SCOREBOARD Jake Long SCOTT CUNNINGHAM/GETTY IMAGES SPORT 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 PLAYOFF FINISH - - - - - REGULAR SEASON W-L 7-9 7-8-1 2-14 7-9 1-15 POINTS PER GAME 21.8 18.7 12.1 18.1 10.9 POINTS ALLOWED PER GAME 22.8 21.8 25.4 20.5 27.2 YARDS PER GAME 304.8 329.0 283.6 302.9 279.4 YARDS ALLOWED PER GAME 345.0 342.6 358.4 336.8 372.8 TURNOVERS 21 22 23 21 33 TAKEAWAYS 29 21 18 26 20 Rams Defense Defensive end Robert Quinn enjoyed one of the finest seasons an NFL defensive lineman has enjoyed in years, taking home Defensive Player of the Year honors as a reward for his hard work. But what made the Rams D-line as special as their O-line was that it wasn’t just Quinn putting in work. Fellow defensive ends Chris Long (yes, Howie’s son) and William Hayes registered 8.5 sacks and 5.0 sacks, respectively, while defensive tackles Michael Brockford and Kendall Langford netted 5.5 and 5.0 sacks. Their line presence alone helped the Rams rank fifth as a defensive line against the run—allowing only 51 percent conversion on 3rd/4th and 2 or less (ranked fourth), stuffing 27 percent of the runners behind the line of scrimmage (ranked second)—not to mention, first against the pass, according to Football Outsiders. As good as the Rams were on the D-line, they ranked 11th collectively as a team defense—third against the rush and 15th against the pass. That is why St. Louis has been trying to upgrade its linebacker and secondary options. Gambling cornerback Janoris Jenkins is one risky cover guy, while his rookie teammate and fellow cornerback LaMarcus Joyner may get a few starts this year. Then, there’s always hope they can squeeze another year out of linebacker James Laurinitis or overcome a disappointing season and see linebacker Alex Ogletree have a better 2014. Defensive Player to Watch His peers voted Quinn the 13th best player in football today, in the NFL Network’s annual Top 100 Players show, as voted on by NFL players. The 24-year-old defensive end was not even on the top 100 list the year before, but that in a nutshell shows you what kind of 2013 Quinn had: Defensive Player of the Year, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, 19 sacks (which ranks 14th in the NFL singleseason record book), 7 forced fumbles. The 6-4, 270-pounder Key Additions: DE Alex Carrington, QB Shaun Hill, WR Kenny Britt Key Subtractions: T Chris Williams, QB Kellen Clemens, G Shelley Smith, CB Cortland Finnegan Rookies: Greg Robinson, CB LaMarcus Joyner, RB Tre Maason, RB Aaron Donald, SS Maurice Alexander has both imposing power and speed that belies his frame, getting to ballcarriers with uncommon ease. Rams Special Teams Nobody in 2013 punted better nor did anyone kick as well as Jonny Hecker (46.3 punting average on 78 punts; opponents returned only 30 punts for 79 total yards)and Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein (26-for-28 on field goals; 34-for-34 on extra points). Prediction It will be tough for the Rams to win even six games in a division that also features the Seahawks, 49ers and Cardinals. Perhaps they read like an 8-8 team, but nobody seriously believes they will go 3-3 against the divisional opponents. Anything less than that makes it difficult for a conservative team that has already undertaken serious risks.
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