comparing the Rams DL to Denver's 2016 DL

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    Starting with a quote from a different thread:

    it’ll be a much simpler defense. less thinking. more just attacking which i think will benefit their current personnel.

    i’m thinking with the right additions a top 5 ranking is well within reach.

    Comparing Rams DL to the Denver DL. The Rams starters are guesses on my part.

    Hayes … 6.3, 278
    Westbrooks (RFA)…6.4, 287

    Brockers…6.5, 326
    Thomas? He’s a UFA. 6.5, 335

    Donald … 6.1, 285
    Easley (RFA)… 6.2, 285

    DENVER, 2016

    Denver struggled against the run in 2016 after being ranked 3rd in yards and 1st in YPA in 2015. In 2016 they were 28th in yards and 18th in yards per attempt. A lot of that, from what I read, had to do with DL play.

    Crick, 82% of D snaps, 6.4, 285
    Gotsis, 19% of D snaps, 6.4, 287
    Walker, injured in 2016 but a key player in 2015, 6.2, 305 (he’s a UFA)

    Williams, 56% of D snaps, 6,2, 313 (he’s a UFA)

    Wolfe, 58% of D snaps, 6.5, 285
    Winn, 30% of D snaps, 6.4, 300 (he’s a UFA)

    According to just the snap counts, they played a lot of 4 man DL rush packages? (?) Or they subbed DEs in at DT? Cause they have no second DT with appreciable snap numbers.

    A review of the Denver 2016 DL:

    Here’s something on Vance Walker:


    what do you mean by 4 man dl rushes?

    you mean playing without a traditional nose tackle lined up?

    on paper at least it looks like the rams have way more talent on the defensive line.

    brockers could play nose tackle but i could possibly see him playing other positions along the line. donald alone dwarfs anyone the broncos lined up on that line.

    of course the broncos had von miller. and quinn hasn’t been able to stay healthy.

    • This reply was modified 10 months ago by InvaderRam InvaderRam.

    what do you mean by 4 man dl rushes?

    you mean playing without a traditional nose tackle lined up?

    Well they played the NT 56% of the time. There is no other NT on their roster who got appreciable playing time. So yes this is what I meant– YOU: “you mean playing without a traditional nose tackle lined up?” Just using basic logic (which is no sub for actually knowing but still), either

    1. they were in 4 man rush packages a lot of the rest of the time, using DEs as DTs

    2 or, they subbed at NT using DEs and it just doesn’t show up in the numbers

    3 or, (most likely) both

    4 or, and this one is not serious, they just played a 2-man DL 44% of the time. (Yeah kidding.)

    And btw I draw no real conclusions from any of that. Phillips is very big on tailoring to the personnel. So, he used what he had Denver at DL the way he could, and he may do something completely different in LA because the personnel is completely different.


    Phillips is very big on tailoring to the personnel.

    i agree. he’ll make adjustments based on the strengths of the players.

    but oh man. i gotta think that the rams dl is better than that broncos dl.

    of course the broncos secondary i’m thinking is better than the rams. and unless quinn gets healthy quick i don’t see them having anything close to a von miller type outside linebacker.

    as far as the nose tackle position, i don’t know. i could see in certain situations phillips taking brockers out and lining up 3 pass rushers with outside linebackers on either side ready to rush the passer. offenses would have a hard time figuring out who to block.


    i could see in certain situations phillips taking brockers out and lining up 3 pass rushers with outside linebackers on either side ready to rush the passer. offenses would have a hard time figuring out who to block.

    That’s the Shurmur Eagle defense.

    Basically a 2/5.


    NFL Guru: Defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur
    The Birthplace of the Zone Blitz

    Fritz Shurmur’s Eagle Defense: The Birthplace of the Zone Blitz

    The NFL has had several geniuses when it comes to coaches. Yet when it comes to coordinators many have not received their due nor have any made the Pro Football Hall of Fame based on their contributions. One such coach that did receive Hall of Fame consideration was Dick LeBeau (enshrined in 2011 as a player), who as a long time defensive coordinator has been credited (with Dom Capers) for creating the zone blitz in the modern NFL. Yes Pittsburgh became Blitzburgh but the true zone blitz, as a scheme, came from the mind of Fritz Shurmur. Another assistant deserving enshrinement in Canton.

