clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Film Room: The Rams’ pass rush presents a problem for the Bengals

Aaron Donald leads the way for one of the NFL’s best defensive lines.

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Overshadowed by the team acquiring cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Jaguars was the fact that the Rams defense had five sacks this weekend against the Atlanta Falcons.

Given the pass protection problems that the Bengals have had this season, this could lead to a long day for quarterback Andy Dalton in London.

The Bengals have given up 24 sacks and 40 quarterback hits in the first seven weeks of the season and it doesn’t look like things are likely to go any better in Week 8.

The Rams have 18 sacks on the season, and there hasn’t been just one dominant player getting to the quarterback. Rams who have tallied multiple sacks in 2019 include Clay Matthews, who leads the team with six, Dante Fowler Jr. now has five after posting three sacks against the Falcons, and star defensive tackle Aaron Donald who is not far behind with four.

Let’s take a look at the five sacks the team posted last week to see what the Bengals are up against.

The first sack was all Fowler. Matched up against right tackle Kaleb McGary, Fowler started by working straight up the field on the rookie.

After a head fake to the outside, Fowler clubbed McGary with his right arm then used his left arm to swim over his shoulder. Despite a late shot from McGary that knock him off balance, Fowler was able to bring down quarterback Matt Ryan for the sack.

This play is a one-on-one win for the Rams against their opponent’s right tackle, which in the Bengals case would be Bobby Hart. This is not a good matchup for the Bengals.

On the very next play the Falcons faced third-and-17. The Rams came out with Donald lined up wide to the left, Morgan Fox lined up in the A-gap to the right, Samson Ebukam lined up wide to the right in a three-point stance, and Cory Littleton and Fowler showing blitz on either side of him.

The Falcons slid to the overloaded right side, but only three players were involved in the slide. They left their right guard looking for a blitz from the other side and effectively blocking no one.

Meanwhile, Fox charged through the A-gap, drawing the attention of both the center and left guard.

Ebukam stunted all the way from the right edge to the opposite A-gap. The center and right guard adjusted, but too late and Ebukam penetrated deep into the backfield.

Fowler came hard from the right side and collapsed the pocket on that side.

Littleton stepped out wide to cover Devonta Freeman, but when he sees the back assisting with the block on Fowler he becomes a read-blitzer.

As Ebukam and Fowler collapsed the pocket from either side, Ryan was forced to step up where Littleton was poised to make the tackle.

Stunts have been a problem for the Bengals offensive line to pick up and players have been caught in space not blocking anyone. This will be tough for the Bengals to handle.

This clip combines a little bit of the first two. Like the first clip it features Fowler winning on the edge versus the Falcon’s rookie right tackle. Like in the second clip, the pocket collapses from both sides as Ogbonnia Okoronkwo drives left tackle Jake Matthews back into the quarterback.

Fowler beats McGary with speed on the edge, dipping his right shoulder and ripping through on his way to the strip sack. McGary recovers the fumble, but the Falcons are forced to punt.

Once again the Rams edge rushers are wreaking havoc, which will be difficult for the Bengals due to their personnel at offensive tackle.

Later in the game, the pocket once again slammed shut from either end like a bear trap that Ryan could not escape.

This time it was Ebukam using his agility to defeat McGary by stemming to the inside before rushing the edge and Fowler using pure speed against Matthews.

Fowler pushed vertically into the backfield then ripped back underneath Matthews to make the sack.

The Bengals tackles are going to have a long day against this team.

Of course, it is not just the edge rushers that should be feared in Los Angeles. In Donald, the Rams have the best interior rusher in the game.

In this clip Donald is lined up wide over the left tackle, but on the snap he heads right for left guard Wes Schweitzer.

This play demonstrates what an athletic freak Donald is. First he rips past Schweitzer with ease. Then he lunges out to make the sack on the fleeing quarterback. Donald has incredibly fast hands and ridiculously smooth hips for a man of his size.

Considering the struggles that Billy Price and others have had at the left guard position, a defensive call like this would be a major problem for the Bengals. Donald’s talent however will be a mismatch against any of the Bengals offensive linemen.

The Bengals have given up too many hits on their quarterback and far too many sacks. This Rams team has some extremely athletic and talented pass rushers. It is going to be a considerable challenge for the Bengals to protect Dalton in this game.