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    Thomas: Rams Show Progress On Defense

    Rams show progress on defense

    3 hours ago • BY JIM THOMAS

    Lost in the disappointment of Sunday's 23-6 loss to Chicago was the continued improvement shown by the Rams' defense. By no means has the unit arrived, but it's getting there, week by week.

    Three games into 2012, points allowed by the unit have dropped each week: from 27 points in the opener against Detroit, to 21 in Game 2 against Washington to 16 last Sunday in Chicago. (Obviously, those totals don't include defensive touchdowns scored by the Redskins and Bears against the Rams.)

    Similarly, the Rams have lowered their yards allowed each week, from 429 against Detroit, to 373 against Washington to 274 against Chicago.

    "We had some moving parts the first couple weeks," safety Quintin Mikell said. "I feel like we're still gelling, we're getting closer together. It's been a good thing to see. I feel like everyone's playing with some fire, everybody's not giving up, and we're flying around hitting people, which is a lot of fun."

    Mikell is one of only four returning starters from the Rams' opening-day unit of a year ago, along with Chris Long at left end, James Laurinaitis at middle linebacker and Craig Dahl at safety. So there have been some moving parts, and lots of new parts, with seven new starters.

    In addition, a rash of injuries late in the preseason at defensive tackle resulted in some early-season lineup juggling there. But first-round draft pick Michael Brockers, who hasn't played since suffering a high ankle sprain in the Aug. 30 preseason finale against Baltimore, is on the mend. The Rams are hoping he returns to practice today. Another defensive tackle, undrafted rookie Matt Conrath, is close to returning from a knee injury he suffered against Baltimore.

    "We haven't even scratched the surface of how good we can be," Mikell said. "We haven't had a game yet — and there's no perfect games — but we haven't had a game yet where we haven't had mental errors or mistakes or anything like that. So I'm just excited for what we've got brewing here. Because we've got guys that can flat out play and we're working towards something special."

    Although it hasn't shown it yet, the pass rush has a chance to be very good. Ends Long and Robert Quinn have two sacks apiece, but no one else on the team has a sack this season. The cornerback play is clearly better so far. Cortland Finnegan is tied for third in the league in interceptions with three. Rookie Janoris Jenkins has had some ups and downs but definitely looks like he has the makings of good NFL starter.

    And so far, the outside linebacker play — Jo-Lonn Dunbar in particular on the weak side, but also Rocky McIntosh on the strong side — has been a clear upgrade over what was out there in 2011.

    "The sky is the limit for this defense," said one of those new starters, defensive tackle Kendall Langford. "We've got plenty of room to grow, and we're moving in the right direction."

    After playing two of the league's more exotic offenses in the pass-happy Lions, and the Redskins with their package of college-style plays for Robert Griffin III, the Rams seemed to benefit from playing a more traditional-style Chicago attack.

    Even coach Jeff Fisher, who's not necessarily easy to please, concluded after reviewing Chicago game film: "I guess we could make a case our defense played a pretty good ballgame, specifically in the second half."

    The Chicago style of offense certainly seemed to suit Mikell, who had one of his best games as a Ram with 11 tackles and two quarterback hits playing near the line of scrimmage much of the day to defend the run and do some occasional blitzing.

    "That's kind of my thing," Mikell said. "Physical. Get up in there close in the box, play well against the run. I know I can still cover pretty well, but that's (what) I can do is just create havoc in the backfield."

    The Rams' next two opponents, Seattle and Arizona, also have more traditional-style schemes, and neither has a well-established quarterback. That's at least part of the reason the Seahawks are ranked 29th in total offense and the Cardinals are 31st. With that in mind it's possible the Rams' defense could get on a mini-roll. But there's plenty of room for improvement, across the board.

    "We need to play a little more penalty-free football, and not allow the big plays in the run and pass game," Langford said.

    Fisher would like to see the defense force a fumble sometime in his lifetime.

    "We have yet to force a fumble on this football team, and we need to start," he said. "Not that we're not trying, but the ball has not come out. Whenever we get a couple balls on the ground, those types of situations can help you."

    In terms of run defense, after a subpar first half against the Bears, the Rams tightened up in the second half, allowing only 26 yards on 15 carries. Three of those carries were kneel-downs at the end of the game by Jay Cutler, resulting in minus-3 yards. But even if you subtract those from the second-half totals, it's still only 29 yards on 12 carries.

    "We went in at halftime, made some adjustments, came out and basically shut (the run game) down the second half of the game," Langford said.

  2. #2
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    Re: Thomas: Rams Show Progress On Defense

    Quintin Mikell did not look like himself the fist two weeks, he did last week. We should see him in the box a lot Sunday to help stop the run. Having Steward back give us another hitter. He was so good last year he was one of the only bright spots, I hope Fisher see it in the kid.

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    Re: Thomas: Rams Show Progress On Defense

    Quote Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
    Rams show progress on defense

    3 hours ago • BY JIM THOMAS

    Fisher would like to see the defense force a fumble sometime in his lifetime.

    "We have yet to force a fumble on this football team, and we need to start," he said. "Not that we're not trying, but the ball has not come out. Whenever we get a couple balls on the ground, those types of situations can help you."
    I guess he means a fumble that refs can't reverse. We already have one fumble recovery that was run in for a TD. But the officials were dead set on keeping the RAMS out of the endzone if that had any say about it, so they called it an incomplete pass.


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    Re: Thomas: Rams Show Progress On Defense

    There is no question our defense has vastly improved. Hopefully more solidifeid run D when Brockers is back.

    If you really think about it:
    Week 1..we played good defense, no question about it. but they were on the field too long, which hurts even the greatest of defenses.

    And week 2 and week 3, technically we gave up only 15 points average. Take away fumble 6, hankerson 68yd td blown coverage, and bears pick 6.

    Our defense is progressing well. I can't wait to see them play when our offense improves, or when we have a good lead in the game. Will be even better next year of course.

    By the way I was thinking this the either day. The nfc west might be the number 1 division in defenses.

    (Please Ignore grammar/spelling..on mobile?

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