    In 1989, Shurmur was the defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams. When the team suffered multiple injuries along the front line, yet had all their linebackers healthy, necessity became the mother of invention. His team employed a 3-4 defense that featured Kevin Greene, who had back to back 16.5 sacks in 1988 and 1989 (thanks Kevin), coming off the corner. Yet going into the wildcard matchup as an underdog, Shurmur decided to go with emphasizing his linebackers over his linemen and came up with a 2 down lineman 5 linebacker set up to confuse Randall Cunningham.

    You have to understand that this was Randall Cunningham at the height of his career, in fact the next year 1990, he was the NFL’s MVP. However in 1989 he was on his way to stardom when he electrified a national audience on a Monday night by shaking off a hit by New York Giant Carl Banks, and throwing a touchdown to TE Jimmie Giles. He was a threat that ran for nearly 1,000 yards in the following year. He was John Elway 2.0 and the league was having serious problems in defending against such an athletic talent at QB.

    In 1989 he led the Eagles in rushing with 621 yards while throwing for 3,400 yards 23 TDs and only 16 interceptions. The Eagles had won 5 of their final 6 games in 1989 and wanted to make amends in the playoffs for their 1988 playoff Fog Bowl loss in Chicago. Although they lost a toe to toe battle with the defending champion San Francisco 49ers in the regular season, the Eagles believed they could play with anyone and wanted a rematch with Joe Montana and company. But first they had to get through a wild card battle with the Los Angeles Rams, whom they taunted in the papers heading into the game. How would Shurmur defend Randall??

    Shurmur opted for speed and confusion. One of the first items for a quarterback to determine is who the Mike (Middle) linebacker is. This is to set not only the blocking schemes but where the focal point to how the offense could attack the defense. Well the Rams shifted into their “Eagle” defense where OLBs Kevin Greene #91, Mel Owens #58, and Mike Wilcher #54 manned the outside with ILBs Larry Kelm #52, and Fred Strickland #53 were supplemented by either Brett Faryniarz #51 or George Bethune #57.

    You have to understand the Rams weren’t doing this as a nickel defense, they were doing this on first and second downs also. Strickland would take the role of ‘nose-backer’ sometimes lining up as a nose tackle 1 yard off the ball and then would stand up to join the other four linebackers in a stand up position. They played a cat and mouse game as to who was the Mike on most plays.

    Along with the outside linebackers taking a page out of Buddy Ryan’s 46 defense and stacking two OLBs over the tight end. The Rams jumped on the Eagles 14-0 in the first quarter forcing Philadelphia to pass. There were plays where Los Angeles would have as many as 4 linebackers lined up on one side of the formation yet only rushed one with a blitzing DB. Along with confusing Cunningham from an alignment standpoint, Shurmur drew up defenses that had DE Mike Piel #95 either dropping or spying.

    With an array of blitzes off the corner and so much speed on the field to chase Cunningham, once he scrambled, had one of his worst days. The Eagles had little continuity and one of the reason the offense couldn’t adjust was the untimely death of Eagle quarterback coach Doug Scovil just a week prior to the game. Without his working confidante, Randall and Buddy Ryan’s offense couldn’t adjust as Kevin Greene recorded 2 sacks and hurried him into a 24 of 40 for 238 yards, 1 interception performance and no splash plays whatsoever.

    Once the game was over and the Rams danced out of Philadelphia’s Veteran’s Stadium 21-7 winners, the league took notice of Shurmur’s masterpiece. Every other coordinator running a 3-4 during that time employed some of the same tactics Fritz pioneered. At the time it was thought by pundits that they couldn’t employ that gimmicky type of defense against a down hill running team.

