The Los Angeles Rams defense has continued to be one of the most improved units in the NFL this season. Although the rest of the league has finally caught on to the brilliance of Aaron Donald, sending him double teams on nearly every play, he is not the only Rams defender that can make some big plays.
As a unit, the Rams have recorded 38 sacks, good for seventh-best in the league. Donald leads the way with nine, but not far behind is Dante Fowler Jr. at 7.5.
This week, Fowler Jr. will be putting his skills to the test against one of the best quarterbacks in the league, Russell Wilson. According to Gary Klein of the L.A. Times, Fowler Jr. knows that getting a hit on the Seattle Seahawks quarterback will not be easy:
“He’s in his own league,” Fowler said. “He’s probably like the most elusive one out of all of them.”
Wilson has been sacked 35 times this season, tied for fifth-most along with Deshaun Watson. Although that number is pretty high, Wilson has still had an excellent season and been able to make something out of nothing fairly often. He has the fifth-most rushing yards for a quarterback this year, along with the sixth-highest total offensive yards.
The Rams have already seen the Seahawks once this year, losing by a single point after a missed field goal by Greg Zuerlein as time expired in Seattle. In that matchup, the Rams were only able to secure one sack on Wilson, courtesy of Clay Matthews.
Fowler believes that he had some opportunities during the last matchup to knock him down, but was not able to convert:
“I had him like four times and I didn’t get him down,” Fowler said. “So we got to do a better job of just getting him down when we can, and not let him extend those big plays, because when he gets out of the pocket he’s so dangerous.”
Although the Rams have needed both defense and offense to show up every week, it is particularly important in their matchup with the Seahawks. They likely will need to win their remaining four games to get into the playoffs.
Fowler hopes that the defense will have a big day because as he sees it, that is the key to stopping the third-best offense in the league:
He can make those explosive plays that you don’t want to happen,” Fowler said, “so as long as we can do that I think it will be a really good game.”
The big division game will be in Los Angeles on Sunday Night Football this weekend, and could be a big determining factor in the NFC postseason race.