Friday, December 28, 2012
Rams' rush has Seahawks seeing double
By Mike Sando
RENTON, Wash. -- Max Unger, Pro Bowl center for the Seattle Seahawks, feels like he's preparing for more than one opponent Sunday.
The St. Louis Rams' blitz packages are that varied and complex.
"It's like a combination of the frequency that Arizona blitzes and it's a lot of line movement, kind of like Chicago -- two defenses put into one," Unger said from the Seahawks' locker room Friday. "Big, exotic blitzes coming from everywhere, bringing every guy, making you throw hot every play."
Indeed, the Rams rank second in the NFL with 23 sacks when sending more than the standard four pass-rushers, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Green Bay leads the league with 24. Arizona is third with 22.
The Cardinals gave the Seahawks problems with their frequent blitzes in Week 1.
Seattle's Russell Wilson completed 5 of 7 attempts for 36 yards against the Rams' added pressure in Week 4. At that point in the season, Wilson was completing 44.7 percent of his passes with zero touchdowns, zero interceptions and a 17.0 Total QBR score against added pressure. He has completed 62.2 percent with seven touchdowns, two picks and a 78.7 QBR score against five-plus rushers from Week 5 to present.
The Rams differ from some teams in that they send blitzes aggressively on early downs. A league-high 18 of those 23 sacks featuring added pressure came on first (10) or second (eight) downs. The figure was 11 for Arizona.
"They just have a big, big blitz package in base and in nickel," Unger said, "and in red zone they hurl it at you. There are opportunities, but it's managing that on the first couple downs especially."
The Rams never sent more than five rushers against Seattle in Week 4.
As the chart shows, the Rams have collected 12 sacks when pressuring with five rushers. That includes four sacks against Buffalo, three against Arizona, two against Miami and two against San Francisco. New England beat the Rams' five-man pressures for two touchdown passes.