Notebook 11/27: Rams’ Defense Making Strides in Consistency

Posted Nov 27, 2013

Through the season’s first nine weeks, the Rams’ defense had revealed many flashes of the potential it held. There were the 36 rushing yards they allowed to Atlanta in Week 2. There was the dominant showing at home against Seattle, despite a 14-9 loss. All the while, the Rams received steady production from one of the league’s top rookie linebackers in Alec Ogletree, and boasted one of the league’s top pass-rushing sets of defensive ends in Chris Long and Robert Quinn.

However, maintaining a steady week-by-week performance proved elusive through the first half of the season. Now a week following the bye and winners of their past two games by a combined score of 80-29, the Rams’ defensive unit appears to have found its footing in consecutive weeks. Last week against Chicago, the Rams had perhaps their most impressive outing of the year on the goal line, thwarting multiple Bears attempts inside the five-yard line, and holding the Bears’ primary goal-line back, Michael Bush, to -5 yards on seven carries.

“I think the main thing we look at with statistics is in the red zone,” LB James Laurinaitis said. Are we holding teams to three instead of seven and are we getting turnovers?”

There has been no shortage of turnovers created lately by the Rams’ defensive unit, a facet of the group’s skill set that has been a constant in the second half of the season. Since Week 9 against Tennessee, the Rams have created 11 takeaways, including a season-high five in the team’s 38-8 win at Indianapolis on Nov. 10. Among those turnovers, the Rams have been particularly opportunistic of late, registering a defensive touchdown in each of their last two games.

“That changes the whole dynamic of a football game,” Laurinaitis said. “It’s hard to get takeaways for touchdowns, so it’s not something you go into a game (looking for). I think you just have to go out there and when they give you opportunities by putting the ball on the ground or getting our hands on the football, we have to capitalize, because it will give our offense a short field on a really good defense, as well.”

News and Notes:

-With his 109 yards rushing on Sunday, rookie RB Benny Cunningham became the second Rams rookie to rush for 100 yards in a game this season, joining RB Zac Stacy. This marks the first time in St. Louis Rams history that the team has had multiple rookies with 100-yard rushing games in the same season.

-The Rams’ 80 points scored in the last two games is the most in a two-game span since 2001. The team is currently averaging 24.2 points per game. If that pace continues, it would be the Rams’ highest per-game scoring average since 2003.

-Sunday will mark the Rams’ final game at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park.