NFC West: Mark Sanchez.101ESPN St. Louis audio

Rams' sagging D in NFC West perspective

November, 19, 2012
11/19/12
3:40
PM ET
Quarterbacks aren't quite everything in the NFL. Football remains a team sport.

Offensive shortcoming aside, the St. Louis Rams' defense deserves its share of the blame for a 27-13 defeat to the New York Jets in Week 11.

Bernie Miklasz of 101ESPN St. Louis drove home that point effectively beginning at about the 3:42 mark of this segment from Monday. He pointed beyond the Rams' failure to produce turnovers recently to broader failings.

"I don't think that how bad they've been recently, I don't think it's gotten enough attention," Miklasz said. "People obsess so much with the quarterback or the offensive line of Brian Schottenheimer's play calling. By the way, all those things are fair game. We're missing the fact that this defense has really, really, really taken a wrong turn over the last five games."

Bernie then highlights some rather shocking stats from the Rams' past five games, beginning with a 17-14 defeat at Miami.

I've put together a chart focusing on the last four games because the Rams have given up far more points per game over that period, which begins with a 30-20 defeat to Green Bay. The Rams rank 30th in points per game allowed over that span. To broaden interest, I've expanded the chart to include how all NFC West teams have fared defensively over the same period in question (since Week 7).

There wasn't enough room in the chart to spell out all the statistical categories clearly. The rows show points per game rank, yards per game (YPG), yards per play (YPP), rushing yards per game (RYG), yards per carry (YPC), passing yards per game (PYG), net yards per pass attempt (Net YPA), interception rate, sack rate, first downs per game (FDG), third-down rate, red zone touchdown percentage, Total QBR and points per game (PPG).

The Rams' inability to force turnovers is both a problem and a symptom of bigger problems. The team hasn't gotten breaks with fumble recoveries. But if the defense were playing better overall, opponents would be making additional mistakes, too.

Quarterbacks have a 122.9 NFL passer rating and 84.1 Total QBR score against the Rams since Week 7. For context, consider that Aaron Rodgers leads the NFL in passer rating at 107.3. Tom Brady leads in QBR at 81.6.

To be fair, the Rams have faced both those quarterbacks since Week 7. But they also had a hard time stopping Mark Sanchez, who was 30th in passer rating (70.4) and 32nd in QBR (28.7) entering Week 11. Sanchez had a 118.3 rating and 84.0 QBR against the Rams.

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