe because it's so bad, but I don't think the Rams D is ready to dominate the better teams in the league.
    Faithful Rams fan since 1968

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    I agree Raiderhater, we're definitely a year or two away, but if you look at the other teams that played our schedule, our division, they didn't see similar upgrades in their defensive stats. We had much further to go, obviously, but we still out performed our rivals. Our defense hopefully will continue to improve, but with a much harder schedule this year, I won't be surprised if our stats take a bit of a backstep.

    Then again, with hopefully a much better offense with Sam having a year under his belt, maybe it won't...
    I believe!

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    Shouldn't get too ahead of ourselves..

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor View Post
    Shouldn't get too ahead of ourselves..
    Why not? We are die-hard RAMS fans aren't we?

    Go Rams!

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    Re: SI.com: Why Rams D will dominate in 2011

    Quote Originally Posted by laram0 View Post
    Why not? We are die-hard RAMS fans aren't we?

    Go Rams!
    additionally, it wasn't a Rams fan that wrote the piece but a Sports Illustrated writer. Not sure how we are getting ahead of ourselves.

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