    In fact their next opponents would be exactly that style of offense and many waited for the Rams to sign a DL during the week, and when they didn’t, knew they’d see the defense again. An underdog for a second consecutive playoff game they traveled to the Meadowlands where Ottis “OJ” Anderson and the New York Giants would run into the belly of the Rams “Eagle” defense. No way could they win a second cold weather road game…right??

    In this first vignette, you see the Eagle defense against the Giants on a sweep play. Notice how Shurmur has “nose backer” Strickland #53 off the ball? A concept borrowed from Tom Landry’s defensive tackle position in his Flex Defense, allowing Strickland to use his speed and agility against New York center Bart Oates.

    On this play you recognize the cat and mouse game Shurmur’s defense is playing with Phil Simms. Not only does ‘nose backer’ Fred Strickland #53 line up over center in a 3 point stance, he then stands up to give the Rams 4 standing linebackers from the center to the weak side of the formation. Who’s coming?? Who’s dropping?? Simms is so rattled at this point he overthrows Lionel Emanuel and the boo birds were out in the Meadowlands.

    On this play you’ll notice that SS Michael Stewart is up on the line to the strong side yet Shurmur still employed twin outside linebackers to the top of the screen in Mel Owens #58 and Mike Wilcher #54. With the two linebackers up near the line of scrimmage they have to be accounted for by the Giants front line. You’ll notice they engage the OL which kept them from sliding their blocking attention to Kevin Greene who runs over FB Maurice Carthon #44.

    Since they were in a 2TE max protection, the only outlet for Simms to throw to as he scrambles to his left is Ottis Anderson #24, yet the aforementioned Owens (who backed off after engaging Giant T Jumbo Elliot) and ILB Larry Kelm were sitting right there. With nowhere to throw the ball, time was up and Greene was right there for the sack. Genius

    The Rams had been losing 6-0 when the Giants, late in the second quarter, uncharacteristically threw into the teeth of the Eagle defense and an interception set the Rams up to take a 7-6 lead at the half. The biggest play in the game and the turning point that allowed the Rams to upset the Giants 19-13. On this final play DE Mike Piel #95 drops off in the weak flat along with LB Strickland, lined up in 3 point stance in front of Giants guard William Roberts, who also drops.

    George Bethune #57, takes over as the ‘nose backer with Brett Faryniarz #51 rushing from the weak-side along with Greene #91 on the strong side. Since Strickland’s first step is forward, Roberts #66 has to honor his charge and not help out LT Jumbo Elliot. He has no one to block!! Greene and Faryniarz’s rush is so strong Simms has to get rid of the ball and Jerry Gray, zoning away from RB Dave Meggett, tips the pass that Michael Stewart intercepts. You also notice that Meggett’s “scat” route was to his right and away from the DE that dropped in the weak flat. Shurmur fielded ONE DL and didn’t rush him!! In a nickel defense?? Think about that for a second…

    This was a masterpiece performance by a true NFL genius in Fritz Shurmur. The ’89 Rams fell to the eventual Super Bowl champion San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Championship and this defense never got the attention the 46 defense, the Steel Curtain, or the Ravens defense did because they didn’t win it all. Had they beat the 49ers and then the Broncos to win Super Bowl XXIV, this defense would have gone down in history. Yet what is interesting is this defense had it’s prime note taker in Giant defensive coordinator and current Patriot coach Bill Belichick.

    How do we know this??

    He used the 2 man front 1 year later in Super Bowl XXV to stop the Buffalo Bills to win that trophy. Just last year he used the defense with 5 standing players to force NY Jet QB Mark Sanchez into several interceptions. He used it against Tim Tebow also in both the regular season win and again in the playoffs. What Shurmur started in the 1989 playoffs live on to this day in a few 3-4 defenses. One centerpiece to this defense was Kevin Greene who moved on to the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1993 to help form Blitzburgh. Surely Greene took his playbook with him to Pittsburgh and may have shared some of these principles with Steeler coaches.

    EPILOGUE: As for Shurmur, he moved on to become a champion defensive coordinator with the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI with Mike Holmgren. You want to hear about the ties that bind?? From the late 80s into the early 90’s, Mike Holmgren was the offensive coordinator for the San Francisco 49ers while Fritz Shurmur was his nemesis counterpart within the division for the Rams. Trust us…going into that 1989 NFC Championship it wasn’t a forgone conclusion that the Niners would win.

