ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams’ strong pass rush is back under coordinator Gregg Williams.
Defensive end Robert Quinn led the team with 10 1/2 sacks and has 29 1/2 the last two seasons. The Rams had 40 sacks in the last 11 games after getting shut out in the first five.
“I think guys just finally got into the momentum of things,” Quinn said. “We had a slow start, not trying to make excuses, but with the playbook and trying to figure where guys are going to fit in and stuff like that, so I think once we got into the swing of things and kind of got our mojo going we didn’t look back. We’re constantly pressing the bar and we finished at the end of the season like we wanted to start.”
For the first time in coach Jeff Fisher’s tenure, the defense will not have to learn a new playbook. Williams settles in for his second season leading the defense, after his son, Blake Williams, and Tim Walton handled the duties in 2012 and 2013, respectively.
“I think coming into this year the guys who have been with him know what to expect,” Quinn said. “We already set our bar high and with his expectations and of course now in his second year, just kind of continue the excellence he wants us to achieve.”
After a slow start, the unit averaged 3.64 sacks in the final 11 games. That average through 16 games would bring the Rams’ total to 58, which would have been tops in the NFL.
“I love the way he coaches,” said Aaron Donald, the reigning NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. “He’s a coach that wants you to attack and he wants you to be physical and that’s the type of guy I want to play for.”
Donald believes he can improve on the nine sacks he had as a rookie.
“There’s a lot of stuff he throws at you,” Donald said about Williams. “A lot of different schemes we have as a defense, so just to know that and know the concepts of how he wants us to play and how he wants us to attack, I’m just a lot more comfortable this year.”
Chris Long appears healthy, after being limited to just six games last year with an ankle injury. Though William Hayes and Eugene Sims provided quality depth, Long’s injury did factor in the slow start.
“We had a good rotation going and losing Chris kind of jacked up the rotation,” Quinn said. “Knock on wood, everyone stays healthy to get to the season and through the season and hopefully achieve our expectations.”
The Rams also bolstered the unit by signing Nick Fairley in free agency. St. Louis hopes Fairley, added to Donald and Michael Brockers on the interior of the defensive line, will provide even more of a pass rush.
“I think we definitely have one of the most talented D-lines in the NFL,” Quinn said. “We added Nick with what we already had here and I think it’s just constantly adding depth so we can constantly keep our rotation going so everyone can stay fresh. There will be no slow down pays for us. Basically, we’re a tag team as we say. One guy comes off, the next guys is in and keep the production up.”
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.