Feldman: Rams need to stay ahead of the curve

Feldman: Rams need to stay ahead of the curve

Feldman: Rams need to stay ahead of the curve

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by Brian Feldman / FootballStL

KMOV.com

Posted on January 5, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Updated Saturday, Jan 5 at 9:51 PM

(FootballStL) -- Forgive me for starting off by invoking the team most hated in this beloved city.  I don't like doing it but I can't think of a better example.  However, no team does a better job of adapting to the changing times and schemes in the NFL than the New England Patriots. 

You give them explosive offenses and they'll devise one of the best defenses in the league led by Willie McGinnest, Richard Seymour and Ty Law.  You try and copycat that formula and they'll go nab a "chip-on-the-shoulder" Randy Moss and put up some of the most points ever scored in league history.  You try and copycat that particular formula and they'll devise an offense featuring two elite tight ends - Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez - that create mismatches for just about everyone.

The Patriots know how to stay a step ahead.  They adapt.  They don't copycat other teams' success, they create their own.

How does this tie into the Rams?  Well, it shows you need to think for yourself instead of letting others do it for you.  The NFL's always been known as a copycat league.  The problem with that is if everyone tries to do the same thing then no one will be ahead of anyone else.  It's the mind that can see into the future as to what hasn't been done yet and can exploit the weaknesses of what previously worked that will be on top.

The Rams have an opportunity here to build something that has worked to outstanding rates of success before but few are truly building the right way currently.  A dynamic, relentless pass rush.

In this previous season, the Rams were one of just five teams to have two players rank in the top 20 in the NFL in sacks.  Chris Long's 11.5 had him tied for 9th in the league while Robert Quinn's 10.5 were tied for 17th.  Only Denver (Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil), Carolina (Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy), Dallas (DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer) and Cincinnati (Geno Atkins and Michael Johnson) placed multiple pass rushers in the top 20.

How did the New York Giants defeat the then-perfect New England Patriots (twice) in the Super Bowl?  They got to the quarterback.  How did Trent Dilfer and Brad Johnson quarterback their way to championships?  They had defenses that could rush the passer.

No one has really used this formula for a while and it's gotten to the point where someone - anyone - needs to get back to it because it can and will work.  How can a QB pick a defense apart if he's got just a second and a half to throw?  Answer.  He cannot.

The Rams, and other teams, should use multiple picks every year on pass rushers.  Guys that have shown an ability to get to the quarterback through sheer strength, speed and athleticism.  Look what San Francisco got by taking Aldon Smith so high out of Mizzou.  The 49ers got 19.5 sacks this season.  They're the #2 seed in the NFC.  The Texans have the league's sack leader in JJ Watt with 20.5 sacks.  They're the #3 seed in the AFC.

With Robert Quinn and Chris Long entrenched as starters and William Hayes - assuming he'll be back - as a more than quality backup the Rams have a chance here to put this defense over the top.  Forget free safety.  Sure, an upgrade over Craig Dahl is necessary.  But that can be taken care of in free agency.

Another freak pass rusher, regardless of his position, could take this Rams defense was very good to borderline dominant.  I don't care if he's a defensive tackle to pair next to Michael Brockers or an outside linebacker to place next to James Laurinaitis. 

That could take this defense over the top.

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