The Rams had already made moves to bolster their defense with players like cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters.
Then came the successful pursuit of defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, who’s slated to start out at nose tackle in the Rams’ base 3-4 front.
Speaking to the media last week, defensive coordinator Wade Phillips described Suh as, “a dominate player,” saying he was obviously all for adding the Nebraska product.
“He’s been that way his whole career,” Phillips said. “Obviously, he was a [first-round] pick and has been successful at that. Made a lot of money in the league because he’s a great player.”
Suh has recorded 51.5 sacks in his nine years as a pro — 36.0 with Detroit and 15.5 in his last three seasons with Miami. With Suh playing between 2017 AP Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and defensive lineman Michael Brockers, the Rams should have an edge over most 2018 opponents when it comes to their interior pass rush.
But from a philosophical standpoint, Phillips is a big believer in trying to create matchup advantages wherever possible. That’s a lot of what happened last season, as Phillips consistently put Donald in position to have one-on-one pass-rushing attempts with offensive linemen. And Donald made that pay off — to the tune of 11.0 sacks in just 14 games.
Now adding Suh to the mix, Phillips will likely be able to create more issues for offenses along the line of scrimmage.
“It’s getting matched up with the right people and getting in play positions that he plays well,” Phillips said. “So, it’s not a certain way that we do everything, but it’s certain matchups and how we do things. That depends on our personnel basically — their strengths — and then during the game plan we match up even more. We’ll say, ‘Hey, they’ve got a weakness here, we want to get Aaron on him, or we want to get Brockers on him, or we want to get Suh on this guy.’
“And they have different strengths,” Phillips continued. “Suh, obviously, is a power guy. Aaron is not a finesse guy, but he probably has it all — but certain matchups are better for him. So we’ll work that out when we get the players going.”
Suh himself said he’s looking forward to working with Phillips in large part based on the coach’s strong track record of success.
“The interesting thing about coach Phillips is I’ve seen him in Dallas, I’ve seen him in other places doing very successful things, and with a multitude of different athletes and players at elite levels,” Suh said. “…I think he’ll create a package that works best for every single guy that he has in this organization — for his front and in addition from the backend as well.”
And as the offseason program gets going next week, you can be sure taking advantage of Los Angeles’ strengths will be a significant part of that plan.
“The better people you have you don’t have to worry about matchups as much sometimes when you got really good players,” Phillips said, adding Suh, “matches up with anybody. And if there is a weakness, you have a chance to attack those things.”
Check out photos of Ndamukong Suh being introduced as the newest member of the Los Angeles Rams.