Rams’ defense looks to contain Vick
Saturday, September 10, 2011
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams hope a strong defensive line anchored by sack threats Chris Long and James Hall can throw Michael Vick off his game. Even a little.
Vick and the Eagles come to St. Louis for the season opener Sunday. Vick has more 100-yard rushing games (11) than any quarterback in NFL history. His 4,630 career rushing yards are just 298 behind Randall Cunningham for the most ever by a quarterback.
Last year, Vick became only the second quarterback in NFL history throw for more than 3,000 yards and rush for more than 500 while keeping his quarterback rating above 100. Only Steve Young, in 1992, had accomplished that.
The Rams were susceptible to big pass plays of 20 or more yards last season and, well, Vick specializes in making the big play.
“People have been trying to scheme Mike Vick since I was in high school,” Long said Friday. “We just have to go out there and play our game and play as fast as possible. Sometimes you can try and chance what you do so much, you can’t beat them at their game, you have to stick with your own game.”
Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo wants his defense to stay disciplined — and focused.
“I worry that in some of our zone coverages that we’ll get caught being entertained by No. 7 and by that, I mean he’s so dynamic when he starts moving around back there and the other skilled, fast, real talented guys behind this guy running around, then it’s a problem,” Spagnuolo said. “The guys know what we’re in for and what we’re facing. We’ll just try to play as fast and as physical as we can and see what happens.”
Rams defensive coordinator Ken Flajole quipped he has a plan to thwart Vick.
“We have 11 guys on him,” Flajole said. “You have to be smart how you can rush him because he can really make you pay with his feet. Again, I don’t think you can make him scare you out of doing things because there’s enough other guys on their offense that can beat you.”
The defensive line is considered a Rams’ strength this season. Besides veterans Long, Hall, Justin Bannon, Gary Gibson and Fred Robbins, the Rams added Robert Quinn with their first-round draft pick. Hall led St. Louis with 10.5 sacks a year ago and Long had 8.5.
The ability to get to the quarterback with just the line rushing is huge, Flajole said.
“I think our pass rush will be good,” he said. “I like our front. I like our defensive ends. I like the guy we drafted. I think we’ll have a nice pass rush off a four-man deal without having so-called pressures.”
Despite that, the elusive Vick can improvise under pressure. He can cause any good defense problems.
“He’s just a human video game,” Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “You watch him and you see a lot of times where a lot of players, good players, have opportunities, free shots on him. I think he has like seven pairs of eyes. I don’t know see how he sees some of these guys coming.
“When you watch film, you get focused on some of his escape moves and you forget about watching the actual scheme. He definitely deserves the contract he received. He is a one-of-a-kind kind of quarterback. We definitely have our hands full.”
Notes: Practice on Friday was cut short by 20 minutes because Spagnuolo wanted to keep the players “fresh” for the opener. ... Spagnulo moved the practice indoors because of rain and “because (QB) Sam Bradford always wants to be inside. I made him feel good today.” ... TE Mike Hoomanawanui remains “very questionable” for Sunday’s game, Spagnuolo said.