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Long: More comfort with scheme key behind Rams' improved pass rush

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Dan Arkush

darkush@pfwmedia.com
Executive editor

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Posted Oct. 22, 2010 @ 10:45 a.m. ET
By Dan Arkush

Rams Nation is getting a real rush these days, in more ways than one.

In addition to becoming a bona fide contender in the NFC West in Steve Spagnuolo's second season as head coach after winning only one game last season, the Rams have seen their pass rush make major strides.

Only six games into the 2010 season, the Rams have picked up the pressure to the tune of 17 sacks, only three fewer than they managed the entire '09 season.

What's the difference?

"I think our attention to detail is the big reason, and that just comes with a better understanding of the scheme," Rams DLE Chris Long told PFW three days after being one of three different defenders (DRE James Hall and WLB Larry Grant were the others) to register two sacks in the Rams' 20-17 upset win over the Chargers in Week Six.

"This year the guys know exactly where they need to be. Last year we were close to knowing, but we were always just a second late. A blitz would knock off another blitz, and things like that."

Picking up on his strong finish to the '09 campaign, Long leads the Rams in QB hits and QB pressures. But when asked what things he could be doing better, he told PFW "there were too many to list.

"I can still get a lot better every week," Long said. "There are at least one or two things a week that I really need to work on the rest of my career."
 
Another major reason behind the Rams' greatly improved defense is the offseason addition of veteran DT Fred Robbins, who played under Spagnuolo on the Giants' defense that came on so strong on the road to the Super Bowl three years ago.

"He's made a huge difference," Long said of Robbins. "He's an inside guy who can get off the rock and disrupt things, which helps our defensive ends a lot. We all feed off of each other."

Long also couldn't say enough good things about Hall, another old-timer who is off to a terrific start with a team-leading six sacks.

"James Hall has always been one of the most underrated players in the league," said Long. "People are just paying more attention to him because of the numbers he's been piling up. I've learned a lot from him. He's a real technician."

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