    In fact, in ’89 the Rams won game 2, 13-12 in Candlestick and even though the Rams lost the NFC Championship to SF, they returned to San Francisco the following year. In that game the ‘Niners were 10-0 and the Rams were 3-7 when the Rams hammered them 28-17 when the Niners were trying to 3peat. So when Holmgren took the head coaching job in Green Bay he took Fritz Shurmur with him. Shurmur followed Holmgren to Seattle in 1999.

    However he passed away before the 1999 season. Yet now as the Cleveland Browns GM, Holmgren hired current head coach Pat Shurmur, who is the nephew of Fritz. Shurmur developed other defenses that we will give mention to in the near future yet this 1989 run with his “Eagle defense” was his masterpiece. Even though he went on to coach a 4-3 in Green Bay, his use and expertise to adapt to personnel turned his 3-4 into a juggernaut that nearly stole an NFL title.


    i think the dline is fine. although if they could add a guy like calais campbell, i’d be all for that. i don’t know how feasible that is.

    the key for this defense is adding outside linebackers. or perhaps they already have some in mind already on the roster. quinn obviously. and they have several pass rushers who could perhaps be developed for the strongside position. but if they can figure out the outside linebackers, i gotta figure the front seven is on par with denver’s front seven.

    and then of course the secondary. if they can add another corner in the draft and sign trujo, i think they’re set.


    Defensive line is one of few strengths for Rams

    Alden Gonzalez
    ESPN Staff Writer

    From now until the start of free agency, on March 7, we’ll take a position-by-position look at the Los Angeles Rams in eight installments. The Rams — coming off a 4-12 season that prompted the hiring of rookie head coach Sean McVay — have about $40 million in cap space but do not have a first-round pick. They also have a lot of needs, all of which can feel a little overwhelming without breaking it down by section. We’ll do that here. Next up: the defensive line. (Previous: WR/TE.)

    Key returnees: Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn, William Hayes, Michael Brockers, Eugene Sims, Morgan Fox

    Notable free agents: Cam Thomas, Dominique Easley*, Ethan Westbrooks*, Matt Longacre**

    Top free agents available (for now): Kawann Short, Jason Pierre-Paul, Brandon Williams, Calais Campbell, Dontari Poe

    Key stat: The Rams’ defense, led by its defensive line, forced 109 negative plays in 2016, second-most in the NFL. Since the start of 2015, the Rams have forced an NFL-leading 241 negative plays. In the seven games Donald, Quinn, Hayes and Brockers all started together, the Rams averaged more than seven tackles for loss and more than six quarterback hits.

    This, actually, is a position of strength, largely because of Donald, who might be the game’s greatest defensive player, regardless of position. Donald has been named Pro Football Focus’ defensive player of the year twice in a row and has made the Pro Bowl in all three of his NFL seasons. In 2016, he led the NFL with 31 quarterback hits and tied for the lead with 17 tackles for loss. The key question here is Quinn, both because of his recent health and the system that will be implemented.

    Quinn racked up 40 sacks from 2012 to ’14, third-most in the NFL, but has started only 15 of the Rams’ 32 games over the last two years. The Rams have hired long-time, well-respected defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who will implement what he calls a “hybrid” 3-4 scheme. Quinn may convert to an outside linebacker, but Phillips stressed that “guys who can rush are going to rush.” That, of course, includes Quinn.

    All four of the Rams’ starters — Donald, Quinn, Brockers and Hayes — are locked up for at least two more years, so they’re in good shape. But as many as four of their backups can become free agents, so the Rams have to replenish some depth. Eight Rams defensive linemen took more than 350 snaps last season.


    Rams fans shouldn't worry about losing defensive line coach

    According to Pro Football Focus, the Rams have three of the top-30 interior defenders in the NFL this season — with Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Dominique Easley.

    Los Angeles also has a top-20 edge defender with William Hayes on the roster.

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