LOS ANGELES — You’re a quarterback, and you want to throw against the Los Angeles Rams.
Perhaps you’d like to reconsider.
See that older looking gentleman on the sideline? That’s Wade Phillips, orchestrator of some of the best pass defenses this game has ever seen. One even called itself the “No Fly Zone” and everybody else was like, “Yeah, that makes sense.” Now look directly in front of you. That’s Aaron Donald. You know, reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year, pressure king, destroyer of worlds? Next to him is Ndamukong Suh, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound behemoth who will, quite literally, step all over you. He’s the new guy. And next to him is Michael Brockers, who need not be overlooked.
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Now let’s just say you overcome all that. Donald, Suh and Brockers have compiled 72.5 sacks over the past four years, even though the vast majority of their snaps have come within the interior, which made them far more susceptible to double- and even triple-teams. Together, they form one of the greatest trios of defensive tackles throughout NFL history.
But let’s say your offensive line holds up, or your athleticism allows you to bounce outside, or you somehow find a crevice within the pocket. Here’s the thing: You’ll be in a frantic rush, and that is no way to attack what lies beyond Donald, Suh and Brockers.
On one side it’s Marcus Peters, who has 19 interceptions since he came into the league in 2015. No man has more. On the other side it’s Aqib Talib. He has 34 interceptions since he came into the league in 2008, and only one man (Charles Woodson) has more. Talib and Peters are two of the game’s best ball hawks, and so is the guy playing behind them.
His name is Lamarcus Joyner. Pro Football Focus considered him the NFL’s third-best safety in 2017, even though it was his first year playing that position at the highest level. He thinks he can be better, and he’s probably right.
Look at it this way, hopeful thrower of the football: Donald, Suh, Talib and Peters have combined for 16 Pro Bowl appearances. Joyner and Brockers could have easily been Pro Bowlers, too. The Rams’ other safety, 22-year-old John Johnson, and their slot corner, 26-year-old Nickell Robey-Coleman, are perfectly capable of being that eventually.
Opposing quarterbacks posted the NFL’s sixth-lowest Total QBR against the most recent Rams, who went from 10 consecutive losing seasons to an 11-5 record and a division title in 2017. They have since added 53 interceptions to their secondary and, on Monday, 51.5 sacks to their defensive line.
So, throw at your own risk.
Or perhaps you’d just like to hand it off.